Two members of the Irish ploughing team - Jer Coakley from Cork and Dan Donnelly from Wexford - departed for Switzerland this week.
Both men are partaking in the European ploughing contest. NPA (National Ploughing Association) President James Sutton was at Dublin Airport to see them off - and impart the association's support to them.
The contest is organised by the EPF (European Ploughing Federation), to which the Republic of Ireland's NPA is affiliated. The NIPA (Northern Ireland Ploughing Association) is also affiliated to the federation.
The 2017 European contest is the 34th such event in the federation's history. It takes place on August 19 and 20 in Diessenhofen, Switzerland.
In all, 23 competitors will vie for the honours - including the two men from the Republic of Ireland. There will also be two competitors from Northern Ireland - namely James Coulter and David Jamison.
The remaining competitors come from a long list of countries - as far away as Russia.
Most will use Kverneland ploughs; one (from Scotland) will use an Overum. James Coulter (from Northern Ireland) will use a Dowdeswell; a competitor from Denmark will use a Molbro plough.
The competitors will use a variety of tractors, including New Holland, Ford, John Deere, Case IH, Kubota, Valtra, Massey Ferguson, Fendt, Deutz-Fahr and Same models. Jer Coakley will drive a Ford; Dan Donnelly will pilot a John Deere.
Interestingly, New Holland is a partner (sponsor) of the EPF.
Ploughing Championships in Ireland
Closer to home, preparations for the 86th National Ploughing Championships are well underway in Screggan, Co. Offaly.
As Europe’s largest outdoor event, according to the NPA, this is a major undertaking – last year’s event was attended by 283,000 visitors and this year more than 1,700 exhibitors will be present.
The National Ploughing Championships will take place this year from Tuesday, September 19, to Thursday, September 21. Key aspects of the event which are returning this year include: Live Music and Dancing, Threshing, Sheep Dog Trials, Loy Digging, Fashion, Meggers, Sheep Shearing, Hunt Chase and Pony Games.