Did you go to the Ploughing Championships? We did!

Sep 25, 2018

What we have been up to…

Recently, a few of us from Chartered Accountants HQ went to the National Ploughing Championships. Here in Member Services, we are always looking for ways, times and places where we can meet members and to chat with people who might be interested in what we do: training with us or to access our services such as CPD courses. We figured this might be a good place to go.

We had a small stand in one of the exhibition halls (thankfully indoors but more of that anon) beside lovely “neighbours” from the Central Statistics Office, Revenue, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, a number of schools, National Adult Literacy Agency to name just a few. There was a great atmosphere in the hall and everyone was helpful and happy to be there at such a positive event.

“The Ploughing” has become legendary and now I see why. I had visions of arriving at the outskirts of the venue to sit in traffic for hours. The only time we stopped was pulling up in the car park. This could teach the strictest of military strategists a thing or two about logistics. Our guide pack told us exactly what block, row, stand and unit our stand was in…the map showed trees – it couldn’t have been any clearer.

To get this in context I had a look at the history of the event (on the go in one form or other since 1931 in case you’re asked at a table quiz) and the 2011 census which told me that over the three days of this event, some 291,500 were expected to attend…the closest population of a county to this is Galway with just over 250,000. I won’t bombard with any more statistics but this event really is massive. What’s really awesome about it is the scale and how well it’s managed.

Storm Ali made her way through the site on the first night, forcing the organisers to make the decision to close for the second day. When I arrived on Thursday I was told that the staff had been up and working throughout the night to have the site safely open for business – they were battening down the hatches all night and to me, it looked like nothing had happened. There was no evidence of the destruction Ali had caused.

So what was it like? Well, cold is the first answer but lovely is the real one. There was constant human traffic through the hall (I keep nearly writing “tent” but that doesn’t really tell the truth) and so many people stopped for a chat. Most conversations started with “can I have a pen?” but many evolved into how is your day, what do you do, where have you travelled from and so on. It was lovely to chat with our fellow exhibitors and find out what they do too. I must say that I really enjoyed it.

There were lots of people asking about becoming a chartered accountant, for themselves or a family member, about courses, about the profession in general. And they told us about where they had come from, what they hoped to see there, the best spots for a hot cup of tea…and a few members popped over to say hi too.

This was our first year there but I hope it will be the first of many…when we find out where it will be next year, but that's the worst-kept secret by now. I had never heard of Screggan before but I won’t forget it. See you next year...in a certain, to-be-announced county.

Amy Dawson - Member Services - was at the Ploughing as were colleagues Ciara Tallon - who organised getting us there - and Orla Aherne and Patrick Jordan who's attendance was sadly rained off.