Blog post

Leading the field: ploughing championships

Agricultural tests of skill and agility

Adrian Murphy (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

Ploughing championships

Ploughing is one of the oldest human activities, central to the development of agriculture. Ploughing fields - either with horses or tractors - is full of skill and technique, trying to achieve straight lines and neat furrows.

Competitions in ploughing have been held for centuries - informal contests held in rural communities.

However, since 1953, these competitions have gone global.

The first ever World Ploughing Contest took place in Canada in 1953. Ireland hosted the second contest in County Kerry in 1954.

colour photograph of a stone monument on which a plough is sitting

Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and United Kingdom - amongst others - hold national ploughing championships.

In Ireland, the National Ploughing Championships - also known as the Ploughing Match - has been held since 1931.

The event combines a ploughing competition with a large agricultural fair, as well as competitions in bread baking, pole climbing and more. The event is one of the largest outdoor events in Ireland, now attracting more than 200,000 visitors over the event's three days.

The World Ploughing Championships have been held in many countries, all across Europe - from Slovenia to Spain, Sweden to Switzerland.

In 2020 and 2021, many ploughing contests had to be cancelled or postponed. Let's hope they will be able to return soon.

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This blog is part of the Europeana Sport project which showcases cultural treasures relating to sporting heritage in Europe.