THE muck failed to keep the crowds away from the National Ploughing Championships in Co Laois this week and Horse Racing Ireland’s equuip marquee proved very popular with the public.

Hector Ó hEochagáin hosted proceedings on Tuesday and Wednesday, interviewing Barry Geraghty, Shark Hanlon and Dylan Browne McMonagle, while Robbie Irwin took over the microphone on Thursday.

Carol Nolan, director of people and industry education with HRI, reported on Wednesday morning: “We were here last year with Agri-Aware but this is our first year with this set-up and it’s been great for us. The tent was wedged most of the day. Barry Geraghty and Shark Hanlon told some super stories and Hector is very good at getting the crowd involved.”

The crowd at the Ploughing can be very “grabby” and Carol admitted that branded pens and caps were disappearing at an alarming rate. “We ran out of caps on Tuesday and one elderly gentleman said if I gave him mine he would wear it every day at Listowel! You couldn’t keep up with them.”

On a more serious note, equuip and HRI were at the Ploughing primarily to raise awareness of the many and varied career opportunities in racing. Carol said: “We met lots of students, including some who had been to the Junior Academy at RACE, and they were asking Barry Geraghty for advice.

“Shark Hanlon spoke about how his youngest son (Sean), who is in second year at school, looks after all their digital media and there are plenty of opportunities in that area too.

“It’s easier to have these conversations with people at the Ploughing than at the races or at the sales. People are more relaxed and they can approach the racing personalities easily and ask them questions.

“Our marquee was positioned opposite UCD and other colleges, so we stood out a bit and there was definitely value in it for us from a brand perspective.”