IT TAKES A VILLAGE - National Ploughing Championships 2023



Since its origins in 1931, the National Ploughing Championships has grown in popularity year on year, attracting up to 300,000 visitors over the course of the three day event. The scale of the show, which is attended by people of all ages from every corner of the country, makes for a perfect opportunity to highlight the achievements of some of the many small businesses which are thriving in various locations in Ireland.


To this end, the Local Enterprise Village, will showcase 31 SMEs who have been supported by the Local Enterprise Offices across the country.


Kieran Comerford, Chair of the organizing committee on behalf of the 31 Local Enterprise Offices, says the event, which runs from 19th to 21st September in Ratheniska, Co. Laois, will be hugely beneficial to the businesses involved.


“The Local Enterprise Village is a great way (for SMEs) to connect with potential customers, partners, and industry leaders with the support of their Local Enterprise Office,” he said. “It offers a unique opportunity for those who participate to showcase their products and services, learn about new trends, generate leads and produce sales.


“Customers are the lifeblood of every business - as without them, there would be no business. They are the ones who generate revenue, spread the word and provide valuable feedback which helps SMEs to improve - and an event like the Local Enterprise Village creates a unique opportunity for the participants to do this.


“It is a way for companies to participate in a very large-scale event with hands on support which includes a pre-development process, consisting of training, marketing, co-ordination supports and logistics as well as on-site support from the team at the Local Enterprise Office.” 


Mary Murray of JR Games, which specialises in GAA themed jigsaws, is one of the business owners who will be displaying her wares at the upcoming event - she is delighted to be representing her LEO and says the opportunity to be part of the ‘Village’ has given her a ‘massive boost of confidence’.


“It gives me and my products instant credibility by being associated with the Local Enterprise Village,” she said.  “There’s also a lovely sense of camaraderie and support amongst the businesses I’ve met so far and I’m looking forward to meeting the rest.  Also, the support and preparation from LEO has been impeccable.  We had one day of in-depth training in June where absolutely everything from where to park to how to set up our stands was covered.  I’ve been able to participate in two photo shoots with them - something which, as a small business, I couldn’t afford to do on my own.  I’ve also been lucky enough to be featured in a number of high profile media outlets as a result of my participation - and when you’re a new business trying to raise awareness of your existence, that kind of exposure is invaluable. 


“So, I’m excited for the event and looking forward to lots of GAA banter, but hopefully I will be busy selling jigsaws.” 


Dairy Farmer, Gail Daniels is also looking forward to the opportunity to showcase her business Bó Bar soap, a natural handmade soap using cows milk from her award winning, grass fed, family run dairy farm in South Kilkenny.


The business was created out of necessity as a means to soothe her daughter’s eczema - as she started making her own soap and got so much positive feedback from friends and family that she decided to ‘take things a step further’ by marketing and selling her product.


This proved to be a success and this year she will be representing Kilkenny at the Local Enterprise Village and she says that although she is nervous at the prospect, she is more than ready to embrace the opportunity.


“The Local Enterprise team held a workshop day a few months ago which was really helpful to teach us about staging our booths,” she said. “It was a great learning experience because at first, the idea of such a big event was quite daunting. But I am hoping that the platform to showcase my products will give me a better brand awareness for the nine varieties of soap I have made from natural ingredients - including honey, oats, carrots and nettles - which are sourced locally where possible.”


Also at the event will be husband and wife team, Kieron and Claire Moran, who have been developing unique flavours since they established Moran’s Mega Jam in 2010. With a diverse range including Strawberry & Bubble gum, Raspberry and Tiramisu, Blackcurrant and Guinness and Apple Pie, the innovative duo are launching their latest creation, Peach and Bourbon, at the National Ploughing Championships - and say that they are thrilled with the opportunity.


“To be selected to represent Cavan at the LEO Village is such an honour for us - giving us the opportunity to showcase our small company to large numbers of existing and potential customers, which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,” said Kieron. “Networking with other small businesses is so important and can help open doors as we can get advice from others, who might not even be in our sector, on how to move forward through any obstacles and help grow our business. The event also gives us the opportunity to speak to the buyers from all the major stores in an informal setting.


“Since we found out we would be representing Cavan, we have received lots of support – and our stand was partially funded by the LEO making it possible for us to take part in this great event. They have also given us lots of mentoring and general guidance on how to present the stand and showcase our business to get the best out of the show-we also received advice on what to expect from such a large successful show which - and this has been so valuable to us.”


Indeed, Kieran Comerford hopes that all of the businesses involved will benefit from the experience.


“The opportunity to meet with thousands of people, is going to be a great boost to their business,” he said. “The National Ploughing Championship is one of the biggest occasions on the Irish calendar - so for our small businesses, this is a huge opportunity to engage with thousands of prospective customers every day and this could have a significant impact on their business.”