WATCH: President Michael D Higgins officially opens the Ploughing Championships 2018

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Sarah Peppard

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Sarah Peppard

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President Michael D Higgins has officially opened the National Ploughing Championships in Offaly.

Michael D Higgins took to the stage at the bandstand at around 12 noon to deliver a speech, recognising rural Ireland and the work done by organisers to create such a unique and large event.

Organisers expect more than last year's 112,500 first day record to be broken this year with almost 300,000 people expected through the gates at Screggan over the three days.

Michael D Higgins' appearance at the Ploughing comes as almost all of his rivals for the upcoming Presidential election make their way around the site near Tullamore. 

National Ploughing Association MD Anna May McHugh also spoke at the opening of the Ploughing as the event opened for its third and final year in Offaly.