The opening of the second day of the Ploughing Championships in Co Offaly has been delayed because of the high winds forecast in Storm Ali.

A status orange wind weather warning has been issued for Connacht and other 12 counties across Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

The National Ploughing Association said it made the decision in the interest of public safety.

The exhibition arena will remain closed for the general public until 11am, but it will stay open an extra hour in the evening until 7pm.

However, the NPA added: "National Ploughing classes will commence as scheduled 10.30am tomorrow."

President Michael D Higgins officially opened the 87th National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore today. 

Around 97,500 people attended the first day of the three-day event.

The largest event of its kind in Europe, the event celebrates all aspects of rural life in Ireland with more than 1,700 exhibitors and trade stands, as well as 350 ploughing competitions. 

This year's championships are taking place against the background of a particularly tough year financially for farmers.

A Red C opinion poll published in today's Farmers Journal found 60% of them believe the economic recovery has not benefited them.

Incomes in some sectors are expected to be down by as much as 50% and Teagasc is reporting that more than half of farmers in the south and southeast of the country are suffering from a shortage of fodder to feed their animals this winter.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere at the event is expected to be very positive with an estimated 300,000 people expected to make the journey to Screggan, just outside Tullamore, to attend over the three days.

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