On Wednesday 23rd September 2015, National Ploughing Association Managing Director Anna May McHugh will be named Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by French Ambassador to Ireland Mr Jean-Pierre Thébault during a ceremony at the France Agriculture Pavilion on the 84th National Ploughing Championships.

For over 60 years, Mrs Ana May McHugh has contributed to the organisation of one of Europe’s largest agricultural fair. Each year, the National Ploughing Championship welcomes over 300,000 visitors making it Ireland’s largest agricultural market.

Her journey through the ploughing started in 1952 when she took a job as secretary to the founder of the National Ploughing Association, she was appointed Secretary in 1956 when the NPA became a limited company and elected Managing Director in 1973.

Anna May has been at the helm of the Ploughing Championships as it has evolved from a small ploughing match and agricultural trade exhibition to what is now widely recognised as the biggest agricultural event in Europe with 279,500 attendees in 2014, with over 1,500 trade exhibitors and 350 ploughing competitors this year.

Anna May is a Board Member of the World Ploughing Organisation, Chairperson of the Diocesan Finance Committee, and a Director of KFM Radio, she served on the board of Teagasc for 5 years, Laois Enterprise Board for 15 years and she is actively involved in a number of community organisations.

Some of the awards that Anna May has received include:

Laois Person of the Year, Millennium Laois Person of the Year, Rehab People of the Year Award – outstanding contribution to society 1998, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011, Irish Tatler woman of the Year – Hall of Farm Category 2013, Irish Independent – Event Industry Award 2009, Lions Club – Melvin Jones Fellow 2013/14, FBD Women and Agriculture Awards – Lifetime Achievement Award, Veuve Cliquot Business woman of the Year Award, Irish Security Premier Award and Ireland’s Women Executives Award – WXN – Irish Times Trailblazers Award 2014 and Honorary Doctorate degrees from universities are among some of the awards Anna May McHugh has been presented with throughout the years.

The Order of Agricultural Merit is one of France’s highest and most ancient honours created in 1883 by then Minister of Agriculture Jules Méline. The Order rewards people who rendered exceptional services to agriculture whether in public duties or in the very practice of agriculture. It also rewards people who distinguished themselves in scientific research or in related publications


  • 1700 Exhibitors
  • 240,700 Visitors
  • Over 300 Competitors
  • Almost 2 million feet of Trade Space
  • Economic Impact of over €35 million