The Horse Fair Day – There’s Nothing Else Like It

Castleisland Horse Fair 1-11-2016
The winner of the trailer of winter fuel which was raffled at the fair on November 1st. in Castleisland. Mike Ward, College Road, Castleisland (fourth from right) with members of Castleisland Race Committee. All monies collected on the day will go to local charities. Included are: Bill Reidy (left) with: John Ryan, Lacey Reidy, Martin Nolan, Mike Ward, James Maher, Charlie Farrelly and Ronan Bourke. Photograph: Pat Hartnett

Castleisland’s annual and only surviving fair, the November 1st Horse Fair was an outstanding success. It’s the last of its kind here – there’s nothing else like it.

Under a near cloudless sky for its duration, the fair attracted its audience from all corners of the globe – if you took in the accents and complexions of its many visitors and stall holders.

From an overcast start, the early morning sullenness gave way to sunshine, cold sunshine but sunshine all the same.

Everything You’d Need

Close enough to everything you’d need in the round of the year was for sale throughout the mart yard and down along the old poor house wall in Walsh’s yard.

And there were people who came in search of the kind of article that you or I wouldn’t think of in the round of several years.

Take Maurice Stack from Knightsmountain. I met Maurice in the mart yard and he carrying an unusual looking rake over his shoulder.

Cetch That

I said as much to him and he responded: “Cetch that,” he said as he handed over his acquisition.

It was light as a feather and looked as if it could have been made in the last century. Timber pegs and wedges and all.

The substantial handle was made of ash and the teeth of the timber of an apple tree for durability. Its work will be seasonal and speed essential. Maurice bought his rake as a motorist would buy an energy efficient vehicle.

Music of the Street

Up and around the town, the music of the street, the banter, the clatter of boots and sticks tapping and tipping their way through the fair, faithfully following the traditional soundtrack.

In that it did what it was supposed to do, bring people to town to circulate a bit of cash in the area, the last fair of this once great market town’s full calendar was a roaring success.

There were heartening signs too of the deep-rooted and indomitable trading spirit of the locality. Nana Bea’s Restaurant left its Killarney Road base and set up its ‘Coffee Stall’ right i lár an aonaig.

Traditional Fare of the Fair

Bernadette Fitzgerald equipped herself with a basket and sold meat pies – the traditional fare of many a fair day in Castleisland.

I’m sure there was more of the ‘old spirit’ abroad but I repaired indoors early and got my seat in the first count and held it until I exceeded the quota.

P.S. I got a good natured, chiding, reminder yesterday that I hadn’t done anything here on the horse fair. The trouble is that I did and I put it up here but forgot to to make it public until now. It was that class of week. It’s filed now under: Good – Right Good.

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