November 1st Is Horse Far Day in Castleisland

Afternoon shadows lengthening but the horse trading goes on during Castleisland’s annual November 1st horse fair day. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Between the jigs and the reels – quite literally – I forgot that Castleisland’s annual November 1st. Horse Fair is on top of us this Friday from early morning.

It will happen in the morning – as one of Ireland’s oldest surviving fair takes over the streets and the public houses and the restaurants of Castleisland for the day. A few hours of dry weather would be a bonus.

Oldest in Ireland

I have been convinced for a long time that this fair is, indeed, one of the oldest in Ireland simply because of the fact that we have had a castle here since 1226.

The day to day life and survival of a castle, its attackers and defenders depended on horse-power and therefore would have to have ready access to places where horses were bought and sold.

Old Moore’s Almanac

The diehards who have been coming to the fair all their lives from various parts of the country will have the November 1st. branded on their psyche and won’t need reminded by me or my equals.

Others will have dipped into their 2019 edition of Old Moore’s Almanac to check out the continuing existence of this and other events like it.

The Importance of the Almanac

The importance of the Old Moore’s Almanac was such one time that no one would discuss long range weather forecasts with have read the current copy.

There was scarcely a house that didn’t have a copy and, as a publication, it has thrived for over two-and-a-half centuries.

The Irish Merlin

Its own blurb has it that in 1764, an almanac called The Irish Merlin burst onto the scene. It was published by Theophilus Moore, known henceforth to generations of Irish people as Old Moore.

Although in its early form this almanac didn’t bear the compiler’s name, it was indeed the first Old Moore’s Almanac.

It would be interesting to see how early in its days of existence did it get to mention the fairs in Castleisland and, in particular, how early it documented our only surviving fair.