There is a good handful of lingering memories hanging over from this year’s November Horse Fair.
Foremost is the wonderful weather conditions in which it was held. There were people wandering around the street until well after dark. The sights and sounds of full pubs and restaurants and the sheer success of the day were a joy to behold.
The numbers of horses may have been down on other years but those with an eye for the blood say that the quality on show was away up. Most of the poor creatures of skin and bone, which populated such gatherings after the crash, have now been taken out of circulation or been put to sleep – and free of their loads eternally.
There was also a lot of talk about ISPCA officers checking on the welfare of all animals at the fair. One trader had a litter of very small pups seized from him as they weren’t being looked after properly.
The most lingering of all the topics thrown up by the day was the state in which the place was left by the traders on the street. It was appalling – at least – and it wasn’t so much the products they were selling it was the old issue of packaging. There was plastic and cardboard and aeroboard thrown everywhere.
A Kerry County Council crew appeared on the street as soon as the last horse left town and began its annual clean-up. This has happened in other years too but, I suppose we are gaining a welcome intolerance of this kind of behavior.
Close on the heels of the rubbish issue in the order of conversational merit is the fact that Kerry County Council in its wisdom showed a blatant lack of regard for the many hard pressed businesses in town and sent a traffic warden to issue tickets to cars which were parked on the Killarney Road.
The council was well within its rights of course, but there’s an anger among traders here that they are being bled dry with rates and taxes. Then, on one of the few days in the year on which they have a chance to make those rates and pay that rent the council does its bull in a china shop routine.
It will leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who were ‘ticketed’ and it must be an issue to be taken up by our local representatives at council level.
Now, imagine for a minute that there was over a dozen of this kind of fair on the streets of the town ever year – close enough to one a month. Imagine what it did for the economy of the town.
It should be possible to bring back a spring and summer fair along with the November survivor. It needn’t be along the same format as last week’s. There is enough food producers around to make a showcase day on the streets and the other one could be written into a day of music and song.
There’s nothing new in that line of thinking but it did make a good living for generations of Islanders – and there’s every reason to believe it could again. We already have the November blueprint and, I’m sure, the old charter to cover it.