Like life itself, horse fairs are breaking out all over Ireland at present and even under what remains of the government restrictions.
Ballinasloe’s annual fair which attracts crowds believed to be in the 100,000 mark was busy – if not official or back to pre-Covid 19 levels – at the weekend by all accounts.
Closer to home, in Jack Duggan’s Castlemaine, they’re preparing for a sheep fair on the coming Sunday from 10am.
No Obvious Obstacle
It would be a major surprise if Castleisland’s only remaining fair day didn’t go ahead this year on Monday, November 1st as there’s no obvious obstacle on the immediate horizon.
It would be an even bigger surprise to discover that it isn’t one of the oldest surviving horse fairs in Ireland today.
Given the fact that the town charter was granted in the 1600s and that the Norman Castle can be traced back farther again, it is ‘fair’ to assume then that horses were in great demand here for centuries before that charter signing.
Made Legal and Taxable
We can also assume that the charter simply made legal and ultimately taxable the trading of animals and goods in an area deemed fertile enough as the base for a castle of such importance and magnitude.
Horses, because of their versatility, were surely high on the pecking order of trade in the Castleisland of that era. When armies moved men and equipment around the country it was by horse power.
Missing Out on 2020
Calls and enquiries are coming in already about the likelihood of the fair here going ahead.
As it falls, the most of a fortnight after all remaining restrictions are being lifted, it’s hard to see why it wouldn’t go ahead after missing out on 2020.
There were clear lines in the sand in 2020 as we approached this time of the year.
Cahirmee, another fair from deep in the mists of time, has now missed both the 2020 and 2021 fairs.
Bollards around Buttevant
Local Gardaí put traffic restricting bollards on the approach roads to Buttevant and issued social media warnings ahead of the annual July fairs down there.
However, as we’ve found from the experience of the past two years, we can’t take anything for granted but we must learn to live again while being vigilant and taking responsibility for our own health and well-being.
Come out Now….
If anyone knows of a reason why the ages old fair shouldn’t go ahead you’d want to speak now or forever hold your peace.
Stall holders are advised to book their stands on the yard of Castleisland Co-Op Mart by ringing Nelius McAuliffe on: 086 2534430 and, for the Poor House Yard, ring Marie Walsh on 086 1032436.
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