A Nod is as Good as a Wink – On Horse Fair Day

They used to say that a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse – and it’s certainly true as far as the Castleisland Horse Fair is concerned this year and last.

Last year Kerry County Council didn’t put a tooth in it when issuing media releases that the fair was off and that, under no circumstances, could it go ahead because of the restrictions of the time.

This year, action replaced words and thereby dispelled any lingering on / off doubts about Monday’s November 1st event.

That Was Enough

The same council covered all the town centre plant tubs and wrapped the trees in preparation during the past week. That was enough. That was the nod – or the wink.

The ancient fair took its rightful place on Main Street from early morning. There is rarely a doubt about the event’s crowd pulling ability – but there was this time in the run-up to Monday’s fair.

The crowds were close enough to former years for it to be declared a success and there was enough traffic in and out of the restaurants and the handful of pubs left in town to confirm this.

So Many Food Vendors

There were so many food vendors on the street that there was never a fear that fair-goers would go hungry or without choice.

It’s a constant source of amazement to find that people travel from the four corners of the country to be here on this day over the years. It’s like there’s some kind of in-built device directing them to events like this. Then, maybe Old Moore’s Almanac is still the bible of the fair-following fraternity of modern Ireland.

Selling for Desmonds Ladies Club

There was a man from Antrim, there were people from Wexford and from Gort in Galway.

Brendan Glavin set out with his daughter Emer from Gort on Monday morning around 9am and they got here on time to take their place i lár an aonaigh.

Emer said that the journey down was a pure pleasure for him as he’s a native of Abbeydorney. Mary Geaney was selling tickets for the Castleisland Desmonds Ladies Club and doing well too.

Singers and Musicians

There was never a fair held yet that didn’t attract singers and musicians and Jim Lyons from the Knockalougha Rambling House was on the street and gave a tuneful rendition of Brosna Town.

Lighting his pipe, Paddy O’Reilly, another fine singer strolling through the fair, was resting his voice until later on as he was singing out the back in The Crown on the previous night.

Inside Tom McCarthy’s window, piper Noel O’Mahony was the picture of relaxation. But there was danger of a session break-out at every turn and masks are no good against that class of urge.

Centuries Old Ritual

The weather gave the impression that it would spoil the fun of the fair early in the day – but not on this day.

People have been locked down for too long to run from a shower of rain and a watery sun sank away slowly behind the Market House.

The last of its rays threw long and ever lengthening, ever weakening shadows up along the welcoming street and paths as yet another day long episode in this centuries old ritual ran its course.

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