The Enduring Tradition of Browne’s Open Day and the Appreciative Hordes

Thomas Brennan, Castleisland (left) pictured with Dennis O’Connor manager Browne’s Agri, Steel and Builders Merchants and Tom Herlihy, Ballymacelligott at Browne’s annual open day on Wednesday. ©Photograph: John Reidy 22-5-2024

Back when there was a u in Lyracrompane and an i in Scartaglen, Castleisland and its hinterland was predominantly a farming stronghold – it still is.

However, for those who lapse on occasion there is always something there to remind them.

Wednesday was one such day in at least two centres of farming related activity in the precincts of the town.

The town centre based Castleisland Co-Op Mart had as busy a day as ever it has had in its long history and there was a pause for a genuine cause of celebration in the whirl of its non-stop world of trading. More about that later.

A couple of hundred yards west of the mart, on the other side of the river, and within a cannon-ball roll of the deeply historic Norman Castle, there was another business celebrating its longevity.

Annual Open Day

All at Browne’s Agri, Steel and Builders Merchants, under the management of Ballymacelligott man Dennis O’Connor, were celebrating their annual open day.

And Mr. O’Connor was delighted with the turn out as he engaged with exhibitors and visitors back and forth throughout the grounds.

This was a day that was undoubtedly made by the weather which so accommodated the idea of outdoor living – the furniture for which abounded around the spacious grounds of the business.

Hordes of Locals and Visitors

It was made available and found most useful as the hordes of locals and visitors enjoyed the hospitality of the hosts for the day long feast of everything that was good.

The feasting element was announced far and wide as the readily identified aroma of barbecued food was carried town-ward on the gentle southwesterly breeze of the day.

People mixed and relaxed and wandered around to the many stalls with no worries about potato blight, small craft warnings and thunder or the like.

Following their Senses

They lined up, following their senses, at Denis and Christine Cronin’s tented food stall and were treated to what they fancied courtesy of their hosts – and there was an ice cream van on site for afters.

The business side of the day was taken up with all imaginable kinds of household goods and the equipment, supplies and tools of modern farming and home life.

There were bales of everything that could be baled, there were ladders, lifts and platforms and spirits were raised by the activity as much as by the weather.

The Gifted Thomas Moran

And you had the option of just sitting quietly and listening to the music and songs of the gifted Thomas Moran and his guitar and just watching the world of business that is Castleisland today – and as it was yesterday.

You could be recalling that, on these very grounds, there were blacksmiths shoeing horses and wheelwrights making and repairing carriage wheels and lads beating strips of iron to sharp points in preparation for the next invasion of their in-laws.

That was long before they cared whether or not there was an i in Scartaglen or a u in Lyreacrompane.

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