Ballinasloe Horsefair is not just about showing and trading horses, it’s also about the people who own the horses
It’s about the men who stand in the middle of the Fairgreen and hold their horses, those who led their horses through the throngs and those who rode their horses with saddle & bareback
It’s about the children who accompany the men to the fair and it’s about the women who throng the streets, dressed in their finest – some accompanied by friends, some with children, many in family groups. There was sound, colour and activity to mesmerise. There were painted wagons and horse drawn traps of different types – none of which I can confidently name
There were beautifully groomed, horses in the finest livery put to these vehicles and there are equally well groomed men to drive them
I walked amid conversations and dealings. Having grown up in rural Ireland with memories of my father driving cattle to the local fair I felt I ‘got’ the Ballinasloe Horsefair in it’s true sense. I kept an eye and an ear to activities and my enjoyment of my visit was totally out of proportion to the event itself. I loved it!
There were no cheques, credit or debit cards in the Fairgreen on Sunday, all transactions were discreet and in cash. Given the number of horses, the number of traders and theprobable value of some of the animals, I’d hazard a guess that there was many times more cash in their pockets on the Fairgreen on the opening day of the Horsefair than was in all the established businesses in Ballinasloe combined
There were also the Street Traders; from traditional tinsmiths to sophisticated auctions held in open curtained, ridged trucks. Ballinasloe had all the trappings of a market town fairs from the late 1800’s ~ mid 1900’s. Although an event of the 21st century, the Ballinasloe Horsefair is a ‘must have’ experience for anyone interested in traditional Irish rural living
And finally there were those who perhaps like me – may have come just to see…