Staying power - Ireland's oldest agricultural expo
Horses have long been at the centre of Iverk Show, the oldest agricultural expo in Ireland
Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30
Founded in 1826, the Iverk Show celebrates its 190th birthday this Saturday at its showgrounds outside Piltown, Co Kilkenny.
As the oldest agricultural show in the country, Iverk has also grown to be one of the most popular, particularly for equine and livestock exhibitors, many of whom mark it as the final outing of the showing calendar.
While much has changed since the early days, horse showing at the venue actually goes back over 145 years, with some of the first references dating to 1871.
The Irish Times of October 7, 1876, carried a report on the show and noted a "marked improvement in stock on previous years. And in no department was this more remarkable than the horse show; indeed, a finer lot of horses bred by farmers is not in the country".
Back then, the show dates varied from late September to early October and it was only in the latter years that it was moved to late August. The traditional day was always Thursday, but following a two-week postponement (to a Saturday) due to bad weather in 2009, it was decided to move the show to the last Saturday in August for the foreseeable future.
In the late 1800s, horses had a more practical use than today and many of the class descriptions would include those "best adapted for hunting purposes".
Indeed hunting was always popular in this area and the Bessborough Hunt often held its puppy show during Iverk.
Located just across the road from the show site, the Bessborough Estate was first built in 1745 and was home to the Ponsonby family until 1940, when taken over by the Oblate Fathers.