The timeless charms of our country shows
Published 05/08/2015 | 02:30
At a time when the big acts in every sphere seem to be getting ever bigger while the lesser lights find it harder to survive, I am glad to hear of a renewal of interest in our smaller country shows.
This year the Irish Shows Association has a high of 136 agricultural shows under its umbrella and, while it is a perpetual struggle, current president of the association Jim Harrison from Monaghan says the sector is currently experiencing a mini-revival.
During the Celtic Tiger, Jim says the ready supply of cash meant a boom in foreign holidays but many people are returning to more local events.
We recently attended our local Ossory Show, which has been running since 1898, where a lady I met put it well: "it's like the Church. When things were going well, people drift away but, when the going gets tough, back they come."
For many years as a teenager and well beyond I wouldn't have had much regard for my own local show. Faraway hills being green must mean the nearby ones are mucky.
It could be the passage of time, though I'd like to think that it's more to do with having experienced life in other parts of the world, but I now believe our country shows deserve the highest praise and every encouragement. They bring a burst of life into a locality and provide a fantastic service to the community. They are a national treasure.
"It's a big day out for locals. If people don't go to the pub, they only meet at events like this and mightn't see each other again socially until the same time next year," agrees Jim.