Dublin Horse Show: Haggling is back as everyone looks for a deal
THERE was wheeling and dealing afoot, yet those chill winds swirling through the AIB bank HQ only a few yards across the road were being heeded. They were spending -- but oh so cautiously.
There was a nifty price tag of €15,800 hanging from a pair of four-legged animals in the antiques hall, located in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the RDS. Outside, a few of the competitors may also have been hoping that their costly charges would fetch a similar five-figure sum.
"It's early days, there is a good crowd and there has been good interest. Today, people are back and buying. They used to just jump at it but now they take their time and measure," said Mark Maguire, a salesman from Connacht Antiques in Dublin's old-world quarter on Francis Street.
His charges -- a pair of 19th-century statues of lions bought from a private house in Northern Ireland -- were worth the money, he said, as they were "very rare" and in good nick.
Similarly, on the horse front, a well-conditioned, sound, honest animal was also still very saleable.
Well-known Limerick horse producer Ann O'Grady said there were not quite as many UK buyers this year.
"It is a bit slow, people love to buy but they are cautious," she said, after being in the ribbons in the lightweight hunter mares with the four-year-old Ballingowan Martyna. She said prices had almost halved but there was still a market for a young horse with potential.
Back indoors, tucked inside the main hall away from all the international show jumpers and showmen hoping to ply their gleaming mounts, there was still plenty of action under way.
People were eyeing the price tags, from the immaculately polished Regency furniture to the jewellery on offer nearby.
"Everything is gone down in price -- property, stocks and antiques. But good things always hold their value," Mr Maguire explained.
"It is a known fact that when stocks and shares go down, people invest in antiques."
And a return to the Failte Ireland Dublin Horse Show was on the cards, he revealed, after they sealed a few deals.
Nearby, George Stacpoole, from Adare, Co Limerick, was a familiar face to many passers-by from his antics on RTE's popular television programme 'The Dealers'.
"We are always there for a deal, there's always an asking price and a selling price," the president of the Irish Antique Dealers Association divulged, adding that both haggling and bartering were truly back in vogue.
Other things that are firmly in fashion are beekeeping, lacemaking and slashing the bills -- at least if the crowds flocking around the Bord Gais stand were anything to judge by.
Most of the ladies may have been sporting fewer shopping bags and more make-up bags as the queues for the Blossom Hill Ladies' Day spiralled across the band lawn -- just a tad longer than the queue for the champagne and seafood bar, which was enjoying a busy afternoon.
One of the judges, the newly wed actress Amy Huberman -- whose other half, rugby star Brian O'Driscoll was missing from the hallowed rugby grounds -- revealed that it had been a bit like a "factory line" as they managed to briefly meet with the hundreds of milling participants.
"Things get back to normal very quickly," she said, as her hubby has dived straight back into training after the wedding of the year in Co Leitrim.
And those freebie blister pads being handed out by the 'Compeed Fairies' may have later proved a godsend, as the hundreds of hopefuls teetered off into the sunny afternoon.