A FINE day greeted visitors to the Dingle Mart Grounds on Sunday as the 48th annual West Kerry Agricultural Show saw cattle, sheep, horses and ponies from all over Munster compete in a number of classes.
It was also a day for old friends to catch up; Dingle native Breda Carroll, who was home from Spain, quipped that she had brought the weather with her, something we are all grateful for.
Inside the mart there was plenty to see and so with the best in arts, crafts, cookery and horticulture on show. Aodán and Niall Browne from Baile an Mhuilinn, who won second and first places respectively for their rhubarb were delighted with the plaques as was John Farrell, the owner of Pax House, who received the overall award for cookery.
Elsewhere the longest serving vet in Ireland, Dingle's Vin Houlihan, shared some insights with the new Mayor of Kerry, Dingle councillor and farmer Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald from Glens who donned his chains of office to present prize winners with their trophies and cups. John Comer, President of the ICMSA was also on hand to present prizes.
Up the road, in a field overlooking Dingle Harbour, the sheep dog trials attracted a large entry from across Munster with Tipperary's Dan Morrissey taking top honours, winning the Mike Keane (Castlegregory) Memorial Cup which was presented by family members.
According to show secretary Paddy Browne, the show has come a long way from humble beginnings.
"Macra na Feirme was very strong in the area in the 1950s and 1960s and each August a carnival was held in the town," he told The Kerryman. "One of the organisers, the late Vera O'Keeffe, approached me, as I was the local Macra secretary at the time, to ask if the local agricultural committee could put on a side event to coincide with the carnival. So on August 15, 1964, we held our first show in Pairc an Aghásaigh which was a fairly basic event at the time with a few cows brought in by halter from Knocknahow, Caheroonapooka and a few more places."
The show's founding fathers were Jim Rohan (RIP), Bob Connor (RIP), John Nelligan (RIP), Donal Griffin, current President Michael O'Connor, James Brosnan (Vice-President), Micheál Lynch (Vice-President) and Paddy Browne (Secretary).
In 1972 a severe wind and rain storm hit Dingle knocking down a marquee, which had been hired to house the arts, crafts and horticulture sections of the show, forcing exhibitors to seek refuge in the cinema, which was run at the time by John Moore. The show, however, went on in spite of the foul weather.
Later on the show moved from Páirc an Ághasaigh to the Dingle Mart Grounds where it has been held ever since, bar 2011 when it was cancelled due to the foot and mouth scare.