independent

Thursday 2 October 2014

All the fun of the fair!

Harry Keaney

Published 23/08/2014 | 00:00

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They came, they saw... and most of them were awed.

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There was everything from a bearded dragon to a tongue-twitching snake.

In a stall, pieces of tasty pig were being sliced off a roasted carcass for sale to hungry visitors.

All sorts of crafts demonstrations, from haymaking to butter churning, could be seen.

And more than 130 stalls were selling everything from toys to tools, jewellery to jam.

There was dilisk, cockles, mussels and wrinkles. Old tractors were proudly lined up.

And a haughty steam engine from a by-gone age bellowed out to make its noble presence known.

Animals on show included prize cattle, poultry, donkeys, ponies, goats, even llamas.

And the scent of sizzling burgers and sausages hung on the languid August air.

Such was the 29th Old Fair Day in Tubbercurry last Wednesday.

And blessing of blessings, the rain held off; the Old Fair Day conspiracy failed to materialise.

As to how many people attended, no one seemed to really know.

But by 3pm, anyone who tried making their way through Tubber's streets certainly knew there was an elbow-to-elbow crowd.

Many people were of the opinion it was one of the biggest attendances ever.

Festival chairman Tommy McGuinness said: "I went up on the stage before Derek Ryan came on. I looked down the town and it was black with people. There must be 10,000 at least in the town."

For many of those in attendance, the Old Fair Day was an excuse to visit family and friends.

And they came from as far away as India. Mohinder Singh, topped off with a green/gold turban that matched his suit, cut an exotic figure. Meandering around with him was his son, Jaswiniten.

He's a chef in the Breaffy House Hotel in Castlebar. He has been living in Tubbercurry for nine years.

Mohinder thought the whole spectacle "very nice" and "a lot of fun". He said: "It's nice to see different people and different cultures."

Also visiting was John Dal Pizzol and his wife, Bridie, from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Bridie, however, was on home turf.

A member of the McGinty family from Cloonacool, she has spent the last 50 years in the US.

She said: "I used to come here when the real fair took place. There was a lot more cattle that time as well as horses and donkeys."

There was even an opportunity to get revenge on politicians.

Among the good-humoured participants in a charity water-dunking fundraiser was Senator Marc MacSharry. For €5, there were three chances to hit a target with a ball. The aim was to see those who took part come crashing down into a tub of ice-cold water.

It was all in aid of a new community park in Tubbercurry.

The town even had its own newspaper for the day, the Tubbercurry Champion.

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