Sunday 24 February 2019

400-year-old horse fair goes off without a hitch

Dara deFaoite

More than 3,000 people, many from the Travelling community, descended on the village of Borris, Co Carlow, yesterday as one of the country's oldest horse fairs got under way.

Up to 500 horses were traded on a small green directly across from shops and businesses which have refused to open during the running of the fair.

Additional gardai were drafted into the village, which has a population of 1,100, and high fencing was erected after residents had complained in previous years of traders parking on their property and leaving "mountains of rubbish".

Many residents were annoyed when stall-holders, selling everything from power tools to Elvis posters, moved in early on Thursday for the one-day fair. The residents say the event "often runs into three or four days".


"The people of Borris agree that the fair should continue, but they want traders to stay for one day only and to take their rubbish with them when they go," said local TD Mary White.

A team of 16 county council workers are to begin a €14,000 clean-up this morning. Most of the traders didn't appear to be bothered that the village pubs, and some of the shops, had closed for the duration of the fair.

"Sure that's bad business, they'd make a killing if they'd the sense to stay open," said one punter in the horse ring.

Paddy Connolly, a horse trader who travelled from Kerry, said that "selling was steady" yesterday. "There's been a good few buyers in from England," he noted.

Gda PJ Whelan, of Borris Garda Station said last night the event had gone off peacefully.

The fair, which is held annually on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, is believed to date back to a 400-year-old charter granted by England's Queen Elizabeth I.

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