This is Ireland’s, and maybe Europe’s, oldest traditional fair and an annual gathering has taken place here since at least the time of the High Kings of Tara.
The main purpose of the fair is the sale of horses, and watching the hundreds of horse dealers gathered with their stock and doing business on the Fair Green is a highlight of the week. All sorts of horses are sold, from tiny ponies to huge hunters and more that one international show jumper was bought as a young horse at the fair.
Selling is done the old way – no auctioneers or fancy sales ring, the horses gather, the buyers gather and deals are done in cash.
There is also lots more though, music, especially traditional music, is everywhere, there are tug-of-war competitions, bareback riding, a carnival and many street traders selling just about anything you can imagine.
It can all seem a bit chaotic to be honest, there are many people who worry about the quality of care the horses receive. It also has a undeserved reputation for being quite rough – it’s probably the only festival website I’ve ever seen where the Gardaí are explicitly thanked for keeping things trouble free. The reality is that rowdy it certainly can be, but there has been very little trouble in recent years and it is all good fun if you approach it in the right frame of mind.
Date and details for 2024 subject to confirmation.
Here are some scenes from the fair in 2011: