Cahirmee Horse Fair - Ireland
|Cahirmee Horse Fair - Ireland - 12th Jul 2012|
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"Cahirmee Horse Fair is one of the oldest fairs in Ireland, and is reputed to date back to the time of Brian Boru. The Duke of Wellington bought his horse, Copenhagen, which he rode at the Battle of Waterloo, at the fair. Napoleon also bought a horse at Cahirmee. The Fair came to Buttevant from Cahirmee Fair Field in 1921 and has been held in Buttevant since. Visitors to the fair can see the buying and selling of horses on the streets."
The Cahirmee Horse Fair, Buttevant County Cork. 12th July.
The Garda (Irish National Police Force) blockade the main road leading in to and out of Buttevant, detouring all but those destined for the historic Horse fair on the 12th July. The Fair that moved to Buttevant County Cork in 1921 is chaotic. But there is a certain organisation and understanding to the melee of the day. You soon understand that horses have right of way and the trick is to get out of their way as they throng and parade the streets of Buttevant. It is suggested that Cahirmee was the greatest Horse Fair in the British Isles and even today an estimated 1000 horses are sold on the day. There are the buyers and the sellers and they meet here and the deal commences. If you fancy a horse, and they came in every size and colour imaginable, you approached the rider or the handler, asked the price and then of course attempted to knock it down. As you walk through the swarming mass, parts of the dealing process can be overheard, with the hand spit and shake sealing the deal.
There is something reminiscent about the Old Dandenong Sale Yards in Victoria, but unlike them this Fair is not depressing, there is a sense of celebration of what is an ancient tradition and a grand day out, especially for the Gypsies or 'Travellers' who come to sell their yearly "coloured" production. This is the place for "Gypsy" Cob of any size or shape, although business was not booming. "You can't give them away", one insider told us. To give an idea of the prices being paid, an unbroken in (although pretty well broke by the end of the day here) four year old hunter was sold for 1000 euro. We saw some really nice horses, mostly in the rough and for the majority not much effort had been made to present them for sale. Straight out of the paddock on a rainy day to the main street of Buttevant; the well-presented horse was the exception and it is doubtful if the presentation made any more money. With a very few exceptions the horses were in good condition and amazingly unfazed by the chaos around them. There was no sign of any rough handling, what was evident was a sort of ease of being together, an understanding between the animals and their handlers. This is the way horses have been sold for centuries and some will find themselves, trimmed up in fancier yards and more than twice the price at least, in a very short time. If you are buying at Buttevant, you had better know your horses.
Julie Wilson Equestrian Photography
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