Castleis­land horse fair day re­minds us all of the way we used to be

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - COMMUNITY NEWS - John Reidy’s

LOOK­ING at the fore­cast and the weather it­self for the few days af­ter the an­nual Novem­ber 1st Castleis­land Horse Fair Day one can only thank God for the few days we got when it re­ally mat­tered.

Thank God that, for the good of the town, the weather obliged all through the Pa­trick O’Ke­effe Tra­di­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val and held its com­po­sure un­til af­ter the fair day.

There are peo­ple who will swear that Thursday’s was the big­gest fair they had ever seen. Who could ar­gue with them? They’re right, of course. That’s a state­ment of fact – for them at least.

Of course there have been big­ger fairs than Thursday’s – gi­gan­ti­cally big­ger. Days on which you couldn’t draw a leg on the street or on the flags.

Days when schools had the be closed for safety’s sake and long be­fore safety be­came the is­sue it is to­day.

Con­sider Thursday’s fair for a minute. The throngs of an­i­mals and peo­ple from top to bot­tom, the noise and bus­tle and her­itage and tra­di­tion of the events un­fold­ing on the main and back streets around.

Take a cou­ple of an­gles of thought on that, and then think gi­gan­ti­cally big­ger – as it was in the days of yore.

And then, add the fact that all of this – or some­thing very like it – hap­pened in Castleis­land once a month with cat­tle and horse fairs.

Think also that it hap­pened to a lesser de­gree ev­ery Tues­day for the pig mar­kets and on De­cem­ber 8 for the gen­eral Christ­mas and turkey mar­kets.

Think of the eat­ing houses of the day and the pub­lic houses and the rev­enue gen­er­ated and the work for all who wanted it and the mar­ket town rep­u­ta­tion be­ing laid down and strength­ened.

What­ever else last Thursday’s fair did, it gave us all a glimpse of the kind of town and the kind of men­tal­ity we came from.

And Castleis­land wasn’t the only ru­ral town in Kerry or in Ire­land which con­ducted its busi­ness in that bold, self-per­pet­u­at­ing way of life.

How­ever, it’s a man­ner now largely smoth­ered by bu­reau­cracy, hin­drance and ne­glect by gov­ern­ments in recent years in par­tic­u­lar.

It’s a way of life which has left the stage with all its props. Novem­ber 1st in Castleis­land is the one day of nos­tal­gia left to us.

But it’s more than that. It pays its pas­sage as if to make it forcibly clear to us how it was and the way we were.

And, imag­ine af­ter all that, there was a move­ment afoot only a few years ago to move the fair off the street al­to­gether.

Now, wouldn’t that be the fi­nal in­sult to a town and its long and proud tra­di­tion of fend­ing for it­self and its peo­ple?

Photo by John Reidy

Michael Healy Rae TD get­ting the in­side track from Bal­lyre­a­neen Princess from Castle­maine at Castleis­land Horse Fair on Thursday.

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