Future of Spancilhill Horse Fair threatened
Difficulties obtaining insurance are posing a threat to the world-renowned Spancilhill Horse Fair in County Clare.
That is according to independent deputy, Michael McNamara, who raised the matter concerning the three-day horse fair, which was due to celebrate its 400th-anniversary last year, in the Dáil earlier this week.
The Clare T.D. told the house that British insurers’ post-Brexit departure from the Irish market has “compounded” the difficulties already posed by rising insurance costs.
He explained that this has led organisers unable to secure the necessary insurance to proceed with the fair, which is due to take place on June 23rd, 2022.
McNamara described Spancilhill, one of Ireland’s oldest horse fairs, as an “important cultural institution” in Ireland. He said it has recently gained its place in Ireland’s National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
He continued, “Like much of our intangible cultural heritage, it is not only intangible but is endangered.”
“It will not be around for much longer unless the government takes action to protect it because it cannot now get insurance.”
He highlighted that insurance is a “significant” obstacle for any event. Therefore, he stated that occupiers’ liability is an issue for every organisation in the country.
The Clare TD explained that King Charles granted a charter for the historic Spancilhill Fair in 1621. He added that the event did not occur in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He told the house: “The fair at Spancilhill is iconic. However, there are other community groups organising various festivals and events this summer, having been in abeyance for two years, and they may not be able to get insurance. I hope the Minister of State has some succour to offer,” stated the deputy.
In response, Minister of State at the Department of Finance Séan Fleming has proposed that he and deputy McNamara make an approach to Insurance Ireland and Brokers Ireland about securing insurance for the event.
Minister Fleming explained: “On a related industry, point-to-point pony clubs and hunts could not get insurance last Christmas.”
“We got that matter sorted, again by a large group of hunts, pony clubs and point-to-point races coming together.”
“Collectively, through two different brokers, they increased competition and got insurance. There is scope to do that here, although I am not making any commitment whatever,” he explained.
He asked the deputy to contact his office and confirmed “we will talk to” Insurance Ireland and Brokers Ireland to “see if they can help”.
“I stress again that this a market issue. We will not have a role but if we can point people in a helpful direction, we will be happy to do so”, he added.