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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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300th edition of ‘Ireland’s oldest and largest’ horse fair taking place this weekend

Continuing a tradition that dates back to 1722, Ballinasloe will play host to the 300th edition of “Ireland’s oldest and largest” horse fair this weekend.

The week-long festival will kick-off off on Sunday, October 2nd, 2022 and incorporates three horse sale dates: October 2nd, 3rd & 8th.

According to organisers, patrons “attend from near and far to the community of the horse to meet old friends and acquaintances and enjoy all the hospitality that Ballinasloe has to offer”.

2022 Ballinasloe Fair 

According to the festival chairman, Mal Croffy, the Ballinasloe Horse fair is Europe’s oldest and the “greatest” celebration of the horse and equine culture in Ireland.

He commented that the committee has worked “tirelessly” to create a programme of events to ensure visitors to Ballinasloe have an “enjoyable and memorable” experience.

He explained that the equestrian element of its programme is “essential” to the fair’s continuance.

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Its loose lunging competitions on the opening day for 3-year-old horses and ponies have been “very successful” since their inception 30 years ago.

He commented: “These competitions continue to draw international buyers to Ballinasloe because the grade of horses/ponies competing has increased year on year.”

“It is no surprise to hear that some of those animals have gone on to compete at international showjumping events.”

“Our equestrian programme continues on October 3rd and 8th, and they continue to draw quality animals to Ballinasloe.”

Family activities 

He added that the festival program is “packed” with activities for all the family. The festivities began on Friday, September 23rd, 2022, with the selection of the 2022 Queen of the Fair, Melissa Glynn.

Organisers have put together a street entertainment and music programme on the festival soundstage for both weekends.

Mike Denver will officially open the fair at 2 pm, and an open-air concert will follow at 2.30 pm.

Misleór will also come to Ballinasloe on Monday, October 3rd, 2022, and two wooden horses built from recycled materials will be on display in St Michael’s Square, accompanied by Tinsmith Tom McDonnell, who will run an interactive tinsmithing workshop.

Misleór Illuminated will also take place at 8 pm at St Michael’s Church, Ballinasloe.

Cookery and fireworks

Renowned chef Rachel Allen will headline with her culinary skills at a cooking, fashion and fun night in the Shearwater on Thursday.

The festival fireworks show starts at 7.00 pm on Friday 7th, with family entertainment. The don king dancing troupe will commence their show at 7.30 pm.

The jiving festival competition will commence at 9 pm in St Michaels sq. and the tarmac tug of war will take place on the main street at 9 pm.

Saturday, October 8th, 2022. sees the return of the mare and foal & foal fair in the green with stalls and street entertainment in the town centre to commemorate the 300th anniversary. A special concert headlined by Abbaesque will start at 8 pm on Saturday.

Sunday street exhibitions

On Sunday 9th, the festival dog show, food and craft market, children’s bakery competitions, children’s tractor race and vintage display will take place in the town centre.

Due to popular demand, the motorbike stunt show returns for three shows on Dunlo street, commencing at 1.30 pm.

The show involves motorcycle arena trials specialists performing amazing feats of bravery.

Croffy continued: “Our Sunday street exhibitions are getting bigger and better every year, through the hard work and drive of our local vintage club.”

“The Bsloe & District Vintage Club is a great local success story, and we are delighted to have them on board.”

“We attract a large number of national and international visitors, but it is fantastic to be able to conclude our festival offering locals a great day of free entertainment and celebrating friendships old and new.”

“As any visitor or fair goer will tell you, all the events/activities stages are free, so the bulk of the revenue needed to pay for the attractions, the entertainment, and competitions come from sponsorship and support from the town’s business and commercial sector.”

“The lifeblood of the festival is its sponsors, and we are indebted to the local businesses that contribute towards our running costs which are in excess of €50,000.”

“We have no direct source of income, so we are reliant on sponsors. Any town in Ireland would love to have a weeklong festival and if our festival is to continue. then more sponsors need to come on board.”

Main sponsors:

  • Ballinasloe Credit Union;
  • Supermacs;
  • Jim Derwin;
  • Gullane’s Hotel;
  • Ballinasloe Vintners;
  • Galway County Council;
  • KPW;
  • Ahascragh Distillery;
  • Shearwater Hotel;
  • Department of Tourism & Culture;
  • Dubarry Ireland;
  • Barna Waste;
  • The Bread Basket.
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