BY JOHN SEXTON
IN a year in which many centenaries are commemorated, Clonakilty Show takes its place amongst the elite as it stages its 100th event this Sunday, June 7th.
Reflecting back in time we note that the first show, a horticultural show, was held on the grounds of Lisselan Estate on August 2nd, 1900. The second one was held on September 12th, 1901, and was styled a horse and cattle show. The first show president was Reginald Bence Jones of Lisselane.
On June 18th, 1914, the last (pre-World War I Show was held and the programme included an aviation display by Lord Carbery. Shows were abandoned during the war years and the Society went dormant for the next ten years.
In 1924 , a new Society was formed under the presidency of David White, PC, MCC, and secretary P O’Donovan. The first show was held in the present Fair field and a year later TH (Harry) Bateman, Shannonvale, was elected secretary. From 1930, onwards, the show gained rapid popularity, under the guidance of two new men at the helm, TJ O’Donovan,T D (Island House), president, and Maurice McCarthy, secretary.
Other presidents down the years included JJ O’Donovan, Michael White, Willie Eady, John K Kingston, Tim Hurley, Michael O’Donovan, Richard Kingston, James Healy, Michael O’Donovan (Ahaglasklin), Michael John Calnan and the present man Tadhd Healy. Similarly the secretaries have played a leading role---Peter O’Neill, David Walsh, Ray O’Neill, Richard Kingston, Pete Kingston, Mary O’Leary, Marie Dillon and the present secretary Donal McCarthy.
One of my longest memories of Clonakilty Show goes back to 1945, a year which heralded in two very important events – the end of World War II, and Cork (powered by Clonakilty players) winning the All-Ireland senior football final. To be given a day off from the chores of the farm was something of a real thrill and, as we travelled westwards with my father in the horse and trap, picking up Edward Patrick along the way, the comments turned to the clerical changes, with Father Coakley moving from Courtmacsherry to Clonakilty.
Having stabled the horse in Cahalane’s yard, we didn’t miss the walk up to the show grounds. We soon could hear James Cahalane’s melodious voice ring out announcing some of the class winners, including James Whelton (Lislevane) winning the two-year-old heifer class – very encouraging to hear a neighbour being declared a winner.
Practically all the cattle were shorthorns with one black and white owned, I believe, by Kingstons of Tawnies. As we trekked through the exhibits in the Industrial Hall, little did we realise that we would be seeing so much romance being generated across this floor in ten years time.
Next on view were the butter exhibits from each of the four co-ops, wondering which would be the winner since they all looked the same. On to the show ring where the exciting events were taking place – the driving with Neily O’Donovan, Tommy Salter and Tom O’Donovan in action; the trotting with Candy, Billy Boy, Brown Dust and Laddie From Leap to the fore, while the showjumping brought out a more sophisticated well-groomed individual and the inter-hunt with pairs jumping in unison were a treat to watch.
The 100th Clonakilty Show this Sunday will host a qualifying round for the ISA and, All-Ireland Craft Butchers Home Cook Competitions, one of five agricultural shows countrywide hosting such an event. The organisers have married some of the events with those of 100 years ago, with many of them appearing in period dress.
Traditionally, the entries came to the show by rail and the animals would be paraded up through the town led by a pipe band and, to mark the 100th show, the parade will be revived this Saturday evening, June 6th, at 7pm from the site of the old railway station near the Garda Barracks, down McCurtain Hill, up Pearse Street, led by the Ballingeary Pipe Band and the Army Equitation School and on to Emmet Square where the official opening of the 100th show will take place.
To bring a bit of extra colour to the town for the weekend of the show, the Chamber of Commerce has come on board to organise a window / shopfront display, the theme being the 100th Clonakilty Show.
There will be a memorial ceremony in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at 8pm on Friday, June 5th, to be followed by a reception in the Parochial Hall, Western Road.
The programme for Sunday will commence at 10.30am with a welcome address and blessing of exhibits in the show grounds and the competitions will include all the usual classes for livestock, bloodstock, poultry, art and craft, band recital and blacksmith exhibition.
The Messhams ‘Wall of Death’ should prove a great attraction, as will Gerard’s Mobile Farm, plus the carnival funfair and amusements – a real treat for the children. There are a number of All-Ireland championships down for decision plus the Macra na Feirme Craft Challenge and Tug-o-War final and many, many more event.
So, given a fine day, for a great family day out Clonakilty Show Grounds is the place to be this Sunday, June 7th.