Balinclar Spring Fair Day in Annascaul, Co. Kerry, Ireland, May 6, 2012. This video was created and kindly submitted to this site by Margaret Kennedy, an independent film maker in Alexandria, Virginia USA. “Both my parents (now deceased) were born in Annascaul — my mother, Nora Kane, in Coumduff and my father, William O’Brien, in the village itself. My grandfather was the railway station master. I have visited many times and was especially fond of my late uncle Sean Kane in Coumduff.”
History of Ballinclare Horse Fair
Annascaul Horse Fair is the oldest and biggest fair on the Dingle Peninsula. The Fair has been held every year on May 1st and October 4th since the early nineteenth century. In the beginning the faire was held in the townland of Baile an Chláir, one mile from Annascaul village. Baile an Chláir means the townland of the gathering.
People from all over the peninsula, from Blennerville to Baile an Fhéirtéaraigh gathered twice annually for this great faire. It was an unofficial public holiday on the peninsula. Farmers came to sell their cattle, sheep and especially their horses. Buyers came from all over Munster and even as far away as Roscommon and Laois.
The Maggies came with their stalls selling sweets, toys and all bric o brac. The carnival brought swing boats, shooting galleries, wheel of fortune and roulette tables. The tinkers wet up camp hear the fair field buying and selling all manner of scrap. The village publican’s set up tent in the field and did a brisk and boisterous trade all day. That evening the great crowds moved to the village. Then as now great sessions and drinking feats and great debate continued in the villages’ ten public houses. That night the Palace Ballroom heaved and resounded to the thunderous melody of the foxtrot, the polka and the Kerry set.
The great threat to the fair was the faction fighting. Ballinclare did not escape in this regard. The fair declined a little under the threat of the faction fighting. A decision was made to move the fair to the village where it would be easier to police the fair. The fair was first held in the village on May 1st 1924. Even bigger crowds and bigger fairs were the norm. the fair attracted all manner of people not just farmers, as people enjoyed the thrill, the business and the camaraderie of the fair.
The fair was tremendously popular right up until the seventies. The mart started to replace the fair, however the fair in Annascaul always survived while many others on the peninsula failed. In the early nineties a great effort was made to revive the fair. This effort was successful and now the fair is an integral part of the social life of Annascaul and of the peninsula.
A great horse fair is held on the Sunday of the May Bank Holiday weekend. A sheep, cattle and smaller horse fair is held on October 4th. At this stage the whole weekend is much more than just a fair. The horses parade up and down the village, the street is busy with stalls of all type and colour. A farmer’s market is going from strength to strength and novelty and fun events are the order of the weekend. Dog-shows, children’s sports, sheaf tossing, hill-walks, stage drama, arts and crafts and mighty music sessions abound.
The appeal of the fair is no longer confined to the parish or the peninsula. Tourists, day-trippers return again and again for these weekends. Friendships blossom, thirsts are sated, the senses are delighted, all the thrill of the fair. Beidh fáilte is fiche roimh éinne a thiocfaidh ar cuairt go dtí ar Chláir.