Ballinasloe Horse Fair 2023

The Horse Fair was mighty this year. I always love it as I have such special memories from when I did my nurse training in Ballinasloe, Portiuncula Hospital. Besides being the oldest Horse Fair in Europe and where Napoleon is believed to have bought some of his horses, it is also a Mecca for the traveller community.

One year, when I was nursing, we had two warring traveller families on two different wards. One had stabbed another for snogging his wife. The two families were the Wards and the McDonaghs, and the Gardai had to stand outside on each ward to ensure no further disagreements.

This year, I got to help with the phenomenal Dog Show. There were possibly one hundred entries with many beautiful dogs. The excitable owners were desperate for a trophy/rosette, and children showed their pooches with great delight.

My favourite was a giant black Russian terrier. I pointed him out to the judge in the ring on my right, and he said it was the worst specimen he had ever seen. My judge gave it first prize. Both are well-known European Dog Show judges. It just goes to show there is no accounting for taste. A magnificent Afghan Hound won first prize. There were twenty-five competitions in total, from best in a variety of breed classes, to most obedient, judges’ personal favourite, best fancy dress, and best tricks. A ten-year-old girl won four prizes. She and her two dogs were incredible, and she behaved like a grown adult who had been showing dogs her whole life.

I met the infamous Axe lady and was blessed by a gypsy. And they are two wonderful stories for another day.


All the best

Stay fab