Minister of State, Patrick O’Donovan helped launch the Newcastle West Show
IN a world of rapid changes, the Newcastle West Show is an annual reminder of steadiness and continuation.
It is also a testimony to local determination and to the volunteering spirit. And Minister of State for Finance, Patrick O’Donovan remarked on that volunteering spirit when the 2017 show was launched this week.
“The most important thing here is the show has been running for generations,” he said.
“And this is part of what it is to be part of rural Ireland, to have an agricultural show with a strong community component.
“It doesn’t happen on a wing and a prayer,” Minister O’Donovan continued. “The most important thing here is the volunteerism, which keeps it going. Without the volunteer network, these shows would be consigned to the dustbin.
“That is why it is important the community supports it, if for no other reason than to thank the volunteers who have put it together for another year.”
It is, he added, a great opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and services but is also a “shop window” for community and voluntary groups.
“You will never get a recruitment opportunity like it,” he said. The trade stands are free, he pointed out, and he urged groups and businesses to set one up for the day.
“Shows are finding it very hard,” Peter Leonard, the chairman of the Newcastle West Show committee acknowledged. “But we are determined to stay going.”
They were happy with the turn-out at last year’s show, he continued, and were hoping to see a good turn-out again this year. “It is fun for all the family,” he stressed.
“What we are trying to do is to get the town as involved as possible,” show secretary, Seamus Shanahan said. One of the new attractions for this year is the involvement of the West Limerick Vintage Club and a display of vintage and classic cars, tractors and farm machinery.
Also, to mark a century of the Ford company in Ireland, there will be a display of Ford New Holland and Ford tractors.
“We are getting as many people as possible to bring along their New Holland tractors,” Mr Shanahan said. “And there will be a prize for the best turned out.”
A key feature of the show, of course, are the cattle, sheep and goat classes. “We are growing our cattle classes,” Mr Shanahan said with satisfaction, explaining there will be up to 30 cattle classes. “People would travel far for a show,” he added.
Newcastle West Show also has a reputation for its horse and pony classes and the committee is delighted to host the Horse Sport Ireland Foal Championship qualifier. This year also sees a return of the Horse Sport Ireland-backed loose school jumping qualifier for young horses. “We are the only show with a qualifier for the RDS,” Peter Leonard explained.
The All Ireland Donkey Derby Championship with its €2000 prize money will also be run at the show, Robbie Cronin explained.
“This is our fifth year,” he said. Donkey derbys, he added, had all but disappeared but they are now back again. And speed is what counts. You also have to train the donkeys when they are young, he explained. “They have to be handled when they are young. At four or five years old, it is impossible.”
“They come from all over, from Galway, Cork, the North for the All Ireland,” Mr Cronin said.” We have two or three heats, depending on numbers, and then the final.”
Mr Cronin, who has been a winner in the past, is expecting stiff competition this year to come from Cork.
All the usual show attractions will go ahead including the dog show. There will, the organisers hope, be an abundance of stalls and there will be entertainment, and plenty to eat and drink.
The Newcastle West Show takes place on Sunday, July 16 at Ballynoe, Castlemahon. Gates open at 9am. Just follow the roadsigns from Newcastle West or on the Bruff Line or the Dromcollogher Road.