Limerick Chronicle files: The plucky story of Limerick’s poultry show

Sharon Slater, Limerick Chronicle Historian


Sharon Slater, Limerick Chronicle Historian


The eighth annual cage birds show was held in the Connolly Hall in October 1964. Mayor of Limerick Cll Jack Danagher presented the cup to Willie Coffey after his Yorkshire canary was chosen

The eighth annual cage birds show was held in the Connolly Hall in October 1964. Mayor of Limerick Cll Jack Danagher presented the cup to Willie Coffey after his Yorkshire canary was chosen

THE first poultry show in Limerick, was held in Patrickswell on December 11, 1865.

The show was held close to the Fort Etna station of what was then the Limerick and Foynes railway. The spot selected was a large garden at the back of Mr Kavanagh’s house. Large tends were set up and fitted with pens to contain the fowl for exhibition.

Although poultry exhibitions had already been popular in England for a number of years, it was a relatively new phenomenon in Ireland. The first poultry only show having been held in Cork only six years earlier. There was a poultry show incorporated into the Royal Dublin Society Winter Show but this show also included the exhibition of cattle and farming equipment.

The full name of the organiser of the Patrickswell show was James Cooper Cooper of Cooper Hill. He was born James Cooper Tuthill about 1825. In 1844, he changed his name by Royal Patent to inherited that lands at Cooper Hill, Clarina following the death of Mrs Hanora Cooper.

He married Mary Pickering and they had fifteen children. His wife Mary passed away in 1877 and ten years later, he was married for a second time to Belinda Bomford Emerson. James died in 1906. The Chronicle announced his death on April 7, 1906 “we regret to announce the death of Mr J C Cooper J.P., Cooper Hill, which took place last night at his residence after a few days illness. Deceased was very popular gentleman with all classes and creeds. He was one of the oldest magistrates of the county, and was at one time an ex-officio guardian of Limerick Union for a number of years. He was also one of the oldest surviving members of the County Grand Jury.”

Cooper was somewhat of an expert on the subject and had published a number of articles on the rearing of poultry. He saw that poultry breeding was neglected and that selected breeding could increase the supply of white meat on the market.

The Chronicle of October 17, 1964 recorded that “Cooper hoped to encourage the farmers’ wives to take up poultry rearing as a profitable side line and he saw that money prizes were the best means of bringing this about.”

After broaching this topic with his friends and neighbours, a committee was formed. Mr Adamson was appointed as treasurer and F Parsons as secretary. A subscription was opened and the finances were raised to host the exhibition.

About 120 pens were sent to the show, “from the singing bird of the drawing room window to the stately goose and turkey.” The judges were the aptly named C. H. Peacocke, Thomas O’Grady and Thomas Royce of Ballinvirick, Askeaton.

The County Limerick Militia serenaded the songbirds on display and all of those in attendance.

The main exhibitors read like a who’s who of nineteenth century Limerick society. These included in the amateur section, Alexander Shaw, of the bacon factory family, exhibited kite and tumbling pigeons. Mrs Monsell of Tervoe who sent in pens of black French foul “remarkable for their egg laying and table purpose”. Cooper himself also competed in this section. Others who earned praise in this section were the Countess of Dunraven and Rev Thomas Bunbury of Croom Rectory.

Local farmers of Patrickswell were represented in the farmer class, with the winners being Henry Purdon, James Christie, James Fitzgerald, Judith Enright, James Walsh, Micheal O’Regan, Pat Garvey, William O’Grady, Thomas McMahon, Bridget O’Dea, John Cavanagh, Daniel Sullivan, Thomas Brahan, John Hall, John Young, Thomas Irvine, John Kennedy and Michael Duff. The winner of the song birds was David Sullivan of Ballybrown with his canary.

After the show finished J. C. Cooper decided to sell off his poultry at Mr Beveridge’s auction rooms at 53 Thomas Street, Limerick. There were a total of thirty lots, including a variety of ducks, geese and turkeys. The turkeys were sold in sets of three, cock and two hens.

The show was relocated to the Butter Market in Limerick city the following year and became an annual event for a number of years. During the second year of the show, a number of exhibitors from all over Ireland and England attended. Once again, J. C. Cooper was there with a selection of his feathered friends. His birds won first place in the bantams and three of the geese categories. He would go on to show his birds at the Dublin Show.