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Members of the Clarecastle Show committee in preparation for the show, which takes place on Sunday 7th August at Clarecastle GAA field. Front from left; Grace Mc Enery, Mary O Dea, Nichola Shannon and Evan Moloney. Back from left; Megan Browne, Chris Hanrahan, Shane Slattery, Bernard Hanrahan, Betty Slattery and Michael Slattery . Photograph by John Kelly

Clarecastle Show back after two-year absence – and it’s free!

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CLARECASTLE Show makes its return this weekend offering a fantastic level of prize money and a wonderful day’s entertainment and diversion for all the family.

And, what’s more, after an absence of two years the boutique show in the Clarecastle GAA grounds on Sunday, August 7 will be free to enter.

The move to make entry to Clarecastle Show was made by the board of the Society as a gesture to the people of Clare and beyond who had endured a lot over the past two years.

Clarecastle Show Chairman Michael Slattery explained, “Entry to the show is free, a decision taken by our board because of the stress and strain people have been through caused by Covid and the escalating costs of everything.

“Perhaps a day at the show in the fresh air amongst friends will compensate for the difficulties of the Covid years.”

Speaking about what makes the Clarecastle Show special he said, “We do not compare. Clarecastle has identified a niche in the showing scene, whereby we focus on maximising benefit to breeders and producers of young horses together with extending a sincere welcome and providing a good days fun and enjoyment to all people attending the show.”

Looking forward to this year’s show, secretary Nichola Shannon says, “I’m reminded of the lovely comments we have received from visitors and entrants to our previous shows, which help, as it is by no means an easy feat to put on a show like ours. 

“Such compliments like: “Always a fantastic show”, “Yet again it was a great show, even better than last year- if that’s possible”, “So worth the long drive from Kildare – we just LOVE your show!”

She continueed, “We are a very small group of volunteers who dedicate our time to run a show as professionally as possible.  We do it because of our love of horses and horticulture and home produce.  We love to see the joy both entering competitions and winning of course, brings to those on the day. And the smiles, a smile speaks a thousand words.”

The boutique show is set to attract breeders, exhibitors, owners and members of the public from all over the country.

“We have €30,000 in prize money for distribution amongst Irish sport horse owners. We have coverings by 11 great sport horse stallions for the lucky winners in the Banner Brood Mare Championship and to finish on a high note we will present the Brian Boru Young Horse of the Year Championship at 3pm with a prize fund of €5,200. There is nothing like these competitions in Ireland,” says Michael.

Outside of the promotion of showing classes, the Clarecastle Show also features a host of additional attractions.

“A show cannot survive on equine events alone,” he says. There will be an exhibition of all that is best in horticulture, fruit, vegetables, home produce, arts and crafts and photography in Clarecastle National School hall next to the GAA grounds.”

“Under difficult circumstances Betty and her team have worked assiduously to present a splendid exhibition – a show within a show.”

Other attractions will be children’s entertainment, farm animals, food with Alan Gilligan and showjumping for ponies. Four to 10 year olds will be able to compete and win their first rosettes in goat classes with free entry.

The show society works closely with many organisations with a stake in the advancement of farming practices with a particular emphasis on breeding high performance sport horses.

“Horse Sport Ireland have been exceptional giving significant financial aid to advance our philosophy in relation to how horse classes should be presented today in the showgrounds of Ireland. We believe the old ways need review. Class structure for many shows today is very similar to the shows of the 1980s and 1990s. No change in the structure, little change in the prize money.”

He continues, “Other bodies have helped us to produce our current show schedule. The Municipal District of Ennis have consistently supported Clarecastle Show and they have been associated with the All Ireland Colt Final since 2016.

“In addition to their sponsorship of this prestigious event, Councillors Clare Colleran Molloy, our Lady Mayoress, Pat Daly and Mark Nestor have been most generous in their support.

“The Department of Rural Affairs and Minister Heather Humphries have allocated We have many sponsors in County Clare and throughout Ireland together with family friends in the UK, Germany and the USA whose munifience is extraordinary. Our sponsors have been quite extraordinary, a thank you seems so inadequate. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”

Other shows have also helped preparations, Newmarket-on-Fergus, West Clare Show, Scariff Show and Kildysart. “This is proof there is strength in numbers. Ní neart go cur le céile.”

He also pays tribute to Lord and Lady Inchiquin Helen and Conor O’Brien who “graciously allowed our society to attach the name off their famous ancestor Brian Boru to our grand final The Brian Boru Young Horse of the Year Championship.”

He continues, “No man is an island and shows do not progress without the help of so many, principally our board members consisting of Bernard and Chris Hanrhan, Ethal and Betty Slattery, Shane, Deirdre and Orla Slattery, Mary O’Dea, Joe Hallinan, our super secretary Nichola Shannon with guidance from Derrick Burke, Bridgette Coughlan, Peter Donnellan, Dan O’Connor and John Blake. They make it happen.”

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