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Kildysart Agricultural Show Society Ltd


Micheal Kelly, Shanacoole

Some of his memories of bygone Show Days, the characters and The Stone Wall

One of the great show competitions in the early years was the Big Stone Wall. I have great memories of this competition. Asked to describe what it would be like in today’s world and I’d say the nearest thing is the Puissance at Dublin Horse Show. It was born out of the Ploughing match in Breen’s Hill in Rusheen. The Stone Wall was staged as an added attraction at the Ploughing. The show then took off and horse jumping became a key part of the Show. At this time, the Show was held just outside the village in Joe Moloney’s field. The Stone Wall was unique to Kildysart and competitors and spectators enjoyed the thrill that it brought to every Show Day. Every year, the stone wall was built by Jack Grace, Ballyvoohane. Jack was an excellent mason and took great care in the building of the Stone Wall. Jack was aware that the local competitors had a slight preference for a narrow wall, and in fairness to him, he always gave them a fair chance! Stones to cap the wall were brought from the shore. Back then Jack and the O’Connell brothers - Michael and Paddy were the main course builders. They were excellent, and they gave spectators great enjoyment while getting the very best from horse and rider. Jack was very proud of the Stone Wall. I remember one very funny incident when a young P .J. Kirrane was riding a pony and, full of the enthusiasm and adventure of youth was anxious to have a go at the Stone Wall. As he galloped towards the wall, Jack came runningtowards him so P.J. would have had to clear Jack before getting to the Wall.Needless to say, P.J. didn’t get to tackle the Wall that day. On a more serious note, there were some great local competitors. Babe Murphy, was a great competitor with her horse Small Paddy. He was only
14 hands and Babe wasn’t big either. However, Babe was a recognised jockey and possessed great riding skills. Tom Cusack was brilliant local competitor. He had a horse called Solomon’s Hall. They were a great combination and as well as winning the Stone Wall, Tom and Solomon’s Hall beat the army in both Kildysart and Ennis. P.J. King was fantastic local competitor at the Stone Wall. He had a great horse called Sunbeam. P.J. was a great horseman and a brilliant rider. They regularly cleared the Stone Wall. I think he won it three times. Our other local hero, was the great John McGoldrick. John was involved with horses all his life and he was a true horseman. John had a great horse that he competed with in Kildysart and many other shows and gymkhanas. He was called Papa. They had great courage and feared nothing. John was always a fantastic ambassador for Kildysart. I knew him from my first day at school and he never changed - kind, pleasant, fun loving, decent every day of his life. Dan Greene was another local competitor. I can’t remember the names of any of his horses. He was always courageous and never went back from anything. Patsy Kelly from Labasheeda competed with great vigour on a horse called Coney Lad. He bought him from the Ginnanes in the Island. I would say that Coney Lad was born and bred on the Island, so that was a great link with that part of the parish. The Hannons and the Burkes from Newmarket on Fergus contributed enormously to Show day as well. The Costelloes were always a huge part of Kildysart Show. They always brought excitement to the ring. With so many local competitors and many competing visitors, all of whom were the best of friends, competing against each other, there was fantastic local interest and excitement. The ringside was full, with everyone seeking the best view. The great Jack Grace could be justifiably proud of his work for the Show each year and the tradition of the Grace family involvement in Kildysart Show was continued with great dedication by his son Paddy. They were absolutely brilliant people that built up a great following in the community for the Show. The Stone Wall is gone. A lot of the characters are gone. They have left us great memories and a great Show.


Mary Moloney (O’ Gorman) Down Memory Lane – Kildysart Show

From the beginning Kildysart Show has been the “HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR” in the local calendar. For me, it evokes many happy memories of summer holidays spent at my mother’s homeplace, O’ Neills in Slievedooly and at my aunt Maggie’s home in Derrislough. Her husband was Bird Casey, who was among the founding members of the Show, and they both shared a great love and knowledge of horses. The O’ Neills - my grandfather John and my uncle Francie - kept several well known sires over many decades. The Show was a big event every August. I have a faint recollection of attending the 1949 Show. My Aunt and Uncle had a beautiful cob which they named Caughoo after the winner of the Grand National that year. My parents, Matt and Suzanne O’Gorman would never miss the annual Show. I distinctly remember the narrow road in to the Show Field on Show morning with horses neighing and the atmosphere of the Show day kicking in. The judging of the classes seemed to last forever. The horses were looking their best and each exhibitor waited anxiously to be called in to the “winners enclosure”. Alas some were disappointed!! but judges decisions are always final. A red rosette on the day was always a great source of pride and joy. I was fortunate to win a rosette myself with my pony in a showing class in the late 1950s. The pony was beautifully turned out by my aunt Maggie who carefully plaited the mane and tail using hemp and wax. One of the most memorable events of Kildysart Show was when, many years ago, the two great local show jumping legends, John
McGoldrick and Patsy Kelly, competed against each other for the Stone Wall Championship. It was heart-stopping stuff and was the subject of legend for many years. Other local Show jumping heroes that I recall were Baby Murphy, P J King, Gerry Costelloe and Tom Cusack. I look back with nostalgia and affection on the many Kildysart Shows that I attended down through the years. They were wonderful occasions for our family (my parents Matt and Suzanne, brother James and sisters Margaret and Bridget, our extended families - children and grandchildren). Bridget, her husband Oliver Garry and her family are now deeply involved in the Show. We owe a huge debt of gratitude not only to the group of local people whose vision and inspiration established the first Kildysart Show back in 1942, but also to everyone who has since played a part in developing it to the standard it has reached today. They are a shining example to future generations to take Kildysart Show into the future. 


Grace Kelly - The Kildysart Show

Little did I think in the late 1940’s when as a little girl, I set off from Leitrim, Cree in a horse and trap with my family for the Kildysart Show that I would be spending the end of my life in Kildysart. We began our journey early in the morning, our first port of call was at my Uncle Timmie’s house in Tonlegee where we were treated to a wonderful dinner. Potatoes and vegetables were supplied from the family farm and all the cooking was done on an open turf fire. Both families then began our journey to the Kildysart Hall, I remember especially the array of beautiful flowers. Next we surveyed the selection of cakes, buns, tarts, etcetera. Lastly, we admired the articles of arts and crafts showing great skill of knitting, sewing, embroidery and crochet. The final phase of our outing was “the field” just outside the village. We enjoyed our turns on the “swinging boats” as we called them and we got loads of treats from the stalls. We met several cousins and relations which really made our day. At six o’ clock in the evening we began the long trek home to Leitrim once more. Those are my memories of the Kildysart Show. I am delighted the Kildysart Show is still going strong and hoprfully wil continue for many years to come. I still enjoy exhibiiting at the Kildysart Show.


Brendan McMahon - Show Day Memories

I’m told I attended the first show, in my pram – I don’t remember that! My first clear memory of the Show would be of my Mother and Bridie
Doohan, side by side for a week before the Show, handmaking Rosettes from ribbons and white cardboard and glue. My next clear memory would be of the Show mornings. I was employed to sweep out the shop and watched my father carry the weighing machine to the footpath and hang the sign. “Check your Weight, 1D” (old penny) “All Proceeds to the Columban Sister’s Black Bay Fund” That would be at 7am! However my abiding memory of the early Show is this. Paddy and I spent a lot of our summers in Boloughera. On Show day, our Grandparents harnessed up the side car, wrapped us in rugs and drove us down to Connelly’s yard. Then our Grandmother marched the pair of us to Jim Molony’s to be fitted with Wellingtons, because it had rained, was raining or was about to rain and the road down to Joe Moloney’s field (my Godfather) would be a pure puddle every bloody time!