The first Erris Agricultural Show took place in Carne on Sunday, July 24, with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, present to perform the official opening.
Attendance at the inaugural event – part-sponsored by the Corrib Gas Partners – exceeded all expectations, with an estimated 5,500 coming through the gates.
“We were thrilled with the size of the crowd,” said Mary Murphy, Treasurer of the Erris Agricultural Show committee. “We had no idea it would be that big, so we were very impressed. To be honest, we were aiming for that in year 2 and 3.”
In total, there were 247 classes at the show, including categories for sheep, dogs, cattle, and both showjumping and show horses. There were also a number of household categories, including flowers, cakes, crochet, needlework and photography, and a junior section with arts and crafts, handwriting, photography and horticulture, among other categories.
Preparations for the event were ongoing for almost a year, with a core committee of seven people and several sub-committees charged with responsibility for organising different elements of the programme.
One of the early tasks the committee undertook was to consult with other show committees to see how they organised and co-ordinated their events, including the team behind the famed Bonniconlon Show, outside Ballina.
“They [the Bonniconlon committee] were wonderful to us in the months leading up to it, giving us advice and lending us equipment. And one of the greatest compliments we got on the day was from their chairman, John O’Hara, who said ‘ye’ll be getting no more help from us because ye don’t need it!’ That’s how impressed he was with our show,” said Mary.
With one very successful episode under its belt, the committee intends to make the Erris Agricultural Show an annual fixture of which the whole community can be proud.
“There was 40 years of a gap since the last show in Erris and at that time it was confined to Belmullet. The great thing about this one is that it is for all of Erris and there are people from every parish and every village involved, between organising and participating. That’s lovely to see,” concluded Mary.