Spancil Hill – “It being the 23rd of June”

Yesterday I found myself at the Cross of Spancil Hill. I wasn’t dreaming and I wasn’t in California. Look all you like and you won’t see a Cross, which I always imagined in my mind’s eye as I sung the song that made the place famous. In Ireland, as I soon discovered, ‘crossroads’ are simply called a ‘cross’ and it just refers to this.

The Fair at the Cross of Spancil Hill was one of the most important in Ireland during the 1800s and was of course made famous by Michael Considine’s wonderful song which referred to above. It still is one of Ireland’s largest horse fairs. Have a listen to the full version sung by Robbie McMahon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGKJDxjIFBc

Differs considerably to that made popular by the Dubliners.

It is like stepping back to an older Ireland way before the Celtic Tiger pounced and even before the motor car. A world of horses, donkeys and chickens, of blackthorn sticks and buggys. There are obvious changes of course with everyone seemingly on the end of a mobile phone and burgers and curry chips the standard fare at the Fair.

I had been warned by numerous people to watch out because of the travelling people but I didn’t have any problems. Not that I would recognise one from us ‘stationary’ people.

The original song has the following verse.
“It being on the twenty third of June, the day before the fair,
Sure Erin’s sons and daughters, they all assembled there.
The young, the old, the stout and the bold, they came to sport and kill,
What a curious combination, at the Fair of Spancilhill. “

There seems some confusion as to the date but the fair is always on the 23rd unless it is a Sunday in which case it is the next day. Hence the “day before the fair” as the song relates event that occurred on the sabbath.

I’ve attached some photos which I hope capture a bit of the “curious combination at the Fair of Spancilhill”.

IMG_6007 IMG_6011

IMG_6037 IMG_6038 IMG_6052 IMG_6058 IMG_6060 IMG_6073 IMG_6081 IMG_6084 IMG_6086 IMG_6092 IMG_6096 IMG_6103 IMG_6108 IMG_6112 IMG_6122 IMG_6128 IMG_6130 IMG_6132 IMG_6136 IMG_6139 IMG_6142 IMG_6143 IMG_6146 IMG_6157 IMG_6159 IMG_6165 IMG_6170 IMG_6186 IMG_6189 IMG_6193 IMG_6194 IMG_6200 IMG_6208 IMG_6212 IMG_6217 IMG_6222 IMG_6224

Categories: Real Ireland | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Spancil Hill – “It being the 23rd of June”

  1. great pics of the crowd there Bob and another entertaining blog…

  2. Sinéad Costello

    Loved reading the blog, and some wonderful pictures! i do hope you will be doing a Feakle Blog!?

    Great meeting you at Feakle Festival, and thank you again for the lift to Ennis! you saved us!

    Sinéad

  3. Pingback: Spancil Hill Again. | Singersong Blog

  4. Pingback: Spancil Hill | Working Holiday Ireland

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