I’ve been going to Spancil Hill Fair in Co Clare for five years now.
Spancil Hill is a spectacle. A melange.
Folk from Ireland and beyond
Travellers and settled; families and bachelors
Horses and donkeys, ironmongery and saddles
Buggies and carts, burgers and fries
Spancil Hill is sticks.
Of blackthorn, hazel, fibreglass or ash
Sticks in earnest conversation
or just to lean on
or to sit on.
There’s a man selling sticks. I bought one.
Spancil Hill is a toddler eye to eye with a pony
Spancil Hill is a runaway pony,
Until it is cornered and held safely and lovingly in a boys arms.
Spancil Hill is the Irish Cob
How do they see?
Full-maned and feathered, by buyers prodded and stroked.
Mouth pulled open and poked (I’m sure there’s a reason).
Or another pulling a buggy,
or cantering imperiously.
Spancil Hill is John Sheridan sealing the deal on a pied cob.
Slapping hands with the seller.
His family posing proudly for the camera.
Spancil Hill is Sean O’Leary standing with his pony.
Waiting all day for a buyer.
Is it the smallest in Ireland?
For this tiny equine there are many who are keen.
But will they meet his price?
Spancil Hill is a man in a beige suit,
Another without a shirt.
Spancil Hill is lorries loaded with horses.
Headed for Europe.
Spancil Hill is a giant spade.
Spancil Hill is ice creams.
Spancil Hill is John Dooley, a Feakle man sitting in his chair
Since 1946 he’s been there.
It’s his 72nd Fair
The stories he could tell.
Spancil Hill is Aisling and Paddy leading home the newest member of their family
Spancil Hill is Albert and his family selling buggy wheels.
Spancil Hill is Ireland then and Ireland now.
An apposite anachronism.
I love it.