Irish Heritage / Market Street / The Abbey Loop / Yeats

Fair Days in Dromahair

by Margaret Mc Loughlin from Life Histories  ArchiveFAir Day JBY” There were lots of exciting days growing up in Dromahair. The fair day was very exciting because it spanned two days. The day before was taken up with the bustle of the business people and the ordinary households getting all sorts of dogs out to guard our properties. As the cattle were all on the streets, there was always a danger of some of them being spooked and jumping over walls.

We children had to stay in the garden. On the morning of the fair, drovers were on the roads very early bringing in their cattle. Mostly on foot and they would have travelled many miles. (Note: Joe MC Goldrick relates that farmers from Glencar would leave at 3 a.m.) I don’t know what way the pitches were. I think maybe they just pitched up wherever they got space. All day long one could hear the bargaining going on from the clapping of hands to the calls of the bidding from the drovers.

Street Singers and fried bread

street singer

Singing ‘The Beautiful Picture’ by Jack B. Yeats (1871 – 1957) © Estate of Jack B Yeats

There was also a street singer or two singing ballads and selling the leaflets of the songs for a penny. I loved listening to them. Our house was a hive of activity as the early birds would be in for a quick cup of tea with bread and jam. Cost 1/6P and later, when business was done, they would be back for the meat tea 2/6 which consisted of hot beef in gravy. The day before my mother would have roasted 20 lbs of beef and it was my father’s job to slice the beef on the morning of the fair. My mother saved the fat in special dishes, which formed a hard dripping on top with a gravy underneath. We loved the fried bread made with the heels of the bread the next morning.

The fair day in Dromahair was mentioned in one of Yeats’ poems.

yeatsThe Man Who Dreamed Of Faeryland
William Butler Yeats
He stood among a crowd at Dromahair;
His heart hung all upon a silken dress,
And he had known at last some tenderness,
Before earth took him to her stony care;
But when a man poured fish into a pile,
It Seemed they raised their little silver heads,
And sang what gold morning or evening sheds
Upon a woven world-forgotten isle
Where people love beside the ravelled seas;
That time can never mar a lover’s vows
Under that woven changeless roof of boughs:
The singing shook him out of his new ease.

Dr Kathleen McTiernan (Trinity College Dublin)
Dr Deirdre O’Donnell (Trinity College Dublin)

One thought on “Fair Days in Dromahair

  1. Spent many a youthful day in dromahair and many times at bazaar in Patton’s hall…have you any history on Fr Owen Traynor and housekeeper Mary Clancy… deeply appreciated ..yours in advance Jonathan Leslie molloy


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