Tuam Herald 10/11/1900

Athenry is thus described in the “Galway Express”:

During the present week our representative paid a visit to the thriving town of Athenry, and was much surprised to notice the many improvements that have taken place there within a very short space of time.

The first that attracted my attention on entering the town from the railway station was the change that had taken place in the old archway, one of the remaining glories of the past when Athenry was one of the greatest strongholds in the province, the seat of many of Ireland’s monarchs and which made it recognised as “The City of the Kings”. This archway is now being renovated under the superintendence of Mr. Smith, County Surveyor, Ballinasloe, and will, when finished, be a creditable piece of workmanship.

A long line of new buildings, extending from Cross Street to Bridge Street, has been constructed by Mr. J. Broderick, builder and contractor, Athenry, which gives this portion of the old town a modem appearance. One of those buildings is to be the new Post Office and as it at present stands it is not second in appearance to any found in larger and more pretentious centres.

Another new building is being erected and is almost completed for the Roman Catholic Curate. It is situated on the western side of the Chapel, is a beautiful block, almost square in dimensions, and built of ornamental chamfered limestone facing the sacred edifice.

To the north-west is the Parochial House, in which resides the Very Rev. Canon Canton, a gentleman who has at all times taken the deepest interest in the welfare of Athenry and its inhabitants. Canon Canton is a well known figure at our County Council meetings, where he at all times advocates the construction of pathways in Athenry and, indeed, any stranger visiting the town would at once be struck by the non-existence of those most essential structures for the safety and accommodation of pedestrians.

Another need that should be supplied is some mode of illuminating the streets at night as, with utter darkness surrounding the stranger and no pathways on which to take protection from the carts and side cars passing along the streets, the wonder is that accidents have not been more numerous than they actually are.

Another improvement in Athenry is a new residence which Dr. Monsell is getting built for his own accommodation and which will be a decided ornament to the locality.

As further proof of the progress Athenry is making, we may mention that there is an annual horse show held there, which means the circulation of a large amount of money amongst the traders. For the establishment of this enterprise the credit is mainly due to Dr. Quinlan and Mr. M. J. Lardiner.

There are thirteen fairs held during the year for the sale of sheep, cattle and pigs, as well as four horse fairs which, through the instrumentality and energy of the committee appointed to look after them, have already become celebrated for the high class animals that are found making their way to these remunerative markets.

From its central position, with railways running there from all directions, Athenry must eventually become more and more prosperous, and should unanimity continue to reign amongst its inhabitants, its prospects are bright indeed.

Researched by Mary Doherty

The final touches were made to the show grounds late on Saturday night.  All was set to get the Annual Agricultural Show off to a flying start on Sunday 2nd. July at 9 am.  Twelve hours later the last of the horse boxes left the field and the remaining stewards and officers did a final check up on each one bidding a temporary farewell and asking ‘Will I see you at the Show Dance tonight’?  Another year and another challenge successfully completed.

The exhibitors came from far and near.  Horse and pony competitors came from as far away as Wicklow, Dublin, Cavan and Longford.  The Champion Pony was won by Mrs. Beatrice Maxwell- Murphy of Taylors Hill and the reserve champion went to Deirdre Geoghegan of Oughterard, whilst the Champion Horse of the Show was won by Ciaran Higgins of Coshla and the reserve champion was awarded to Mrs. Lily MeGowan of Ballina.

We had cattle from Tipperary, Mayo and Longford as well as from the surrounding counties.  The Champion Aberdeen Angus was won by Martin Gannon from Ennistymon.  Champion Bullock came from Kinculla, Loughrea (owned by Michael Griffin) and the reserve champion was awarded to an animal from Donard Bog, Strokestown.  The Champion Heifer Rosette went to Pat Walsh, Billamore, Oughterard and the reserve champion to Martin Clyne, Coolarty, Co. Longford.

People who revel in culinary art and all the crafts, travelled from places like Clifden, Ennistymon, Strokestown, and there was much interest in this section with an increase of entries in the local community.

Despite the spell of Mediterranean weather there was a good supply of crops and vegetables.  On the other hand the weather really favoured the floral arrangements and displays of flowers and gave a beautiful splash of colour to the produce hall.

In the 1950s: Tim O’Regan, Connon McGough PP, Seán Broderick, Herbert Taylor, Dermot Kellegher and Stephen Jordan at Athenry Agricultural Show.

Down in the sheep pens Padraic Raftery from Coshla and Padraic Niland from Kinvara took Champion Ram and Ewe of the show, with the reserve champion Ram was won by Michael Maher, Belville, whilst the reserve champion went to Padraic Niland, from Ardrahan.  Joe Kilroy from Athlone got the rosette for the champion dog and the reserve champion was awarded to Mrs. Theresa Cummins from Clarenbridge.

This year the dog stewards were busier than ever even though they had two dog rings in operation.  As in the case of the other animals, the dogs too travelled from inside and outside Connaught.

The local primary school children must have been very busy with crayons and waterpaints before the school holidays.  There was a tremendous response from the parish schools – thanks to all involved.

In the 1980s: Micheál Higgins presents Katie Kelly, Castle Lambert with the cup                            for the best Heifer in the Athenry Agricultural Show!

Technology exhibits proved to be the showpiece of the day.  This was a new section introduced by the committee in 1995 and the interest in it was amazing.  Great credit is due to the young people from the Junior and Leaving Certificate Groups who came along and displayed their masterpieces of skill and innovation.  Very few, perhaps, realised before the show day the talent, skill, initiative and enterprise amongst the youth in today’s world of academic orientated school students.  Let’s hope that the 1996 show will bring a greater number of these projects and a much greater public awareness of the talents on our own doorsteps.  Two very beautiful and original Perpetual Challenge Trophies were kindly donated by our own Parish Priest Fr. Tony King.  He presented them to the entry incorporating the widest range of skills.  In the Leaving Certificate category the trophy was won by Gerard Bermingham, Carrabane, and Darren Nally, Athenry, took the award in the Junior Certificate category.

Today’s committee are carrying on the tradition and spirit of the past show committees stretching back over 107 years.  To help us recall and acknowledge their commitment to the community, we would appreciate if any of our readers who may have schedules or catalogues pre 1978 would loan them to the secretary in order to compile a short history of this old and historic society.

Finally the committee wishes to convey its sincere appreciation to the sponsors and contributors, voluntary helpers and stewards, exhibitors and spectators who all contribute to make the show a successful event.

Officers of the Show Company 1994 -1995
Patrons: His Grace Very Rev.  Dr. Neary, Archbishop of Tuam and His Grace Very Rev.  Dr. Cassidy.
President: Rev.  Fr.  Tony King, P.P., Athenry.
Vice Presidents: Mrs Reenie Doherty and Mr Jim Keane.
Chairman: Michedl Higgins.  Vice Chairman: Gerard Morrissey and John Morrissey.
Treasurers: Willic Hoyne and Eamonn Brody.
Show Secretaries: Mary Doherty.  Asst.  Secretaries: Marion Kearney and Patricia MeGrath.
P.R.O.: Eamon Madden, Mrs Eileen Corley, Roy O’Brien and Bernard Connolly.  Stewards: Ita Sheridan, Gerry Somers, Gerard MeNamara, Marion Kearney, Mrs Mary Monaghan, Michael Coen, Mrs Christina Farrel, Mrs Christina Conerney, Johnny Duffy.
Safety Officers: Patricia McGrath, Owen Flannery, Patrick Higgins, Jim Keane.