Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

 
Random Quote
Random Date

HISTORY

IRISH HISTORY

Old map of Ireland150 YEARS OF THE CLONMEL HORSE SHOW (1865-2015)

On Sunday 5 July 2015, the Clonmel Show celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first show held in the town in 1865. The event has survived some of the darkest days in Irish history, through times of local agitation, national crisis and global conflict. The professionally researched account that follows was commissioned by the Clonmel Show Committee as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations. Historian and author Turtle Bunbury brings the rich history of the Show to life, making extensive use of contemporaneous sources to tell the story of the early years in the words of those who witnessed it first hand. The narrative not only introduces the principal characters who defined each epoch, but adds colour and personality through an exploration of the wider social, political and professional circles in which they moved. We are forcibly reminded that globalisation is not a new phenomenon, as the fortunes of the show ebbed and flowed with the tides of national and international economic and political events. Indeed, the long history of this institution offers an unexpected lens through which the wider agricultural, social, political and economic history of Ireland can be examined.



1. THE ‘ROYAL IRISH’ OF 1865


On the eve of the first Clonmel Show in August 1865, it was clear that this was going to be the busiest week the town had ever known. ‘Throughout all the streets there is an air of bustle and preparation,’ wrote the Irish Times correspondent. ‘At each corner some persons lie in wait for the stranger with eloquent descriptions of comfortable rooms and clean beds.’[i]

Such crowds must have heartened the show’s organizers and yet they must have been simultaneously alarmed by the incessant rains, which pocked Clonmel’s main roads with ‘pools of water’ and converted its footpaths into miry streams. The heavy carts and hefty cattle making their way through the Suirside town were likewise churning the streets into ‘thick mud’.

And this was Tuesday, the day before the three-day Irish Royal had even begun, so Heaven knows how many more feet, human and animal, let alone wheels, were likely to trample over these same routes before the weekend came. Would the rain ever stop? ‘Dark smoky clouds hide the Waterford hills and hang over the distant woodlands’, intoned the Irish Times correspondent ominously. [ii]

It was fortunate then that the organizers of the 1865 show had excelled with their homework when it came to choosing a venue. The showyard occupied a site of just over 6.5 acres next to Victoria Barracks (now Kickham) on Davis Road, ‘within easy distance of the town and the railway terminus’. It was ‘the very best in situation and arrangement which I have ever seen’, remarked the Irish Times correspondent. [iii] ‘The best proof of its suitability’, he added, was that, despite the heavy showers, a man could still walk through the entire showyard ‘without soiling his shoes’. [iv]

The ‘Irish Royal’ of 16-19 August 1865 was the last of three Royal Shows held that year, following earlier events at Inverness and Plymouth.[v] It was chiefly orchestrated by Captain John Badham Thornhill, secretary of the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland (RASI), and Percy Gough, first secretary of the local committee. Gough, who lived at Salisbury, near Clonmel, had ‘laboured with singular energy and efficiency’ throughout the week.[vi] His principal assistants were his neighbour Samuel Goold-Adams of Oakville House (where Dunnes Stores now stands) and Benjamin Murphy, the Clonmel brewer.[vii] The considerable sum of £2500 was guaranteed locally to cover expenses, while the RASI’s Finance Committee raised £700 in prize money to attract exhibitors from afar.[viii]

1865 had been an eventful year. Across the Atlantic, the American Civil War – in which over 200,000 Irish-born served – was finally over, but Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated at Easter. Another hot topic was the news just in that the transatlantic telegraph cable being laid from Valentia Island to Newfoundland had snapped in the ocean and vanished.

However, the news of most pertinence to many would-be attendees of the ‘Irish Royal’ concerned an outbreak of rinderpest in England. This infectious viral disease, nicknamed the Russian Plague, was to kill over quarter of a million animals, primarily cattle, in Britain before the year was out. The Irish Times ran it as a lead story the day before the Clonmel show began, warning that ‘should the plague be introduced into this country by the importation of beasts, whether from England or the Continent, there will be an upheaving of society little short of a national convulsion.’[ix] Later in the week, Edward Purdon, ex-Lord Mayor of Dublin, and proprietor of The Irish Farmer's Gazette, likewise counselled guests at the banquet in Clonmel’s Courthouse that if the epidemic was unleashed upon the ‘thirteen million and a half of horned cattle’ in Ireland, it would result in ‘national bankruptcy’. The Irish Times observed that ‘several intending contributors have been rendered somewhat nervous’ by all the talk of plague. This was later deemed the main cause of a last minute reduction in the amount of cattle exhibited.[x]

The first major event of the Irish Royal occurred at 6.25pm on Tuesday evening when a train arrived from Limerick Junction. Out stepped Baron Wodehouse, the Viceroy and Queen Victoria’s official representative in Ireland, along with his wife, children, and several other notables. On the platform to greet them were Charles Bianconi, the transport entrepreneur and former Mayor of Clonmel; John Bagwell, the Liberal MP for Clonmel; Robert Cole Bowen, the High Sheriff; and a guard of honour from the Royal Irish Constabulary.[xi] Mr. Bagwell then escorted the Viceregal family in his carriage up Main Street, passing under a specially constructed Triumphal Arch of evergreens, with ‘a very large but not very enthusiastic crowd of spectators.’[xii] They then drove two miles west to Marlfield House, the ancestral Bagwell home, where the Wodehouse family stayed the night. [xiii]

The following day the Viceroy was treated to a champagne luncheon at Marlfield at which the Mayor, Aldermen and Corporation of Clonmel all made addresses to him. They were particularly pleased because earlier that same week, His Excellency had lifted a curfew placed on County Tipperary under the Crime and Outrage Act.

Meanwhile, across the locality, other eminent guests were also settling in. Sir Robert Peel, the Chief Secretary, joined Lords Clancarty, Erne and Cloncurry as guests of Lady Donoughmore at Knocklofty, while other notaries housed locally included the Duke of Wellington, the Lord Mayor of Dublin and Field Marshal Viscount Gough, an uncle of Percy, who had conquered the Punjab for the British Empire two decades earlier. [xiv]

The Irish Royal was underway by the time the Viceroy arrived straight from his champagne luncheon on Wednesday afternoon. The cold winds and frequent showers of the morning had since yielded to some welcome sunshine. [xv] The Viceroy began his tour with a visit to the cattle classes in the lower part of the showyard where Mr. Ryan of Limerick had erected fifteen sheds, under the supervision of Mr. Bell; eight for horned stock, three for sheep, two for swine, one for poultry and a closed shed for dairy produce and flax. [xvi] ‘A better arranged and more commodious showyard I have never seen’, opined the Irish Times. [xvii]

Despite a reduction in numbers because of the rinderpest, cattle were a highlight of the 1865 show, particularly the Shorthorns, which the Irish Times deemed of ‘superior’ quality. [xviii] Over seventy of the 180 cattle on show were Shorthorns, including 'a capital muster' of yearlings and a number of bulls who had previously been on show in Dublin and Newcastle and others who would have 'stood high anywhere'.[xix] The correspondents for the British Farmer's Magazine and the Journal of Agriculture had traveled from Britain for the show. Both writers tended to be derogatory wherever an opportunity to be so arose but they too were much impressed by the Shorthorns. That said, the British Farmer's Magazine was somewhat miffed when Mr Massy's Woodbelle took first prize in the two-year-old Shorthorn heifers - 'she has an immense chest and capital loin, but is getting rather gaudy behind' - and clearly preferred Sir Robert Paul's 'very handsome Silk, with her sweet head and beautiful run of neck, breast, and rib' who was runner up.[xx]

After his tour of the cattle, the Viceroy is thought to have investigated the butter and flax categories, which the Journal of Agriculture deemed 'respectably filled' although the poultry had 'nothing striking'. Meanwhile, on the airwaves drifted the music of the 4th Dragoon Guards, drafted in from Cahir ‘to secure a large attendance of ladies on the three days of the show’. The committee had initially pinned their hopes on Harry Hardy’s band from the Royal Irish Constabulary but unspecified ‘circumstances’ had prevented their attendance. As the Dragoons played, the organizers were totting up the first day figures. Numbers were way lower than expected – just 1700 persons – but that could be put down to a combination of the lousy weather and the rinderpest rumours.[xxi]

On Wednesday evening, the Viceroy was guest of honour at a banquet for 300 people hosted by the RASI in the Courthouse in Clonmel. The building had been ‘absolutely transformed’ for the occasion in ‘the greatest taste’ with flags and drapes galore by Thomas Graham, decorator, of Clonmel. Miss Wade, also of Clonmel, proved herself ‘equal to the emergency’ when called upon ‘to supply the dinner’ at which the Marquess of Waterford took the chair. [xxii] Also present was the ailing 4th Earl of Donoughmore, President of the RASI, whose great-grandson was to play such an important role in the show nearly a century later.

After dinner, the Viceroy delivered ‘an exceedingly practical speech’ on the importance of self-reliance for Irish agriculture and industry. [xxiii] ‘If Irishmen would forget their dissensions,’ he mooted, ‘and cooperate heartily for the welfare of their common country, there was every reason to look to the future with hope.’[xxiv] While offering a toast to Lord Donoughmore later on in the evening, Mr. Malcomson of the corn-milling family spoke out for the rural poor. ‘The best mode of preventing emigration would be to provide proper dwellings for the peasantry, and to give every labourer a savings’ bank outside his own door in the shape of an acre or half an acre of land.’

The show continued all day Thursday, an ‘exceedingly fine’ day at which the ‘exceedingly numerous’ crowds rose to over 3000 and ‘extended to the class of tenant farmer.’[xxv] The Irish Times noted ‘very few frieze coats’ or ‘conventional Celtic garb’ among the crowd, observing that the people of Clonmel preferred ‘modern attire’.[xxvi]

After from the Shorthorns, the most successful exhibit were the sheep, with Leicesters and Shropshires 'well represented'. The latter was deemed by the Journal of Agriculture to be 'perhaps the best ever seen in Ireland', with some of the finest breeders in England and Ireland represented, although he objected to the propensity for 'unfairly' shearing them into 'perfect specimens of the art of sheep sculpture'. [xxvii]
The pig classes were 'what one would expect', reckoned the British Farmer's Magazine. [xxviii] Mr. Wainman of Carhead in Yorkshire sent a number of pigs to Clonmel to make 'a strong fight on behalf of the whites' but, as the Journal of Agriculture put it, 'Paddy has long declared in favour of Berkshire blacks', with Mr. Joyce of Waterford and David Malcomson of Portlaw ultimately sharing the honours.

A man of the Viceroy’s background was almost certainly looking forward to seeing the horses but in this first year of the Clonmel Show, he was to be disappointed. Indeed the greatest criticism of the entire event was reserved for the 85 horses stabled in the upper part of the showgrounds, alongside an ‘elegant but durable’ fenced ring erected by Mr. Kennan & Sons of Fishamble Street, Dublin. [xxix] The British Farmer's Magazine deemed the horses 'poor in point of quality, and served, in most cases, to illustrate the necessity for immediate and great improvement in this class of stock, rather than to show advancement.' [xxx] The Irish Times singled out ‘a draught stallion of great power and beauty’ belonging to Mr. Mooney of Crumlin but the Journal of Agriculture felt that the draught-horses made for 'a poor show' and, with regard to the Croker Challenge Cup for the best weight-carrying thoroughbred stallion, he felt the judges would do better to heed the wishes of the original donor that the plate should be withheld 'in all cases where there is want of merit ... the Clonmel meeting scarcely formed an exception to the rule.'[xxxi]

The Viceroy also visited the implement department but the Journal of Agriculture felt the 34 stands on offer were rather lacklustre and urged the RASI to 'stimulate exhibitors' or the department would 'run the risk of speedily becoming defunct.'[xxxii] This may have surprised some attendees considering so many of South Tipperary’s landed gentry were already championing the labour-saving might of threshing and reaping machinery. The Irish Times correspondent may have been on the money when he wrote, ‘It is quite impossible to explain this [low number of stalls] except by assuming that there is not a good market for the best implements in Ireland, and that the manufacturers of implements no longer find it profitable to incur the expense of sending immense engines and heavy machines from England’. In any event, the winning exhibits were a machine for scotching flax by P & T Murphy of Clonmel and ‘a novel type of fence made from wire’ by the aforementioned Mr. Kennan & Sons. [xxxiii] Among others mentioned in despatches were a threshing machine from Reading Ironworks and various reapers manufactured in Scotland and Liverpool. There were also many samples of ‘excellent manure’ and ‘admirable collections’ of vetches, beans and grasses from the Phospho Guano Company.

On Thursday afternoon, the Viceroy also visited the ‘lunatic asylum’, the workhouse and the jail, as well as taking a peep at the students of the male and female Model Schools near Clonmel while they sat their annual exams.[xxxiv] In the evening, thousands of people lined either side of the Suir to watch ‘a pyrotechnic display of fireworks’ sponsored by Mr. Bagwell, which took place in a field called the Inch directly across the river from Marlfield House. [xxxv] ‘Occasional flashes of light from rockets lit up the dark mountain sides with a most peculiar effect, and the shadows of the moving crowd were thrown upon the white walls of Marlfield House. Many coloured rays of light danced and played upon the water revealing a number of heavily freighted boats which lay almost motionless in the midst of the scene.’ Then came ‘brilliant wheels’ and the ‘vivid radiance’ of magnesium lights, coloured stars that floated and ‘finally, amidst a blaze of alternate scarlet and blue appeared the motto, “Prosperity to Ireland” and a tremendous Tipperary cheer was evoked which reverberated for several minutes through the recesses of the low hills.’[xxxvi] The display was followed by a ball at Marlfield for ‘the elite of the county’ and their ‘distinguished visitors’ with music again provided by the 4th Dragoons. [xxxvii]

Summer finally arrived on the Friday, lighting up the surrounding countryside for a record crowd of 4,500. Messrs. Ganley and Parker hosted ‘an important auction of stock’ in the afternoon while Hamilton Willis of Arran Quay, Dublin, oversaw the sale of many horses. The show wrapped up with another ball, held at the Court House, the venue again bedecked by Mr. Graham, a ‘capital supper’ provided by Miss Wade, and the ‘splendid string band’ of Mr. Levey of Dublin’s Theatre Royal on hand to get the quadrille dances up and running. [xxxviii] And on the following day the Viceroy and his family boarded the train and returned to Dublin.

The Royal Show ‘must on the whole be pronounced successful’ concluded The Irish Times and if numbers were less than expected, blame the weather. The British Farmer's Magazine agreed that 'contrary to previous expectation the Irish Royal for 1865 has been tolerably successful'. [xxxix] The Journal of Agriculture reckoned it was certainly ‘a decided improvement' on the 'National Show' held by the RASI at Sligo the previous year. [xl] In any event, while it would be another fifteen years before the Royal Show returned to Clonmel, nobody doubted the efficiency of the committee who ran it, nor the excellence of the location. And in that regard the first ever Clonmel Show was certainly more than ‘tolerably successful’.


2. CLONMEL DISTRICT AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY (1872-1891)


On 5 November 1872, over seven years after the Irish Royal, the leading members of Clonmel’s civic and agricultural community piled into the Court House for the inaugural meeting of the Clonmel District Agricultural Society (CDAS). After the 1865 show, it had become apparent that Clonmel’s farming community lacked a cohesive representative body such as those already established in Cashel, Clogheen, Tipperary and Iverk. This was deemed partly responsible for the reason why Clonmel had not hosted any show since 1865 although the ramifications of the Fenian Rising of 1866-67 had also hindered such desire.[xli]

The CDAS was conceived when over 500 men from the district signed a document requesting that Viscount Lismore, Lord Lieutenant of County Tipperary, establish ‘an Agricultural Society on an extensive scale for the improvement and the breeding of stock, and to render available other advantages therefrom derivable.’ [xlii] Lord Lismore was duly elected president of the CDAS with the Rev. James Millington, Rector of Kilronan, Co. Waterford, as its first Hon. Secretary. Also present for the inaugural meeting were 86-year-old Charles Bianconi and his son-in-law Morgan John O’Connell, nephew of the Liberator.

Perhaps seeking to head off the land troubles that would engulf Ireland at the end of the decade, the CDAS immediately decreed that at least eight of the committee’s fifteen members had to be tenant farmers. [xliii] The original fifteen included John Bagwell, MP, of Marlfield (who had been so intimately involved with the 1865 show), Solomon Watson of Ballingarrane (then called Summerville), Charles William Wise of Rochestown, Cornelius O’Donnell of Seskin (Kilsheelan), Patrick Quinlan of Suirmount (Co. Waterford) and William Burke of Kilmore.[xliv] Impressively, several fifth generation descendants of Messrs. Quinlan, Burke and O’Donnell are represented on the committee over 140 years later in the form of Patrick and Frank Quinlan, Maedhbh Burke and Patrick O’Donnell, while the continuing involvement of C. W. Wise’s great-granddaughter Mrs Dermot O’Brien included the design of the pony jumping course for the 1975 centenary show.

The ‘second coming’ of the Clonmel Show began with an agricultural show on Monday 30 June 1873, followed by a horse show the next day and closing with the annual fair on 2 July. The horse show was particularly important, given the criticisms leveled in 1865, and included a jumping competition specifically aimed at horses who had hunted the previous season with local packs of foxhounds and harriers. [xlv] A precedent was also set that exhibitors be limited to residents of the Poor Law Unions of Clonmel, Cashel, Clogheen and Carrick-on-Suir. [xlvi] The 1873 show took place in a field adjacent to the ‘Gas Company’s premises’ which would in time become the permanent showgrounds. [xlvii] There are few details to hand about the event save for a dinner in the Court House on the opening evening, [xlviii] and the survival of a medallion awarded to Lord Viscount Lismore for a yearling bull at the show itself.

The following November, the CDAS hosted a ‘grand banquet’ for Lord Lismore at Hearn’s Hotel, Clonmel, the proprietor being Alderman Edward Cantwell, the then Mayor of Clonmel. The dinner was attended by 163 farmers, tradesmen and professionals from the district while the chair was taken by James O’Donnell (1819-1885) of Ballyboe, who was one of Lord Lismore’s tenants. In his younger years, Mr. O’Donnell had presided at the great ‘Young Ireland’ meeting on Slievenamon in 1848 at which Thomas Francis Meagher apparently unrolled the Irish tricolour flag for the first time.[xlix] Forbears of the Quinlan family similarly fought at Vinegar Hill in 1798 and were later recorded as having sheltered a Young Irelander on the run in the aftermath of the 1848 rebellion.[l]

The CDAS continued to host the Clonmel Show throughout the 1870s as a two-day event, commissioning at least some of the medals from Thomas Ottley of Birmingham.[li] Following the 1878 show, the Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening singled out Robert Cooke of Kiltinan Castle, Fethard, for ‘special notice’ for the quality of his Italian rye grass specimens, while the prize-winning vegetables from Lord Lismore's garden at Shanbally Castle, and from Mrs. Malcomson of Minella House, ‘reflected much credit on the cultural skill of the respective gardeners, Messrs. Wilsher and Crehan.’[lii] The CDAS also hosted other shows such as ‘the Annual Show of Root and Green Crops’ in November 1876.[liii]

However, much the biggest event in the CDAS’s history was the ‘Irish Royal’ of 1880, held fifteen years after the original. The event was organized by the ‘flourishing’ CDAS, in conjunction with the RASI who hailed it as ‘one of the most successful provincial shows’ they had ever held ‘both as regards the number of entries and the quality of the exhibits.’[liv] ‘There was much to be learned from it that proved unexpectedly pleasing and hope-inspiring to the Irish farmer,’ concluded one visiting correspondent. [lv] Such positive reviews were all the more remarkable given that the Land League’s campaign against landlordism was reaching a crescendo at this time, with daily reports of havoc all across rural Ireland. As the Irish Times noted: ‘We observe with regret that the entries in the tenant farmers’ sections are limited, but when the state of the times is remembered there is no great difficulty in accounting for a paucity of exhibitors from among that class.’ [lvi]

While the number of tenant farmer exhibitors was down, everything else was up - cattle entries rose from 180 to 220, horses jumped from 85 to 150 and sheep were also substantially up. [lvii] The number of stands for farming equipment likewise nearly doubled from 34 to 75. [lviii] All this took place in a nineteen-acre field at Moanmehill on the right bank of the Suir, about a quarter of a mile out of Clonmel. ‘Seldom has the society been favoured with so picturesque a site’, applauded the Irish Times. [lix] The ‘spacious and perfectly level’ field was rented from Miss Pedder of Kilgraney for the occasion. [lx] Blessed with ‘beautifully fine’ weather, the event was on ‘a bigger scale than 1865’. Over six hundred tons of timber was used to construct the buildings, which included eighteen sheds, each 400 feet long, and a grand stand. [lxi]

There was a ‘very high class’ of horses while there was also a showjumping arena. The fences comprised of four ‘obstacles’, namely a hurdle, double-bank, stone wall and a water jump which, with ‘the subsequent addition of a single bank, remained the standard course in Clonmel for many years to come’. [lxii]

Another great attraction was a Bee Tent, forty foot in diameter, dispatched across the Irish Sea by the British Bee Association. [lxiii] However, the biggest buzz of the show concerned the dairy section, not least because butter-making was then enjoying a renaissance despite a warning from the Marquess of Waterford, President of the RASI, at a banquet on the opening night that Irish butter sales were in danger of being eclipsed by ‘a thing they call oleo, margarine or Bosch!’[lxiv] The working dairy occupied a purpose-built, canvas-roofed structure, built by Messrs. Carson of Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin, which had been fitted with the latest international ‘apparati’ including separate sections for churning, butter-working, cheese making, setting the milk and separating the cream. [lxv] These included the Holstein Vertical, on which the finest butter from Northern Germany and Denmark was churned, and a milk-weighing machine invented by Herr Ahlborn of Hildeshem, Hanover. [lxvi]

The highlight of the dairy was a mechanical milk-cream separator invented in 1878 by the Swedish engineer Dr. Gustaf De Laval. [lxvii] The revolutionary separator was bought by the Quebec-born Thomas Cleeve, founder of the Condensed Milk Company of Ireland, and ultimately enabled the Irish dairy industry to compete with Denmark. In 1889 the Suir Valley Condensed Milk factory was established in Clonmel, manufacturing dairy products such as condensed milk, butter, cheese and confectionery (notably Cleeve’s Toffee). By the close of the century, Cleeve’s was the largest business of its type in Britain or Ireland, with 2,000 employees on its payroll and 3,000 Munster farmers supplying its raw material. In the 1920s the Suir Island plant became the Suir Island Co-operative Creamery and continued to operate until the close of the 20th century.

Butter would continue to be an important aspect of the show from the 1880s through until the Great War, particularly as Clonmel became one of the great centres for Irish butter.[lxviii] The bees would also become a popular feature, especially in 1881 when Brother Joseph O’Shea, co- founder of the Irish Beekeepers Association, brought a unicomb hive, complete with Ligurian queen, bees, and brood, from the Carmelite Abbey in Loughrea, Co. Galway.[lxix] Also of note were the excellent apples, pears, melons and nuts being exhibited by the gardeners of Lady Donoughmore, Lady Lismore, Mrs. Bianconi and Mrs. Crean.[lxx] Among other exhibits to draw praise over these years were ‘two beautifully built vehicles of unusually light draft, manufactured by Mr. Patrick Drohan, Castle Street, Carrick-on-Suir.’[lxxi]

The pressures of the Land War came to bear in 1884 and 1885 when the show was reduced to a single day, while the Clonmel Horticultural Society hosted its own chrysanthemum and fruit show at the Court House.[lxxii] However, with the launch of the Plan of Campaign in 1886, the organizers decided to postpone the show indefinitely. [lxxiii] Another four years would pass before the show was resumed.


3. THE CLONMEL HORSE SHOW SOCIETY (1891-1923)

Before it was cancelled in 1886, the Clonmel Show had been considered ‘one of the most interesting and important events of its kind in the South of Ireland.’[lxxiv] Over the next few years, the violence of the Land Wars was to affect the whole locality, scaring away any likely exhibitors from abroad, not least when William O’Brien, the powerful nationalist MP, languished in Clonmel Gaol for four months in 1889.[lxxv] However, the situation had calmed sufficiently by the summer of 1890 for ‘several influential local gentlemen’ to reboot the show.

On 5 August 1891, the Clonmel Horse Show Society (CHSS) arose from the ashes of the CDAS, with Lord Lismore once again standing as President and Captain Stephen Moore of Barne Park, sometime master of the Clonmel Harriers, as its Chairman.[lxxvi] David J Higgins filled the office of Hon. Secretary with assistance from Edward Burke, a local solicitor, and Villiers St. Clair Morton (later Morton-Jackson) of Little Island and Powerstown Park. [lxxvii] The committee encompassed a broad political spectrum. Captain Moore was a former Conservative MP who had gone head to head against the iconic nationalist John Mitchell, Mr. Higgins was an influential Unionist solicitor and Mr. Burke was one of Parnell’s most loyal supporters in the county.[lxxviii]

On 17 September, five weeks after the new society’s launch, it hosted a one-day show on ‘Mr. Bell’s field at the rear of the gas works’. The open jumping competition was won by eight-year-old ‘Little Master Widger’, whose older brother Joe Widger would ride Wild Man of Borneo to victory at the Aintree Grand National in 1895. [lxxix]

Over the next few years the show enjoyed ‘a most marked improvement year by year’, taking place annually in the first week of August. In 1892 the society leased ‘a large adjoining of two fields’ between the gasworks and what is now the Davis Road from Mrs. O’Halloran with the aid of a £950 bank loan. The committee later bought out the fee simple allowing them to build a grandstand, loose boxes and a jumping course, and thereby establishing the basic layout of the showgrounds which would endure for over a century [lxxx]

In 1893 they were confident enough to resume it as a two-day event. [lxxxi] Some of the impetus behind this welcome revival came from Horace Plunkett who founded the Agricultural Co-Operative Movement in 1890 and the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society in 1894. Another Plunkett-inspired innovation was the government-run Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction (DATI), established in 1899, which would much improve the quality of exhibits at the show.

The 1895 show earned particularly high praise from a correspondent of Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes who counseled his readers: ‘'The best show jumping I ever saw was at the Clonmel Horse Show of 1895, when the three conterminous counties of Tipperary, Waterford, and Kilkenny met in friendly rivalry. The contest was a very close one, Tipperary winning by six points.’[lxxxii]

Another acclaimed addition to the 1895 programme was a foxhound show on the second day, which remains the only such show in Ireland, albeit no longer held at Clonmel [lxxxiii] This was largely the initiative of Mr. Assheton Biddulph, Master of the King’s County Hounds, who envisaged it as the Irish equivalent of the celebrated Peterborough Hound Show in England.[lxxxiv] Many of Clonmel’s prizewinning foxhounds would go on to greater glory at Peterborough. That said, the ‘Hound Show’ in Clonmel did not have an easy start and by 1900 Baily's Magazine was lamenting that it ‘does not seem to create much public interest, or indeed to “catch on” properly.’ Searching for reasons why, Baily’s speculated that ‘possibly Clonmel is too far south for a national show’ and cast a disapproving eye on the inordinately large quantity of railway companies competing for business in Ireland.[lxxxv] However, the Hound Show would go on to become one of the most popular events at the show until it finished in 1986. In 1909, Lord Charles Bentinck presented two 50-guinea cups for the best unentered young hounds; the trophies were styled the John Watson Memorial Cups.[lxxxvi]

The Clonmel Show was firmly established by the close of the century, with most people simply referring it to as the ‘Horse Show’. It was attracting influential buyers from abroad, with the 1899 show, for instance, drawing M. Corbello of Germany, Jacques Schawell of Vienna and a Swedish count.[lxxxvii] That same year, the Society purchased the two fields where the show took place, galvanized the roof of the grandstand and added a second show ring.[lxxxviii]

The Marquess of Waterford succeeded as President of the CHSS following the death of Lord Lismore in 1897.[lxxxix] Seven years later, the show received a significant boost when the South Tipperary County Committee of Agriculture made ‘a substantial grant’ towards the prize money of the livestock classes in order ‘to enlarge the scope of the show for animals other than horses’. [xc] The local committee of agriculture would continue to support the show until the early 1980s and its Chief Agricultural officer was an ex officio member of the show committee. Such official collaboration clearly demonstrated how the agricultural show was viewed as an important vehicle for the dissemination of knowledge and the improvement of agriculture.

For many in Ireland, the Clonmel Show was on a social par with the Dublin Horse Show and the Punchestown Races by the eve of the Great War. The Irish Homestead reckoned the Society’s 21st Annual Show which took place in August 1911 actually had the upper hand on the Dublin Horse Show, stating that its record 'so far as the quality of three-year-old geldings and mares' was 'not disturbed' at Ballsbridge while ‘many of those on view at the County Tipperary Show were not sent to Dublin, and the Ballsbridge classes were the poorer for it.'[xci] The 1911 show also included a new jumping competition on the second day, the brainchild of Captain William Perry of Woodrooffe, which was ‘open to all Army, Navy, and RIC full-pay officers.’[xcii] There were also new stalls and judging stands for the Hound Show, with eight packs competing. [xciii] Meanwhile, Clonmel was now home to a new nine-hole golf course, laid out in 1911, and an enclosed racecourse at Powerstown Park, established by Villiers Morton Jackson in 1913. [xciv]

There were many highlight of the sun-drenched 1912 show at which the number of cattle exhibited doubled that of 1911 while horses and poultry entries were also well up.[xcv] There was also much banter among the record crowds about how 80 of the 120 prizes up for grabs were awarded to local farmers who were operating ‘experimental plots ' under the guidance of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.[xcvi] On the downside, heavy rains hit the show causing considerable flood damage. [xcvii]

The Irish Times stated that it was the ‘unanimous opinion of those who patronised’ the 1913 show that it was ‘the best in the history of the Society’, both in regard to the quality of the exhibits and to size of the crowd which, on the first day, surpassed that of both days the previous year - and it doubled again for the second day.[xcviii] For all that, the society was not without its internal disputes and in July 1914 there were uncomfortable allegations of bigotry and sectarianism leveled by Michael Slattery, Chairman of South Tipperary County Council, against Colonel R. O. Kellett, the Society’s Hon. Secretary.[xcix]

Nonetheless, everything was in tip-top condition for what promised to be an outstanding show on 7 and 8 August 1914, with ideal weather conditions anticipated and a bumper number of entries. A new pavilion had also been built for the Hound Show by the Masters of the Foxhound Association of Ireland in memory of the late Marquess of Waterford, the past President of the CHSS. [c] There was also a new contest scheduled: a donkey competition with £2 to the winner.

However, disaster struck three days before the show when Britain declared war on Germany. The committee had no option but to call off the show, citing ‘the difficulty of guaranteeing trains at present for the conveyance of both livestock and visitors’ as all the railway lines had been effectively requisitioned as part of the general mobilization of the army.[ci] Many of the horses due to compete were subsequently commandeered while the CHSS’s drill field was meadowed for the war effort and other lands leased out for grazing.

Such a last minute cancellation caused a considerable financial loss to the CHSS. [cii] There was also a temporary loss in personnel. Among those who set off to the Western Front were Colonel Kellett, Captain Perry, Randal Moore, Major Wise, Arthur Rogers and Captain William Gibson of Brittas, Cashel.[ciii] The war took its toll. Colonel Kellett’s son fell at Coigneux in 1916. Captain Morel, Master of the Clonmel Harriers, was wounded in Gallipoli and his friend Captain Perry was lucky to survive illness in Egypt.[civ] Assheton Biddulph’s only son Lt. Robert Biddulph succumbed to heart failure in 1916.[cv] Another blow came in 1918 with the death of 46-year-old Randall Moore of Barne Park, one of the most prominent members of the Society.[cvi]

In the meantime, Mr. Morton Jackson assumed the office of Hon. Secretary, with support from men such as TB Montgomery of Annerville. Assisted by an overdraft, the committee voted to continue the show in 1915, albeit by a narrow two-vote majority, ‘in the interests of horse-breeding and other industries’. As with the heady days of the Land Wars, they hedged their bets and restricted it to one day, a policy they continued in 1916, 1917 and 1918. [cvii] Held at a time when the ferocious battle of the Somme was in full flow, the ‘well supported’ 1916 show included classes for goats, alongside horses, cattle, sheep and swine.[cviii]

The two-day show resumed in August 1919, drawing 500 entries in what Mr. Morton Jackson described as a plan ‘to regain its undisputed pre-war position as the first provincial Show in Ireland’. [cix] The following month, the committee launched a challenge on the Royal Dublin Society’s decision to appropriate the first week of August for the Dublin Horse Show, reasoning that the Clonmel Show had been held that week annually for nearly thirty years.[cx] However, much changed that same September when two policemen were shot dead at Soloheadbeg, fifty kilometers north west of Clonmel, initiating the Irish War of Independence.

Although South Tipperary was to be one of the more active areas during the war, the show ran successfully in 1920, with much ‘selling of hunters and remounts’, but relentless rains ensured the 1921 show was something of a wash out.[cxi] The Society also hosted their annual Bull Show and Sale at Stokes and Quirke’s Showyard, Clonmel, in March 1922.[cxii]

However, while the show rode out the War of Independence, it could not sidestep the Civil War, which raged all around Clonmel and then roared into the town with its occupation by anti-Treaty forces in July 1922. Several nearby ‘big houses’ were seized, including Knocklofty. The committee had no option but to cancel the show, which was to take place on August 4th and 5th, just days before a Free State Army contingent commanded by Major-General John T. Prout recaptured the town. [cxiii] The crisis continued into January 1923 when Jack Bagwell, a senior figure in Irish railways and also now a Senator in the Irish Free State, was abducted for 48 hours. Marlfield House, the Bagwell’s ancestral home, was doused in petrol and burned to the ground the same month.[cxiv] Woodrooffe, the home of Major Perry, and Rochestown House, the home of Major Wise, both prominent supporters of the Clonmel Horse Show, were destroyed in February.[cxv] Indeed, South Tipperary racked up an enormous wreckage bill during the Civil War with the destruction of many other houses and creameries as well as 200 bridges (including eleven of the thirteen that crossed the River Suir) and considerable damage to the premises, rolling stock and railway lines of the Great Southern and Western Railway.

The general situation put the Clonmel Horse Show Society in a quandary. The cancellation of the 1914 and 1922 shows and the poor weather in 1921 had left them with a £600 debt. They were also still contending with the accumulation of expenses incurred by the flood damage of 1912, as well as the undischarged overdraft for the purchase of the showgrounds and a further £800 due on new buildings, including lavatory facilities. [cxvi] On the plus side, the show had been run on a profit for 33 years and its assets still outweighed its debts and loans. On 24 February 1923, the CHSS decided to turn the concern into a limited liability company, with a capital of £3000, offering £2000 in shares to the public. With more capital and new management, it was hoped that the 1923 show would be ‘a bigger success than ever.’[cxvii]

4. CLONMEL HORSE SHOW & AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY LTD. (1923-1975)

On 2 June 1923, the show’s administrative body was reborn once again as the Clonmel Horse Show and Agricultural Society Ltd. with the 6th Earl of Donoughmore as President. Lord Donoughmore, whose grandparents had played a prominent role in the original 1865 show, was a former British cabinet minister and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The first chairman of the new society was Tipperary councillor James Reidy of Greyfort, who was to make his mark when he persuaded Major G. Mascart, manager of the Carlow sugar beet factory, to send an expert and exhibits to the 1926 show to promote sugar beet cultivation in South Tipperary.[cxviii]

The new Hon. Secretary was Wilfred F. H. Watson, a son of Colonel Solomon Watson of the 1872 committee and a grandson of the 17th Baron Teynham. The Watson family had lived at Ballingarrane for many long generations and were stalwarts of the show. They were also exceptional farmers and by 1930, their extensive farm was regarded as ‘one of the best and most scientifically run in the country’, taking top prizes at shows across Ireland for poultry, pigs, cattle and produce. His wife was Evelyn Irene Wills of the tobacco dynasty, later Mrs. Bagwell, and their son Colonel Sydney Watson was to become another colossus of the show.

Mr. Watson was assisted by Michael McCarthy, later Master of the Clonmel Harriers, while other notable appointees included Denis Cantwell as Steward of the Society’s Cups a role later taken on by Mrs. Cantwell), Paddy Kertin as groundsman (in which he was succeeded by his son Buddy) and Daniel Hanly of Coleman as Steward in Ring No. 1 – a position he retained for well over 50 years.

The CHSAS’s first show was held on 2 and 3 August 1923, just after the end of the Civil War. It got off to the worst possible start when ‘a regular hurricane of wind and rain’ ripped through the showgrounds on the eve of the event, and continued through much of the opening day, ‘knocking down trees and causing much other damage.’ Unsurprisingly, the crowds stayed away.[cxix] However, the weather brightened on the second day and ‘very high’ attendance ensured that the show was ultimately a success, despite the bad weather. C. E. Denny of the bacon curing family presented a silver challenge cup for Open Jumping while M. O’Brien of Foxrock, Co. Dublin, presented the Pouldrew Challenge Cup for an inter-hunt competition which became much the most popular event at the show until it finished in 1962. [cxx] The first Pouldrew Cup was won by the Tipperary Foxhounds but when the Kilkenny Hunt won it for the third time in 1930, Lady Helen McCalmont presented the Mount Juliet Cup in its place. This was duly won by the Tipperary Foxhounds. [cxxi]

In such halcyon times, as Colonel Watson later observed, competitors tended to be assessed on the style of their riding, as well as the clearances, causing some ‘disgruntled male riders’ to complain that ‘the allurements of face and figure were seldom disadvantageous to feminine competitors.’ [cxxii] Among the picturesque icons of the era were Miss Joan Grubb (later Mrs. De Sales la Terriere), Miss Sylvia Perry (daughter of Major Perry, who wore her hair in golden pigtails and married Arthur Masters in 1923) and Mrs “Binty” Marshall (mother to Brian Marshall, the steeplechase jockey, who used to jump Lady Helen McCalmont horses riding side-saddle and wearing a felt hat). [cxxiii]

On 2 February 1924 the newly constituted CHSAS was registered as a limited liability company under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1893. [cxxiv] Its stated objective was to promote the improvement of Agriculture and Horticulture in all its branches, including Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Swine, Goats, Poultry, Dogs, Hounds, Farm Produce, Creameries, Bee Keeping, Cottage Industries and related activities. The 1924 show ran at a loss, attributed to heavy rains on the opening day.[cxxv] It had been held in mid-July because of a decision by the RDS to move their annual horse show to early August.[cxxvi]

When the public was invited to buy transferrable shares on 30 September 1924, 130 people signed up over the next 11 days, buying 360 shares at £5 each. Most of those who subscribed were community leaders - gentry, farmers and merchants – and Clonmel Museum now holds the original share register as well as many of the cancelled share certificates. The ensuing transfers must have kept the county’s solicitors busy with paperwork, as well as Hon. Secretaries like the long-serving Celia Murphy, as each subsequent share transfer had to be approved by the committee.

The 1926 show was hailed as ‘one of the most important in the provinces’ with ‘as fine a collection of horseflesh as can be found in Ireland outside Ballsbridge’. Although the foxhounds continued to delight the crowd, the show was by now very much seen as the curtain-raiser for the Dublin Horse Show, with entries from Counties Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford and Limerick, as well as Tipperary.[cxxvii]

The chairmanship of CHSAS was now vested in another stalwart of the show, namely Major-General Kellett, CB, CMG, of Clonacody House, a cousin of Mr. Morton Jackson. Born in 1864, Richard Orlando Kellett was an army man who had served as a senior musketry instructor in India and Hythe before taking command of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment from 1909 to 1913. At the start of the war, he had led a brigade in the British Expeditionary Force. [cxxviii] The general was clearly a formidable figure. One contemporary recalled him thus:

‘The compelling voice, the quizzical glance and smile, the force and fire of an indistinguishable ardour, those you could always count upon to inspire your courage and revive your flagging enthusiasm. Only men who fell badly short of the soldier's standard knew the sterner side of him, the whips of scorn and anger which could lash without mercy. A man so simple of heart, so single of mind, so utterly determined to do his damnedest, had no time to waste on the slacker, the scrimshanker, and the coward. He just went berserk and the culprit wilted away.’ [cxxix]

The 1928 show nearly culminated in a dreadful tragedy when ‘a lighted match was carelessly dropped from the upper portion’ of the stand, fell through a crevice to the store below and started a blaze. Fortunately someone spotted the fire and Wilfred Watson, the Hon. Secretary, managed to extinguish it with several buckets of sand.[cxxx] However, dark times were just around the corner for the Clonmel Show.

On 14 January 1929, the Bagwells celebrated the reconstruction of Marlfield House by hosting the Tipperary Hunt Ball at which the 270 ‘Gallant Tips’ danced to Miss Billie Weiner’s band ‘until the early hours of the morning, when the majority of the guests returned home to appear shortly after at the hunt meet at Lord Donoughmore’s country residence Knocklofty.’[cxxxi] At the show in July, the Department of Agriculture held a well-received agricultural exhibition while the event also saw an agreement reached between the Tipps and the Kilshane Harriers and Thurles Harriers that the two smaller hunts could hunt an area of forty by twenty miles as 'the Kilshane and Thurles'.[cxxxii]

Much credit for the smooth running of the show was bestowed upon Wilfred Watson, the CHSAS’s fun-loving and deeply energetic Hon. Secretary. However, tragedy struck on 7 December 1929 when Mr. Watson, who had only just taken up duties as Secretary of the Tipperary Hunt, fell from his horse while out hunting with that pack at Rockwell. He was following behind Lilla Bagwell, daughter of Senator Bagwell, when he fell while jumping a wired fence. He got up quickly and when Lilla asked if he was hurt, he replied ‘Not at all.’ She thought he was in quite good spirits and he rejoined the hunt at a gallop. However, he was then seen falling from his horse a second time and he died sometime later in the presence of his wife. A doctor later deduced that the first fall caused partial dislocation of the spine, and the subsequent gallop caused complete dislocation.[cxxxiii] When the show committee met six days later, General Kellett applauded Mr. Watson for ‘his zeal, his initiative, his influence and his tact’, maintaining that his death ‘has thrown a gloom over the entire community of Southern Tipperary.’[cxxxiv] At the same meeting, Captain John Perry of Birdhill was appointed Hon. Secretary in his place.

Mr. Watson’s widow Irene – later Mrs. William Bagwell – was elected the first lady member of the committee in 1930. [cxxxv] That same year she honoured her late husband with the Wilfred F.H. Watson Memorial Cup, a Perpetual Challenge Cup, which is still awarded to the Champion Hunter of the Clonmel Show. [cxxxvi] The first winner was Lady McCalmont of Mount Juliet, County Kilkenny.

The glum times continued when a fire caused by ‘smouldering cigarette ends’ completely destroyed the show’s timber grand stand in August 1930, the morning after the Tipperary Divisional Garda held their sports day in the grounds. There was no suggestion that the cause was ‘malicious.’[cxxxvii] Captain Perry ensured that ‘a commodious and substantial ferro-concrete stand’ was finished by the time the 1931 show commenced the following July, complete with a Press Room to host amongst others, a correspondent from London’s Tatler magazine which produced a feature on the show in its August edition. At the 1931 show, Mrs. Watson captured ‘no fewer than ten prizes’, including the Championship Cup for the best pig.[cxxxviii]

Another massive blow came that autumn with the death of General Kellett, vice-president and chairman of the CHSAS. On 11 November he had delivered an impressive address at the Armistice Day celebrations in Clonmel. The following day, the 68-year-old went hunting with the Tipperary Hounds. While riding through a stony fence near Rathronan, his horse ‘slipped on the stones and spreadeagled’; the General was ‘thrown violently forward’ and landed on his head. He died immediately from a combination of heart strain and shock.[cxxxix] It was not yet two years since Wilfred Watson had died under such similar circumstances. ‘So he is gone as he would have wished to go,’ wrote one contemporary, ‘with the Irish wind in his face and a good horse under him. Loyal and well-tried comrade, brave leader, great and gallant gentlemen, we bid you with aching hearts — Hail and Farewell!’ [cxl]

The general was duly succeeded by Senator John Bagwell, known as Jack, who retained the chairmanship until 1943. [cxli] Born in 1874 and educated at Harrow and Oxford, Jack Bagwell had made his mark as general manager of the Great Northern Railway of Ireland. He became a household name following his kidnapping during the Civil War but he had long been a passionate supporter of the Clonmel Show. He was also a notable long distance walker, having walked 57 miles from Clonmel to Cobh at the age of 57.[cxlii]

The global recession and the Economic War with London, specifically the imposition of British Import Duties, were the root cause of substantial losses sustained by the 60th annual show in 1932, despite good crowds and fair weather. The following year, the committee felt compelled to reduce it to one day for the first time since the end of the war. A rare bright day for hay-making ensured many farmers were absent on that single day and the horse entries generally were down, but the display of cattle in 1933 was considered ‘the largest, and possibly the best, that has been seen at Clonmel.’ [cxliii] It was to remain a one-day event until 1936, by which time William Bagwell had become Hon. Secretary.

Two-day shows resumed in 1937, at which juncture there was a new addition to the line up in the form of a jumping competition for ponies of fourteen hands and under, ridden by children under the age of sixteen. The following year a horticultural section was added.

1937 also saw the construction of a new 150 x 60 foot corrugated iron Trade Hall for the display of art, craft, commercial and industrial exhibits, in part encouraged by the Clonmel Chamber of Commerce who guaranteed to lease 25 spaces.[cxliv] The ‘Red Shed’ would remain an iconic landmark of the showgrounds for more than 60 years and, aside from the its core function, also provided a venue for dances and social events. In 1939 the committee arranged for the Trade Hall to be repainted in red bitumastic – a daunting undertaking which is still recalled with a shudder by serving committee members who undertook the same task in more recent years!

Alas the second day of the 1939 show was poorly attended and the 1940 show had to be cancelled because of the increasingly dreadful war in Europe. An attempt to resurrect the show in 1941 was foiled by a combination of what chairman Jack Bagwell called the ‘petrol famine’ and an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. [cxlv] In June 1941, the Clonmel Greyhound Racing Company terminated its lease on part of the showground which it had been using as a race track for the previous decade. [cxlvi] However, a new lease was later signed and the southern portion of the showgrounds remained in use for greyhound racing until the mid 1990s, and after a hiatus in the early 2000s, once again serves that purpose.

With the war showing no signs of easing up in 1942, the committee opted to hold a gymkhana instead of a show. [cxlvii] The following year they held a one-day show in which the general entry was deemed ‘very satisfactory, particularly in the main classes for horses and cattle, and for jumping.’ In a nod to the ongoing petrol rationing, there were classes for ‘decorated horse-drawn farm carts’ and for ‘best turned out ponies and traps.’ [cxlviii]

The show continued as a one-day event in 1944, 1945 and 1946. [cxlix] Jack Bagwell died a month after the 1946 show and was succeeded as chairman by Viscount Suirdale, later the Earl of Donoughmore, whose family had been so intimately involved with the show since the Irish Royal of 1865. One of his first moves was to restore the show as a two-day fixture. [cl] Held in glorious weather in July 1947, it was ‘especially well patronised’, breaking all attendance records, while the ‘foxhound show’ continued to draw praise as one of its ‘most interesting’ events.[cli] Among those who bought horses at the 1947 show were a party of Turkish Army officers who had been sent to Ireland by their government to buy horses for the upcoming equestrian events at the London Olympics in 1948.

In 1948 Irene Bagwell, formerly Mrs. Irene Watson, became the Society’s first lady president. She was married to Lt. Cdr. William Bagwell, eldest son of the late Senator and Hon. Secretary of the CHSAS.[clii] Over the next seventeen years the Bagwells and Lord Donoughmore were to prove a formidable unit, with an aim to ‘improve the scope and scale of the jumping competitions in order to encourage riders to attain the standards required for international events’. To this end, Lord Donoughmore recruited Captain Anthony Paalman, a Dutchman regarded as one of the finest course builders in the world. [cliii] Fences duly increased in both number and variety while speed competitions were introduced in 1953.

Throughout this period the show ran as a two-day event, the sole hiccup being the cancellation of the cattle classes at the 1952 show because of another outbreak of foot and mouth. [cliv] The Countess of Donoughmore also expanded the horticultural section from 1951 to 1970 with 1957 drawing a bumper crop of 570 entries. [clv]

The show benefitted greatly from the respective efforts of Lord and Lady Donoughmore but when Lord Donoughmore once dared to make light of his wife’s role, she challenged him to enter the flower arranging classes. Although he had never arranged a flower vase in his life, he readily accepted the challenge and entered the Novice class. Armed with one of Lady Donoughmore’s books on flower arranging, he decided to replicate one of the photographs therein. Much to everyone’s surprise he duly produced the winning entry. In his victory speech, he exclaimed ‘I told you it wasn’t that difficult’, but promptly ‘retired’ from flower arranging before he could be challenged to enter the following year. He subsequently presented the Flower Show with a cup for the Novice Class ‘in memory of my brief career in flower arranging.’[clvi]

The Hound Show continued to be a major draw, especially in 1956 when the Midleton Foot Beagles of Co. Cork enjoyed a veritable ‘field day’, sweeping every prize available.[clvii] One witness to this epic event was Celia Murphy who had just taken over as the society’s office secretary when Joe Whelan stepped down after 26 years. [clviii] One of the first challenges she had to contend with was the destruction of the bulk of the Society’s correspondence when the offices of Henry Shannon & Co., the CHSAS solicitor, burned down in 1957.

The CHSAS coffers were considerably enhanced in 1963 when Bulmer’s and Guinness came on board to sponsor the jumping competitions. Along with a grant of £194 from the South Tipperary Committee of Agriculture, this ensured the show had no overdraft for the first time in years although Mrs. Bagwell warned that they still ‘badly needed a reserve fund to meet such contingencies as wet show days, etc.’[clix]

When Mrs Bagwell died in 1965, the CHSAS committee mourned the loss of ‘a kind, gracious and brilliant lady’ who ‘gave her unstinted support and assistance at all times’. Commander Bagwell, her husband, was elected in her place. Difficult times followed with the show’s finances showing a deficit, obliging the Commander Bagwell to issue an appeal to the people of Clonmel and district in 1968 urging them to become subscribing members of the Society and keep the show going.[clx]

Lord Donoughmore retired as chairman in 1971, after an impressive 24 years in office, and was succeeded by Colonel Sydney Watson, only son of the late Wilfred Watson and his wife Irene (later Mrs. Bagwell) and stepson of the society’s president. [clxi] An insight into Colonel Watson’s fiscal policy is offered by Michael McClintock who was appointed auditor to the Clonmel Horse Show and Agricultural Society, probably at the behest of his then brother in law was Geoffrey Wilkinson of Gurteen, Kilsheelan. Michael was asked to attend a meeting of the committee and recalls: ‘It was up for discussion that the show grounds were fairly scruffy and in need of brushing up to make the event more attractive and better presented. I was asked was it in order for the Society to borrow £ 2,000 from the bank to undertake the refurbishment works. I confirmed that such was within the rules and offered me no audit problems. Up spake Col. S.J. Watson M.B.E., M.A., a formidable figure in the county and seldom crossed, "when I was young, my nanny said "pay as you go, dear boy, and if you can't pay, don't go" ". As far as I recall, that was the death of the borrowing idea and the show went ahead in its shabbiness.’

Nonetheless, with Colonel Watson at the helm, the show resumed its position as one of Ireland’s leading equestrian events. In many minds it was second only to the Dublin Horse Show, especially when it began hosting the Irish Farmer’s Journal sponsored National Half-Bred Brood Mare Championship of Ireland from 1974 onwards – the first championship class in Ireland with a prize fund of £1000. Competitions for Irish step-dancing and mounted games for pony clubs also started in 1974, with the latter benefitting from the establishment of the Killusty Pony Show in 1962.

The course was also updated with a new water jump in 1973 and, under the guidance of Roberta Malcomson as course builder, a continental bank in 1975. [clxiii] This was completed in time for the Centenary Show in July 1975, which allegedly marked the 100th agricultural show held since the Irish Royal of 1865, as opposed to commemorating 100 consecutive years. [clxiv] As well as the Show-Jumping competition and the Half-Bred Brood Mare Championship, the Centenary Show included shows for foxhounds and beagles, ponies, donkeys, flowers, and step-dancing, and a Macra na Feirme Efficiency and Farm Tasks contest.

The Centenary Show was attended by both the President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and the Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave. It must have also been something of a confidence booster for Lord and Lady Donoughmore who had experienced considerable shock the previous summer when they were rather randomly abducted by a breakaway IRA unit. A public outcry from the people of Clonmel, as well as mediation by the Social Democratic and Labour Party, prompted the IRA leadership to step in and ensure their release.[clxv]

Despite the showery weather, the Centenary Show drew a large crowd on both days, either to watch the show classes and jumping, or to inspect the industrial display and other stands. Lieutenant Con Power of the Army Equitation School, riding San Carlos, won the McDowell Challenge Cup in the open competition – and then rather brazenly came second as well, riding another Army horse, Coolronan, Third place went to Eimear Haughey, daughter of the Fianna Fail leader Charles Haughey, riding her father’s horse Feltrim.

What had started out as a once-off cattle show in 1865 had become the most preeminent agricultural show in Ireland outside of Dublin by the time the President and Taoiseach arrived in 1975. The show had survived many and considerable pressures, including the Land Wars of the 1880s, two global wars, the Civil War and two high-profile kidnappings, not to mention the incalculable whims of the ever-changing Irish weather. In the ensuing decades since the Centenary Show of 1975, there has been a changing of the guard amongst those who organize the event but the essential ethos of what the show stands for remains as determined and ambitious as it was when the Viceroy wheeled through Clonmel’s muddy streets back in the summer of 1865.

FOOTNOTES

[i] The Irish Times - Wednesday, August 16, 1865 - Page 3. The Edinburgh Courant also sent a correspondent to the show who complained that in Clonmel ‘the sum of £5 was coolly asked for the use of two bedrooms and a sitting room during the show, and the charges for single bedrooms generally ranged from five shillings to one guinea’. (The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.) By Tuesday evening, it appeared that every bedroom in South Tipperary had found an occupant.

[ii] The Irish Times, Tuesday, August 15, 1865, p. 3, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/1865/0815/Pg003.html#Ar00301:3C90C43EC0D430D11D32C12F3422643612763CF41F3EF43234D4A03654B63634A236E4B534D57F36B5913E959C4075AF3E16893FF69B33C71A35972D3E9A17407A2A424C72443C840006E03606F200038E4003A140038E4043A140438E41C3A1372C29390C3C390C29394C3C394C293AEC3C30B26231427431326231F27431F26232727432626233227433226233927433826233D2743CF5F63FF6083E772A41673D30A7BA3177CD3167BA3237CD3247BA33A7CD42D8C44488D74488C444D8D730A8D231E8E43F191D42192F3F09CF41F9E138FB113C0B243B0B593E4B6C

[iii] The Irish Times, Tuesday, August 15, 1865, p. 3.

[iv] The Irish Times - Wednesday, August 16, 1865 - Page 3. The fact that visitors to the Royal Show did not get their feet wet was attributed to the sensibility of ‘the local committee’

[v] Journal of Agriculture (1865), Volume 12 (p. 214-215). ‘We are exposed to the competition of all the world,’ wrote the Irish Times ahead of the event, ‘and to live, much more to prosper, we must not only equal but excel all competitors. If we can produce the best hay, the finest turnips, the most nutritious mangold; if in oats, barley and other cereals, we yield to none, there is hope for Ireland’. The Irish Times, Friday, August 4, 1865, p. 2.

[vi] The Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland was founded in 1839 by Peter Purcell, a Dublin coach owner, with the support of the Duke of Leinster.

Percy Gough (1816-1905) was the youngest son of the Rev. Thomas Bunbury Gough. He lived at Salisbury, near Marlfield village, outside Clonmel. The Irish Times - Monday, August 21, 1865 - Page 2.

[vii] The Nationalist, 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. Mr. Murphy bought the Quaker run girl’s boarding school of Prior Park House in 1864 and converted it into his family home.

[viii] In 1865, the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland registered a lodgment of £500 to its credit from the Local Committee of Clonmel Show. (The Farmer's Magazine, Rogerson and Tuxford, 1866, p. 65, via https://books.google.ie/books?id=9QpOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA45&dq=%22Clonmel+Show%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9QhBVdGRAZXtavbtgZgG&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22Clonmel%20Show%22&f=false). See also The Farmer's Magazine, 1867, p. 307, via https://books.google.ie/books?id=9PAhAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA307&dq=%22Clonmel+Show%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=7SZBVauxJ5bdauXPgOAB&ved=0CDkQ6AEwCDgU#v=onepage&q=%22Clonmel%20Show%22&f=false €700 was also the prize money made available at the 1864 Sligo Show which, I think, was also hosted by the RASI.

[ix] The Irish Times, Wednesday 16 August, 1865, p. 2.

[x] The rinderpest partially explains why ‘not a single beast of the horned class’ from Scotland or England was exhibited’. The Irish Times also put some of this down to the logistical complexities of transporting animals across the Irish Sea and all the way to Clonmel. However, the same correspondent also expressed his personal opinion that whereas English farmers exhibited stock ‘for the sake of honour rather than of sale’, the Irish breeders were primarily motivated by ‘the desire of selling his stock advantageously’, which presumably made the show a little more ‘market’ than ‘fair’.

[xi] The Irish Times - Wednesday, August 16, 1865 - Page 3.

[xii] The Irish Times - Thursday, August 17, 1865 - Page 3

[xiii] The Irish Times, Thursday, August 17, 1865, p. 3. ‘THE CLONMEL SHOW. A letter was received from the private secretary of the Lord Lieutenant [Baron Wodehouse] intimating that it would afford his Excellency much pleasure to accede to the invitation of the society to be present at the annual show in Clonmel, if the forthcoming elections did not interfere with such an arrangement.’ British Farmer's Magazine, James Ridgway, 1865, p. 121. See also The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

Clonmel’s agricultural heyday kicked into gear in 1758 when the Irish Parliament voted to subsidize the inland carriage of wheat from distant counties to Dublin. The farmers of Clonmel swiftly put the River Suir to full use and flour became the town’s foremost commodity as mills sprang up around the town and more and more farmers turned to tillage. Guided by the industrialist David Malcolmson – a former agent of the Bagwell family - Clonmel became ‘one of the greatest grain markets of the kingdom" (Burke, History of Clonmel, 1907, p. 182). The towns mercantile elite was dominated by Quakers in the 1840s, including the Grubbs, Clibborns, Malcolmsons, Davis', Pims and Fayles.

The Bagwells had a strong agricultural streak and are assumed to have been enthusiastic supporters of the show. Marlfield, the Bagwell home since 1784, had been the base for extensive corn milling and biscuit making in the late 18th century

[xiv] Lord Donoughmore was ‘detained in London by ill health’ – he died six months later - but his lady hosted the guests at Knocklofty. The Duke of Wellington was entertained at Newtown-anner while Lt. Col. Gough was to host his cousin Field Marshal Viscount Gough, as well as Lord Lucan and General Sir Hugh Rose. The Lord Mayor of Dublin also made his way (direct from a meeting with the Lord Provost of Edinburgh) as did the Hon. Frederick Stanley, later 16th Earl of Derby. See The Irish Times, Thursday, August 17, 1865, p. 2, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/1865/0817/Pg002.html#Ar00204:775C59792C69722C5774CC67

[xv] The Irish Times - Thursday, August 17, 1865 - Page 3.

[xvi] The Irish Times, Tuesday, August 15, 1865, p. 3.

[xvii] The Irish Times - Wednesday, August 16, 1865 - Page 3

[xviii] Journal of Agriculture (1865), Volume 12 (p. 214-215). On account of the ‘mouth and foot distemper’, the main breeds other than Shorthorns - Herefords, Devons, Ayrshires, polled and Kerries - were 'meagerly represented, and do not call for any special remarks'. The correspondent lamented the absence of any quality Kerries, 'a native breed closely resembling the Shetland in their diminutive size, excellent milking qualities, and their nicely-mixed, well-flavoured beef when fatted.' See also The Irish Times, Tuesday, August 15, 1865, p. 3.

[xix] Several of the best cattle, including Mr Massy's Woodbelle, were bred by the late Captain Thomas Ball of Robert's Walls, near Malahide, Co. Dublin, while EJ Smith of Islaumore, Croom, Co. Limerick, was tipped to 'take up the place left vacant by the death of Captain Ball.

[xx] British Farmer's Magazine, James Ridgway, 1865, p. 121.

[xxi] There were also murmurs of discontent that ‘the most extravagant rent’ was being sought for lodging now that ‘almost all the hotel accommodation is already occupied or secured’. The Irish Times - Wednesday, August 16, 1865, p. 3.

[xxii] The Irish Times, Tuesday, August 15, 1865, p. 3.

[xxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’; British Farmer's Magazine, James Ridgway, 1865, p. 121.

[xxiv] The Irish Times, Friday, August 18, 1865, p. 2.

[xxv] The Irish Times - Friday, August 18, 1865 - Page 3.

[xxvi] The Irish Times - Monday, August 21, 1865 - Page 2.

[xxvii] Journal of Agriculture (1865), Volume 12 (p. 214-215).

[xxviii] British Farmer's Magazine, James Ridgway, 1865, p. 121.

[xxix] The Irish Times, Tuesday, August 15, 1865, p. 3, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/1865/0815/Pg003.html#Ar00301:3C90C43EC0D430D11D32C12F3422643612763CF41F3EF43234D4A03654B63634A236E4B534D57F36B5913E959C4075AF3E16893FF69B33C71A35972D3E9A17407A2A424C72443C840006E03606F200038E4003A140038E4043A140438E41C3A1372C29390C3C390C29394C3C394C293AEC3C30B26231427431326231F27431F26232727432626233227433226233927433826233D2743CF5F63FF6083E772A41673D30A7BA3177CD3167BA3237CD3247BA33A7CD42D8C44488D74488C444D8D730A8D231E8E43F191D42192F3F09CF41F9E138FB113C0B243B0B593E4B6C

[xxx] British Farmer's Magazine, James Ridgway, 1865, p. 121.

[xxxi] Journal of Agriculture (1865), Volume 12 (p. 214-215).

[xxxii] Journal of Agriculture (1865), Volume 12 (p. 214-215).

[xxxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[xxxiv] The Irish Times - Friday, August 18, 1865 - Page 3.

[xxxv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[xxxvi] The Irish Times - Saturday, August 19, 1865 - Page 3.

[xxxvii] British Farmer's Magazine, James Ridgway, 1865, p. 121; The Irish Times - Saturday, August 19, 1865 - Page 3.

[xxxviii] The Irish Times - Saturday, August 19, 1865 - Page 3.

[xxxix] British Farmer's Magazine, James Ridgway, 1865, p. 121.

[xl] Journal of Agriculture (1865), Volume 12 (p. 214-215).

[xli] Following the Clonmel Show in 1865, the RASI voted overwhelmingly to hold the 1866 show in Dublin with the Irish Times reckoning that a Dublin show would draw ‘a far greater variety of faming implements and machinery [from] English and Scottish manufacturers’ than would be sent ‘to any provincial town’. The 1866 Irish Royal was hosted in Dublin and any enthusiasm for hosting another agricultural show in Clonmel petered out. The Irish Times, Friday 1 September 1865, p.2.

[xlii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. The CDAS were evidently inspired by the Royal Dublin Society's enlightened objective of 'promoting improvements of all kinds'.

[xliii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[xliv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. Charles Bianconi, the Italian immigrant who had risen from pedlar-boy to become a millionaire and Mayor of Clonmel. In 1815, he initiated Irelands first public transport system – a network of horse drawn carriages with its HQ in Clonmel. “He was involved in every good cause, every progressive institution, from the introduction of the Christian Brothers and the support of the Presentation Sisters, and Sisters of Charity, to the creation of substantial employment and a sponsorship of the railways.”

[xlv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. The owners of such packs were all members of the Society. The rules of this competition have not survived.

[xlvi] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[xlvii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. Was this property of Clonmel Gas Consumers’ Company, of which Bianconi was a director, which monopolized the gas supply at the time? Or was it property of the Kneeshaws who were closely involved with Clonmel gasworks. Bianconi referenced by Charles J. O'Sullivan in 'The gasmakers: historical perspectives on the Irish gas industry', O'Brien Press, 1987, p. 155.

[xlviii] At the opening dinner, Mr. Bagwell proposed a toast to the health of the successful competitors, of which he was ‘one of them myself’. Alderman Crean then proposed an equally important toast to all the unsuccessful competitors.

[xlix] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. O’Donnell, a Young Irelander and a member of the Confederate Clubs around Kilsheelan, was subsequently arrested after the Slievenamon meeting in July 1848. Details of James O’Donnell at http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/property-show.jsp?id=3921

[l] Eoghan Ó Néill, 'The golden vale of Ivowen: between Slievenamon and Suir' (Geography Publications), 308, 532
Michael Doheny, The Felon’s Track (Dublin: Gill, 1914) 186

‘The Quinlan family historian, Eoghan (Eugene) O'Neill in his book, The Golden Vale of Ivowen, notes that two of the Quinlan forbears and their O'Donnell neighbours - all at that stage strong tenant farmers on 100+ acre holdings - fought at Vinegar Hill in 1798 and had to flee to France in the aftermath. A later generation resident in the family homeplace of Manganstown is also noted to have sheltered some of thea Young Irelanders who were on the run and fed produced them a breakfast worthy of a detailed a diary entry, but it appears that later generations were appear to be happier to engage in more genteel pastimes such as horse-breeding horses and running agricultural shows!’ – Patrick Quinlan, May 2015.

See Eoghan Ó Néill, 'The golden vale of Ivowen: between Slievenamon and Suir' (Geography Publications), p. 532; Thomas N. Brown, 'Nationalism and the Irish peasant, 1800-1848', University of Notre Dame Press, 1953, p. 437; The Newspaper (August 12 1848), p. 263, via https://books.google.ie/books?id=AtROAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA263&dq=Slievenamon+in+1848+%22James+O'Donnell%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=9Y9DVafVDI2PaKu4gKgK&ved=0CBcQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Slievenamon%20in%201848%20%22James%20O'Donnell%22&f=false

[li] Some silver award medals were certainly made by Thomas Ottley, Birmingham, and which portrayed – I think – showed farm animals, a bridled horse and plough, and a farmhouse on the obverse with ‘Clonmel District Agricultural Society – Established 1872 in relief on the reverse. in background [anything else, Victor or Patrick may have an original?]

[lii] ‘Deserving of special notice at the Clonmel Agricultural Show were specimens exhibited by, Esq., of three cuttings of Italian rye grass with the seed saved from the second and third ; that saved from the first is generally worse than ...’ [cut off]. (Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening, Volume 35 (1878), p. 341.)

The collections of vegetables from Lord Lismore's, Shanbally Castle, and Mrs. Malcomson, Minella House, the first and second prizewinners at the Clonmel Show, were very large, and reflected much credit on the cultural skill of the respective gardeners, Messrs. Wilsher and Crehan. (Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening, 1879, p. 441).

The Freeman’s Journal (August 01, 1878) noted that the 1878 show – the sixth annual show of the Clonmel District Agricultural Society – involved ‘the exhibition of cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, butter, &C.’ and was held ‘in the usual grounds adjacent to the Gas-house Bridge’. See also https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/1878/0802/Pg004.html#Ar00409:987A309B1A42A02A4CA31A5E987AA1992AB3992AA19B3AB39E3ADAA04AECA04ADAA11AEC9CDB689EAB7B9EEB689FBB7B9BAA309EBA429A4ACC9B2ADE9B3ACC9DAADE9BDC699EEC7B

[liii] The Irish Times, 17 November 1876, p. 4.

[liv] The Irish Times, Friday, August 27, 1880, p. 3; The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. Despite the thumbs up for the 1880 show, the event incurred ‘a marginal loss’ of £40 on a turnover of £3,500; this deficit was ‘made good’ by local subscribers.

[lv] ‘THE Clonmel Agricultural Show last week, notwithstanding the many difficulties of the times, was in every way a success. There was much to be learned from it that proved unexpectedly pleasing and hope-inspiring to the Irish farmer. In the unavoidable absence of the Lord- Lieutenant [7th EARL COWPER], Lord Waterford presided at the banquet on Thursday evening, responding in a …’ [cut off] (Truth, Volume 8., 1880, p. 223.)

[lvi] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, August 14, 1880, p. 7, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/wit/1880/0814/Pg007.html#Ar00701:64735A69337069335A69637069835A69E3706F23D471D3E869A34972635F65134868E35E64243A67644E

[lvii] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, August 14, 1880, p. 7, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/wit/1880/0814/Pg007.html#Ar00701:64735A69337069335A69637069835A69E3706F23D471D3E869A34972635F65134868E35E64243A67644E

[lviii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lix] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, August 14, 1880, p. 7, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/wit/1880/0814/Pg007.html#Ar00701:64735A69337069335A69637069835A69E3706F23D471D3E869A34972635F65134868E35E64243A67644E

[lx] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxi] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxiv] The Marquess was the principal speaker in the ‘unavoidable absence’ of Lord Cowper, the Viceroy.

[lxv] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, August 14, 1880, p. 7, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/wit/1880/0814/Pg007.html#Ar00701:64735A69337069335A69637069835A69E3706F23D471D3E869A34972635F65134868E35E64243A67644E

[lxvi] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, August 14, 1880, p. 7, via https://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/archive/wit/1880/0814/Pg007.html#Ar00701:64735A69337069335A69637069835A69E3706F23D471D3E869A34972635F65134868E35E64243A67644E

[lxvii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxviii] BUTTER AT THE CLONMEL SHOW. The report of Canon Richard Wolf Bagot and Mr. James Robertson [‘earnest and hardworking pioneers in the crusade against ignorance in butter making’] on continental dairying appears to have already proved of great advantage in Ireland, as may be gathered from the following "judges' report" of the butter at [cuts off...] [The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener, and Home Farmer, 1881, p. 199] … Clonmel had long been one of the great centres for Irish butter and the competition had tightened by the Edwardian Age when the show hosted a Suir Valley butter competition or 'Inspection' as it was called; Drom Co-op. Creamery secured first place. (The Dairy, 1911, p. 318)

[lxix] 'In our report of the Clonmel show we accidentally omitted mention of the exceedingly good service rendered to 'the tent ' in Ireland by the assiduous exertions and painstaking forethought of Brother Joseph [O’Shea, co- founder of the Irish Beekeepers Association] of the [Carmelite] Abbey, Loughrea, Co. Galway, who bought with him a unicomb hive, with Ligurian queen, bees, and brood, which created great interest there'. [British Bee Journal & Bee-keepers Adviser, Volume 8, 1881, p. 104] ‘Because of the short honey season in Ireland Br. Joseph believed the Ligurian or Italian bees were the most highly productive in Ireland’. [For more on ‘Bro. Joseph O‘Shea’ see http://www.ocd.ie/index.php/2-uncategorised/215-the-carmelite-abbey-loughrea-1645-1983

[lxx] The Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening's correspondent "W. J. M." sent the following note on Fruit at the 1882 Clonmel Show—" The display was an excellent one from local growers. Upwards of thirty varieties of Apples, nearly as many Pears, well-grown Grapes, Medlars, Nuts, and many other fruits common to this season were staged; and in addition fine specimens of green and scarlet-fleshed Melons (Eastnor Castle and Munro's Little Heath), Telegraph Cucumbers, and Garibaldi Strawberries. These came from Mrs. Bianconi, Cashel (gardener, Mr. Palmer); Shanbally Castle, the residence of Lord Lismore (gardener, Mr. [Jesse?] Wilsher); and from Knocklofty, the residence of Lord Donoughmore (gardener, Mr. Ryan) respectively. The Apples and Pears sent by Mrs. Crean, Glenview, contained some remarkably fine specimens.’ (Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening, Vol. 3. 1882, p. 451)

By the late 1880s, the Clonmel Industries Association, an initiative of John Bagwell, the former MP, was also a force, with lectures from WJ Murphy on ‘Window and Town Gardening’ (1886) and CJ Murphy on Window Gardening (1888). Mr. Bagwell died on 2 March 1883.

[lxxi] ‘One of the most interesting features in connection with the late Clonmel Agricultural Show ... was the exhibition of two beautifully built vehicles of unusually light draft, manufactured by Mr. Patrick Drohan, Castle Street, Carrick-on-Suir.' (George Henry Bassett, 'The Book of County Tipperary: A Manual and Directory for Manufacturers, Merchants, Traders, Professional Men, Land-owners, Farmers, Tourists, Anglers and Sportsmen Generally' Sealy, Bryers & Walker, 1889, p. 200). Drohan was described as a coach and car maker in Slaters, 1881.

[lxxii] The Clonmel Agricultural Show was held on Tuesday, under the auspices of the President, Lord Lismore. Major Borrowes was …’ [cut off] Vanity Fair, Volume 32, 1884, p. 112). The 1885 show was held in ‘charming’ weather at the rear of the Gas Works, with exhibits of horse, ram, swine, poultry, butter, honey and wool to the fore. Credit for a successful show with a large assemblage, including ‘more than the average number of tenant farmers’, was given to the Rev. J. R. Millington (‘the courteous hon. Secretary), the stewards and committee while the ‘splendid band’ of the Royal Artillery’s 5th Brigade provided the music. (Weekly Irish Times, 22 August 1885, p. 5.).

In November 1885, the Clonmel Horticultural Society hosted the first chrysanthemum and fruit show at the Court House. In 1886 and 1887 the Clonmel Horticultural Society took first prizes at the shows hosted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland.

In 1882, Victoria Barracks, named in honour of the Queen's coronation in 1837, became the regimental depot for the Royal Irish Regiment.

[lxxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxxiv] The Irish Times - Tuesday, July 31, 1894 - Page 3.

[lxxv] In Feb 1889, Richard Bagwell, Robert Cooke and Villiers Morton were on the prison committee who called in to visit W. O'Brien, MP, in Clonmel Prison.

[lxxvi] Captain Stephen Moore of Barne (1836-1897) had stood as Conservative MP for Tipperary from 1875 to 1880, having initially been awarded the seat when his rival John Mitchell, a prominent nationalist, was declared ineligible to stand on account of a conviction for felony.

[lxxvii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. The original Clonmel District Agricultural Society was dissolved on 13 May 1893. Patrick Quinlan of Suirmount, one of the original CDAS founders, died on 22 July 1891. His will at http://www.willcalendars.nationalarchives.ie/reels/cwa/005014906/005014906_00407.pdf

[lxxviii] Sean O’Donnell, ‘Clonmel, 1840-1900: Anatomy of an Irish Town’ (Geography Publications, 1998), p. 205, 233.

[lxxix] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxxx] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxxxi] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxxxii] "Lepping" Lucubrations, Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, Volume 64, 1895, p. 269.

[lxxxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[lxxxiv] See http://www.amazon.com/Antique-Portrait-Assheton-Biddulph-M-F-H/dp/B001RGNBNY for portrait of Assheton Biddulph. "The first hound show in Ireland was added to the Clonmel Horse Show largely by Mr Assheton Biddulph : he intended an Irish Peterborough. But although Irish M.F.H.s went to Peterborough they did not want a real Peterborough in Ireland ..." [cut off] (Roger Longrigg, The history of foxhunting, C. N. Potter : distributed by Crown Publishers, 1975, p. 165). Born in 1850, Mr Biddulph was the second surviving son of Francis M. W. Biddulph of Rathrobin, King’s County (ie: Offaly) whom O’Cnnor Morrsi described in ‘Memini’ as ‘one who knew as much as most men about horses of all sorts, hounds, hunting, racing, &c; in fact, he was an encyclopedia of sport and could ride to perfection.’ Assheton’s older brother Lieuteneant Colonel M. W. Biddulph, 5th Fusiliers.

[lxxxv] Baily's Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, 1900 (p. 216): ‘The Hound Show, which has for a few years past been held on the second day of the Clonmel Show, does not seem to create much public interest, or indeed to “catch on” properly. Possibly Clonmel is too far south for a national show, and the usual block system peculiar to Irish railways when different companies have a chance of proving how successfully they can retard the public journeying, makes it difficult of access …’.

[lxxxvi] Baily's Magazine of Sports & Pastimes, Volume 91 (1909), p. 176.

[lxxxvii] The Irish Times, 4 August 1899, p. 6. For a look at Jacques Schawell’s connection to Empress Sisi of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, look at http://www.mkheritage.co.uk/EoA/docs/Cottesbrooke.html

[lxxxviii] In 1911 the Society came up against the Corporation who outbid them at an auction for the gas-house field [is this Davis Road?] and secured the fee simple. The Corporation appears to have only required a strip of this field for building purposes and promised to put the rest back on the market.

[lxxxix] In 1897, the Members of the Committee of the Clonmel Horse Show Society wrote to the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire Into the Horse Breeding Industry in Ireland to ‘protest in the strongest manner against the introduction of the breed of Hackney horses into Ireland by the aid of State funds as being ‘detrimental to the best interests’ of the equine industry in Ireland. Minutes of Evidence Taken Before the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire Into the Horse Breeding Industry in Ireland: With Appendices, H.M. Stationery Office, 1897, p. 485, via https://books.google.ie/books?id=F3NMAAAAYAAJ&q=%22clonmel+horse+show%22&dq=%22clonmel+horse+show%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=SQhZVe7QGoLT7QaBhIHIDA&ved=0CEQQ6AEwCA

[xc] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[xci] Irish Homestead, 1911, Volume 18, Issues 26-52, p. 672. In 1910, The Irish Times (Friday, August 5, 1910 - Page 5) had warned of a growing trend by horse dealers to work directly with breeders ‘on their own land’ rather than viewing horses at the show itself.

[xcii] The Irish Times, 10 April 191, p. 11.

[xciii] These were installed in 1910. The Irish Times - Friday, August 5, 1910 - Page 5 .

[xciv] Clonmel Golf Club was founded in 1911 and the nine-hole course was laid out in the verdant valley, cutting its way into the foothills of the Comeragh Mountains. Founder members were the Earl of Donoughmore, the Duchess of St. Albans and the Clonmel Show’s Villiers Morton-Jackson of Powerstown Park. Its first professional and groundsman was a man named Marsh, who lived in the original Pavilion that was built in 1912. The clubs first President was the Duchess of St. Albans.

Clonmel racecourse (Powerstown Park) is located in a picturesque setting north of the town. Racing, which had been open and free to spectators for over a hundred years at Clonmel, was enclosed in April 1913 by Villiers Morton Jackson and became the commercially run Powerstown Park racecourse. Jackson also roped in the bookies to a distinct area of the course, banned gaming side-shows, brought in detectives and police to deter pickpockets and provided entry to a roofless grandstand accommodating 1500 at a charge of two shillings [10p] a head. [http://www.air.ie/aircoursehis083.htm] "He did this for two reasons. The economics of racing had changed, and admission charges meant better facilities, better prize money, and better race goers. In addition, the new type of race goers did not want to run the gauntlet of con men and pickpockets." he was clearly determined to clean up the show, confining bookies to a specific area and taking on the pickpockets.

[xcv] The Irish Times, Friday, August 9, 1912, p. 3.

[xcvi] Journal - Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Volume 12, Stationery Office; to be purchased from the Government Publications Sales Office, 1912, p. 329.

[xcvii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[xcviii] The Irish Times - Saturday, August 9, 1913 - Page 12

[xcix] The Irish Times - Monday, July 6, 1914 - Page 9.

[c] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. The Marquess of Waterford, who died in 1911, had been President of both the Foxhound Association and the Clonmel Horse Show Society.

[ci] The Irish Times - Thursday, August 6, 1914 - Page 4 .

[cii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[ciii] Captain Gibson of Brittas Cashel, another member of the committee, rejoined the 2nd Durham Light Infantry. The Irish Times, Monday, March 8, 1915, p. 7.

[civ] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, September 18, 1915, p. 7.

[cv] The Irish Times, Tuesday, November 21, 1916, p. 6.

[cvi] The Irish Times, Saturday, August 24, 1918, p. 6. R. K. Moore, who died in Dublin on 13 June 1918, was a son of Captain Stephen Moore, the former chairman. [Randal Kingsmill Moore]

[cvii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cviii] The Irish Times - Page 3 Friday 4 August 1916.

[cix] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cx] Weekly Irish Times, Saturday, September 13, 1919, p. 1.

[cxi] The Irish Times - Saturday, August 7, 1920 - Page 7; The Irish Times - Friday, August 5, 1921 - Page 6; The Irish Times - Saturday, August 6, 1921 - Page 5.

[cxii] The Irish Times - Saturday, March 4, 1922 - Page 12.

[cxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxiv] In December 1922, John ‘Jack’ Bagwell, prominent in the railways, accepted his nomination as a Senator in the Irish Free State, reasoning that he was acting as a southern loyalist it was the ultimate act of patriotism. The decision was to cost him Marlfield House, the Bagwell home since 1775, which was destroyed in the early hours of 8 January 1923, along with numerous valuable paintings and a historic library, when a group of twenty to forty armed men doused the building with petrol and set it alight. Jack was then kidnapped from his home near Howth in County Dublin and held in the Dublin mountains. The Free State government responded when General Mulcachy issued a stern proclamation to the effect that if Jack was not safely released within 48 hours, reprisals would be taken. He was duly released although he always maintained that he escaped his captors through his own efforts and denied that his safe release could not be attributed to these threats. In February 1923, he lodged a claim for £150,000 for the burning.

[cxv] Major Perry was a past Master of the Clonmel Harriers and the Tipperary Foxhounds.

[cxvi] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxvii] The Irish Times - Monday, February 26, 1923 - Page 6.

[cxviii] Weekly Irish Times, 19 June 1926, p. 12.

[cxix] The Irish Times - Page 8 Friday 3 August 1923.

[cxx] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxxi] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxxii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxxiv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxxv] Weekly Irish Times, 14 March 1925, p. 12.

[cxxvi] The Irish Times, Friday, July 18, 1924, p. 4. It was also avoiding a clash with the Tailtean Games.

[cxxvii] The Irish Times, Thursday, July 29, 1926, p. 5.

[cxxviii] The Irish Times, Friday, November 13, 1931, p. 7. Richard Orlando Kellett was born in 1864, the younger son of Lt. Col. R.O. Kellett of Clonacody. Educated at St. Columba’s College, he joined the 4th Battalion (Militia) Royal Irish Regiment in 1882, transferring to the 2nd Battalion three years later, and becoming adjutant in 1891. From 1895 to 1900 he was Deputy Assistant Adjutant General for Musketry in India and from 1901 to 1904 he was Instructor at the School of Musketry in Hythe. He commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment from 1909 to 1913 when he was appointed to command a Territorial Brigade. During the Great War he commanded a Brigade with the British Expeditionary Force and was appointed Commander of the Bath and Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, and was mentioned in despatches. In 1894 he married Eleanor Emily Mallock, only child of Colonel H. A. Mallock, RA. She died in 1925. In 1928 he married secondly Jessie, daughter of John Longbottom. As well as being President of the Clonmel Horse Show Society, he was a director of O’Gorman Brothers, Clonmel. For image of General Kellett and O’Gorman’s team, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlireland/7095717381

[cxxix] Memories of Colonel Adams quoted in ‘The Kensington Battalion: 'never Lost a Yard of Trench', G. I. S. Inglis, via https://books.google.ie/books?id=K_asI_D5B4AC&pg=PA253&lpg=PA253&dq=%22R.+O.+Kellett%22&source=bl&ots=zggUhZBY0Q&sig=Z8PGiXGZPDovjCvH35rnyL7BbfA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=e4poVZ_qNoiS7Aa4pYK4DA&ved=0CCoQ6AEwBmoVChMI35Pk2KbnxQIVCAnbCh24kgDH#v=onepage&q=Coigneux&f=false

[cxxx] Unidentified newspaper account in the Watson photo album.

[cxxxi] Unidentified newspaper account in the Watson photo album. Miss Billie Wiener and her Band lay on the music while the celebrated Mrs Lawlor of Naas looked after the catering. The Bagwells began rebuilding the house in 1925 with a flat roof and a simple pedimented doorway with 2 columns and no fanlight . [Everyday Violence in the Irish Civil War, by Gemma Clark, (Cambridge University Press, 2014), p. 71-72, via https://books.google.ie/books?id=KXg9AwAAQBAJ&pg=PA71&dq=%22Clonmel%22+%2B+%22John+Bagwell%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dM5BVYr1LsrxaMukgLAL&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22Clonmel%22%20%2B%20%22John%20Bagwell%22&f=false

[cxxxii] British and Irish Hunts and Huntsmen, J. N. P. Watson - ‎1982.

[cxxxiii] The Irish Times, Tuesday, December 10, 1929, p. 7.

[cxxxiv] Notes of Committee of Management, 12 December 1929.

[cxxxv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxxxvi] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxxxvii] Unidentified newspaper account in the Watson photo album.

[cxxxviii] Clonmel Chronicle, 25 July 1931.

[cxxxix] The Irish Times, Friday, November 13, 1931, p. 7; Saturday, November 14, 1931, p. 7.

[cxl] Memories of Colonel Adams quoted in ‘The Kensington Battalion: 'never Lost a Yard of Trench', G. I. S. Inglis, via https://books.google.ie/books?id=K_asI_D5B4AC&pg=PA253&lpg=PA253&dq=%22R.+O.+Kellett%22&source=bl&ots=zggUhZBY0Q&sig=Z8PGiXGZPDovjCvH35rnyL7BbfA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=e4poVZ_qNoiS7Aa4pYK4DA&ved=0CCoQ6AEwBmoVChMI35Pk2KbnxQIVCAnbCh24kgDH#v=onepage&q=Coigneux&f=false

[cxli] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxlii] John Bagwell was the only son of Richard Bagwell of Marlfield. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Oxford, he was married in 1901 to Louise Shaw, daughter of Major General George Shaw, CB. He was assistant superintendant of the Midland Railway line from 1905 to 1909, superintendent of passenger service from 1910 to 1911 and general manager of the Great Northern Railway of Ireland from 1911 to 1926. He was a member of the Senate from 1922 to 1936. He was closely associated with the activities of the Clonmel Horse Show and Agricultural Society Ltd., and a member of the Tipperary Hounds with whom he hunted for many years. He was also a notable long distance walker and at the age of 57 he walked 57 miles from Clonmel to Cobh. He was survived by two sons and a daughter.

[cxliii] The Irish Times, 21 July 1933, p. 13.

[cxliv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’, . and ‘Minutes of Meeting of the Committee of Management held in the Town Hall on Monday, 22 March 1927.’

[cxlv] The Irish Times, 28 April 1941, p. 2.

[cxlvi] The Irish Times, 28 April 1941, p. 2.

[cxlvii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cxlviii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. The 68th Annual Show was held on 24 September 1943. The class for driven ponies of 14 hands and under was won by J. Lonergan of Loughtally, and for ponies of over 14 hands by Mrs Masters of Woodroffe.

[cxlix] When the show took place on 18 July 1946, it was billed as ‘the only Foxhound Show in Ireland’.

[cl] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cli] Farmers' Gazette (1947, Volume 105, Part 2, p. 706): "The Clonmel Show is the only one in the country to include a fox hound show in its programme.”

[clii] Born Evelyn Irene Wills, she was a daughter of Arthur Wills and a granddaughter of Sir Frederick Wills of the tobacco dynasty. In July 1919 she married Wilfred Watson, with whom she had a son, the future Colonel Sidney John Watson. Wilfred was killed in a horsefall in 1929. In 1933 she married Lt. Cdr. William Bagwell, son of the Senator, with whom she had a son Hugh William and a daughter Pamela Eve Irene.

[cliii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[cliv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[clv] The Irish Times, Friday, July 22, 1955, p. 8. In 1955 Mrs. McDowell won the C. E. Denny challenge cup for Open Jumping for the third time and presented another cup to continue the competition. That same year, Lord Brocket of Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare and John F. Good of Carrigtwohill shared the honours with the shorthorn cattle when they won the main Hereford classes.

[clvi] Anecdote from the 1950s as related to Patrick Quinlan by Rt Hon. Mark Hely-Hutchinson, son of Lord and Lady Donoughmore, November 2014.

[clvii] At the ‘Hound Show’ that year, the Midleton Foot Beagles of Co. Cork had "a field day". 'They won the dog hound championship and the bitch championship. They were also first for the best couple of entered dog hounds; first for best entered bitch; first and second for best entered dog hound, and second for best unentered bitch. This was an unparalleled achievement for Clonmel Show. It was all the more noteworthy since all the Midleton Foot entries (with one exception, the champion bitch, Dewdrop), were bred by the Master, Mr. Roy Byrne.' [p. 327, Baily's Hunting Directory, Vinton & Co., 1956]

1956 was also the year in which the Poultry Section was axed for the first time in 90 years because of a lack of interest

[clviii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[clix] Nationalist, 28 March 1964, in Minute Books.

[clx] Minute Books of Society, Mach 1968.

[clxi] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’.

[clxiii] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. In 1964, the double bank, stone wall and original water jump had been removed from the course (why?).

On June 15th, 1973, Mr. Paddy McPolin, President of the Golfing Union of Ireland, formally opened the new 18-Hole course for the Clonmel Golf Club.

[clxiv] The Nationalist (Clonmel), 12 July 1975, ‘A hundred years of Clonmel Show’. The centenary was determined by Colonel S. J. Watson who was deemed well placed to know because, as well as being chairman of the Horse Show Committee, he was a past president of the Clonmel and District Historical and Archaeological Society. A journalist [?] at The Nationalist then worked out that only 94 agricultural shows had been held in the previous 110 years but they decided that ‘it is not at all inspiring to commemorate a mathematic concoction’ and so they decided the ‘100th Clonmel Show should be officially commemorated in 1975’ in the same way that ‘certain Heads of State celebrate their official birthdays on dates different from their actual birthdays’.

[clxv] In June 1974, the elderly Donoughmores were abducted from their home at Knocklofty House near Clonmel. Their kidnappers were an armed, breakaway IRA unit who hoped to use them as bargaining chips in a frantic bid to influence official policy on the ongoing hunger strike in British jails. Lord Donoughmore had been a young man when Senator Bagwell, his predecessor in the chair for the Clonmel Show, was similarly abducted. They were held hostage for five days, during which time Lady Donoughmore famously sent her compliments to the chef for a fry cooked by the head of the gang. They were released following a public outcry from the people of Clonmel, as well as mediation by the SDLP and a massive objection from the IRA leadership.


Articles