Belfast Telegraph

Horseplay still a big part of the Auld Lammas Fair

By Chris Kilpatrick

The Auld Lammas Fair, Ireland’s oldest, got into full flow yesterday as crowds flocked for the dulse, yellow man and horse trading.

The inclusion of horses at the event in Ballycastle, which attracts 100,000-plus each year, was a hot topic for debate in the run-up to the fair.

For 400 years buying and selling has taken place on the streets, surrounded by crowds of fair-goers.

But earlier this year moves were made by Moyle Council to ban horses over health and safety concerns.

In the end a compromise was reached, with the trading restricted to an area on the edge of the centre of the town called Fair Green.

The tethering of animals on Fairhill Street, or any running of horses on the public road, was banned with police and community wardens keeping a watchful eye yesterday.

The animals were all enclosed in segregated pens for the public to view them.

Despite the relocation, hordes of fair-goers deviated | from the hub of stalls to take in the animals.

Linda Crawford, from Ballymena, said she was glad the horses remained part of the fair.

“It’s tradition, and while I recognise the concerns over health and safety, the compromise has brought about a good solution for everyone in my opinion,” she said.

Alan Wilson, from Ballycastle, said he believed the break in tradition had taken away from the fair a little.

“Growing up, one of the big things about the fair was getting to see the horses on the street,” he said. “It’s a shame, but the world is health and safety mad nowadays so I’m not surprised.”

A pony show that had been planned to replace the horse trading was cancelled.

Despite atrocious weather conditions crowds packed Ballycastle yesterday, with long queues of traffic stretching along all main routes into the Co Antrim town.

As usual, dulse and yellow man proved popular among visitors with the usual mix of traditional music, food and an array of goods on sale on the many stalls keeping revellers entertained.

The fair continues today.

Belfast Telegraph

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