Off to another long day out, heading down into Offaly and to Birr Castle, for the Irish Game & Country Fair 2015. Billed as a “country sports and lifestyle event”, it certainly is dominated by wellies, practical clothing from tweed to waxed, dogs, guns … well, everything you’d expect from “the country set” really. Not as in “Country & Western” (though there was some line-dancing to Garth Brooks, and the dancers included a horse).
Anyway, worth going? Certainly it is – the two-day event held in late August should be on your calendar if you are interested in rural Ireland, or simply want a great day out for the whole family.
Here’s a selection of images to press the point home:
The grounds (though not halls) of Birr Castle are home to the Irish Game & Country Fair – and here are some impressions:
Birr Castle seen from the main lawn.
The walled gardens at Birr Castle – always worth a visit.
Birr Castle’s treehouse – the largest treehouse in Ireland!
It is not all foxhunting and shooting grouse:
Fishing flies … tying them is an art in itself, and I could watch the master at work for hours …
A collection of ready-tied flies – they same some are better for this and that, to me they are simply beautiful.
Falconry, still practised in many parts of the world, but more than often for show rather than for hunting.
Okay, tying flies might be an art, but here is some real art:
When do you see a Rastafarian woodcarver from Zimbabwe in a German combat jacket carving a living Irish yew with Celtic motifs and Ogham script? It was a first for me.
And then there was the Scottish blacksmith, artist, and kickboxer Kev Paxton, who brought this stunning Highland Cow …
Brought by the Vikings from Ardglass, this was a hidden (in plain sight) gem …
This boat was actually used in the History Channel’s series “Vikings”, it is not 100% authentic, but certainly impressive.
Always impressive … medieval armour and weapons of messy destruction.
Food, Glorious Food
Okay, there was lots of food, but these two stalls stood out:
If you have never tasted bread fresh and hot from the griddle, you have not lived …
And once in a while one should really splash out for something different … we took a whole wild boar pie home, simply deliciously yummy.
For me, the arena highlight was the show laid on by Les Amis d’Onno, a riding show based in Scotland, pulling out all the stops to recreate a medieval tournament. As usual, the bad guy (“Sir Checkmate”) had all the best moments …
A selection of knights and (at times crossdressing) ladies – the costumes were a long way from being historically correct, but they worked surprisingly well (and even nitpicking me only noticed the anachronisms in the images later, well, except that squires day-glo orange watch).
The day did not go that well for the smallest knight … here his shield is sent flying, and he flew off his horse a few seconds later as well.
Lady Bethany did not do much except look very graceful while riding around the arena … but what do you expect of a young gentlewoman? Well, definitely a nice image to wrap this article up …