Irish Game & Country Fair at Birr Castle 2015

Lady Bethany at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Lady Bethany at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015

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:

Birr Castle

The grounds (though not halls) of Birr Castle are home to the Irish Game & Country Fair – and here are some impressions:

Birr Castle - © Bernd Biege 2015
Birr Castle – © Bernd Biege 2015

Birr Castle seen from the main lawn.

Walled Gardens at Birr Castle - © Bernd Biege 2015
Walled Gardens at Birr Castle – © Bernd Biege 2015

The walled gardens at Birr Castle – always worth a visit.

The Treehouse at Birr Castle - © Bernd Biege 2015
The Treehouse at Birr Castle – © Bernd Biege 2015

Birr Castle’s treehouse – the largest treehouse in Ireland!

Country Life

It is not all foxhunting and shooting grouse:

Tying the Flies at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Tying the Flies at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

Fishing flies … tying them is an art in itself, and I could watch the master at work for hours …

Flies (of the Fishing Kind) at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Flies (of the Fishing Kind) at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

A collection of ready-tied flies – they same some are better for this and that, to me they are simply beautiful.

Falconry at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Falconry at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

Falconry, still practised in many parts of the world, but more than often for show rather than for hunting.

Art

Okay, tying flies might be an art, but here is some real art:

Woodcarving at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Woodcarving at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

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.

Colourful Highland Cattle at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Colourful Highland Cattle at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

And then there was the Scottish blacksmith, artist, and kickboxer Kev Paxton, who brought this stunning Highland Cow …

Living History

Brought by the Vikings from Ardglass, this was a hidden (in plain sight) gem …

Ardglass Vikings at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Ardglass Vikings at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

This boat was actually used in the History Channel’s series “Vikings”, it is not 100% authentic, but certainly impressive.

Medieval Armour at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Medieval Armour at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

Always impressive … medieval armour and weapons of messy destruction.

Food, Glorious Food

Okay, there was lots of food, but these two stalls stood out:

Bread Fresh From the Griddle at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Bread Fresh From the Griddle at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

If you have never tasted bread fresh and hot from the griddle, you have not lived …

Wild Boar Pies at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Wild Boar Pies at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

And once in a while one should really splash out for something different … we took a whole wild boar pie home, simply deliciously yummy.

Jousting

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 …

Knights at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Knights at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

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).

Jousting at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Jousting at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

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 at the Irish Game & Country Fair - © Bernd Biege 2015
Lady Bethany at the Irish Game & Country Fair – © Bernd Biege 2015

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 …

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