Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Raphoe Fair Day - Harry Wallace

The fair day was an important day for the farming community as well as for the town. As Raphoe is located in a prime farming area, there would have been large numbers of animals to be bought and sold. Pigs, horses and poultry were all sold but cattle and sheep were the main items traded. At that time, taking stock to the fair would have been the preferred option for selling because if a dealer arrived in your yard and offered you a price, you would not be sure if that price reflected the market trends at the time. But on the fair day you could see and hear other deals being done around you. You could compare the size and weight of your stock to that of the other traders and from that you could work out an asking price.

Dealing was a long drawn out process with the seller asking a higher price and the dealer offering a lower price. There was a lot of haggling and hand-slapping went on. The seller would drop his asking price, and then the buyer might raise the offer. Often the dealer would make a bid and then turn and walk away hoping you would call him back and take his offer. This went on till they reached a price they could agree on.

Horses were sold at the Marathon Hall, cattle were around the town, sheep were down Sheep Lane and pigs were in front of the market house which was in the Diamond.

Stalls would have been set up selling goods such as clothes, hardware etc. The dentist was also a feature of the fair and you could get your teeth pulled.

For the business people of the town, the fair day was a huge boost, bringing in a lot of business particularly to the pubs.

People used to say that to have a reasonable crop, the corn needed to “cover a crow at the June fair of Raphoe” which was said to be held on the 21st of June. This means the corn needed to be tall enough to hide a crow if it flew down and landed amongst the growing crop.

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