Committee is instructed to ‘prepare a list of premiums’ to be offered at county show

Pictured at a bygone Armagh Show are John Parkes, Anthony Cooke and Walter SpeersPictured at a bygone Armagh Show are John Parkes, Anthony Cooke and Walter Speers
Pictured at a bygone Armagh Show are John Parkes, Anthony Cooke and Walter Speers
Tracing the history of the Armagh Show through the old newspapers from the 1800s was fascinating.

My initial search brought up an advert which was published by the Newry Telegraph in August 1829 for the County Armagh District Show held under the auspices of the North East Farming Society of Ireland.

Following up on the date mentioned in the advert, I then found a full report in the News Letter published on Saturday, September 1, 1829.

This report noted: “Among the horses, a most beautiful horse of Lord Gosford’s, one of Mr Brown’s and another of Mrs Johnston’s, attracted particular attention. Of brood mares, two year old colts and fillies, there was a numerous collection, of a most beautiful kind.”

The News Letter also reported: “A litter of pigs, which Mr Murray sent to the show ground, were immediately sold at a guinea each, and a great many more of the same breed are engaged at the same price.”

I then began to search through the old newspapers for the 1840s to March 12, 1844 and found a notice that had been placed in the Newry Telegraph by the Armagh Agricultural Society in connection with their meeting on March 4 and which had been chaired by Sir James Stronge, Bart of Tynan Abbey. At this meeting the committee had been instructed to: “Prepare a list of Premiums, to be offered by this Society, and to make arrangement and regulations for holding an Agricultural Meeting and Cattle Show in Armagh, at such time during the ensuing Summer as they may deem most convenient, and to give due notice of same by advertisement.”

That show was held on Thursday, September 19, 1844 and a full report was published by the News Letter.

The paper noted: “This society, though only in its infancy, has made a most promising commencement, and it is hoped that its onward career may be attended with equal success. Its first exhibition was held on Thursday last, in the large market yard attached to the shambles.”

An excellent line-up of sheep at a bygone Armagh ShowAn excellent line-up of sheep at a bygone Armagh Show
An excellent line-up of sheep at a bygone Armagh Show

Among those who attended were the Marquis of Downshire, Sir J M Stronge, Bart, Sir George Molyneux, Honourable Henry Caulfield, Colonel Rawdon, JP, John Y Burges, Esq, Parkanour, Lady Stronge, Lady Molyneux and Mrs Leslie of Glasloiugh, Co Monaghan. A number of magistrates and gentlemen from the neighbouring county of Tyrone also attended. Messrs John Johnston, Samuel King, Coalisland, and Alexander Kinmouth, Drumbanagher acted as judges for the show.

Interestingly, alongside the report a letter was published by the News Letter under the headline ‘On potato failures’ which had been penned by a Tyrone farmer who remarked: “I perceive by your popular journal that the failure in the potato crop is exciting a very general interest, and various modes are suggested for their future prevention.”

It was just an inkling of the disaster which was about to afflict Ireland in the years ahead.

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