Cork Summer Show to return after two-year hiatus

The annual, two-day agricultural show, which returns from a break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, has been a fixture of Cork’s calendar since it debuted in 1806.
Cork Summer Show to return after two-year hiatus

Pictured at the launch of the 2015 Cork Summer Showare: Lia O'Toole (4), Greg O'Toole (6), and Marc O'Toole (8) Picture: Clare Keogh

THE Cork Summer Show is to return to the showgrounds in Curraheen on the weekend of June 18 and 19, after a two-year hiatus.

The Munster Agricultural Society, which runs the show, expects that upwards of 20,000 visitors — from the city, the county, and from other counties — will attend each day.

The annual, two-day agricultural show, which returns from a break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, has been a fixture of Cork’s calendar since it debuted in 1806.

The earliest-surviving minute book of the County of Cork Agricultural Society dates back to a meeting of the show’s subcommittee on Saturday, April 17, 1886.

The minutes offer a fascinating insight into the build-up and annual preparation for the show, which was then held at the Corn Exchange in Cork.

Cork Summer Show from 1929.
Cork Summer Show from 1929.

Records collated by the show secretary, Edward Corrigan, showed that a cost of £1,023.1.6 had been incurred in staging the first show, with receipts and donations amounting to £829.9.1.

Despite the loss, the society hosted a second show the following year, and expanded the animal classes to include more popular livestock breeds, such as Shorthorn cattle, Shropshire sheep, and Large White Yorkshire pigs.

General-interest exhibitions, including collie-dog trials, butter-making, and innovative farm machinery, were added to the schedule. Second- and third-class ticket holders got access to the refreshment bar in the second year.

Press cuttings from the Cork Summer Show 1972 (Courtesy Munster Agricultural Society).
Press cuttings from the Cork Summer Show 1972 (Courtesy Munster Agricultural Society).

In 1892, the society leased 27 acres at the Cork Racecourse, in Ballintemple, from the Corporation of Cork, at an annual rent of £20.

The new ground, just one mile from the city centre, was mainly land reclaimed from marshy swamp and would require significant investment if the schedule of regular events were to include showjumping, with the necessary stabling and the erection of an exhibition hall. A budget of £5,300 was agreed.

To supplement income at the new showgrounds, the lands were rented out to sporting organisations at a daily rate of between £5 and £20.

Ballintemple was the home of the Cork Summer Show until 2008, when it was decided that a green-field site, away from what was now a busy suburban area of Cork City, would better suit the hosting of agricultural events.

Land was purchased at Curraheen, and the first show at the new showgrounds was set to take place in 2012. In his book Munster Agricultural Society, The Story of Cork Show Grounds, local historian and Independent Cork City councillor, Kieran McCarthy, writes about the Munster Agricultural Society leaving the old showgrounds for the last time in 2008, closing the door on a “fascinating piece of history”.

Cork Summer Show at the Showgrounds, Ballintemple 29/06/1948.
Cork Summer Show at the Showgrounds, Ballintemple 29/06/1948.

This year’s enhanced festival — which will have competitions, exhibitions, entertainment, and fun for all the family — will feature traditional livestock and craft competitions; show jumping; demonstrations in cookery, farriery, floral arranging, and walking-stick making; as well as drone racing, and live music.

It will also showcase a pet dog show each day and a children’s zone with a funfair.

One stand is likely to be busier than others, as students from Down Syndrome Cork’s Field of Dreams will be on hand to offer free advice to budding gardeners.

The students will show visitors how to plant herbs and will advise on how best to care for potted plants.

The herbs will be planted in fully compostable cups that were designed free of charge by Forge Hill-based Cork company, down2earth.

Cork County Council is the main sponsor of the event and will have one of 200 trade stands at the show.

Trade exhibits will range from agricultural machinery and health and wellness products to fashion and gardening.

The indoor Taste Cork food market returns with offerings from artisan food producers and craft breweries.

Visitors from the city are encouraged to avail of the park-and-ride buses from Black Ash and Ballincollig Shopping Centre, or people can take Bus Éireann’s 208 route directly to the showgrounds.

The organisers say there is ample free parking onsite, and the showgrounds are wheelchair and buggy accessible, with free entry for children under 12 years old.

For further information, see https://www.corksummershow.com.

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