Uncertainty has been replaced with relief, and relief has been replaced with great anticipation as the countdown commences to the Cappamore Show 2022.
After a Covid-19-enforced break, show organisers have been hard at it to deliver a jam-packed event that is worthy of its 66 years.
Think more show-stopper, than show – more about that later.
John Hassett, the agri-show committee’s recently appointed secretary, spoke to Agriland about the event, the significance of agricultural shows in rural communities, and why they have an important role to play in today’s world.
Like so many other beloved agricultural shows, this is Cappamore’s first day out since 2019, and it has been a challenging few years.
“I was nervous because we had just come out of Covid-19 and then we were hit with the cost of living and cost of farming [going up],” John said.
“We would have depended on local sponsors like feed merchants and builders suppliers, for sponsorship, and wondered were they coming under pressure too, and would they want to [get involved]. But we were nicely surprised that we had great support when we looked for sponsorship,” he said.
Since 2019, the Cappamore Show family sadly lost five of its treasured members. Not being able to provide the same level of support as they would have done in non-Covid times was difficult, John said. But they pulled together as best they could under socially distanced circumstances.
John remembered and paid tribute to all five members for all they gave to and did for the show over the years, including the late Paddy Ryan ‘Luke’, who was secretary of the Cappamore Show for 60 years.
The longevity of his tenure was incredible, John said.
“It is incredible. He wasn’t just about Cappamore Show, he was very into promoting the concept of all [agricultural] shows. I have a hard act to follow if I am to go to all the shows that Paddy went to,” John said.
Paddy had his own personable and unique way of networking – it was old school and it was genuine.
“He would visit shows up and down the country, he sent Christmas cards and made phone calls to people who had attended Cappamore Show, and that was his way of reminding people that the show existed, and hopefully they might come again next year. He wasn’t a technology person, he wasn’t on email, it was old-school pen and paper.
“He had three priorities in life: his family, his farm, and the show, and he got all those things done equally.”
Paddy will be missed terribly by all, but the show has never been about just one person, John said. Paddy knew this well, and John, himself, is seeing this in action since he was elected as secretary in February this year.
The crew behind the show comprises about 150 volunteers and the membership is not confined to Cappamore, but is spread out among neighbouring parishes in east Limerick.
Everyone works together, as a team, to make the event the success that it has been for more than six decades, and there is always someone on hand to send reminders of important things to be done – and when – which, John said, he is appreciative of.
“They all do great work, they don’t want to be out in front, but are so excited to be back in action again this year,” said John.
Cappamore Show – pride of place and people
Cappamore Show organisers are very proud of what they have achieved over the years, and chief among those proud moments was the appointment of the very first female agricultural show chair in the 1990s.
“Her name was Margaret Gleeson, and our current chair is Marie Hayes, the mother of former rugby international John Hayes. Our PRO [public relations officer] is Maura Walsh, who looks after a lot more than that, and we have a very strong female membership overall,” said John.
Cappamore Show organisers are also proud of the vast array of attractions that the show has on offer – and so they should be – there really is something for everyone.
At the heart of the show, of course, are the cattle-showing classes of which there are 70 this year, including the Limousin Breeding Heifer Final; Bonny Baby Calf of the Year; Angus Tread na hÉireann; and Continental Breeding Heifer.
For horse lovers, there will be more than 20 showing classes, as well as show jumping; and for dog lovers, there will be 16 classes, including many fun ones such as the best dog and owner.
In addition, there will also be classes for rescue dogs, and a dog behaviouralist will also give a presentation on the day.
There will be plenty of agricultural produce, fruit and vegetables, flowers, cookery and craft, art and photography, entertainment for old and young, and much, much more.
Like so many agricultural shows, Cappamore Show is an institution, but it is also an education that both urban and rural dwellers can enjoy.
“These are for everyone – urban and rural,” said John, who part-time farms alongside his job as a rural development officer.
“One of the things that frustrates me at the moment, particularly around food, is that in the current environment we are living in, where we have international food shortages and issues like that, we seem to have forgotten about where our food comes from, and about animals, and we have forgotten about how it is grown.
“Shows evolved out of the 19th century and the purpose of a show was to promote the best genetics, the best crops, the best new inventions that were happening as we moved from an agrarian to an industrial and now a service society.”
“So the natural continuation is to showcase the evolution of living through technology and education.”
And that is what Cappamore Show is all about as it welcomes back its community – from far and wide, and from generation to generation – through the gates once again this year.