When Eleanor Fleming became chair of Charleville Agricultural Show in 2019, little did she think it would take until 2022 for her to oversee the event.

Following a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic – a fate experienced by so many shows across the country – this two-day event in north Co. Cork is making a welcome return this weekend (June 25-26).

Although it will be her first show as chair, it will also be Fleming’s last in the role as her three-year term comes to a close in 2022.

However, that fact won’t distract her from the last-minute preparations needed to get the showgrounds ready for this weekend.

Such a task requires all hands on deck, and Fleming not only paid tribute to the hard-working committee and team of volunteers, but also their families.

“Everybody has to rely on somebody to do a job at home, maybe milk cows or bring in hay. I went to the show field the other night and left my husband at home baling hay.

“Everybody needs somebody to stay at home because most of us are from farming backgrounds,” she told Agriland.

Charleville show

When the show began in 1979, it cost around €22,000 to stage – in 2019, that had increased to €250,000.

The cost of insurance for Charleville Agricultural Show jumped by 25% this year. It is a pattern that has been replicated at many other shows across the country.

Fleming, who also sits on the board of the Irish Shows Association (ISA), noted that insurance companies have provided funding for health-and-safety training for show organisers around the country in a bid to prevent accidents on showgrounds.

“Everything has got expensive. Health and safety is a very big issue. It costs money to make the place safe for everybody. Nowadays, we can’t all just walk around with the cattle and the horses, there has to be lanes for everybody.

“I know it costs a lot of money to run the show but it is great that we are back again after three years,” Fleming said.

Charleville Show
Pat McCarthy from Horse Sport Ireland presenting Eleanor Fleming, Charleville Show chair with sponsorship. Image: Catherine Cotter

While a good level of entries have been received across the various sections of the show, the pandemic has interrupted the preparation of some cattle exhibitors, she said.

Among the highlights in the dairy section, will be the All-Ireland Junior Pedigree Friesian Cow, confined to second calvers, taking place on Saturday. The winner will take home half of the total prize fund of €2,000, sponsored by Kerry Agribusiness.

In the beef rings, there is a new ‘breeders’ choice’ class this year, sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), for four or five-star traditional breeding heifers.

The Munster branch of the Irish Hereford Breed Society will also hold its Munster heifer and bull of the year competition at Charleville show for the first time this year.

Both the dairy and beef rings will also allow young handlers to show off their skills to the judges.

Charleville show will host the south of Ireland branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society All Ireland Championships, along with classes for Texel, Vendeen, Charolais, blackface mountain sheep and more.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty to occupy equestrian enthusiasts with ridden and in-hand showing classes for both horses and ponies over the weekend, along with showjumping and the fast-paced Pony Club games.

The show will also see the return of the extremely popular pets’ corner, a vintage display, dog show, amusements and the competitive horticulture, baking and arts and crafts sections.

The crowds will be entertained by the Garda band on Sunday, with officers from the Garda mounted unit due to be on the site too.

Fleming noted it would be impossible to stage the event without all of the sponsors, including main sponsor Kerry Agribusiness, supporting the show: “Without them, we just couldn’t carry on, there’s no doubt about it,” she said.