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The First Doolin Fair

Visitors to the Doolin Fair took a step back in time to a living historical village. Together with John and Helen Browne of Doolin Cave, the local crafts people, farmers, cooks, chefs and characters of Doolin and West Clare the Doolin Heritage Group created a once in a lifetime experience for visitors of what life was like long ago. Visitors commented on the ambiance that was created by the smell of the wood burning fire to heat the stones for the Fulachta Fia, it made them feel like “they were characters in a medieval village”.

The foodies were impressed with the leg of lamb cooked in the Fulachta Fia by local chef Sean O Connor. They described it as “a rare culinary treat” and were delighted to get a true taste of medieval Ireland. Peter Thomas renowned cheese maker and owner of Bellingham Blue cheese together with his daughter also joined the foodie force at Doolin Fair. Peter demonstrated how hand-make butter using a churn which visitors could then sample on some griddle baked scones. Peter also brought along some of his award winning Bellingham blue cheese. Everything about Peters Bellingham Blue cheese is done by hand, he was happy to talk visitors through the this traditional process, keeping a few key secrets about the process of making Bellingham Blue to himself of course.

Next door to the food hall visitors were treated to a display by artist blacksmiths Aquilla Cooper and Eoin McDonnagh of Starling Forge who made a traditional Viking Axe onsite. Vikings were exceptional metal workers who used their skills to produce beautiful and high quality weapons and tools and Aquilla and Eoin did a really impressive job of bringing these ancient skills to life to create the axe. The historical village was brought to life with the sound of metal clanging on the blacksmiths anvil brought.

In the exhibition area local craftsmen and women were busy interacting with the visitors showing them how to make St. Brigids crosses and how to hand-knit traditional items of clothing. Charles Monod of Tunes from Doolin displayed some traditional music instruments and was on hand to let the kids have a go.  There was also an exhibition of old photos and items from the past in the exhibition area.

In the sports field Buddy Flanagan put together an exciting programme of traditional games including a tug o’ war championship and an old Doolin game called the snake which can best be described as something like modern crazy golf. There was strong competition in the sports field amongst kids and adults who were delighted to take part in these fun sports for the afternoon.

One of the highlights of the day was the traditional farming demonstrations. In this section visitors were treated to some extremely rare sights nowadays including horse-drawn machinery and cutting hay by hand using scythes. Two enormous Percheron horses (a breed of work horse native to France) dominated the field pulling a sled on which visitors could get a spin around the field. There was also an Irish draught horse called Paddy who took on the hard work of the day cutting the hay and gathering up the hay stack afterwards. Paddy also gave visitors a chance to ride old style on a horse and cart. Some hardworking volunteers took on the task of demonstrating to visitors how hay was cut by hand using a scythe.