There are country fairs .. and then there are the great game fairs of Ireland

Ireland’s Leading Game and Country Fair gets a ‘family makeover’ while countrysports enthusiasts will have more than ever to see and do. That’s the message from Fair Director Albert Titterington, who invited the Irish rural and sporting public to ‘come and see the difference between ‘our fairs and other country fairs.’ He also unveiled some of the new attractions at what is recognised as the Republic of Ireland’s National Game & Country Fair

Albert Titterington said, “apart from the Birr Demesne’s fantastic attractions including world famous gardens, play areas and science museum included in the Fair admission price, we have a fabulous action packed Arena programme with a huge variety of quality entertainment. We are catering especially for families and young children too, with opportunities to fly falcons, vultures, eagles and hawks and handle ferrets. Children can also get into the heart of the action with lots of ‘have a go activities’ including dog shows, terrier and lurcher racing and come into the Arena with beagles, hounds, falcons and ferrets.

“We have muzzle loaders; Gundog Demos, Free Flying Falconry; Long Netting Displays; the dancing Cochise horses; displays of Western Riding by US horse whisperer Franklin Levinson and his Cow Girl assistant; Carriage Driving and Running Horses; Fly Casting Demos: Horse and Hound Displays; Gundog displays; Dog mushing with teams of Irish Setters! Keith Mathews – the Dog Guru and an Elizabethan Pike & Gun Display. There is even The Victorian Poacher - will he get away with it this time?”

“One of the real strengths of the event is the highly committed support of all the main hunting, shooting, fishing and countryside organisations, including the NARGC, FISSTA, IFA Countryside, HAI, CAI, and the Deer Societies. This fair is their number one choice for their major annual outdoor exhibits, with something to interest everyone. The organisations’ huge presence with its variety of displays, information and merchandise is virtually a mini game fair itself.”

Fellow Director Philip Lawton said “We are proud to organise the biggest and best Irish Game and Country Fair at Birr Castle and hope to see even more folk than ever before come along a showcase of the best fun and entertainment to be found in the Irish countryside this year.”

Tented Village

The huge tented villages of over 150 trade stands will also be packed with everything needed to ‘buy into the country lifestyle.’ Included are Gunmaker’s, Fisherman's and Gundog Rows, Country Clothing and Fashion; Craft Tent; Art Gallery; Sporting Holidays; Renewable Energy; Home and Garden Equipment

In keeping with the huge presence of countrysports organisations, pride of space goes to Ireland’s largest countrysports body, the NARGC. Alongside their vast display they will offer advice on every conceivable aspect of hunting, shooting and fishing and — just in time for the new season — the best game cookery demonstration ever in the south.

For shooting enthusiasts the fair will host the largest display of guns, old and new ever mounted in Ireland -and the opportunity to see them in action. Meanwhile, Ardee Sports is hosting a valuation day by Holts on Sunday.

Step back in time — a living history classroom

The Medieval and Living History Encampment and Village’s features include various historical periods with knights, Vikings and Elizabethan Reivers, including an armoury, cook site, fabric crafts, bone carving, armour making, barber surgeon, leather worker and silversmith.

Competitions and Championships

The Great Game Fairs of Ireland All Ireland Game Fair Championships encourage the widest possible competition as any competent shot, caster or gundog handler can win the top prize. The huge prize fund is unmatched by any other Irish Fair for competitions in clay shooting, fly casting and retriever handling attracting international competitors as well as local enthusiasts. There are also two new international championships for lurchers, the Redmills Five Nations International Lurcher Championships and the first heat of the second annual Redmills Master McGrath Challenge — to find the fastest Lurcher in the UK and Ireland — with the final at Shanes Castle next June. Hotly contested gundog competitions will see the best of the best in action.

The Fair is open each day from 10m to 6pm. Admission charges are Family €35; Adult €15; Child between 5-15 €5. Car parking and programme free of charge

Lord and Lady Rosse as a special concession to fair-goers have given access to the Birr Castle Gardens, Courtyard café and Science Museum (normally €25 per family, €9 per adult and €5 per child ) to be included free in the fair admission price.

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