Ballygurrane, Athenry, Co Galway
Chairman’s Address January 2020
Reverend Father, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you to the AGM of the 2020 Athenry Agricultural Show and to thank you all for coming.
Last years Show as the third year in a row that we have arrested the heavy losses we were sustaining over a number of years. This was all due to this committee putting its shoulder to the wheel, focusing on improving all aspects of our Show and pairing back costs without damaging the Show itself.
Last years Show was truly a testing event for all the committee and for the volunteers who turned up on the day. The number of horse boxes and trailers caught us by surprise, as did also the number of people attending on the day. This required much improvising and foresight with the parking and the management of pedestrians. It appeared at one stage that we would be unable to get any more lorries or trailers into the field but with panache and wisdom every single vehicle was parked and the lorries and trailers were pulled off the main road with such patient consistency that there were no complaints of tailbacks interfering with normal traffic.
With such a crowd in the field, Health and Safety was tested to the limits. This was particularly noticeable a the gate the separated the Working Hunters from the Connemara ponies and the Irish Draughts, as pedestrians and ponies were crisscrossing, going from one side to the other. The four lads there managed that area will excellent skills in crowd control and it was all done in relaxing calmness. It was a joy to watch.
There was an unforeseen shortage of personnel in the showjumping tent which was rectified by having someone from the showing tent taking over there and then a person, who was never at our show before, going into the tent and with some initial guidance she took to it like a duck to water – hidden talents lies submerged all around us.
Again a miraculous number of sheep turned up and that was managed brilliantly as we almost ran out of gates, and apparently against all odds not one gate went missing.
The exhibit tent and children’s games along with amusements lend themselves to a great family day out.
Our sponsorship went well this year. Our sponsorship team delivered again.
The lads and lady doing the gate were being pulled from Billy to Jack covering different gates and giving a hand with parking. We were getting messages for days afterwards about how helpful and professional all of our volunteers were on the day.
The help from the staff of Mellows Campus was a blessing in disguise, particularly in the area of traffic control. They also helped on the days before the show and days following. They did a great favour by taking the sheep gates overnight for us for security reasons and then they allowed us use their trailer to bring the gates to our shed in the Mart to be cleaned.
There were two accidents in the showjumping ring which necessitated the use of an ambulance. The second accident was so close to the first that there was no ambulance in the field. We were informed that if we had a paramedic or a nurse on location we could continue. Fortunately we did and the day was saved.
I wish to heartily thank our sponsors. They are an integral park of our Show and we would not be able to stay in existence without them.
Overall it was a brave, controlled team effort covering a comprehensive number of activities with many unexpected and unplanned situations arising and being sorted out with aplomb. There were many situations that arose on the day that will need to be find and the should not prove insurmountable to this committee.
A special thanks must go to Professor Michael Diskin and Deputy Anne Rabbitte for enabling the Show to be held in Mellows Campus.
Everyone involved from the front gate to the bottom of the field outshone themselves and based on the craic we had in the Raheen Woods that night it had been a rewarding and satisfying experience.