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Leinster Leader 10 July 2008
The Athy show ‘now ranks in quality with the other top Irish shows, Ballsbridge and Balmoral.’ This was the verdict of an exhibitor at the Kildare County Show in Athy as reported in the Leinster Leader in July 1958. The central place of farming in the economy of the locality in the 1950s is given full expression by the extensive coverage of agricultural shows throughout Leinster.
 As well as providing an outlet for local farmers and horse-breeders to show their achievements the shows also had an educational role featuring demonstrations of best practice for rural dwellers.
 The County Kildare Committee of Agriculture laid out a series of demonstration plots where farmers could view the latest in crop and cereal varieties. The Leader reporter was clearly impressed with the demonstration: ‘ Here in the beautifully kept plot of about an acre, with its neat white and red paling, and artistically arranged flower beds was an exhibition unequalled in quality and size at any other Irish show.’ As well as the mainstream farm products there were also specialised displays dealing with such useful farmyard enterprises as poultry rearing. We are told that ‘in the poultry section one saw ten weeks’ old broilers of the new American breed, specially selected for rapid growth and efficient food conversion. Housewives were delighted to see in the indoor display the manner in which a chicken can be cut into the different portions in which the bird can be bought.’ Hopefully the poultry display was kept well separate from the vermin exhibition which featured a live fox! This section which also featured cages showing pheasants at various stages from hatching-out to fully-grown was intended to educate visitors on vermin destruction and game preservation. Expert advice on this subject was on hand from Mr. Monds, game warden for Mr. E.K.Wright of Kilkea.
The team from the Committee of Agriculture who had prepared the educational display was acclaimed in print. The exhibit was supervised by Mr. P Donnelly, Chief Agricultural Officer and Mr. Dick Parks, Technical Officer while Mr.P.Kavanagh, instructor for South Kildare, was primarily responsible for the whole exhibit with the assistance of Mr. JJ Usher, horticultural instructor, Miss Kay Buckley, poultry instructress, and Mr. Tim McCarthy, county forester.
A big feature of the two-day show was the hunter classes where breeders could show the best in country bloodstock. Among the exhibitors were such famous breeders as Major Beaumont of Harristown Estate near Kilcullen; Mrs. J. Alexander, Milford, Carlow; Comdt. T. Finlay, Chapelizod, Miss Susan Browne, Oldtown House, Carlow; Miss R. Barrett, Ballynoe, Tullow; and Miss Iris Kellett. The winner of the heavyweight hunter class at the show was a grey gelding owned by Brigadier Fowler of Enfield.
At that time horses were still very much part of the working inventory on farms and there was a special show class for best farm horses. The winning entry belonged to Mrs. V. Vanden Bergh of Stonebrook, Ballymore Eustace with the runners-up award going to Mr. Liam Owens, Nicholastown Lodge, Athy.
There was also news of agricultural interest from north Co. Kildare. An item reported how a new livestock mart had been set up in Clane. Remarkably the directors included seven brothers who comprised a family business in the victualling trade known as Messrs. Cruise Bros. The Directors of the new Clane Livestock sales were Thomas Cruise, Tallaght; Michael Cruise, also of Tallaght; Gerard Cruise, Clondalkin; Patrick Cruise, Rathcoole; John Cruise, Blessington; William Cruise, Sallins; Peter Cruise, Straffan. There were also two directors from outside the Cruise family circle – Sean Ashe of Rathmore and Terence Gilleece, auctioneer, Naas.
Over the county boundary at Edenderry there was news of the tenth annual show and field day which attracted a large attendance to the Gaelic park. As well as the usual displays of livestock, bloodstock and crops there was a special section by local traders and craftspeople. A mouth-watering offering that caught the attention of the Leader reporter was a display by an enterprising local bakery which featured bracks, cakes and bread of all kinds made of 100 percent Irish flour. On a similar theme the Edenderry ICA did a ‘roaring trade’ in their heavily-laden stall. Another magnet for feminine visitors was the tent containing beautiful floral exhibits and the handicrafts section. The judges for the cookery competition were Mrs. Lalor of Kilbeggan and Miss Hiney of Naas. On that note redolent of the aroma of freshly baked cakes and confectionery we complete our look at the agricultural news from the Leader of fifty summers past.

Liam Kenny in his regular feature, 'Nothing New Under the Sun,'  looks at the agricultural news from the Leader of fifty summers past which reported that  the Kildare County Show in Athy 'now ranks in quality with the other top Irish shows, Ballsbridge and Balmoral' 

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