HORSE dealers are making a last gasp bid in an attempt to save the 400-year-old tradition of buying and selling horses at the Auld Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, writes Nevin Farrell.
A delegation of over 15 horse traders and supporters attended a meeting of Moyle District Council in Ballycastle on Monday night (July 23) and the Council agreed the traders could view an area in the Ramoan area of the town to see if it is suitable for horse trading.
Traditionally the horse selling has taken place in the Fairhill Street area of Ballycastle but earlier this year Moyle Council controversially voted to ban horse sales from the street because of concerns about the safety of the public when horses are ‘run’ through and near crowds.
And there were also welfare issues raised by animal campaigners.
But horse dealers are still hopeful of being able to sell horses at the Fair.
A delegation was at a meeting of Moyle Council in Ballycastle on Monday night and the Council has agreed that the horse people can go and have a look at a possible new venue for the horses this year - at Ramoan Road in Ballycastle.
The horse dealers then have to come back to a Lammas Fair Committee meeting at the start of August for an update ahead of the Fair being held over two days at the end of August.
Vincent Traynor, of the North Antrim Riding Club, says it is important that centuries of tradition of selling horses at the Lammas Fair continues.
He attended the Council meeting on Monday night and afterwards said: “We are hopeful that horse trading will continue this year as it has done for the last 400 years. It is a big part of the Fair and many people come to the Fair especially to see the horses. We want to get a field owned by the Council at Ramoan Road and also use a section of the road outside to ‘run’ the horses.
“When somebody wants to buy a horse they want to see it being run on hard ground like a road and not in a field,” said Mr Traynor.
Ballycastle councillor Seamus Blaney (Independent) hopes horse trading can continue at this year’s Fair.
He said: “People love the colour and tradition associated with the horse dealing and it would be a shame if it came to an end this year. I am fighting hard to ensure that horse dealing continues at the Lammas Fair.”
However, some people are concerned about the potential for horse dealing to come to Ramoan Road.
Councillor Donal Cunningham (SDLP), who lives in the area, said: “Attempts to relocate horse trading at the Lammas Fair to the Council owned facility at Ramoan Road playing fields need to be properly thought out, and the concerns of residents and occupants of adjoining properties must be taken into account.
“The Ramoan Road playing fields are surrounded by housing on three sides which makes it entirely unsuitable for this event.”