WATCH: Unfavourable weather fails to deter judges in their duty
Leafing through the old News Letters from yesteryear the earliest reference that I can find of a show being held in Saintfield is from August 1829 when the North-East Society for County Down had been held in the town.
The News Letter noted that the severe weather of the preceding days prevented some people from attending the show, but despite this, “however, a great number of cattle [were] exhibited, of the finest description”.
At the end of the day a number of gentlemen associated with the society sat down to “a sumptuous dinner” prepared by Mr A Bradley during which the secretary read the awards.
These included: Class A, brood mares, eight competitors, first premium was awarded to Mr David Lindsay, Dromara, second to Mr Robert Martin, Killyleagh. Class B, two year old geldings or fillies, five competitors, first premium awarded to Mr Coslett, Clough, second prize was “withheld for want of merit”. Class C, yearling colts or fillies, five competitors, first premium was awarded to Mr M. Berry, Moira and second to M Thomas Taylor, Killyleagh. Class D, milch cows, seven competitors, the first premium was awarded to Mr John Stewart, Killyleagh; second was awarded to Mr Joseph Livingston, Dromore. The medal was awarded Sir Robert Bateson.
The next earliest reference to a show at Saintfield was published in the News Letter at the start of August 1844 and refers to the show being held by the Saintfield, Kilmore and Killaney Farming Society at the end of July that year.
The News Letter noted: “The annual show of cattle, &c of [the Saintfield, Kilmore and Killaney Farming Society] was held in Saintfield, on Wednesday last the 31st July. The show was larger than on former occasions, and the cattle generally of a superior description.”
The judges for the cattle were Messrs Davidson of Ballymachan, McCaw of Dromore, and Morrow of BalIymoran. Of these judges, the News Letter commented that they had “notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather, exercised unwearied patience in performing their duty”.
That evening about 50 gentlemen associated with the farming society sat down to dinner at Mr Roberts’ Hotel. James C Blackwood, Esq, of Saintfield House was the chairman of the evening’s events. The vice-chair was occupied by Samuel Walker, Esq, and Jas Bingham, Esq, and Dr Gordon acted as croupiers. Sitting on the right and left of the chairman sat the judges, James S Crawford, Esq, Frederick S Crawford, Esq and J Wade. Other attendees at the dinner, noted the News Letter, included William Stevenson, Esq, Richard Walker, Esq, J M Roberts, Esq, A McBurney, Esq, and F Ward, Esq.
During the evening “the usual loyal and complimentary toasts” were given, as were “much useful information, elicited on subjects connected with agriculture” during the course of the evening.
Notable among the prizes in 1844 was Mr Walker who was awarded the first premium in the brood mares class. In the bull class the first premium was awarded to Mr James McClure. In the milch cow class the first premium was awarded to Mr G McBride. In the farms class the first premium was awarded to Mr William Cleland, Creerycarnonan, second was Mr David Cleland, Carson-dam, third was Mr Carse, Lissown, and fourth was Mr James King, Redemon.