Fair Trade

Kenneth O'Halloran

Published on 08/08/11

© Ken­neth O’Halloran

Fairs are more than places of trade in Ire­land. Women regard them as occa­sions worth dress­ing up for, often with great care, lend­ing a kind of del­ic­acy to the day, a fem­in­in­ity to coun­ter­weight the spit-in-the-hand deal­ings of the men folk. There is a vibrancy of color, red hair, freckles and a range of ensembles guar­an­teed, at the very least, to attract your notice.
Many of these are trav­el­ing people, part of an ancient tribe of Gaelic nomads who have never remained in one spot for very long des­pite numer­ous integ­ra­tion attempts by settled soci­ety. Though they lead very simple and basic lives they have a repu­ta­tion for osten­ta­tion and pomp in mark­ing cer­tain occa­sions.
But there’s busi­ness to be done. On days like these horses and ponies are their stocks and shares; the towns and squares of Ire­land morph into their trad­ing floors. In the after­math of the Celtic Tiger, seen by many as a vacu­ous and immoral age, these old meet­ing grounds are flour­ish­ing arenas of open­ness and trans­par­ency. They barter.

© Ken­neth O’Halloran

© Ken­neth O’Halloran

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