From Ohio to Dublin: a once in a lifetime adventure full of leprechauns, potatoes, guinness and craic!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Horse Trading is Still in, Who Knew?

Ever since I arrived in Smithfield (our small area of Dublin city), I've heard rumors of a "gypsy horse trade" that occurs every 1st sunday of the month. Now in my 3rd month here, I decided to give it a go... it had been long enough that I was wondering what exactly occurred these Sunday mornings that resulted in a maze of horse poo for me to weave through for days after. Today as I was walking home from work I could still smell the lovely sweet scent of the hundreds of horses that visited the square 3 days ago.

It's funny to think that on any other Sunday I may have slept until noon or one even if I'm that bad... and that I could have easily slept through this wonderfully entertaining and culturally shocking event that occurs only 2 minutes away from our apartments. So I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, threw some clothes on and to the "gypsy horse fair" I went without any notion of what I was getting myself into...

On my way to the fair:

Shortly after I arrived, I could not believe the reality of this event.
I felt the need to try to show this madness to anyone and everyone:

The Smithfield Horse Fair has been going on for about 280 years in the exact same place. What I found out later was that it's actually a very controversial event (I'm sure you could've guessed that by now) between the participants (gypsies, travelers, small farmers...) and the government officials of Dublin. There have been recent efforts to build up the Smithfield area with new flats, restaurants and businesses, and apparently these plans of modernization would not ideally include a discount horse market that draws in a "different crowd" (The Independent, "Gentrified Dublin tries to rein in horse fair and 273 years of tradition). There are also animal rights groups that have demonstrated their opinions against this event. Personally, I love that such a random event occurs right down the road from us. How many people can say that they have been to a traditional horse trading fair? It was an experience to say the least... I wanted to ask how much a typical horse was at this fair, but I was scared that if low enough, I may have been tempted to buy one to shorten the 30 min walk to work and class every day. I'm sure the people at our apartment building wouldn't mind if I tied her up in the courtyard and left a couple hay bails out every once in a while... but I never asked... everyone is probably better off. After weaving through this circus of flaunting, trading, selling and buying for about 30 minutes I was horse pooped out and ready to remind myself what fresh air smelled like.

Bob Marley reincarnated:

More information about these mysterious and intriguing gypsies and travelers...

Article on the smithfield horse trade:

"my-big-fat-gypsy-wedding" Channel 4 documentary (good stuff)