Ireland’s agricultural heritage and the Fair Days of the 19th century will be brought to life when ‘Traditional Harvest Day’ returns for the first time since 2017 at Bunratty Folk Park this Sunday (September 17th).
Rural Irish life and traditions from over a century ago will be showcased as part of the family day out, which will feature a display of vintage machinery and tractors, crafts demonstrations, and dancers, musician and performers from across the Banner County.
A traditional threshing machine will be put to work giving visitors an insight into how neighbours and friends once gathered during the harvest in the spirit of the “meitheal”. Enthusiasts will be on hand to speak about the evolution of the vintage farm machinery on display on the day, including tractors, and stationary engines. Visitors will also view a range of various ploughs, hay rakes, Root Cutter (Pulper), Turnip and a Mangel Seeder.
The public will be able to witness local craftspeople at work including Michael Foudy as he carries on the time-honoured tradition of basket making, Blacksmith Ger Treacy, and Elizabeth O’Connor and Geraldine O’Sullivan who will demonstrating the ancient craft of wool spinning using locally sourced wool, a practice first introduced by Neolithic farmers over 6000 years ago. Bunratty’s Bean an Tí's also will be on hand throughout the day to demonstrate the art of bread and butter making and if you’re fortunate there may even be tasting opportunities for those who pay a visit to the Golden Vale and Loop Head Farmhouses.
As well as so much to see the throughout the 26-acre site, there will be entertainment from Sean Nós Singer MacDara Ó Conaola, the Mary Liddy School of Music from Newmarket on Fergus, the Helen Hehir School of Dance, and resident musicians James Anglim and Michael Grogan, while resident Seanchaí Mike ‘Mickey Joe’ Flynn will regale stories of tales of bygone days and traditional ways from Corry's Pub on the Village Street. At the Old Schoolhouse, located in the Village Street, the school master will be on duty to greet children and adults as they hand over their customary sod of turf for the tiny school room fire.
A range of native Irish and Heritage Breeds of animals will be located throughout the Folk Park paddocks on the day, including Irish Red Deer, Peacocks, Highland Cattle, Tamworth Pigs, goats, geese, bronze turkeys and the recently arrived Irish Wolfhounds Míde and Rian.
Marie Brennan, Events Manager at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, commented, “We are delighted to bring back this event after a six-year hiatus and to give everyone, both young and old, a flavour of what life would have been like in Ireland during harvest time at the turn of the 19th century.”
“The essence of a Harvest Day was bringing communities together, to support, celebrate and toast the end of a good season,” she explained. “Threshing was backbreaking work, which started early in the mornings and continued until the end of the day with neighbours and friends, all gathering to help out. The machine, and all the activity about it, had a special attraction for children. Its moving belts, the noise from inside and the way it put out straw and oats, was as intriguing back then as the latest computer game is today.”
“We are looking forward to providing a true glimpse of life in rural 19th century Ireland and celebrating the immense sense of community and hospitality that existed during harvest time. Throughout the Folk Park, for example, there will be plenty of activities available to visitors just like during the fairs of old” added Ms. Brennan.
Visit www.bunrattycastle.ie for more on the Traditional Harvest Day. Normal admission rates apply.