Almost ten thousand visitors descended on Hollywood village recently for yet another highly acclaimed festival, which predates the 1950s.
Hollywood had been renowned for its sheep breeding competitions and rural fairs so the organising committee looked to the past and sought to authentically bring the village back to early-mid 20th century mode.
“We recreated stage and presentation areas, the food centre, céilí house and cow house and of course, re-opened Guirke’s shop,” said Marie Corrigan, secretary The Hollywood Fair Committee. “All the labour was done by local volunteers so our costs were minimal. Michelle Linehan, a teacher with St Mary’s College, Naas did all our vintage signage and added to the vintage look of the area”.
The programme for Hollywood Fair 2012 was comprehensive and included history talks, photographic exhibitions, traditional mass and rosary. One of the biggest attractions this year was the staging of a famine eviction on Saturday evening.
“Martin Byrne along with Dennis Halpin, Myles Maguire and others, recreated several cottages as occupied by Irish families in the 1840s. These were no more than mud and straw houses and yet families were evicted in the midst of the potato plight which Hollywood suffered just like all Irish townlands” said Marie. “The enactment by Ballymore Drama Society was outstanding, it was visually very moving and quite brutal to watch so spectators, even though they knew it was a dramatisation, were shocked at the callousness of the eviction”.
Sunday’s programme offered visitors lots of spectacle and music. A Red Cross ambulance with medical staff dressed in 1914 costume drew lots of interest from overseas visitors who queued to have their photographs taken. In the crafts arena, there were working displays of a blacksmith forge, butter making, stone masonry, bread making and steam threshing. Vintage machinery from high nellies to pony and traps, steam engines and vintage fords were on display. Sheep shearing by hand was introduced this year and proved hugely popular with spectators as Jim Corrigan, Abbeyeaun, Kilcullen shaved Andy Corrigan of Ballymore Eustace for first prize.
The fair officially ended on Tuesday last 21 August when Fr Prenderville led the rosary in thanks for the fine weather and huge attendance with traditional tea and scones served. Nine organisations locally who helped stage the fair will benefit from the proceeds and Marie Corrigan acknowledged the goodwill and support of the local community, organising committee and all who attended.
- Rose B O’Donoghue