LISBURN AUTHOR'S NEW BOOK RECALLS A LOST
WAY OF COUNTRY LIFE
Author May Blair with John
Kelly President of the Royal Ulster Agricultural
Society and Vaughan Byrne who acted as compère at
the recent launch at the King's Hall Conference
story of a way of life which could be from another planet, and
yet is still within living memory, is recounted in the latest
book by Lisburn author May Blair.
May recently launched `Hiring Fairs and Market
Places' at an event hosted by the Royal Ulster Agricultural
"Research for this book began around twenty
years ago and many of the people who I interviewed are no longer
with us," she explained. "They were just ordinary country people
who gathered potatoes, milked cows by hand, threshed corn and
"All of those jobs can be done by machine and
the memories of the people who did it in the old way needed to
be recorded before they disappeared completely. I am so glad to
have met all these people - both those who hired and those who
employed them - and to have told their story.
"Many of the people I met gave me photographs
from their own albums and collections and many have never been
Much of the atmosphere of the old-time fairs
is captured in the songs and poems of the age and many of these
have been published for the first time in Hiring Fairs and
May continues: "The people I interviewed
would start to recite the poems and songs that they remembered
hearing at the hiring fairs and markets or which family members
"People tend to forget that fairs were a
source of major entertainment as well as commerce in the country
and the songs reveal a lot about the times."
Bill Yarr, a previous Chief Executive of the
Royal Ulster Agricultural Society has written the foreword and
said: "Everyone who reads this book will find it fascinating.
Despite the problems facing agriculture we are fortunate to be
living in the relative comfort of the 21st century."
Lisburn's market brought back to life
A Horse Fair at Market Place in Lisburn
RENOWNED as a 'market town' it is riot
surprising that Lisburn features prominently in 'Hiring Fairs
and Market Places'.
In her book May writes of the importance of
Lisburn and brings to life the bustling market town of years
Reminiscing about his first visit to Lisburn
to sell a bullock in 1929, Morgan Greer remembers: "The very
first animal I had was a black cross-bred bullock. I reared him
and fattened him on turnips and yellow meal. I brought him to
Smithfield to sell him. Jacob Green bought him.
"Wee pigs were sold in Smithfield too. I
think pigs were sold every Tuesday. Cattle would have been only
once a month; horses every two months."
May provides a. fascinating insight into life in Lisburn in
the 19th and 20th century, with many interesting and previously
unknown facts about the town and its people.
"The provision market continued For centuries
at the Market House in Market Square," she writes.
"Here you could buy hen eggs, duck eggs,
onions, cheese, clothes, socks, stockings, china, tin-ware,
earthenware, books, pig troughs, potato baskets, stable brooms,
hatchets, shovels, spades, rakes, hemp ropes, bee skeps, cabbage
plants, wash tubs, tables, chairs, churns, saddlery, old
spinning wheels. Many items could be bought at a penny or less
and hardly anything cost more than a few shillings."
Hiring Fairs and Market Places is published,
by Appletree Press and is on sale now priced £14.99