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Horse Trading

category dublin | consumer issues | news report author Sunday February 03, 2008 22:09author by Houyhnhnm Report this post to the editors

Dublin City Council new plans to stop traditional Horse Fair in Smithfield

The Irish language name for Smithfield Square in Dublin is Margadh na Feirme, which reflects the fact that the area has been a market for a very long time. Cattle were once driven in from Meath and sold on the square, as well as poultry and other livestock. Horses have always been traded here.

The regular horse fair, held just after dawn on the first Sunday in every month, has been going on since at least the latter half of the nineteenth century. Dublin Corporation never had anything to do with the horse fair, but in the 1990's the City Council tried to involve itself in supervision of the fair, and encouraged the Gardaí and the DSPCA to monitor activities there. A few years ago, the Council gave up trying to run the fair, since some local residents, business owners and developers who have moved into the area, were making a lot of complaints about it.

Since the market has been going on for so long, it's proved impossible to simply close it down, but recently the Council has come up with a plan to offer an alternative site on the outskirts of the North Side of Dublin, in the hope that this will allow them to ban horse trading in the City Centre. Mr Charlie Lowe, Dublin Central Area Manager for DCC, has said that a place, believed to be somewhere around Finglas and Ballymun, will be made available by the Council as the site for the new horse fair. It is not clear if residents and business owners in the vicinity of the new location have been informed.

It's also not obvious exactly how DCC will enforce a ban on horse trading. No one actually runs the fair or is responsible for it. There is no advertising or publicity, nor is there any group profiting from the trades. The last time the Council tried to stop the fair , in 2002, the traders and their customers simply ignored the ban and continued to show up every first Sunday.

It's been reported that legal advice has indicated to DCC that any court order to close the traditional fair would be unsuccessful. Charlie Lowe was quoted in the Irish Times last month saying :
"We cannot extinguish the 'market right' at Smithfield under the particular legislation unless we find alternative facilities which are reasonably proximate to those already there."

But no one has made an announcement about how an order to cease trading at a particular location can be served, since the trading of a horse between one owner and another could in theory be carried out anywhere.

People sell cars to each other from their driveways, and all sorts of things are traded by individuals using ads in shop windows, magazines and the internet. How DCC expects to stop traders from simply attending at Smithfield, just after dawn on the first Sunday of the month, as they have been doing for many years, is not clear.





author by Damien M - PWpublication date Tue Dec 13, 2011 23:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ah shure Jaysus tis tradition like. The childer do love baitin the horses.

author by Keeping tradition not crueltypublication date Tue Dec 13, 2011 22:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That would be a very rose tinted way of looking at it indeed.

More than 7000 horses were killed for human consumption last year from Ireland. This is largely due to the breeding of horses for the Celtic Tiger movers who speant too much. It's expected 3500 thoroughbred foals will soon join them this year along with all the other horses who can't be sold. It is all part of the one breeding industry from the horse racing industry to the sulkies.

I'll take off my own rose tinted glasses and ask for Smithsfield horse fair to close and with it the routine cruelty that was evident there even on the horse market day. Injured foal sold for 8 euro to a child, starving foals left abandoned in a side street, horses cut up there for all to see, kids playing at cowboys racing horses up cobbled streets, kids kicking and whipping horses to get reactions from them, children and adults whipping horses for no reason, horses left all day in the summer heat without food or water tied to poles, horses with foot problems, horses with coat problems.

And that's before the stories of what happens to the horses who were so lucky to go through this market start to come in. Ask the shelthers about it. Dumped horses, killed horses, abandoned horses, horses starved and injured.

Go around to different greens in Dublin and you'll see horses from Smithsfield grazing the grass, that's before the horsess stop being useful of course and start to cost money to feed.

The luckier ones don't end up in Smithsfield.

author by JoeMcpublication date Tue Dec 13, 2011 19:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Another way of looking at is that Smithfield is where a lot of soon-to-be abandoned horses find new homes. During the boom years horse-ownership , jodpurs and riding lessons for the kids became important status symbols for a lot of high earners in this country . With the onset of the recession many horse-owning middle class households found themselves unable to pay high stabling costs and started dumping their horses .The luckier ones ended up at Smithfield .

author by Keep tradition not crueltypublication date Tue Dec 13, 2011 02:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Smithsfield horse fair is not the kind of culture we should keep. This is where alot of soon to be abandoned horse are sold. Like all the horse fairs Smithsfield has had it's day. Abandon it, not the horses.

author by More Heartpublication date Mon Dec 12, 2011 23:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Wow how sad. culture once lost is gone forever. Remember this dont let Dublin become as bland as most the world 

author by Mayorpublication date Fri Oct 15, 2010 17:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Council seeks to close Smithfield Horse Fair

Dublin City Council has asked the Government to change the law so it can close down the Smithfield Horse Fair.

But traders say they will resist any attempt to stop a tradition they claim dates back hundreds of years.

In a written reply to Labour Cllr John Lyons, the City Manager John Tierney said the council has asked for legal changes that would allow it to extinguish the right of horse traders to operate a market on the first Sunday of every month at Smithfield.

Under current legislation, the Council cannot do this without providing an alternative site in the vicinity and the manager said the Council cannot afford this.

The manager said that the fair is run by a number of individuals who do not have insurance or an event management plan.

A Health and Safety Survey commissioned by the council found significant risks in all 16 categories examined.

Mr Tierney said the council hoped that the law will be changed 'soon'.

The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also wants the fair closed and has said it supplies animals that end up being mistreated or neglected all over the city.

But a spokesman for the Smithfield Fair, John Farrell, said Dublin City Council had failed to provide any proper facilities for the market.

And he claimed it was new apartment owners and hoteliers who were pushing for the fair to be closed, even though it was there before they were.

He said he could not see the Council succeeding in closing down the fair.

Related Link: http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/1005/smithfield_fair.html
author by G.G.publication date Thu Sep 30, 2010 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The horse fair will be on this Sunday.

author by Rickpublication date Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:50author email rickrideshorses at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I went to the fair on March 7 (2010) and I've written an account of some of the cruelty I saw. It's here... http://hubpages.com/hub/Animal-cruelty-Smithfield-Horse...arket . On the other hand, the fare is very unique and Irish and there are some pretty ponies.

Related Link: http://hubpages.com/hub/Animal-cruelty-Smithfield-Horse-Market
author by B Wright - Alliance for Animal Rights .AFARpublication date Sat Jan 30, 2010 18:10author address AFAR. PO Box 4734.D 1author phone Report this post to the editors

The majority of right- thinking individuals would be opposed to a place that supports such cruelty and lack of accountability. By all accounts Smithfield causes untold animal abuse by its very presence.A glut of Horses has magnified the problem. Recent drownings, burnings and increased cases of abandoned horses and donkeys makes closing this place imperative.


Related Link: http://www.afarireland.org
author by Brians Dybbukpublication date Tue Sep 15, 2009 18:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Smithfield Horse Fair is anything but fair on the poor animals who are subjected to it on a monthly basis...

The whole thing is completely unregulated and allows all sorts to buy and sell horses in direct contravention of the laws pertaining to horses in Ireland.

Even children are allowed to illegally buy horses. At Septembers mart, a child bought a crippled horse. This was widely covered in the MSM.

· Injured horse sold to 11 year old for €8 at the Smithfield Market

Tuesday, 8th September: Last Sunday a young boy aged 11 rescued a badly injured pony he saw for sale at the monthly Smithfield Horse Market. Realizing the pony seemed to have a problem with its legs and feet and being a genuine horse lover he approached the owner who sold him the pony for €8.


The market is not monitored or regulated in any meaningful way by the Gardai.

DSPCA calls for end to market as youths try to set fire to wild horse

DSPCA inspectors have to wear stabproof vests and regularly come under attack by the horse traders. This has also been widely reported by the MSM. Its not an invention, the DSPCA themselves say that it happens and that they cannot control what happens at the market.

Our officials still wear stab proof vests when they visit the fair. Many of the people at the market would be fairly unsavoury. We’ve had cases where the officials pull somebody up about the cruelty of a horse and they are surrounded by a whole group of people who are shouting abuse and throwing missiles at them.

According to the law horses must be microchipped and have a passport in order for them to be legal in this country... I wonder how many of the malnourished, mistreated creatures in Smithfield comply?

Having seen them, I can assure you that the answer is not many at all.

If you want to have a Horse Fair, fine, but at the very least have it regulated, heavily regulated and monitored appropriately.

As for the argument that the market rights dictate that Dublin City Council can't stop it unless they have an alternative site. RUBBISH - I say...

Market Rights should not allow the continuation of this barbaric spectacle. Just because Guantanemo Bay was open for business for a few years doesn't mean they shouldn't have shut it down until they found somewhere else to torture their prey!

It is a disgusting, inhuman way that these animals are treated and if you want proof - just go an visit it, there's no hiding it at all.

author by paulpublication date Fri Jul 31, 2009 18:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The problem it's not the sale/trade itself, but the people riding horses in the streets to get to the market instead of using a vehicle with an adequate trailer for it.It's usual to see around the area sidewalks fill of horse waste and young boys racing around like if they were living in some medieval city.If not conducted properly it's dangerous and health hazard to the local residents.Just because something has been around for a long time doesn't make it right.
All it takes to end this is to enforce The Control of Horses Act, 1996

author by hpublication date Sat Jan 31, 2009 20:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Horse market should be on tomorrow as usual- no news of the alternative site

author by urban cowboypublication date Fri Apr 11, 2008 09:33author email pinner822002 at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

smithfield horse markets cant beleive its still going!i been living in oz the last few years and i remember smithfield getting done up before i left and and we used have barneys with the the local council who wanted to get rid of it!well ask yourself this question , would you rather have your kids selling drugs and running a much or trying to look after there horse in every way they can and trying to make a few bob of it in the market?
i know dublin is growing by the day but come on give these kids some sort of hope,understanding and respect they need it....

author by johnpublication date Mon Apr 07, 2008 22:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors


maybe the kids should just hit the booze and the smack?
author by lone rangerpublication date Mon Apr 07, 2008 18:47Report this post to the editors

"people riding wild horses on council estates" are not actually anything to do with the horse fair.

They are clearly a lot to do with some people's class hatred though.


Read the article posted, Dublin ISPCA there is a clear link between people buying horses at Smithfield market, and neglected and mistreated horses in Dublin.

author by jee jee - (iosaf)publication date Mon Apr 07, 2008 20:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Despite your Ireland moving on from its class ridden hatred of a decade past when the main known & convicted heroin importer invested his profits in a studfarm, and the HSE being asked for a comprehensive strategy on heroin treatment - in Wexford county alone with 53 registered intravenous addicts there have been 3 deaths in 2008 alone.

Or am I mixing up opinions & analysis here? Has today's equine theme confused class hatred, effete bourgoise concern & laughably poor writing??

Gosh if I were capable of writing a thesis I'd talk about hypodromes and gambling with proper figures or supporting data and thought-provoking arguments, on the right thread too, trace back the horse thing to its roots and then examine the wider social context. I'd put such an opinion or analysis piece in the proper section as well.

If horseys were my thing - I'd choose "animal rights". If tackling vice and ludopathy were my particular nub I'd have a harder choice. Alas, I'm probably not up to writing a thesis let alone be paid to supervise others doing it. So I just crosspost comments instead. You know, help newcomers see what class consciousness are about........ they always whine so much nagging away, chomping at the bit of resentment.

But some people are so lame they would be put out of their misery if on four legs with a well placed bullet.

In Ireland they still shoot horse.
In Ireland they still shoot horse.

author by lone rangerpublication date Mon Apr 07, 2008 18:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"people riding wild horses on council estates" are not actually anything to do with the horse fair.

They are clearly a lot to do with some people's class hatred though.

author by johnpublication date Mon Apr 07, 2008 16:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

sorry gee gee but Ireland is fast moving away from being a peasant country, it has already done so economically and is also doing so psychologically, the days of people riding wild horses on council estates will soon be over.

Ever heard of social responsibility ?

author by jee jee jee - (iosaf)publication date Mon Apr 07, 2008 13:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

& pray let us know who ought be allowed a horse? Will the same criteria apply to donkeys & non-breeding mules?? Do you envision a future Ireland where a young couple starting out on the ladder of property acquisition are seen coaxing their well-fed donkey down the road whilst only retired heroin importers have enough cash to stable & nourish horses properly???

So much has had to change for things to stay exactly how they used to be.

author by horse loverpublication date Mon Apr 07, 2008 13:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You've got the whole northside convicted there haven't you? But why close down a market because SOME people MIGHT mistreat the horses they are ALLEGED to buy there?

If children are prevented from buying horses by law, that law should be enforced.

author by prawn sandwichpublication date Sun Apr 06, 2008 17:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In other countries its illegal to sell animals to children under 16, there is no way a child is responsible enough to or financially able to care for a horse, what with vets bills, blacksmith bills, food bills, horses need stables in Winter.

This is why many of these horses end up in such a dreadful state.


The Dublin SPCA are absolutely appalled that yet again another horse has to suffer in this way.

“When are we going to see an end to this barbaric treatment of animals in our city” said Orla Aungier, Education Officer for the Dublin SPCA. “This animal was underweight and had been dumped to graze on the side of the canal with only potatoes skins left near him for food. The way these poor horses are treated is nothing short of barbaric. These magnificent creatures are totally reliant on us for their health and safety and not enough is being done by the government to protect them.”

This horse is just another victim of the horrendous Smithfield Market held on the first Sunday of each month. The Dublin SPCA has been campaigning relentlessly for years to see it shut down and the trafficking of the horses and ponies needs to be stopped at source.

An irate Jimmy Cahill, General Manager of the Dublin SPCA said “Rescuing animlas in Dublin is now a daily occurrence, because any Tom, Dick or Harry can buy a horse, none of the local authorities or government seem to care. It has to stop, the law is the law, the Control of Horses Act requires that you must have a licence, but none of these ‘so called horse lovers’ bother with that, they often don’t have the means to feed or care for the animals.

author by horse loverpublication date Sun Apr 06, 2008 13:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Making blanket statements about "kids" and "estates" based on opinions formed from watching the telly shows the mentality of some people. Talking about "the republic" makes you wonder if the writer is not actually based in Dublin at all, and maybe knows even less about this event than they would like to admit.

author by prawn sandwichpublication date Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Comparing material objects with horses shows the mentality some have to animals in the republic.

Kids are not responsible for looking after themselves never mind horses which need constant attention and cost money to care for.

author by Houyhnhnmpublication date Sun Apr 06, 2008 00:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You know it for a fact because there was a programme on the telly which made the claim, and you believed it one hundred per cent... (Can I refer you to the earlier comment about the mass media?)

And can you be certain that the horses shown in this completely true television programme were actually bought at Smithfield? If so, how?

Lastly, some of the things people buy in shops on henry street are later misused. I know it can be difficult to believe, but not every thing that is bought has a completely rosy future. Should all the shops be closed down then?

author by prawn sandwichpublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 22:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I do know it for a fact, there was a tv programme on RTE about three years ago about horses on Dublin estates, the ISPCA were interviewed and talked of the dreadful state they found horses in, neglected and undernourished.

Horses and high rise council estates don't mix, thats not prejudice, its common sense.

author by Houyhnhnmpublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 18:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't believe you know this for a fact. I'm willing to be corrected, but if so, I'd be really interested to know how you know it.

It has the depressing sound of the sort of preconception that the mass media peddle, and that many people sadly accept without questioning.

author by prawn sandwichpublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 17:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They often sell them to kids on estates who cant look after them properly.

author by HOUYHNHNMpublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 15:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If there is evidence of animal abuse then of course that should be investigated, but to be honest, the first places I'd go looking for animal abuse would be laboratories and farms, where the animals can not usually be seen.

In Smithfield the sellers want to show off how well cared-for their horses are, so that people will buy them, so of course there is no evidence of any abuse.

As to the rather nasty idea of the police carrying out mass-arrests at dawn of horse traders, what would the charges be?

author by prawn sandwichpublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 15:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Because its 2008 and the image of Dublin as some sort of horse rustling dodge city with horses being ridden on the pavement is not the image modern urban cities want to present.

Never mind the animal abuse and legal responsibility issues.

author by We the Peoplepublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One question that is not asked is,why , do the Dublin Corporation ( now know as Dublin City Council) not want a Market that has existed for around two hundred years in Smithfield anymore?

author by Johnpublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is simply Irish culture, the problem is those of a more Anglo psychological construct,which includes those more educated, dont relate to aspects of its earthiness/agrarianism and have problems with parts of its morality, some of which appear brutal.

This thread is simply a continuation of the greater conflict of Anglo-liberal values v agrarian values which has gone on for centuries.

If the Romans had invaded Ireland and created civil structures, history and culture would have been very different.

Limerick would now be more like Bath.

author by twinkle - nonepublication date Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Could the police arrive before the horse traders, and then arrest the first one or two horse traders that turn up?

If they could do this every month, to just arrest the first people who arrive, then no one will want to be the first, and after a while they will stay away.

It is indeed difficult for the police to control the traders once there is a large number of them, so to get them while they are low in numbers there would be less danger to the police and the few traders would put up less of a fight.

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