Sunday, June 16, 2024


THE official launch of the 2023 Castlewellan Agricultural Show was held last week in the stunning Castlewellan Castle, only a stone’s throw from the show field. The show organisers were delighted so many joined them to celebrate the launch of the upcoming 2023 show.

Chairperson Mrs Angela Drayne opened the evening by outlining the many new attractions which will be at the show this year. With an eye to biodiversity, sustainability and being eco-friendly, all the guests received a gift of a packet of native Irish wildflower seeds. “It is clear Castlewellan Show intends to do our bit to enhance the environment and keep the local country beautiful,” said a spokesperson for the show. “Our new show secretary, Mrs Mary Valentine, made her debut speech. Not having been at the helm of a show yet, Mary is working slightly in the dark at the moment, but she certainly has taken to her new role with so much enthusiasm and determination to see the show through in July and continues to learn as the weeks fly past.” Mary welcomed everyone to the launch event and said Castlewellan Show is “run by the community for the community”.

She thanked all the sponsors in attendance for their continued support and assistance. Cllr Terry Andrews, from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, spoke of the council’s support for the show and its future plans. “They remain extremely proud of the biggest volunteer-run tourist event in the council area, going from strength to strength,” the spokesperson for the show committee added. “He wished us every success for this year’s show.” Jim Harrison, secretary of the Irish Shows Association, praised the show committee and wished its members the best for the 2023 show. “He mentioned our past secretary, Jackie Fitzpatrick, who ran our show for the past nine years,” the spokesman said. “He wished her a happy retirement but understood she was still at the end of a phone, if her advice is ever needed.”

The guest speaker for the evening was Dr Sally Montgomery, whose speech captivated everyone in the room. “Sally told us about the history of Castlewellan Forest Park from the 1700s, a truly remarkable passage through the years of the various owners of the demesne, when trees were planted and what trees were planted. Just how much work restoring the gardens and arboretum had been undertaken. “It was lovely to listen as Sally enthusiastically explained to us about the future plans for Castlewellan Forest Park, the restoration of the Grange Yard sounds like such an exciting project for the public to enjoy in the not-too-distant future. “Originally these restoration projects were spearheaded by the local community in an attempt to save the park’s most valuable natural and historical assets. “From 2022 Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has taken over the running of the park and are pushing these many projects to fruition. “Our guests made clear their appreciation for Sally’s amazing speech with their overwhelming applause.” As is tradition, show launches must end with supper in the castle and guests enjoyed beautiful food from the Milestone, Rathfriland, and Quails Fine Foods, Banbridge. “Thank you to John Nixon, manager of Castlewellan Castle and his staff, Belinda, Luke, Alan and Carys, for serving our supper and even doing the dishes, their assistance was very much appreciated. “Thank you to the organising committee of Castlewellan Show who helped in any way to make this evening such a success, you know who you are! “We thank all our visitors for attending and hope you all travelled home safely, see you again on Saturday the 15th of July 2023. “Finally, to our sponsors – thank you one and all, your generosity makes our show happen. If there were no sponsors, there would be no show. Sponsorship opportunities are always available. “Practical help pre-show, during the show and post-show is always welcome.”

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