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Out-right Purchase of Fair

As the livestock trade improved the fortunes of the Moylans rose. In 1881 Martin Moylan of Ballycorick purchased from the Chancery Division of the High Court the freehold of the fair green of Clonroad with the tolls and customs thereof for the considerable sum of £880 sterling. [39] The purchase was subject to many conditions. When the lands were originally granted to Francis Gore in 1712, the Earl of Thomond, mindful of the historical importance of the site, reserved for himself and his heirs several rights. The conditions expressed in the archaic language of the period make interesting reading. The lands were conveyed excepting all rights to:

mines and minerals, with liberty to dig for the same in all places, except houses, orchards and gardens, and excepting all waifs, [40] strays and deodands, [41] felons and fugitives’ goods, treasure trove, and all advowsons, [42] and presentations of churches and vicarages, seneschalships, [43] profits of courtleet [44] and court-baron [45] with free liberty to hawk, fish and fowl upon said lands. [46]

Under the agreement Moylan was also obliged to pay a perpetual yearly rent of £60 to the Thomond estate, a tithe rent charge of £14.18s.5d. and a half-yearly drainage charge of £26.18s.0d. although the latter two charges could be redeemed from that portion of the Gore estate that had not been sold. The lands were sold subject to certain rights of way for the general public and for occupiers of the lands adjacent to the fair green. Individuals had the right of free access:

on the north and east with horses, cars and cattle through parts of the lands to the county road and also a right of free accesses to the river Fergus, along the eastern boundary of the northern portion of part of the fair-green, for the purpose of watering cattle…and also the right to draw water from the well and to use the county roads intersecting or bounding said lands. [47]

A difficulty that arose in the early years of the twentieth century illustrates the type of problem fair owners occasionally faced. In 1906 the intervention of the clergy was sought to solve the question of the dates on which fairs were held. At Clonroad and elsewhere farmers, eager to sell their cattle, began to display their animals a number of days in advance of the fair. Buyers arriving on the day of the fair often found the major portion of the fair over before the official date. Matters had reached such a state in 1906 that there was widespread confusion over the dates of fairs. It was said that the April fair of Ennis in 1905 had been held three days in advance of the actual date. At a public meeting in Ennis in January of 1906, attended by several parish priests and presided over by Most Rev. Dr. Fogarty, Lord Bishop of Killaloe, a resolution was passed deploring ‘the custom that had grown up in recent years of beginning the fairs before the appointed dates’. [48] Dr. Fogarty declared ‘the purpose of the meeting was to insure that the fairs of Ennis and Clonroad and the fairs of the county shall be held on fixed dates and thus save them from the extinction with which, under the present state of confusion, they are threatened’. [49]

Regarding Clonroad fairs it was decided that the cattle fairs would be held on the dates fixed and the horse and pig fairs on the day previous. The resolutions clearly were put into effect because of the Clonroad fair the following August, the Clare Journal reported:

The Clonroad fair opened on Tuesday with the sale of horses and pigs. As usual the equine mart was held about Upper Jail Street, but this year the energetic action of the fairs’ committee bore excellent fruit, for no sales were permitted on the streets on the Monday previous, though several buyers were in evidence. [50]

By 1906 the horse, sheep and pig fairs were held on the streets of Ennis, while the cattle fairs continued on the green of Clonroad.

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