In the cities, there are not many horses anymore. Especially in Europe, cities such as Dublin have completely succumbed to modernity, being full of cars and public transport. One of the last strongholds of old Dublin, close to the countryside, is the Smithfield horse fair. This event has been held for over 350 years, and with modernisation, it has reduced its frequency but increased its attractiveness.

More Than 350 Years of History

The first records that exist of the Smithfield Square horse fair date back to 1665. It is an event where horse sellers and buyers meet in a public place to get to know the horses and be able to trade them. Over time, however, the fair, which was held on the first Saturday of each month, became iconic in the area.

Consolidation in the 20th century

From the 1980s onwards, the fair became a more institutionalised event and even one of the most characteristic of the city of Dublin. In spite of this, Smithfield became a much more residential area, and the fair began to be annoying both for many residents and for the authorities, who began to ask for more regulations.

Politics, Regulations and Abatement

In the course of the 21st century, the horse fair ceased to be as popular as it once was. This is because it was very difficult to control a Saturday fair with so many horses. Also, many doubts were generated regarding the control of animals, and some concerns regarding animal abuse. The trigger was a shooting in 2011, which created concern and insecurity.

All of this led the city authorities to reduce the horse fair to two Saturdays per year: the first Saturday of March and the first Saturday of September. Since then, although more sporadic, the Smithfield horse fair has become a more popular and touristy event, with more security measures.