While a precursor to the current show took place for a number of years up to 1953, this year marks the Golden Jubilee for the event following its revival in 1970.
The 49th annual show, held in 2019, was followed by two years of inactivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, when all types of gatherings were banned throughout the country due to the threat posed by the virus. It means the 50th anniversary show comes 52 years after the event resumed in 1970.
Seventeen years after the previous version ceased, Roscommon Show was revived in 1970. Paddy Walsh and Phil Fullard were instrumental – with others – in taking the initiative.
A meeting was held in a local hotel, at which the level of interest was assessed. It was decided to proceed with a show, with a particular emphasis on horses. Paddy Walsh was elected as first chairman, a role he would hold for many years. John Sweeney was elected as first secretary of the newly-formed committee.
The first show was held in St. Coman’s Park in July of 1970. Cattle were held in JJ Harlow’s yard and were washed there before being walked down to the showgrounds.
Both Paddy Walsh and Phil Fullard were keenly interested in horses, and the early shows featured showjumping competitions. The ‘jumps’ were also stored at JJ’s Harlow’s. Amongst the showjumping stars who competed at St. Coman’s Park was the great Eddie Macken.
From the very beginning, the show attracted great support from the farming community and the wider public. Crucial too was the immediate and generous support of local businesses.
The show briefly moved to Dr. Hyde Park, with the 1976 and ’77 events held there. As in previous years, there was an impressive and varied programme of events, incorporating classes for farm stock, home produce, etc. Showjumping also took place at Hyde Park.
In 1978 the show was on the move again, being hosted at Lenabane, Roscommon for two years. In 1980 the show returned to Dr Hyde Park, and stayed at that same venue right through to 1992. A popular feature every year was the famous Donkey Derby.
A major milestone in the history of Roscommon Show came in 1993 with the move to Hannon’s Grounds on the Athlone Road.
With the exception of two years, this has remained the home of Roscommon Show ever since. (Those two exceptions came in 2006 and 2007 when the show moved to the Doran family’s land).
In 1993, in a major development for the show, the Irish Draught Filly Championship was founded at the Roscommon venue. This prestigious competition has gone from strength to strength ever since, attracting competitors from all 32 counties of Ireland and featuring huge prizemoney. For many years the main sponsors of this championship were P Burke Sherry Fitzgerald, who were succeeded as sponsors by Hannon’s Hotel (to the present day).
The Hannon family and their grounds are now synonymous with the success of Roscommon Show.
Through its 50 years, the purpose of Roscommon Show has been to showcase and enhance the quality of the animals and produce locally and nationally.