Show’s first female chairperson looks back with fond memories

Fuerty woman Sandra Kenny first became involved in the Roscommon Agricultural Show almost 20 years ago in 2003/04, thanks to the intervention of this year’s PRO Christy Tully.

“I did come from a farming background…my parents were farmers. I was working in the office in Regan’s (Pub and Restaurant in Roscommon town) and Christy Tully used to do deliveries there. He was heavily involved in the show and he told me they were looking for new members and female members…and he talked me into joining,” she said.

“It was grand when I was just a member of the committee (laughs). Then I was elected as treasurer…that was hard work because money was always an issue. I went on to be secretary and then was elected chairperson around 2010,” she said.

After earning her stripes as treasurer and secretary, Sandra became the first female chairperson of an agricultural show in Ireland and served in the role for three years.

“I didn’t think anything of it at the time and I didn’t realise that there had never been a female chairperson on a show committee in the whole country,” she said.

“I remember Irish TV even got in touch to do an interview with me. I didn’t think it was a big deal but seemingly everyone else did! The interview was going out on Irish TV the week after and it was one of the wettest days we ever had a show. There I was trying to look presentable while making my way around the field early in the day before they arrived at two o’clock. I was thinking how was I going to keep the hair dry and keep myself looking halfway decent (laughs)”.

While she stepped away from the committee after her term as chairperson finished in 2012, Sandra has remained a keen supporter and is only too aware of the continued challenges of running a successful show.

“The big question is whether agriculture will still be here in another 50 years…the way the Green Party is going on (it would appear) that they are trying to abolish agriculture. If there’s no agriculture then there won’t be an agricultural show,” she said.

“It would be nice to think it would still be here after another fifty years…shows are still thriving across the country and were quick to get back up and running after Covid. Attendances were never a problem”.

While the general public has always been very supportive of Roscommon’s Show, Sandra says an overall reluctance to get involved in the running of the event has stifled many a committee.

“People were always telling you how great you were for organising the show but still wouldn’t join the committee (laughs). That was always the biggest problem and continues to be,” she said.

Now, with her own unique place in the Show’s history secure, Sandra, like many people across County Roscommon, can look forward to the 50th instalment of this very popular event…without the pressure of preparing Hannon’s field for creatures of the four and two-legged variety!