IRELAND’S first lady, Sabina Higgins, spent hours mingling with the crowds and immersing herself in what was the best attended Waterford Country Fair on record with early estimates putting the crowd at over 4,500.
Mrs Higgins and her entourage arrived into Curraghmore over lunchtime on Sunday and enjoyed a private tour of Curraghmore House before mingling with exhibitors, chatting with entrants in the Pet Dog Show competition, visiting the Shell House and later, travelling on to the equestrian arena where she mingled with competitors, posed for pictures and chatted with the young pony club riders in particular.
Mrs Higgins, who was joined for the occasion by newly-elected MEP Grace O’Sullivan, was absolutely blown away by Waterford Country Fair. She commended the voluntary organising committee for hosting such a wonderful event in stunning Curraghmore.
“I’ve really had a most wonderful time,” Mrs Higgins said as she visited the equestrian arena just before she left the Fair. “People are so incredibly friendly. There’s huge interest in the various competitions, the music, craft, food and everything else on display at this Fair. I didn’t even know that Curraghmore existed until we got the invite to come. It is an extraordinary venue and a very special place.
“Waterford is so lucky to have a venue like Curraghmore and an event like the Waterford Country Fair. The walks here are amazing, the flowers are stunning. The gardens are so fabulous. Huge congratulations have to go to everyone involved and we’ve had a really unforgettable visit,” Mrs Higgins said.
Meanwhile, it was her first big event since her election and Grace O’Sullivan was swamped by hordes delighted well-wishers. “It was really encouraging to see and meet many of the stall-holders exhibiting their crafts and to meet lots of families – including their furry, four legged friends. Huge congratulations to all involved,” Grace said.
Chief organiser, Jo Breheny, was exhausted but relieved that everything had gone to plan. “We were lucky with the weather. There were some terrible showers, but people took shelter and when they passed, there was real heat in the sunshine. Having Sabina Higgins and Grace O’Sullivan with us made a very special day extra special. They are two incredible women and they were so good to come and were so exceptionally generous with their time with everyone.
“Nothing would have been possible but for our great organising committee and our very loyal sponsors. It is hard to judge because Curraghmore is such a huge space, but I’d say we had the biggest attendance ever. We are very thankful to Waterford Hospice for coming on board as our charity partner this year and we sincerely hope that they did very well with their Buy A Brick campaign.
“We put a lot of time and effort into ensuring this year’s programme had something for everyone and we sincerely hope that everyone had a fun-filled, fabulous family day out. That’s what it’s all about after all,” Ms Breheny added.