To complete the second third of the Parkers’ 1961 summer holiday tour of Ireland, Lily Parker took out her camera as the car headed through my native county of Sligo. This is how Lily’s son, “young” Gordon Parker, came to share his unique photographic memories with me. 53 years after the event, Gordon explained that his London shopkeeper father, John, had been advised by Irish migrant customers to ensure that the family visited the small village of Aclare if they wished to see one of the finest livestock trading fairs in the west of Ireland. It just so happens that I live on the outskirts of Aclare, and Gordon got in touch with me to ask if I would like to see how the village looked on Fair Day over fifty years ago. Obviously, I wrote a positive reply back in an instant, and a further exchange of e-mails led to Gordon offering his complete 1961 photo collection for public viewing.
The blonde haired schoolboy looking into the camera has been identified as Gerard Hart, 53 years ago. Gerard now lives in nearby Ballina, but his son Patrick has returned to the Hart’s ancestral farming homestead in Cloongoonagh. The local schoolboys loved the Fair Days because they would be given the day off school. The young lads were employed to “guard” their family’s livestock when Dad went for a wander around the village to converse with friends – or probably to sneak into one of the many public houses for a jar or two of beer and whiskey. Well – a good sale had to be celebrated in traditional style!
London teenager Gordon is very conspicuous in Aclare village in his trendy blue 60’s holiday shirt. Below is a replica image of Aclare as it looks today.
To complete their special day in my home county, the Parkers hit the high road from south Sligo and headed up north to Sligo town where they enjoyed an afternoon at the races. Lily attempted to capture the excitement of the big race by taking two shots of the thoroughbreds in action. The second shot of the blurred race winner galloping past the post certainly demonstrates the great speed at which champion horses can travel.