A Brague Herd double at second Winter Fair

Had this year’s Winter Fair gone ahead as planned and as it has always done, the fair would have been marking its 34 year having first been held in December 1986 at the King’s Hall in Belfast.

Robert Mulligan, left, from Banbridge receives the inter-breed championship award from Sam Torrens, chief executive designate of the Northern Bank, sponsors of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Winter Fair in December 1987. Picture: Randall Mulligan/Farming Life archives
Robert Mulligan, left, from Banbridge receives the inter-breed championship award from Sam Torrens, chief executive designate of the Northern Bank, sponsors of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Winter Fair in December 1987. Picture: Randall Mulligan/Farming Life archives

Over the next few pages Farming Life will look back over past Winter Fairs, look at the reports and results from the fairs, and also feature photographs from bygone days.

1987 WINTER FAIR: BRAGUE DOUBLE

Banbridge breeder Robert Mulligan, owner of the well-known Brague Herd, completed a memorable double at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Winter Fair in December 1987.

Margaret Martin of Moira, exhibitor of the Jersey champion at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Winter Fair in December 1987. Picture: Farming Life archives

He exhibited the inter-breed champion at the second Royal Ulster Agricultural Winter Fair – repeating the success he achieved at the 1986 inaugural event.

And it was also second time round for the winning animal, Brague Just Georgina, a June 1983 Friesian cow.

If the judges had no doubts about the supreme champion they had difficulty choosing the runner-up – and, at the end of the day, still did not reach a clear decision.

The final result – event after a recount – was a tie.

Samuel Kelly of Castlecaulfield, with the Dairy Shorthorn champion. The breed was shown for the first time at at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Winter Fair in December 1987. Picture: Farming Life archives

The Holstein breed leader, Inch Star Nina, a January 1984 Scottish Sovereign Star daughter, owned by David McClurg of Crossgar, tied with the Friesian reserve, Barbican Valiant Adda, a December 1983 heifer, sired by SWD Valiant, and exhibited by Barbican Farms of Newcastle.

Holsteins made their show-ring debut at the event – as did the Dairy Shorthorns – helping to make up what was a very impressive turnout of stock.

The fair itself was reported as a “tremendous success”.

Indeed, the 1986 attendance figure of 3,000 had been easily surpassed.

David Heenan, left, of Barbican Farms, Newcastle, and David McClurg of Crossgar ties in the reserve inter-breed championship at the Winter Fair in December 1987. Included is Sam Torrens, chief executive designate, Northern Bank, sponsors of the fair. Picture: Farming Life archives

An RUAS spokesman told Farming Life: “Everyone was very happy with the event, and I understand, the trade was also happy.”

And on the pressing question on whether or not the Winter Fair would become an annual event. Certainly anyone to whom Farming Life spoke to felt it should.

The RUAS spokesman commented: “A provisional date has been set for 1988.”

The Dairy Shorthorn champion at the Winter Fair in 1987 was exhibited by Kenneth S Workman of Garvagh and Margaret Martin of Moira brought out the Jersey breed leader.

Northern Ireland farm minister Lord Lyell congratulates Robert Mulligan of Banbridge on winning the British Friesian championship at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Winter Fair in December 1987. The animal later went on to win the inter-breed championship – for the second year running. Picture: Farming Life archives

Crumlin breeder W John G Hunter exhibited the Ayrshire champion of the fair that year.

RESULTS FROM THE 1987 WINTER FAIR

Special awards

Best Dairy Shorthorn, Samuel J Kelly, Castlecaulfield (Caulfield Lottie 8th); reserve, Kenneth S Workman, Garvagh (Whitefalls Barrington Mavis).

Best Jersey, Margaret Martin, Moira (Kilwarlin Fortune), reserve, Mr and Mrs Brian T King, Ballymena (FOG Hamiota Ceres).

Best British Holstein, David McClurg, Crossgar (Inch Star Nina), reserve, M J and S A Quinn, Monaghan (Hillmar Enchancer Penelope ET).

John Hunter from Crumlin, the exhibitor of the Ayrshire champion at the 1987 Winter Fair at the King's Hall in Belfast receives his award from John Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Bank. Picture: Farming Life archives

Best Ayrshire, W John G Hunter, Crumlin (Ardmore Dorothy 9th), reserve, C E and H R Suffern, Crumlin (Ballyclan Snowgem 92nd).

Best British Friesian, Robert Mulligan, Banbridge (Brague Just Georgina), reserve, Barbican Farms (Barbican Valiant Adda).

Best kept dairy stall, Mr and Mrs Brian T King, Ballymena, reserve, W J Cadoo, Millisle.

Best beef exhibit, Northern Ireland Charolais Club, reserve, Northern Ireland Hereford Breeders’ Association.

Best trade stand, John Thompson and Sons Ltd, Belfast, reserve, Jordan Brothers (NI) Ltd, Lisburn.

Class awards - Dairy Shorthorn, heifer, in-calf or in milk, 1, 2 and 3, Kenneth S Workman, Garvagh (Twells Heather Queen 174th, Whitefalls Barrington Tulip 2nd and Twells Heather Queen 179th).

Cow, in calf or in milk, 1 and 3, Samuel J Kelly, Castlecaulfield (Caulfield Lottie 8th and Royal Sylvia 6th), 2, Kenneth S Workman (Whitefalls Barrington Mavis).

Jerseys, heifer, in-calf or in milk, 1 and 3, Mr and Mrs Brian T King, Ballymena (FOG Hamiota and Wintersnow Faraway Times), 2, Margaret Martin, Moira (Kilwarlin Countess’s Joy).

Cow, in calf or in milk, 1, Margaret Martin (Kilwarling Fortune), 2, Fleming Family, Katesbridge (March Daisy Belle), 3, Mr and Mrs Brian T King (Itaska’s Fillpail Melody).

British Holstein, heifer, in-calf or in milk, M J and S A Quinn, Monaghan (Hillmar Enhcancer Penelope), 2, David G Wallace, Nutts Corner (Bobetty Cal Arlene), 3, James Mathers, Strabane (Ballybeeny Hilltopper Wanda).

Why not share your bygone Winter Fair photos? Email: [email protected].

John Johnston picks the winner of the Northern Ireland Limousin Cattle Club's draw at the RUAS Winter Fair in December 1987. The draw was in aid of NICOD and entrants had to guess the combined weight of the animals on show. Also in the picture are, left to right, Linda Brown, assistant PRO, Mrs Gillian Morrison, PRO of NICOD, Des Fulton, NILCC, John Gordon, the new secretary of NILCC. The winner of the competition was Thomas L Nevin of Ballymoney, and the correct weight was 2,180kgs. Picture: Farming Life archives