Dunmanway’s Belle of Ballabuidhe

Dunmanway’s Belle of Ballabuidhe

This Saturday in Dunmanway will be a setting for some excitement as the Belle of Ballabuidhe Ball organised by Dunmanway Chamber of Commerce takes place as the first event of the historic Ballabuidhe Festival which has been taking place for over 400 years.

The Belle of Ballabuidhe was resurrected in 2016 after a 20 year absence. Due to the success of the event it will take place again this year on the 29th July in The Parkway Hotel. This is a opportunity for aspiring talent to show Dunmanway what they have got! On a more serious note it gives one lucky lady the opportunity to put her name forward for the Cork Rose Selection for The Rose of Tralee 2018 . Each Belle will need the assistance of a escort, so calling on all prospective escorts to step up to the mark !

The 2016 Belles in Dunmanway Town Centre – Sam Maguire’s statue is playing it cool!

The origins of the Ballabuidhe Horse Fair and Races are lost in antiquity, with written records only going back to 1615. To the present day, Ballabuidhe Fair carries on the ancient tradition of great fairs like Tara and Tailte, incorporating horse racing, selling and buying of wares, and the display of fine horses for sale. Ballabuidhe Races comprise over thirty races of which about half are trotting and sulky. The rest are flat races for ponies and horses, specially bred for speed and agility. These are not only exciting for the spectator, but have proved a valuable training ground for aspiring jockeys.

This year there are 17 Belles accompanied by their escorts vying for the title of Belle of Ballabuidhe and displaying their talent and pitch to represent the Town of Dunmanway, the warm hearted centre of West Cork, for the year not to mention to pick up some valuable prizes. The distinguished and much respected, Mr Emmet Kennedy of Cork 96FM and Sky Sports Racing returns as compére for the Belle of Ballabuidhe this year! Local band Fusion will be providing the music and it is even rumoured The Skibbereen Eagle will be in attendance!

Last year’s very popular winner and outgoing Belle of Ballabuidhe Niamh Hayes will be in attendance to hand over her crown to the new Belle. Niamh, is a recent graduate of IT Tralee, receiving an honours degree in Mental Health nursing, The 23 year old Dunmanway native lists travel amongst her most loved hobbies. In 2013 Niamh along with many of her 24 cousins completed the ‘’Eamonn Mac Charity Cycle’’ in aid of Cork Cancer Research, an event that raised nearly 150,000 Euro. In 2016 Niamh entered and won the inaugural revived  ‘’Belle of Ballabuidhe’’ competition, a unique and high profile event in West Cork. Niamh can only be described as having a bubbly personality and for the past year has represented her title, her family and her town with dignity, pride and sense of responsibility, which belies her young years. She has been a wonderful ambassador for Dunmanway and has been a wonderful Belle of Ballabuidhe.

I had the honour of being a judge last year at the revived Belle of Ballabuidhe Pageant held in conjunction with the Ballabuidhe Horse Fair in Dunmanway, an event which has been taking place for over 400 years and is very much part of the fabric of West Cork. Revived after a 20 year gap by Dunmanway’s go ahead Chamber of Commerce this was a happy and well supported community event with over 400 people filling the ballroom at the Parkway Hotel and the guests of honour were the Norwegian Taule-Leikanger family who followed a magic balloon to Dunmanway.

As always with events in Dunmanway the Belle of Ballabuidhe Ball is a real community based event. It is very

generously supported by local businesses and a significant part of the night’s proceeds will go to Dunmanway’s “Meals on Wheels” service run from the Dunmanway Family Resource Centre. Run by Morrin Curtis and a wonderful team of selfless volunteers this great service provides over 200 fresh home cooked meals  per week to people in the community that are in need of them for various reasons. Some of the volunteers have been with this service since 2005 and much of the food is donated by local supermarkets.  Meals On Wheels is much more than a service delivering meals. In recent weeks  two of their drivers have come to the rescue and helped people to get the medical assistance they have needed. The families of people receiving Meals On Wheels from this service in Dunmanway have often pointed out that they  give their clients and their families Peace Of Mind.

So Dunmanway and West Cork are looking forward to a fun packed evening in the Ballroom of the Parkway Hotel in Dunmanway from 8.00 PM onwards on Saturday 29th July 2017. The countdown is on and tickets are in high demand so don’t leave it to the last minute. Tickets on sale from Barrett’s, Coppeen, Boyz to Men Barbers, Connolly’s Shoes, For Goodness Sake, Meals on Wheels, Parkway Hotel and Scannells Pharmacy Ballineen.

Don’t be late as the party will be in full swing from the start in the best Doheny tradition!


Meet Dunmanway’s Belles