The Development of the Fair

In 1757 Frederick Trench was granted a patent for fairs on the 15th May and 13th July, but no patent exists for the October fair.

It was towards the year 1730 that the movement towards pasture began to take shape in Ireland and graziers began to consolidate holdings. Until 1785 pasture predominated as the source of the export trade and about the middle fo the century threatened to oust corn growing altogether. From 1785 on however the value of cereals exported began to be an important item and continued so until the famine. The reasons for increased pasture were frequent wars and disease among cattle on the continent. England's wheat export was helped by bounties whereas Irish wheat was hampered by duties. In 1735 pasture land was exempted from tithes. Catholics could not take long leases therefore pasture with short period outlay and quick returns suited them.

Farmers were prosperous between 1770 and 1776, but an alarming fall in prices set in and cattle prices by 1779 had decreased fifty per cent. For twenty years before the Union Ireland's prosperity increased enormously. There was a large increase in tillage at the expense of sheep farming because mutton could not be salted for the provision trade. The modern livestock trade with England dates from 1785.

Although there are no figures for the Ballinasloe fair before 1790 it was for long the principal cattle mart of the British Isles and a tremendous source of revenue to the Trench family. During the ten years before the Union the number of cattle which changed hands there varied from 7,782 in 1790 to 5,100 to 1799 and sheep from 68,095 to 74,175.

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