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Giddy Up for Europe's oldest and largest horse fair

This traditional Ballinasloe Horse Fair in rural Ireland is held annually in early October and is one of the oldest and largest in Europe.

Farmers, travellers and the merely curious come from all over the country to buy and sell horses and ponies, meet old friends and make new ones.

Roughly 80,000 people gather for the three-day event which includes a food and craft market as well as numerous stalls selling all manner of equestrian goods.

In its heyday, the fair sold cattle and sheep and was one of the most significant agricultural events in Ireland.

Today, it's still a landmark attraction in the local rural calendar, renowned for its non-nonsense trading and sense of community.

Fairs in Ireland declined in importance in the mid 20th century, but Balinasloe survives and now includes a dog show, craft fair, fun fair and even a ''Queen of the Fair" beauty competition.

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Etain O'Carroll

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