Hiring Fairs and Market Places; May Blair
Much of the atmosphere of the old-time fairs is captured in the songs and poems of the age and many of these have been published for the first time in Hiring Fairs and Market Places. May continues: "The people I interviewed would start to recite the poems and songs that they remembered hearing at the hiring fairs and markets or which family members had written. People tend to forget that fairs were a source of major entertainment as well as commerce in the country and the songs reveal a lot about the times. I particularly liked a poem by John Clifford describing Mounthill Fair and the people who attended and the animals which were for sale."
Having discovered so much about the old-time markets and hiring fairs would May have liked to have seen or experienced them? Her answer is empathic and immediate: "No. Definitely not! No one had it easy in those days but one story I heard from County Londonderry did make me smile. A farmer discovered his hired man lying fast asleep on the broad of his back when he should have been working. In despair he woke him up and said, 'It just takes me the half of my time watchin' you Jimmy.' The luckless Jimmy replied: 'You're lucky. It takes me all of my time watchin’ you!'"
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