Smithfield horse market in Dublin, Ireland, in pictures

Smithfield horse fare pictures

Smithfield horse market is a bustling 400-year-old horse fare in Dublin, Ireland that takes place on the first Sunday of the month, every month.

Hundreds of horse lovers, traders and 'urban cowboy' pony kids from across Ireland fill the square just outside of Dublin city center to take part in the incredible market.

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Also at the fair are tourists, photographers and film-makers who are eager to capture the unique, lively, and traditional Irish atmosphere at the market.

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This is a selection of some of the most atmospheric pictures of the market that capture the sight, sounds and smell of the horse fair.

Traditional: Smithfield horse market has been taking place in Dublin, Ireland for more than 400 years
Traditional: Smithfield horse market has been taking place in Dublin, Ireland for more than 400 years | Source
Young generation: People of all ages take part in the market
Young generation: People of all ages take part in the market | Source
Lively: A group of traders discuss a pony
Lively: A group of traders discuss a pony | Source

History

The Smithfield horse market is one of the most regularly held equine markets in the world. What makes the fare so unique is that there is no official organisation behind it. Traders simply turn up at the Smithfield square, which has now been re-branded as an upmarket plaza, and begin selling or their animals.

Buying the creatures are fellow traders, breeders, riding school owners, horse owners who ride for pleasure and children and teenagers from around Ireland who keep the animals as semi-wild pets. These children and teenagers are known as pony kids or urban cowboys.

Horse and trap: A teenager is pulled over the cobbles at the Smithfield fare by a horse
Horse and trap: A teenager is pulled over the cobbles at the Smithfield fare by a horse | Source
Rear sight: A piebald cob type gypsy horse rears while a young rider clings on
Rear sight: A piebald cob type gypsy horse rears while a young rider clings on | Source
Tender: A child at the market cuddles his pony
Tender: A child at the market cuddles his pony | Source
Spooked:  A group of ponies jump amidst the hustle and bustle at the fare
Spooked: A group of ponies jump amidst the hustle and bustle at the fare | Source

An attraction for photographers

The Smithfield market over the last few years has become a growing attraction for photographers and film-makers who are keen to challenge themselves and capture the unique atmosphere of the market. On some days, there can easily be up to 30 or 40 amateur photographers mingling among the horses and traders to get a good picture.

Anybody who would like to visit the market to take their own set of pictures is recommended to arrive early and stay until the market disperses at around noon. Many of the Irish people who are part of the market are happy to chat and have their picture taken. Some will pose with their animals for photographers if they are asked before hand.

Horses are wild animals and can kick, rear, buck, spin and bite. So photographers who are visiting the market should always be alert to this kind of behavior from the animals. It is also important to remember that tempers can become frayed between horse traders and between the DSPCA and police who sometimes watch the market.


Pets: A young bay pony is lead past one of the giant lampposts in the Smithfield plaza
Pets: A young bay pony is lead past one of the giant lampposts in the Smithfield plaza | Source
Tired: A coloured pony tethered with blue rope rests its head
Tired: A coloured pony tethered with blue rope rests its head | Source
Resting: A teenager holds his piebald on the edge of the market
Resting: A teenager holds his piebald on the edge of the market | Source

Tourists visiting Dublin often want to pass through the market as part of their sightseeing trip. The market is truly unique and can give a perspective of 'the real Ireland' away from the bright lights of O'Connell Street and Dublin city centre. For those visitors who are visiting the market it is recommended arriving fairly early at around 9am. The market is easy to reach by taxi and it should cost no more than a few euros. After the market, the streets around Smithfield are fairly deserted apart from the occasional horse and trap rolling by or pony kid trotting their animal, and it may only take around 20 minutes to walk back to Dublin city center.

Riders: Two teenage girls in wellies rest on their pony
Riders: Two teenage girls in wellies rest on their pony | Source
Sound: An alert bay horse pricks its ears
Sound: An alert bay horse pricks its ears | Source
Sleep: A cream horse shuts its eyes as horses and ponies are sold
Sleep: A cream horse shuts its eyes as horses and ponies are sold | Source
Ready to ride: A teenage 'urban cowboy' sits bareback on his pony in Smithfield
Ready to ride: A teenage 'urban cowboy' sits bareback on his pony in Smithfield | Source

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Comments 3 comments

crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Nice information well shared.


Mayfly 5 years ago

Excelent specimen of horse flesh


AwHeeOr 5 years ago

For anyone who has any actual knowledge of Smithfield Horse Fair or even a basic knowledge of Dublin itself for that matter, it's obvious your'e just a biased small minded wannabe politician with no clue what your'e talking about. Dublin City Council is full of your'e uncles.

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