Dunmanway’s Belle of Ballabuidhe

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | July 28, 2017 0

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.

Let’s meet this year’s aspiring Belles:


Ms Lorraine Coakley. Lorraine works part time and attends the NLN in Bantry. She enjoys cooking, fitness, music, reading, swimming, history and mindfulness. Her motto in life is “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Lorraine is representing Walsh’s Londis Supermarket.

Ms Julie O’Brien. Julie is a student and likes walking, music, reading but its make-up that she’s most passionate about. She might just have to do a trial on our host Emmet Kennedy on the night! Julie is representing Scannell’s Pharmacy in Ballineen.

Ms Megan O’Regan from Enniskeane. Megan is currently studying Sports Rehab in Carlow IT. She loves Carlow but hopefully not as much as the Rebel County. She loves rugby, GAA and plays camogie with Enniskeane Camogie Club. Megan and her escort actually had their first date in….Gatsby’s! Megan is representing Lehane & Associates.

Ms Aoibhín O’Connell is a football fan as well as a road bowling enthusiast and she loves a bit of socialising. Aoibhín works in Carbery Foods and she is delighted to represent her employers and work colleagues in Carbery on the 29th!

Ms Ciara Hurley  is a student and hopes to pursue nursing. Ciara likes athletics, cooking, baking and farming. She has been a finalist for two years running in the Apprentice Chef cooking competition and her famed vegetable themed dessert was featured in the Irish Examiner this year. She also volunteers at Muskerry Athletic Club helping the young children. Ciara is representing Hurley & White Builders!

Ms Ruth Hurley has just completed her first year in UCC where she is studying Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship. She likes swimming, cooking, baking and will entertain us with her beautiful singing and guitar playing. Ruth is representing her employers, the Southern Bar!

Ms Fiona Kennedy  has just completed her Leaving Cert and has secured a place in not one but two performing arts colleges in London. She loves music, sport, reading, Irish dancing and horse riding, however her real passion lies in singing, dancing and acting. It is her dream to perform in Broadway but she will start here in Dunmanway with the Belle of Ballabuidhe. Fiona is representing Funmanway Adventure Land!

Ms Rebecca Broderick completed her Leaving Cert this year and hopes to pursue Early Childhood Studies in MICC in September. Rebecca works part-time in the Inchydoney Lodge & Spa Hotel and she likes reading, walking her dog, binge watching Netflix (just like Emmet) and of course making an appearance at Gatsby’s on a Saturday night. She loves to travel but will stay around for now and represent Drinagh Pharmacy!

Ms Grainne O’Donovan  is currently working in Boyle Sports having returned from Portugal where she worked with an entertainment team who coordinated everything from kids clubs to line dancing to big production night time dance shows. Grainne likes anything that will generate a bit of craic such as music, festivals, holidays and especially dancing. Grainne is representing Buckley Financial!

Ms Collette Fraser will enter into her third year in Childhood Studies in September and hopes to progress to do speech and language therapy or primary school teaching. Collette likes singing, dancing, music, walking and a little socialising! Pitch & putt is her new found interest and she also volunteers with Foroige. Collette is representing our County Mayor, Cllr. Declan Hurley!

Ms Ciara McCarthy has just graduated from the University of Limerick and is now a qualified science teacher. She works part-time and likes music, travel and a “small” bit of socialising…yeah right! Ciara is representing her employers the Parkway Hotel!

Ms Denise O’Donovan has just completed a pre-nursing course in Cork and is currently weighing up her options. She works as a carer in Fairfield Nursing Home and also with the Jack & Jill Foundation. She likes getting out and about, helping on the family farm, attending agricultural shows throughout the country and all of this with a little socialising thrown in. Denise is representing Boyz to Men Barbers who are famous for styling Local Celebs!

Ms Deirdre Crowley is currently undertaking a lifeguard course in our new state of the art swimming pool in Dunmanway. She hopes to do something in the area of fitness when she finishes school. She likes swimming, road bowling, GAA and she plays football with the Doheny’s Ladies Club. Deirdre is representing For Goodness Sake Health Shop!

Ms Kate Wilson has just completed her first year in midwifery in UCC which she absolutely loves. She works part time in Healy’s SuperValu and likes gymnastics, surfing, art and socialising. She loves meeting people and listening to their life stories. She loves working with children and has just returned from France where she was volunteering with children of huge multicultural diversity. Kate advises that she has a “dangerous” love for shopping and she is known to “wing life with a smile”. Kate is representing her employers Healy’s SuperValu!

Ms Michaela McCarthy has just completed her first year in college in Edinburgh and is studying Film and Media. She is therefore interested in all things film or tv related. She absolutely loves Edinburgh and can’t wait to return in September. She likes drawing, painting, digital drawing, in short, anything art related. She plays football with the Doheny’s ladies and she also likes music. Michaela is representing Connolly’s Shoes!

Ms Michelle Murphy works in Kilmeen Montessori and the Parkway Hotel. Michelle likes playing football, dancing and music. She will do a brush dance on the night…and of course Emmet will be on hand to help with the change over to the dance shoes! Michelle is representing the Doheny’s GAA!

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!


The Skibbereen Eagle

In 1898, to widespread bemusement, a small Provincial Newspaper in an equally small town in the South West corner of Ireland sonorously warned the Czar of Russia that it knew what he was up to and he should be careful how he proceeded for “The Skibbereen Eagle” was wise to his game and in future would be keeping its eye on him! It is doubtful that Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, even noticed the Eagle’s admonitions but as history soon proved he should have paid closer attention to the Eagle’s insightful opinions!

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