The Irish Conker Championships will be held this weekend in Freshford with arrangements in place to accommodate all the stall holders clambering to get a pitch on the Green on Sunday. The festival seems to have attracted more interest than ever this year as Kilkenny is fast becoming a ‘must see’ venue for Bank Holiday visitors. Volunteers are still needed for Saturday and Monday to erect and take down the marquees and any help would be greatly appreciated.
The festival has overcome huge obstacles this year, between the poor fruiting trees and the onset of a bacterial tree disease, the road to Conker utopia has been nuts.
Dick Warner of the Irish Garden has written about Bleeding Canker disease and notes that the disease is bacterial and deadly. Even the OPW had to cull some horse chestnut trees in the Phoenix Park, Dublin because of it. There is no known treatment for it. There has been a huge drop off in the conker harvest, but feels it is due more to the poor weather than to bleedin canker this year.
The trees on the Green in Freshford are 99 years old and as such, will celebrate their centenary in 2013. In the past chestnuts were used to treat respiratory conditions and other ailments in horses; hence its name. No longer used for medicinal purposes, the mighty conker has been raised to celebrity status for the last 12 years as the kernal of the charity run festival. Without it, there would be no competition, no local get-together and no influx of visitors to the small, close-knitcommunity.