The 12th Irish Conker Festival was held on Sunday on the Green in Freshford and contestants found it hard to crack the horse chestnuts because this year’s crop were smaller and tougher than in preceding years. Heavy rainfall meant the seeds of the trees shrunk in size this year, making them smaller but hardier.
High winds had forced the cancellation of the World Conker Championships in England earlier this month, so there was a surge in participants from across the Irish Sea for the event but the title went to a home winner.
There was a big crowd around the village for the event from early morning despite the replayed county senior hurling final being held in the city and the weather stayed dry and favourable for most of the day thanks to the Child of Prague statues being put out the night before. There were various stalls and sideshows including baskets created by world-renowned basket maker Joe Hogan, an art exhibition by local talented artists, home-made jewellery, face painting, floral demonstration and Halloween-themed spooky recipes and a ghostly tale for younger folks. MC for the day was George Chandler.
The winner in the various sections were:
Under 11 - Olivia Stokes from Durrow, who beat Sam Tyndall from Dublin in the final. In the under-14 section Rhys Quinlan Phelan from Johnstown beat David Baldwin from Ballyfoyle. The under-17 section saw Jason Kennedy from Freshford beat Mary Hennessey from Threecastles.
In the adult section the title went to Mark Graham from Tramore, Co Waterford, who beat John Manning from Dublin in a very exciting final. Mark was crowned champion and received his trophy and prize from the organising committee on the podium.
Sunday was a huge success with a loop walk and a lunchtime comedy gig with Jarleth Regan in Kavanagh’s pub. The farmers market, the burger stall and Marty’s Mulled Wine did a good trade from early on as punters tried to get into form for the challenges ahead. There were leather goods, jewellery, pottery and toys, pony rides, an inflatable slide and a penalty shoot-out, which was won by Conor Fogarty.
Raffle prize winners were Ryan Hamilton, Freshford; Molly Barnaville, Kilkenny; Lauran Dwan, The Square, Freshford; Mick Bowden, Woodview, Freshford and Bernie Little, Shandon Park, Kilkenny. For more information on the Irish Conker Championship see www.irishconkerchampionship.com or www.facebook.com/Irishconkers.