30 Nov 2021

A glimpse back in time to the revival of the Tullamore Show

F Kinnarney head pic

Freda Kinnarney, former Secretary and Operations Manager of Tullamore Show

2020 was certainly a year that will be remembered for years to come. The reasons for many will certainly include The Covid – 19 pandemic and its consequences. However, my own memoirs will definitely also relate to a major decision I made in 2020, namely, to retire from my position as Operations Manager/Secretary with the Tullamore Show and FBD National Livestock Show. Making that decision undoubtedly marks an emotional time for me, while looking back at my life and times to date.

From Clare to Here

I grew up on a farm in Clonlara, Co Clare, with two brothers and four sisters. Everyone helped out on the farm with our chores, even in the mornings before heading to school. My working life started with the Dept. of Agriculture in the poultry pathology area. I was based in various areas around the country but completed my years with the Dept. in Ballyhaise Agricultural College in Co Cavan.

In 1977, I married PJ Kinnarney, an Offaly farmer and moved to live in Tullamore. I continued to work in Ballyhaise College until the first of our three children was born and I then retired from the Dept. of Agriculture. However, I returned to the workforce in a part time capacity, working in marketing and merchandising roles for various companies. I was also involved with the Midland Health Board, in a training capacity for the disability sector.


Tullamore Show was revived in 1991 and my involvement started in 1992 when I helped out in the cookery section. That was the start of my volunteering life with Tullamore Show and the following year I was entrusted with running the cookery section.

Little did I know that that move was going to be the first of many other roles with the Show, including Assistant Secretary and Sponsors Co-Ordinator, before taking on the role as Event Secretary and Company Secretary in 1997. With the ever-increasing professionalism and work demands of the Show, my involvement was reviewed in later years. While still holding the secretarial roles, I was appointed Operations Manager four years ago.

Since its revival after 52 years in 1991, there has been huge developments and progression to secure its present position as Irelands Premier Show. The incorporation of The National Livestock Show (formerly Spring Show in RDS, Dublin) into the Tullamore Show programme was a major boost to our expansion plans, as it established us on the National stage, with a high profile.

Technology has certainly allowed for huge developments also, relating both to administration, online activities, ticket sales and site activities, especially when laying out the site design. My knowledge of technology at the start was very basic but that was just another challenge to be addressed which yielded great rewards and proved an invaluable learning curve. While collaborating with DOTSER web company, we developed our website ( and that lead to many new opportunities, including the development of the SuperShow system, which is now actually being used by shows in Australia, England and of course Ireland.

Great Volunteering Spirit

My involvement with the show has been a wonderful and very satisfying experience. It was a massive opportunity to work with a super team of executives, administration personnel, volunteers, stakeholders, competitors and dignitaries from both near and far. The volunteering spirit around Tullamore and Offaly is alive and well and as the acronym for TEAM goes -Together Everyone Achieves More.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to be involved with such a tremendous team, whose expertise has contributed to the success in staging Ireland’s premier one day event.  It was my privilege to share in the Show’s developments and achievements in recent years.  There were also the challenges that had to be dealt with, including the cancellation of the event just hours before the Show, on two separate occasions.

Without doubt, the biggest highlight for me was seeing the thousands of happy people on Butterfield Estate on Show day, enjoying the fruits of our labours for the previous 12 months. Of course, if the sun was shining it was all the better. It was truly wonderful to see the results of all the hard work and planning by so many people, including the 30 Executive members, office staff, the 500 stewards and key role personnel, coming to fruition. When you access the site about 4 weeks before show day and see sheep grazing or a silage area after being harvested and then visualise Show day, you really wonder how it all happens, but it certainly does and all the plans fall into place ….. even if a few ‘hiccups’ happen in the meantime.

I will sadly miss the camaraderie, the buzz and the excitement surrounding key Show activities.  I suppose the year out last year gave a taste of a less pressurised lifestyle and maybe sowed the seed of a possible retirement, which would give me a better life balance with family. However, while I have stepped back after 27 years involvement, I am still very much interested in show activities and wish every success to all involved in future years.

This article features in the 10th anniversary issue of the Tullamore Annual which is in the shops now

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