Smithfield horse market dates for 2012: January 1, February 5, March 4, April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, August 5, September 2, October 7, November 4, December 2

History

Dozens of horse and pony traders flock once a month to the Smithfield market, in North-West Dublin, to sell their animals in a bustle of activity.

The animals are often bought by dealers, travellers, teenagers or keen riders. Sometimes the animals are kept as 'urban horses' where they roam on Dublin's estates.

The 200-year-old horse market – which started as a live-stock sale in the 1600s – is a unique Irish experience that now attracts tourists and photographers from around the world.

But the unregulated market has attracted controversy in recent years after Dublin city council started a sweeping modernisation of the run-down Smithfield area in 1997.

Residents who moved in to the newly-built luxury flats that line the former market square – now a ”plaza” - have complained about the noise and smell.

And town-hall bosses tried to close the market in 2002 after a horse bolted into a car being driven by a woman with her young son in the passenger seat.

Many other horses and ponies there are mistreated by inexperienced – and helmetless – riders who can often deprive their pets of food and water for long periods.

Welfare charities recently slammed the market after an 11-year-old boy rescued a pony whose hooves had been trimmed – with an axe.

And several attempts to close down the market have failed due to an ancient law which entitles traders to use the land as a market.

But with the city council determined to finish extensive building work on the Southern side of the plaza the days of the horse market could be coming to an end.

This website will follow Smithfield’s developments and also help to raise awareness of the market and improve the standards of the horses and riders that use it.