The main attraction of the Harvest Fair in Ballyshannon, County Donegal is a somewhat controversial hen flying competition.
Beforehand it was alleged the contest could cause unnecessary distress to the hens. A local woman had threatened to obstruct the contest and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals threatened to prosecute if the birds were subjected to any physical or mental suffering. However, the contest continued without incident and
Even the hens seemed to enjoy the fun.
An estimated 500 people packed into the handball alley in Ballshannon to watch the competition and tensions were high when the Master of Ceremonies Anthony O'Malley-Daly, announced the winner would receive £5.
Seven birds took part in the competition and each one was placed by its owner in a yellow tea chest raised on two step ladders. Deprived of room in the chest, the bird eventually had no choice but to fly towards the lure of another group of hens cooped in a corner of the handball alley.
After the first heat, the field narrowed to three birds; White Pride, Boomerang and Hoppity Hop. With a superb flight of 21 feet, six and a half inches, White Pride, a white Wyandotte hen owned by Aidan Patterson of Ballyshannon won the competition. White Pride and her handler, 14-year old Jimmy Gallagher, received an ovation from the crowd.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 September 1977. The reporter is Dermot Mullane.