BYGONE BALMORALS: Mrs Lindsay Brooke opens show for her busy husband

The opening day of the 124th Balmoral Show in May 1991 was officially opened by Mrs Lindsay Brooke, the wife of Sir Peter Brooke, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 12:37 pm
Esther Wilson from Armagh with Bellringer Two, the champion Shorthorn at the Balmoral Show in May 1991. The cow was owned by Tommy Irwin of Fintona. Picture: News Letter/Farming Life archives

Mrs Brooke breezed in to the Department of Agriculture stand at 11.30am to present 
an award to Bangor’s Clandeboye Estate from the Royal Forestry Society, “which has branches all over the place,” quipped Geoff Hill, the News Letter’s correspondent at the show.

He added: “And considering the troubles her husband’s having at the moment, she looked relieved to arrive in a place where they’ve had no arguments about a venue since 1855.”

Mrs Brooke apologised for the absence of her “chatterbox” husband when she turned up at the show.

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Mrs Lindsay Brooke, the wife of Northern Ireland Secretary of State Sir Peter Brooke, presents the Duke of Cornwall award for forestry and conservation to John Witchell of Clandeboye Estate, Co Down, at the Balmoral Show in 1991. Picture: News Letter/Farming Life archives|

It was customary for the Secretary of State to pay a courtesy visit to the annual agricultural extravaganza. However, in 1991 Sir Peter had a pressing engagement elsewhere.

Mrs Brooke said: “I am sorry my husband could not be here, but I think we all know the reason for that and that is he is still talking, and they say women never stop talking, really.”

Mrs Brooke refused to answer questions on her husband’s efforts to achieve a political settlement in the province, but preferred to concentrate on the show.

“I’m interested in anything to do with conservation in particular and I like animals of any description,” she said.

Ronnie Bailey wears that unmistakable sign success – and for good reason: Rock Ann, owned by Billy Clingham of Banbridge, had just won the middle-weight four-year-old hunter class at the Balmoral Show in May 1991. Picture: News Letter/Farming Life archives|

Before embarking on a tour of the show, Mrs Brooke said: “Since coming to Northern Ireland I have been very impressed by the beautiful scenery.”

The 1991 Balmoral Show was the first year that the show had run over three days instead of the usual four, a format that the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society chief executive Bill Yarr said he was confident would succeed.

He said: “Usually, when we start on a Tuesday, the first day is quiet, but it’s been very busy since first thing today, although I won’t know the exact attendance until later in the week.”


Putting the finishing touches to Balmoral Show entrant in 1991. Picture: News Letter/Farming Life archives

The Milk Marketing Boards of Northern Ireland and Scotland “spoke with one voice” at the Balmoral Show on it’s opening day in May 1991.

The future of milk marketing in the United Kingdom was raised by Andrew Howie, chairman of the SMMB.

It was a future, he emphasised, in which quality of product would always win through in the marketplace.

At an awards lunch organised by the MMBNI, Mr Howie referred to the affinity between Scots and Ulster people.

Lois Johnston from Hillsborough washing down Johnston Enigma which was entered in the Limousin class at the Balmoral Show in May 1991. Picture: Eddie Harvey/News Letter/Farming Life archives

“Within the dairy industry these ties have become closer over the past year when the three boards in Scotland and the Northern Irish board have been speaking with one voice with regard to the future structure of organised milk marketing in the United Kingdom, which has been slightly at variance with the opinions attributed to the England and Wales board.”

He continued: “We all have the same basic challenge – can we retain statutory milk marketing? - or if we cannot, can we evolve a new structure which will retain the collective bargaining strength of producers, large and small, up the hill and down in the valley.”

Butter produced at Cullybackey was judged a winner at the show.

The premier award in the RUAS butter and cheese competitions went to Dromona Quality Foods, the commercial arm of the MMBNI.

Brian Moffat, manager of Dromona Quality Food’s Creamery at Cullybackey received the Gordon J Stephenson Cup from Mrs Howie.

Jim Noble, managing of Dromona Quality Foods, said: “This award is a vindication of our policy that quality will always win through. It is a proud moment for the butter-making team at Cullybackey.”

Carrying in the straw at Balmoral Show in May 1991 was no problem for Gillian Gibson from Ballygowan, the secretary of the new junior Blonde d'Aquitaine Club. Picture: Eddie Harvey/News Letter/Farming Life archives


For the first time in five years, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board was represented at the Balmoral Show.

Demand for the board’s home holiday brochure, Holiday Breakaways, had been so great that a further 60,000 copies had to be printed for distribution at the show.

The NITB stand reflected the Ulster farmyard theme and was to be operated jointly with the Northern Ireland Farm and Country Holidays Association.

To mark its 21st anniversary, the Country Holidays Association had launched a competition offering a free farm or country house holiday in Northern Ireland to every 21st booking, as well as special prices and special prices and free Ulsterbus travel in its Ulster Unlimited holiday package.

RUAS chief executive Bill Yarr, right, checking the jumping arena with course designer Steve Hickey at the Balmoral Show in May 1991. Picture: Eddie Harvey/News Letter/Farming Life archives