THERE ARE JUST weeks to go until the 13th annual Irish Conker Championships in Kilkenny and organisers are scrambling to ensure that there are enough supplies to last throughout the event.
A disease called bleeding canker is sweeping the country’s horse chestnut trees, meaning stocks are perilously low. Organisers say they need to collect 30,000 conkers in order to meet festival standards.
Of the tens of thousands of conkers collected, only around 500 will be deemed suitable for use and of regulation size in competition.
Susan Murphy, chairperson of the Irish Conker Championships told TheJournal.ie that local schoolchildren are working hard to collect enough supplies, but said that they have to look further afield. She said anyone with extra stocks is welcome to donate them.
More than 2,000 people are expected to arrive in the town of Freshford in Kilkenny for the mighty battle on 28 October, to see who will collect the adult, child and team prizes.
The winners will then be cleared for entry into the World Conker Championships in Ashton in England.
Irish Conker Championships: Your essential guide…
- Anyone can take part in the competition and no previous experience is required, but you are advised to practice in the weeks leading up to the competition.
- You can practice with your own conkers, but you will be provided with a competition-grade conker on the day of the competition.
- There is a practice arena available to competitors in Freshford on competition day.
- Top prize is €400, with additional €100 restaurant vouchers, a coveted trophy and a conker crown.
- It is possible for complete novices to win the grand title. Last year it was taken by newcomer Mark Graham (who you may know as the Year of Festivals in Ireland guy) took the title. And he’ll be back this year to defend it.