The Village Ponies


Funeral of Paddy King in 2004 with Village Ponies being led in front of hearse

Funeral of Paddy King in 2004 with Village Ponies being led

 Paddy King of the Village Pony Line   Village Grey photos are by Sophie Felix

Paddy King at Clifden Show
Paddy King at Clifden Show

In Lehid near Ballyconneely, in the early 1940’s, the late Paddy King unknowingly founded a pony dynasty.  The King family had always had a working pony and cart (his brother Christy remembers a small black unregistered mare) on their small farm in this rugged Connemara region with pockets of good grazing land scattered here and there. The Village pony line started when Paddy bought the Heather Bell mare, Lucy Grey (1937), from Val Diamond of nearby Mannin.  Lucy Grey produced Village Swallow (1944) by Clough Rebel.  Swallow won mare classes at Clifden in ‘56 and ’58 and had a Dublin Spring ‘Show win in 1960 and was then sold to England. Paddy never kept more than two mares at a time, but he kept Village Swallow’s daughter, Village Belle .(1956) by Calla Rebel, for 22 years and she produced a line of good ponies – in all 19 foals – whose breeding is found in some of the best ponies of today.   17 of these foals born at Lehid for Paddy. 

Pat Aengus performance pony with Pat Dillon 1981
Pat Aengus performance pony with Gerry Dillon 1981

There is such an extraordinary number of champion ponies in the Village Line of Connemara ponies, both inside Ireland and abroad, that it would take volumes to do justice to all of them.  Breeder and author Lib Petch, who owned the broodmare Village Belle in Belle’s later years, has well documented many of them in Volume 3 of ‘An Capaillín’, published in 2003 by the Breeders Society and available from the Society Office in Clifden.  Pat Aengus (1975) was a gelding son of Belle’s b y Dun Aengus, a top show-jumper and Ridden pony winner of the 1980’s.

Village Grey a daughter of Village Belle
Village Grey a daughter of Village Belle


Paddy passed away in 2004 and his brother Christy speaks modestly of him as a ‘quiet man who ‘had some knowledge’ of the ponies’ and the small well-kept family farmhouse still displays rosettes, trophies and RDS Silver Medals won by Paddy’s  beautiful ponies.

Village Grey with foal at Lehid
Village Grey with foal, (now Village Fionn in France) at Lehid

‘Some knowledge’ turned out to be the gift of a very keen eye and perception of what makes a good Connemara pony, if the popularity and show ring successes of the today’s progeny are anything to go by.  

I plan only to touch on some Village ponies, starting with one of Belles’ daughters Village Grey(1976),. by Abbeyleix Owen..  Photographs show her to be a beautiful example of ‘old type’ Connemara mare, with fine head, good limbs, bone and conformation to match. 


Village Grey with last foal Village Swan
Village Grey with last foal Village Swan




Village Boy Clifden Reserve Supreme in 1996 with Tommy O Brien
Village Boy Reserve Supreme Champion 2006 with Tommy O Brien

Village Laddid competing in Scotland in 1995
Village Laddie competing in Scotland in 1995

Village Girl at Lehid
Village Girl at Lehid

Village Grey lived all of her 30 years at Lehid and bred 18 foals, including 7 stallion sons, 3 of which remained in Ireland. Among these are stallions Robin Hood (1982), Village Boy (1989) and Village King (1990). The first and last foals were fillies  In 1980 came First Love and her last foal Village Swan by Innellan Kestrel was foaled in 2001 and is with Michael Conneely of Ardbear.   While some went abroad, manyof her progeny stayed in Ireland and have been breeding some very good ponies. Village Prince(1994), Village Fionn (1998)  and Village Laddie (1985) now a performance gelding in Scotland.  Sires used were Skryne Bright Cloud, Murphy Rebel, Mervyn Kingsmill and Boden Park Finnard and Coral Prince.   Among the daughters were First Love1980, Harvest Home1981, both by Skryne Bright Cloud, Village Queen 1984, by Murphy Rebel and Village Girl (1988) by Mervyn Kingsmill.    Village Grey died in 2007 at the age of 32.   


******  From Sophie Felix in Normandy, France, comes another Village Pony story.  Village Fionn 1998,  is by Boden Park Finnard X Village Grey)

I live in France, Normandie, and I bought Village Fionn at 6 months from Paddy King at Lehid;
our beautiful stallion producing very nice foals; I am very proud of him!  He was Supreme Champion in Belgium.
Everybody is wellcome to get some of his news and pictures ( by the way the picture of the head of Village Grey, the one with the foal who is my Fionn, are mine!) “

Village Fionn with Championship Sash
Village Fionn with Championship Sash


He is now


Sophie Felix has kindly sent this stunning photo of Fionn. 


Sophie also included another photo of Village Boy taken in 1993 with Tommy O’Brien.   

Village Boy with tommy O'Brien in 1993
Village Boy with tommy O'Brien in 1993

Village Star and some of her family 2009

Village Star


Village Laura was Clifden Champion in  1987
Village Laura won the Supreme championship in Clifden 1987

Village Laura in 08 now 26 with owner Padraig Hynes
Village Laura now aged 26 with Padraig Hynes at Canal Stage

Her bay stallion son Canal Laurinston (1990) has had a top flight career in California, having been Outstanding Performance Stallion, California and American Show Ring Champion 1991 to 2006.

Also out of Village Star was Castle Misty by Coral Misty Fionn,  the mares Castle Dame and Village Colleen, both by Mervyn Kingsmill.  Castle Dame, who was a Clifden winner a number of times, produced Castle Comet and Castle Urchin, both by Abbeyleix Owen.  Castle Comet hit the headlines when winning many Championships in England in ’02 and ’03, and at the RDS and at Olympia in ’04.   He was Supreme-in- hand at the Royal Show in ’05 and ’06 and was Ridden Mountain and Moorland  Supreme with his owner Vanessa Comption.

Stars daughter Castle Dame by Mervyn Kingsmill
Stars daughter Castle Dame by Mervyn Kingsmill

Castle Comet with Vanessa Compton
Castle Comet with Vanessa Compton




Castle Urchin who now carries on the Star line at Castle Connemara ponies has also taken the Village ponies winning streak into the present day, having most recently been Supreme Champion at Clifden in 2007, a feat she also achieved in 2002. She had also been Reserve Champion in ’01 and ’03 and R.D.S. Connemara Pony Champion in ’04 and Reserve Dublin Champion in 06.  Urchin’s  young filly, Castle Jewel by Fredericksminde Hazy Match, has taken the winning ways of the Village ponies into a new generation by winning classes in Clifden in ’07 and ’08. 

Grandaughter of Star Castle Urchin Clifden Supreme 07
Grandaughter of Star Castle Urchin Clifden Supreme 07

Castle Squire by Abbeyleis Owen - Village Star with John Varley
Castle Squire by Abbeyleis Owen – Village Star with John Varley

Castle Squire (1991) by Abbeyleix Owen, is another stallion son of Star to carry on the line, and the prizewinning mares Castle Cailín Ard ot of Castle Dame and Mountain Lady by Village Boy as well as the performance stallion Cashel Bay Prince and many more all carry into the future the genes of this extended Village family. All this breeding goes back to Village Belle via her daughter Village Star and their breeder, the late Paddy King of Ballyconneely.  He is now retired from the show ring and has bred numerous progeny in England.

Village Star’s first arrival was Castle Lady in 1979, by Boden Park Joey and then a string of filly foals and some colts followed.  They included Village Laura (1982) by Thunderbolt who created a record by winning the Dublin Championship three years running, for Padraig Hynes, starting in 1987. A frequent winner at Clifden over 16 years, Laura had also taken the Supreme Championship there in ’87.  She was a great brood mare also producing 12 foals, many well known in the showing world. 

American Village cousins. Email from Kathryn Raynor Freeman

I received this interesting and very frank information – following my posts on the Village ponies – from Kathryn Raynor Freeman, Chairperson of NPS America, who provides another link in the ever lengthening chain of Village  ponies worldwide.  I thought viewers might be interested so here it is.

Village Prince by Coral Prince - Village Grey in the U S.
Village Prince by Coral Prince - Village Grey in the U S.

“Village Prince (1994, by Coral Prince out of Village Grey) is a wonderful stallion and sadly underutilized here in the US. He is owned by Royal Connemaras in Clayton CA.

He has been used more for cross breeding than purebred breeding as his owner is an upper level event rider, with more interest in eventing than Connemara breeding. The crosses (mostly Arab and Thoroughbred I believe) have been quite nice and have had a lot of success in the eventing and dressage world. To the best of my knowledge, there are only about a dozen (more or less) purebred Village Prince foals.


Free Rayn Majesty by Village Prince with her dam Hideaways Irish Mist
Free Rayn Majesty by Village Prince with her dam Hideaways Irish Mist

Free Rayn Majesty by Village Prince out of Hideaways Irish Mist (Rocky x Hideaways Celebration)

2008 filly – called “Maggie”. Real sweet filly with very big movement – very athletic. She is more “horsey” than her half sister (gets that from her dam I think). She also has a unique mix of bloodlines. The Hideaways are known for their performance abilities here in the US – but her maternal grandsire was Rocky – who I think only produced two (?) fillies – the other I know of being Castle Caillin Ard.


Wildwych Mooncusser  2008 filly owned by Wildwych Connemaras in   She spent a few weeks at my farm before going home to Colorado. One of the calmest and sweetest fillies I’ve ever seen. Very feminine and tiny – you can see that in the photo of her, my older daughter, and one of my Village Prince babies named Free Rayn Tsunami.

Wildwych Mooncusser and Free Rayn Tsunami with Kathryn's elder daughter
Wildwych Mooncusser and Free Rayn Tsunami with Kathryn's elder daughter

Wildwych Mooncusser on left

by Village Prince out of Wildwych Luna (Glenormiston Flurry Knox x Tower Hills Fiona)


Filly foal Free Rayn Tsunami at three weeks
Filly foal Free Rayn Tsunami at three weeks

Free Rayn Tsunami 2008 filly – called “Percy”. She has correct gaits, good bone and seems more “pony-like” than some of her relatives. She has an interesting mix of Australian, Irish and US bloodlines.


Midsummer Knight by Village Prince out of MGRM Caliope (MGRM Rock N Roll x RBR Miss Patrice)

We call him “Seamus” – 8 year old gelding we have owned since a yearling. Fantastic pony – what he lacks in traditional type – he makes up for with wonderful temperament and great performance ability.

Gelding Midsummer Knight with Erin Freeman
Gelding Midsummer Knight with Erin Freeman

He has been ridden by many pony club kids since he began his training and is a very safe and forgiving mount. My older daughter is now riding him and will be eventing him this year. He loves to run and jump, yet can also have the necessary fluid movements for dressage. He has a true pony character and always surprises us with some humorous situation or deed. He even puts up with an “old lady” like myself riding him in a mock fox hunt.

He comes from the first crop of Village Prince foals. His mare line is, in my opinion, weak – which may account for his lack of type – but he is a gelding – not breeding stock and he makes a wonderful ambassador for the versatility of the Connemara breed.”

More of the Village Ponies

Village Grey’s family 

Village Heather Galway Co Show Supreme in 2008 with Padraig Hynes
Village Heather Supreme Champ Galway County Show 08 with Padraig Hynes

Village Grey’s grandaughters now regularly top the line in the Showring.  Among these are Village Linnet (2003)by Laerkens Cascade Dawn who arrived with her dam, Village Girl in 2004 to Henry O’Tooles Castle Stud,  and has more recently, on two occasions won both Clifden and Dublin.  Pat O’Neill has Village Mist (1993) by Coral Prince X Vilage Girl, and she and her progeny are also winners.  Padraig Hynes’ Village Heather (1999) by Boden Park Finnard X Village Girl has been All-Ireland broodmare Champion, Midland and Galway Champion and has won many other awards.

Village Linnett wins her Class at RDS in 2006
Village Linnet wins her class at the RDS in 2006

Village Boy (1989) had been Reserve Clifden and two of his sons, Ann O Brien Conroy’s Glencarrig Lexus out of Coosheen Breeze and Fred Gannon’s Clonberne Boy (1999) out of Irishtown Beauty have both been Clifden Stallion winners. 

Glencarrig Lexus All Ireland Supreme Roundstone 07
Glencarrig Lexus All Ireland Supreme Roundstone 07

Lecarrow King at Canal Stage Summer 2008 with P Hynes
Lecarrow King by Village Boy – Lecarrow, Canal Stage 2008

Another son Bunowen Castle Ri (1998) out of Bunowen Castle Queen, has swept the boards in England, both at HOYS and Olympia ’05 and Olympia ‘07 where he has been at the pinnacle of Mountain and Moorland showing,  both in hand and ridden by Vanessa Compton.   A younger stallion son Lecarrow King (2001) out of Lecarrow recently went to England.  

Clonberne Boy Clifden stallion winner 2007
Clonberne Boy Supreme Midlands Show 07 and Clifden Stallion Class winner 07