By Ashfield SparrowX Fionnuala, Boden Park Finnard was bred by Ann Dalrymple at Boden Park Stud in Co.Meath. He was sold as a foal to Margo and Heather Dean and during his early years with them at Ard Stud he proved himself the fertile and prolific sire he was to remain until near the end of his life at age 23 and he was also backed and schooled here. A significant number of Ard ponies by him were registered.between 1989 and 1992.
Galway man Tony Donnellan then bought him and during the couple of years he stood at Gort the stallion sired 16 ponies carrying Tony’s Ballybawn prefix, plus others, and here he also experienced South Galway hunting.
His next owner was Joe McNamara, a man immersed in the Connemara pony tradition from an early age when, as young boys it was normal for Joe and his brother to undertake a round-trip of 28 miles of walking and riding to compete with their ponies in the Clifden Races.
Joe McNamara had spotted ‘Bodey’- as he came to be known in the McNamara family – as he ‘floated’ the length of the long ring at the Ballinasloe Stallion Parade in the Spring of 1996. He liked “the power in him, his stride and the way he covered ground as well as the big full eye” and soon after that the stallion took up residence in Goulane a few miles east of Clifden. The stud was known as the home of the ‘railway ponies’, so called because the old Galway-Clifden train used to run in a straight line right beside the house.
The stallion was 10 years old when he came to the McNamara family in Goulane, and the two daughters of the family soon took to him in a big way. He was, according to Emer and Kate, “so mannerly, such a gentleman and easy to manage; when you entered his stable he would quietly move over to leave space for you” He was biddable to ride and a good natural jumper -if his jump was a little too big for comfort at times!. Joe and the girls rode him regularly and Emer jumped him in competitions at Claremorris.
Joe sometimes travelled Bodey to cover mares in Connemara and it was no trouble to leave the stallion to ‘stay’ unhitched (like a pet dog) by the roadside, while his master helped the mare’s owner to get the mare ready for covering. At home he was free to wander round land near the house and had the engaging habit of standing looking in the window at Joe until his master came out and gave him some attention !
He carried the blood of many esteemed Connemara ponies, including Rebel, MacDara, Carna Bobby, Lavally Rebel, Finola of Leam, Flash Girl and Wise Sparrow. The Thoroughbreds Little Heaven and Adventure were in the mix too. Quality, type, strength movement and perfect temperament were the result. He was an extremely popular stallion in Connemara and in his final year with Joe McNamara in 2000 he covered 106 mares.
By this final year Joe knew there was enough of his breeding in Ireland so, with family regrets all round, from Connemara he was sold to Mark Fitton’s stud in Manchester, England.
His last home was back in Ireland in 2005 with P.J. Watson in Athlone where he sired many of the Rosconn ponies. P.J. describes him in one word – “majestic”.
His registered progeny numbers 214 ponies in the CPBS data base alone and that does not include all non-registered or English born ponies or those born through AI from England. His full brother Abbeyleix Fionn is a five times Clifden winner. Many of Finnard’s progeny, mares, stallions and geldings, have distinguished themselves as show and performance ponies in Ireland, England and further afield.
To mention but a few; there is Moorland Lady Jane, Supreme Champion at the Midland Show in Annaharvey two years running and the stallion
Village Fionn, who was Midland Reserve Champion in ’09. Ballybawn Millar was Clifden Ridden Champion in ’04. Seoigeach, Princess Eileen, Glencarrig Fiona and Canal Linda all won red at Clifden. Calllowfeenish Mary won her Ridden Class for riders under 16 in Clifden ’09.
Village Heather is a well-known show-ring winner also. Wild West Charly carries the Finnard flag in German Eventing circles and there are many more in Connemara communities around the world.
In the early Spring of 2009 he died and now lies buried in the foothills of Drum on Rosconn farm. He is much missed by those who cared for him.