The Menorcan Horse & the Connemara Pony



Menorcan Stallion
Menorcan Stallion

On entering the picturesque Balearic medieval city of Ciudadella in Menorca, a striking sculpture, larger than life size, of a handsome prancing black horse on a traffic roundabout creates an immediate good impression. This is the Menorcan native breed, much protected and revered by the local people, especially at Fiesta time, when the ridden Cavall Menorque performance in the streets and squares is a major highlight of the Island’s many festivals. In the 17th century the Knight tournaments died out in the rest of Europe, but the old Knight’s tradition still survives in Menorca.  Continue reading “The Menorcan Horse & the Connemara Pony”

Clifden Arts Fest. ’16

Niamh’s Weblog, as you will know, has usually focused on Connemara Pony events in Clifden and elsewhere, mainly reviewing Shows, Stallion Parades, Sales and so on, for almost ten years now without a break.
Yet this year for the first time, I was intrigued to see   half-hidden parts of this historic town of Clifden   which I never knew existed. Have you taken the Walking tour and walked away from the traffic, along the old main street and have you seen (among other gems) the massive windowless walls of the old lugubrious Clifden Gaol, scene of woeful heartbreak in Clifden’s past, especially in famine times? If not, you have a treat in store. Our visit coincided with the town’s marvellous mid-September Arts Festival, which has been going from strength to strength over the past 38 years and the walking-tour guide, Kathleen Villiers Tuttle, is a local historian who keeps her audience spellbound throughout the tour.
The community contribution is outstanding in this town with literally hundreds of volunteers involved and 10 days of continuous happenings making it a joyful venue for lovers of painting, sculpture, poetry, drama, art, film and history, with concerts, many featuring local musicians, traditional, classic and jazz day and night, lectures and performances, writings, and all varieties of entertainment. Fidget Feet and other performers visit the local schools, and there are daily workshops for the lucky students in such diverse topics as art, history, singing, poetry, stilt-walking (yes!), basket-weaving and Bodhrán playing and much else besides. Footsbarn travelling theatre company had their tents in the Showgrounds and the town was positively buzzing. All venues were well attended and the diversity of this 2016 Festival was extraordinary. Niamh’s weblog was lucky enough to get permission from specialist in aerial photography, Fearghus Foyle, to use two of his drone photos. You can visit his site at Many clever people book their annual September break in Clifden as they know of the quality, fun and colour to be found there. See you there next year.


A background story, Clifden ’16, Two ponies

'Poppy' and Tomas Grimes. Photo Cecilia Isabel Heikne
‘Poppy’ and Tomas Grimes. Photo Cecilia Isabel Heikne

Finally, here is a little snapshot of the story behind Lackragh Beauty (see Clifden Post) and An Cheathru Chaol Bláthnaid

“I was once told its bad luck to buy back something you already sold, for us this couldn’t be further from the truth!! Our two Clifden winners last week, An Cheathru Chaol Bláthnaid (Poppy) bread by us and Lackragh Beauty originally purchased about 11 years ago as a cracking 5 year old mare, were both sold and repurchased by us. Life took over, newly married; building our dream home and stables left us short of money.   Continue reading “A background story, Clifden ’16, Two ponies”


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView    Gallery Spiddal 2016

The Connemara Pony and Agricultural Show at Spiddal is always a very sociable affair. It is a gathering, where the Irish language is used as the ‘Lingua Franca’ of the entire occasion, from Schedules and Catalogues printed in Irish, to all announcements, notices and labels ‘as Gaeilge’ also. In 2010 Niamh’s Weblog paid a visit to this same Taispeántas Chois Fharraige when spoken Irish was heard as well and it was so good to hear it again.  Continue reading “TAISPEÁNTAS CHOIS FHARRAIGE, Spiddal ’16”


Gurteen Jennifer, Cathal Mullen
Gurteen Jennifer, Cathal Mullen

A quick look–in at Clifden Show on Thursday afternoon last confirmed that this shop-window for the Connemara Pony is growing and expanding beyond belief. Families poured in and took more than a casual interest in proceedings as they crowded around the two Rings, one showing the ponies In- Hand and Ring 2 full of Ridden Pony Classes. Unlike the opening day on Wednesday, the weather on Thusday stayed dry and balmy. Continue reading “CLIFDEN ’16. A BRIEF VISIT”

Moycullen Show 2016

Show Champion Mountain Heather, Joanne Grogan
Show Champion Mountain Heather, Joanne Grogan
Reserve Champion, Cornarone Sea Mist, Ray Halpin
Reserve Champion, Cornarone Sea Mist, Ray Halpin
Junior Champion,Michael Sweeney's Bunowen Grey Lass
Junior Champion,Michael Sweeney’s Bunowen Grey Lass

View Moycullen ’16 Gallery     In a Showing Season where rain and all-out drenchings were the norm the fourth Moycullen Pony Show was favoured with an absolutely dry day. Run by a local Moycullen committee who are lucky enough to use the spacious open fields and cross-country course, a mile from the village, known as The Parks.    Continue reading “Moycullen Show 2016”

Int.Connemara Performance Show ’16

Marjorie Hardiman, Creganna Dandini - Copy (2)
 Marjorie Hardiman & Creganna Dandini receive the Supreme Trophy from Judge Paula McCarthy

(My thanks to Ciara and Aoife Connolly for photo and information). Connemara ponies and their riders from all corners of Ireland came to Duffy’s Equestrian Centre in Claregalway on 7th compete in the 14th Annual Championships Finals Show.  Due to the organisers commitment and hard work the Show was an all-round success, in spite of a tempest that took over the east-Galway venue in the afternoon. The Supreme Performance Champion repeated the feat of the previous Sunday’s Midland Breeders Show when Marjorie Hardiman and her home-bred gelding Creganna Dandini (Cashel Bay Prince) took home the Champion’s Tophy once more. Creganna Dandini had earlier won a Jumping Competition with daughter Jane Hardiman and the  Ridden Championship, Rider over 16 years, with Marjorie Hardiman.

Continue reading “Int.Connemara Performance Show ’16”

Midlands Breeders Show 2016

In Hand Champion
Midlands In Hand Champion ’16

Working Hunter, Midlands ’16
Ridden Classes, Midlands ’16.
Midlands’16 Gallery

In-Hand Classes
Horseboxes, Trailers and Lorries filled with Connemara Ponies travelled to the centre of Ireland for the Midlands Show in Mullingar on the last Sunday in July. This Show is very much a community effort and with forty Connemara Classes listed to take place in the spacious acres of the Mullingar Equestrian Centre, which included various Championships and Clifden Qualifiers and also the Loose Jumping Qualifiers held in the Indoor Arena, all hands were needed on deck for a long day.    Niamh’s Weblog got off to a good start when the Gate Steward kindly offered to move his own jeep elsewhere to allow us in! The layout of the 4 Rings was well-ordered with banks of chairs at vantage viewing points making it very spectator-friendly. Continue reading “Midlands Breeders Show 2016”

Illaunurra Shadow, Pat O’Neill

Illaunurra Shadow & Pat O'Neill, Clifden 2013
Illaunurra Shadow & Pat O’Neill, Clifden 2013

Connemara pony breeder and producer Pat O’Neill of Illaunurra Ponies in Ballyconneely has brought on his 11 yr. old home-bred gelding Illaunurra Shadow (Silver Shadow X Illaunurra Mist) to perform at top level in both Dressage and Showjumping.  For the past couple of years Pat and his talented pony have won several Dressage Ireland Awards, and Pat has featured as the sole male rider with Cleggan- based Judy Cazabon’s Musical Rides. The pair are now Showjumping at top level with the Association of Riding Clubs and pulled off  a 2016 hat-trick  when the pair were crowned Show Jumping Champions at the recent hotly contested AIRC Championships in Mullingar. A well-deserved accolade for this brilliant pair.


Connemara Stallion Parade 2016.    Dear Friends, I am not on Facebook!Stallion Parade '16

Connemara Stallions, Clifden 2016
Connemara Stallions, Clifden 2016

On the weekend of the 3rd and  4th  of April this year, West Connemara, believe it or not, had the driest weather in the country; this rare phenomenon was much appreciated by both participants and viewers who were involved in this annual Connemara Pony Breeders  Spring event.  On Friday 1 April, Mullingar Equestrian Centre hosted the Spring Colt inspections and from a catalogue number of 29 young colts, 7, mainly 3 yr. olds were promoted to Class 1 by Society inspectors. Stallion Parade 2016 On Saturday for the first time Continue reading “STALLION PARADE, CLIFDEN’16”