Over 120 guests enjoyed the Connemara Breeders Society Social at Galway’s Westwood Hotel on Halloween Night, the last Saturday in October. The occasion was the 3rd year of the presentation of the Annual Hall of Fame Awards to three notable Breeders of the Connemara Pony, and the presentation of Performance Awards to the connections of three top Performance Ponies of 2009. Society President Dermot Power did the honours and referred to the successful Performance Day at Clifden Show and was glad to announce that the current work on improving the surface of Ring One at the Showgrounds would provide a much-needed all-weather surface for future Shows. He was joined by former President Tomás MacLochlainn who outlined the considerable commitment shown by the respective Award recipients to the welfare and promotion of the Connemara Pony over the years. He also drew attention to the fact that there is now a raft of top class ponies here and in Europe, promoting the Connemara Pony in the Show-jumping sphere. Among these are Ice Cool Bailey, Some Man for One Man and Lavally Prince. He spoke of 2009 as a year of unprecedented jumping success for our Native Pony, which saw the greatest boost for the Pony since the days when Ashfield Bobby Sparrow (Carna Bobby – Wise Sparrow) won the European Gold Medal in 1980. The outstanding performance achievements of the three Performance Connemaras Ponies of the Year, in the Show-jumping arenas of Ireland and abroad, were again proudly recalled by their owners and breeders alike as they accepted their Galway Crystal Trophies from the Society President. The ponies were;
Sillogue Darkie for the 2nd year running, the amazing 13yr old gelding son of Ard Talisman out of Coillchrú Esmerelda, bred and owned by Co. Louth’s Eamon Briscoe; ridden to many victories this year by Galway’s own Michael Duffy which included a Silver Team Medal at the Moorsele European Championships in Belgium this August, Darkie also won the Ireland’s Premier Pony League for the 2nd year running,
Ballyowen Mabel Molly (Monaghanstown Fred- Balyowen Bonny Bell) has done incredibly well for owners the McCormack family and won the European Individual Gold Medal with rider Kellie Allen in August.
The McCormack family, owners,and Molly’s breeders John and Jenny Richardson were delighted to accept their trophies.
Prospect Peter ( Billy – Justice Pet) was bred by Galway’s own Lucille Smyth Tarpey, who carried on the family line of
Connemara ponies after the death of her late father Michael (he had purchased Silvo, the grandam of Prospect Peter), who always kept Connemaras, as Lucille does to this day under the Prospect prefix . Peter traces back to Murphy Rebel, Clonkeehan Auratum, Marble, Carna Dun and Carna Bobby.
Jumped in Dublin by Kellie Allen, Prospect Peter had won the open 148 National Championship at this year’s RDS with two clear rounds. Of the 7 ponies in that jump-off it so happened that 3 were Connemara ponies. His owner Ann Byrne, unable to attend, had sent a worthy representative to accept her trophy, Wicklow’s Sylvaine Galligan, Judge and pony breeder and currently President of the European Pony Society.
Two enthusiastic stalwarts were Award winners for their long years of Connemara Pony service. Paddy Folan has been a stallion custodian for the Society for many years since the 1970’s when he first stood Clonjoy.
Some well-known stallions were in his care, including Ormond Oliver and Killyreagh Kim (his favourite) and Smokey Duncan. A fluent Irish speaker, he maintained and supported the Pony through the years when it was neither popular nor profitable to do so and he can be said to have ably represented the heritage of the Native Pony. Micheal Higgins (pictured with his daughter Eithne and son John) is a Council Member, has been a Judge, and breeder/owner for many years and is a lifelong promoter of the Connemara Pony.
Beatrice Murphy received an Award as recognition by the Breeders Society of her life-long support of the breeding and showing of the Pony under the Gleann Rua prefix and the promotion of the Ridden Connemara by her family has been ongoing for many years.