Tradition has it that a pregnant woman called Una, the sole survivor of a 16th century O’Flaherty massacre of all the Conneelys in the ancient settlement of Ballyconneely, escaped to south Connemara. In a twist of fate it was her son who returned, some years later, killed off the resident O’Flaherty and married the O’Flaherty daughter.!!! (Connemara – Tim Robinson). Nowadays the Ballyconneely region of Connemara is a heartland of Connemara Pony breeding and locals are currently to be found dominating Connemara Pony show-rings both in the region and further afield and of course they include a significant number of Conneelys.! Sunday’s Show saw the Conneely clan win the 3yr old stallion, and the filly foal classes, the Junior Championship, and the Reserve Supreme. So there!
Obviously local people had worked hard to turn this once damp and shingly area into a prime level grassland perfect for their 25th anniversary Show, while the catalogue, with colour photos of last years winners in each class, was a winner too.
However it was Clifden’s Henry O’Toole and Raymond Conneely who whipped the Supreme and Reserve Championships back to Clifden and Errislannon respectively on Show day this year. O’Toole’s Village Linnet took .the Supreme Championship and the Conroy Cup while Raymond Conneely was Reserve Supreme with his powerful dark stallion, Bay Shadow.
Village Linnet by Laerkens Cascade Dawn X Village Girl is a granddaughter of the great broodmare Village Grey. She also carries the blood of Dale Haze, Coosheen Finn, Carna Dun and Mountain Lad in her veins. As a 2yr. old she won her class at Clifden and also at Dublin RDS where she was Reserve Champion. During the past 4 years she has bred two foals by Janus, (her yearling colt has recently won a Junior championship in France), she is currently in foal, and is entered for Clifden. Judge John Fennell was impressed by her movement, her perfect topline and her kind expression.
The yearling colt winner was Martin Keady’s Murvey Hector (Currachmore Cashel X Serena 2nd). There was a really impressive line up of 15 lovely yearling fillies on view and the aptly named golden filly of Carraroe breeder Caroline Lydon took the honours here with her Golden Mariah (Lehenagh Lad X Scully). Runner –up filly was Sweet Hannah (Cushlaun Cashel X Sweet Laurita). In a smaller 2 or 3 yr. old Colt class the top two placings went to Damian Gorham’s Connnemara Eile (Cloonisle Cashel X Connemara Lady) and 2nd in line was Feichin King’s Bunowen Castle Johnny Fox. (Glenayre Silver Fox X Doohulla Lucky Star).
It was to the winner of the 2yr. old filly Class, Kieran McGrath’s Hazelrock Star (Glencarrig Prince X Smokey Star) that Judges Sylvia Henry and David McCann later awarded the Reserve Junior Championship. Hazelerock Star has been a prolific winner already this year for the McGrath family, whose famous father, breeder Murty McGrath, was the owner, over 50 yr. ago, of Smokey, the great-grandam of the present filly. Twelve beautiful fillies contested this Class and the final 2nd in line was Cáillín Conneely’s (that name again) Letterdyfe Rachel Rose (Fredericksminde Hazy Match X Letterdyfe Rose) Judge Heather Wright later commented on the quality of the young stock she had seen and added “the young ponies are now moving better than previously and the standard of handlers is very good too”
In the 3yr old mares class it looked like Caroline Lydon was to take another 1st. , this time with her Fuinseog (Currachmore Cashel X Feenish Lady) but following a last minute judges decision,
the top prize went to Damian Gorham’s Doonhill Queen (Currachmore Cashel X Connemara Lady) leaving Fuinseog also by Currachmore Cashel, as runner-up. It was a close call between these two fine progeny of the popular Currachmore
The Junior Champion came from the winner of this class, when Triona Gorham showed Doonhill Queen with panache and style, for her brother Damian, to take the Junior Championship and the Marcus King Memorial Cup. Reserve here was Hazelrock Star. Doonhill Queen has an illustrious pedigree, containing among others Boden Park Finnard, Bridge Boy, Ashfield Sparrow and Fionnuala.
Errismore Rocky (Currachmore Cashel X Gold Label) is a frequent show-winner also and his joint owners Ann Conroy Conneely and Patrick Conneely were happy to take home another red rosette and the Lee Family Cup (to Ballyconneely of course!)
For Joe McCann’s Colt foal winner, by Glencarrig Prince X Celtic Moy Stream) it was not only his first show, but this baby hadn’t even met a halter until the morning of the Show, yet he made a major impression on the judges who not only awarded him 1st in his class but also the Foal Championship.
Reserve Foal Champion was the filly foal winner, Michael Conneely’s by Currachmore Cashel X Ardbear Belle
In the 4 -6 yr. old Mare class Moycullen’s Glencarrig Rose (Coosheen Stormboy X April Rose) with her foal at foot, took the red rosette for Gearoid Curran
while his neighbour in Oughterard, P.J. Burke with Creggrush Realta by (Castlestrange Fionn X Cailin Dana) was awarded the blue ribbon. . Raymond Conneely was the judges’ choice in the 5 strong Stallion class, with Bay Shadow (Silver Shadow X Tawin Ballinvoher) taking red before later being presented with the Reserve Champion Sash and Trophy.
Silver Shadow is an International top show-jumper, who served as a member of the Irish Pony team with Claregalway’s Michael Duffy jus a couple of years ago, is now competing in Italy.
The Supreme Champion Village Linnet came from the 7 – 11 yr. old Mares very strong class with Padraig Heanue’s Grange Ruby Surf (Grange Bobbing Sparrow X Kilkerrin Surf ) standing next in line for the blue rosette
Breda Horan is a person who never misses a Show (although she doesn’t drive) This respected Pony Judge loves to bring her mare to compete when possible and Ballyconneely ticked all the boxes for herwhen her Kilmeen Jane (Cloonisle Cashel X Rhylin Saoirse) again hit the right note when shown by Moycullen’s Kenneth Kyne to win the 12 to 19 yr. mares class.
Tom Burke with his perennial Judges favourite Misty (Carraroe Handy Andy X Bright Star.) Triona Gorham with her lovely old senior mare, Sliabh Rua Carra (Ardravinna Andy X Lettercallow Lady) was awarded the Sweeney Cup for the final Class of the day.
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