Tully Grey 1957 – 1988
Tully Grey was by Tully Lad X Cait Ni Guidhir and was bred by Paraic O’Cathain of Carna. Mountain Lad and Connemara Boy were both in his pedigree, as were Droighnean Donn and Winnie Nee. The 13.2 stallion was a major star of the Irish pony show-jumping scene in the 1960’s and ’70’s – with the Longford daughters of Tom Harold. The picture of Evelyn Harold jumping Tully Grey to victory at the RDS in 1963 features on the booklet cover of the 2013 Bartley O’Sullivan Lecture, titled “Performance and the Connemara Pony”. This Presentation was given at the Spring Connemara Pony Festival in Clifden – fifty years later by myself – and I had no hesitation in selecting this photo to illustrate the booklet. Tully Grey was perfect for the job. So I was absolutely delighted when Bernie Harold agreed just this week to pen a moving profile of their family and Tully Grey. P.S. Tully Grey, through his son Dale Haze (ex Abbeyleix Bluebird) and grandson Hazy Dawn, has led to the spread of a powerful European and Irish extended family with the numerous Fredericksminde stallions and mares, the Laerkens and Skousbou ponies, and including Moy Hazy Cove. This branch of the Green line, extending from Mountain Lad, has in recent times become a formidable family in the Showing rings of Europe.
Over to Bernie:
In the summer of 1958 my parents Tom & Kathleen Harold travelled from our home in Rathcline, Lanesborough, Co Longford to Connemara in search of a pony for my older sister Irene. This is Irene’s account of that time. “When I was young, Daddy used to sit on what we called ‘Daddy’s stool’. He’d put me on his knee and tell me “I am going to go to Connemara and buy a Connemara pony for you and you will jump him in Ballsbridge. At that time I did not know where Ballsbridge was.”
They met up with Tommy McDonagh from Roundstone at his home and he told them he had just the pony but he wouldn’t have him down from the mountain until the following weekend for the Show in Clifden. True to his word Tommy had this year and half old ‘wild thing’ at the show and entered him into the 2 year old class where I believe he came 2nd. My father bought him after the class for IR.£27. And so began a relationship between this amazing pony and a family – that would endure for over thirty years.
Irene continues “Daddy trained Tully and I started to hunt him with the South Westmeaths’ and The Longford Harriers. The following Spring Show 12 months I won in the R.D.S. with him and Evelyn won the following 2 years with him (3 years in succession). At that time there were great gymkhanas every Sunday around Dublin and Dad took me to one every week. One was in Tallaght and at that time it was a small village outside Dublin. It had a pub, a grocery shop and a Post Office. It was way outside Dublin – in the country. Other shows I remember were Finglas and Galloping Green.
My first indoor show with Tully was Burton Hall (the first indoor arena in Ireland owned by Ian Dugeon). My first night there I was last to go and all ponies had been eliminated except one which was called Patsy 2nd(14.2hh) who had numerous faults. Tully went round with 4 faults and won the class. Everyone agreed the fences were much too high for ponies. Soon after I remember Iris Kellett arriving at our house at 8.30am to buy Tully but Dad would not sell.”
One of my sisters Nuala particularly remembers one of Tully’s earliest outings at the RDS Spring Show. Tully with my sister Evelyn was 1st, Eddie Macken was 4th on Granard Boy and another Longford neighbour Michael Kenny was 5th with Miss Mole. At this time stallions were not allowed to compete at the RDS Horse Show and my father wrote to the Show Secretary requesting that stallions be allowed to compete and this was agreed. Throughout his career Tully Grey won every competition worth winning throughout the Country. Although he was 13.2hh at most shows he won both the 13.2hh and 14.2hh competitions. On one occasion in 1960 he beat the great Irish Army horse Sliabh gCrot in a ‘high jump’ competition. He was always superbly fit and strong. During the summer he was road walked for about four miles before school. He would be jumped in the evening and then walked to cool off. Tully got pneumonia once and after that Daddy was fixated on cooling off our ponies properly before putting them in their stables. Coming up to big shows like the RDS Spring Show or Horse Show some hill exercise and swimming would be introduced into Tully’s training programme.
I believe Tully Grey lived to the ripe old age of 31 years because from the day he arrived in our yard in Rathcline he was always very well fed, wormed and got supplements such as Electrolytes and linseed oil. I think my father was way ahead of his time when it came to training and nuitrition. Our house stank of boiling barley all through the winter and when we complained Daddy would say “don’t you like a warm feed in cold weather? Well the ponies do too”.
Tully pulled a cart, raced, show-jumped, hunter-trialled (Pony Club) and hunted until he was 23 years old. He was very strong and gentle. I remember people being astonished when we groomed him we changed sides by going under his belly. It was very rare to see stallions at Shows so Tully was always the centre of attention. I have one very clear memory of coming out of the arena after jumping at Athenry Show and I was surrounded by Americans. They were really excited and saying “is this the real Tully Grey? They kept taking photos and finally Daddy came over and told me to walk him around or he’d catch cold. I think that is the first time I realised Tully was known throughout the world.
The iconic photograph of Tully taken over fence 7, winning at the RDS Spring Show in 1963 preceded an event that could have ended his career at a six year old. When on the lap of honour in the main arena another pony overtook him and of course Tully thought it was a race. My sister Evelyn was a small eleven year old and instead of circling she just kept fighting to stop Tully. He had other ideas though and jumped the gate into the ‘pocket’. The photo took the front, half page of the Daily Mail (8th may 1964) newspaper the following day.
Over the years Tully Grey was ridden by Tom Harold’s daughters Irene, Evelyn and Bernadette, his niece Maeve Harold (Larkin)RIP and Grandson Colin Carberry. Maxie Scully RIP from Gort, Co Galway and Tony Davis, Kilteevan, Roscommon also rode him on a couple of occasions. On Tully Grey’s final public appearance at Ballinalee Connemara Show in 1986 he was ridden by Comdt. Gerry Flynn another pupil of Tom Harold’s.
During the summer of 1988 Tully was finding it increasingly difficult to chew his food and began to lose condition. One day my father called to my sister Nuala’s house and said they should bring her son Colin’s 12.2hh pony Woodview Cash to our Vet Humphrey Murphy in Athlone. Nuala was surprised because she was not aware of there being anything wrong with ‘Cash’ except for a slight cough. When Nuala arrived at our yard in Rathcline Daddy said “I think I’ll bring the old stallion and let Humphrey have a look at him”. Nuala says she had a bad feeling but was afraid to ask the question. When they arrived in Athlone the small pony was dealt with very quickly and Daddy and the Vet took Tully out to another yard and Nuala was told to stay in the car. Daddy came back with tears in his eyes and Tully’s headcollar in his hand. He hardly spoke for about three weeks and it was clear he was heartbroken. One by one the eight other daughters were told and we all cried bitter tears – even the non-riders in the family were devastated at the loss of Tully. The whole family was in mourning – our lifelong friend was gone. It was like a human bereavement and people called to the house and rang to sympathise.
Bernadette Harold March 2014.