The first ever Connemara Pony Show was declared open by a visitor from India, the colourful Maharajah Prince Ranjitsinjhi of Nawanjar, who made a foray with his retinue from his Irish fishing lodge, Ballinahinch Castle about 8 miles from Roundstone………….( See a little History below)
Roundstone surpassed itself this year in the fourth running of the reinstated July Pony, Sheep and Dog Show.
Because the local organisation is so efficient, the atmosphere here is palpably relaxed and informal. The purpose built white-fenced ring with tiered seating in Farrell’s Field made for comfortable viewing of all Classes – judged by Hugh Leonard and Patricia Prenderville – which ran promptly and without delay. Sponsors were on hand to present substantial prizes; the views of the bay and mountains were beautiful and the lack of rain on the day was an extra bonus too, making for excellent ground conditions.
Bernard Keaney’s striking dark grey colt Murvey Bertie byJanus X Murvey Cara took the yearling colt classwhile the yearling filly prizewinner was Mairtin Nee’s Doonreaghen Chris by Cloon Eile Cashel X Doonreaghan Star. The two year old filly red rosette was awarded to Cathy Stuffle for Aoife’s Pride by Glendine Kestrel X Jasmine. Gearóid Curran’s home-bred Glencarrig Rose by Coosheen Storm Boy X April Rose was the judges’ choice for top three yr. old filly.
The three yr. old colt owned by Ann Conroy Conneely and shown by husband Patrick, took the Junior Championship. Errismore Rocky by Currachmore Cashel X Gold Label, was bred by his owner in nearby Bunowen and all connections were delighted when he was finally awarded the Supreme Championship Accolade at day’s end.
Glencarrig Rose bloomed again in the Open Youth Class for young Amy Curran when the pair gained the Red Rosette. Patrick King’s Linsfort Barney filly foal out of Pride of the West was judged the Foal Champion
ahead of Mairtin Nee’s
Reserve colt foal by Coolillaun Cushlawn out of Doonreaghan Star, shown by sons Noel and John Nee.
Top Stallion at the Show was Sid Worley’s 13 yr. old Ballinavilla Prince by Mervyn Pookhaun X Doon Fairy, bred by Patrick McNamara of Milltown in East Galway, followed in a close second by former Roundstone Champion Glencarrig Lexus by Village Boy X Coosheen Breeze, bred by Ciaran Curran and shown by owner Ann Conroy O’Brien
The young mares Class with 14 in the ring, was won by Gerry King’s 6 yr.old Cashelbay Heather by Tulira Robuck X Bealnamulla Kim,no stranger to the jumping ring either with owner’s daughter Megan.
Another prolific winner Padraig Heanue’s Grange Ruby Surf by Grange Bobbing Sparrow X Kilkeerin Surf, took the first prize in the large Class for 7 to 12 yr mares which contained quite a few of the regular Show winners including the recent Galway County Show Champion, Martin Feeney’s Danesfield Heather who came a close second. Secret Star by Coral Star X Secret Pal also shone in this class for Patrick Conneely
Jane Andrews lovely mare Coral Misty’s Jane by Cloonisle Cashel X Coral Misty was the judges choice as winner of the mares 13 and over class, expertly shown by well-dressed handler Tom Connolly.Pic.
Only two ponies came forward before the judges in the Gelding Class which was won by Pat O’Neill’s Illaunurra Shadow by Silver Shadow X Illaunurra Mist. The class for Bay Mares was well supported with the top prize going to Ciaran Curran’s Mount Ross Colleen by Coral Star X Grange Amber Colleen with her bay foal at foot. The Champion and Reserve were then brought forward from the ranks of prize winners. Junior Champion Errismore Rocky gained the Supreme Sash while the stallion class winner, Ballinavilla Prince stood Reserve.
It was now time for the traditionnal street parade when prizewinning ponies with rosettes and sashes were walked down to the harbour-side and trotted singly to much applause up the steep main street. And all was over, as planned, by 6.30, on that sunny July evening.
But the best is yet to come at Roundstone when the All-Ireland Supreme Champion of Champions Show takes place on Sunday the 13th of September. Be there. Bígí ann !
A LITTLE SHOW HISTORY With thanks to Caitriona and staff at Island House for printouts of old photos.
The first ever Connemara Pony Show was held in Roundstone in August 1924 shortly after the Connemara Breeders Society was set up. The Agricultural and Home Industries Show was declared open by a visitor from India, the colourful Maharajah Prince Ranjitsinjhi of Nawanjar, who made a foray with his retinue from his Irish fishing lodge, Ballinahinch Castle about 10 miles from Roundstone. In the Connacht Tribune of August 23rd under the heading “Indian Prince opens County Galway Show”
a long report detailed the dignitaries speeches, listed the titled visitors, explained President Cosgrave’s unavoidable absence and printed six pictures including two of the stallions and their owners; George Lyons with Gold Digger, Henri Toole with Cannon Ball and a prizewinning mare and foal. People walked up to 20 miles and more to the Show, held in the Franciscan Monastery grounds. It was said to have had 2,000 visitors and almost 500 entries, most of these were entries in the Pony classes. The Ranji was received by a guard of honour of the National Army and the Civic Guard and the opening speech was given by Rev Charles J. White. There was rain in the afternoon which made for a muddy Pony show ring. Gold Digger won the stallion class with Cannon Ball in second place.
Six Classes were run for ponies, reg. or of Connemara type. Looking at the picture of Cannon ball you can see how small the ponies were at that time. The show also had Kerry cows, sheep, cottage industries (rugs, woven tweed and flannel)
The Connemara Pony Breeders moved the Show to Recess in 1925 and to other centres throughout connemara in subsequent years.
In ‘31 and ‘32 Roundstone again held the Show ‘Teasbántas Capallíní Connamara’ in early Sept in the Franciscan grounds. They had 14 Classes included classes for Reg stallions and both reg and non.Reg. mares. There were notices, pictures and Reports in the Connacht Tribune.
Classes were also run for Cattle and Sheep, and there was a Poultry and /Dairy Section, a Fruit and Veg. Section, and Homespuns and Farm Prize competitions. In ‘32 there was Poultry but no Dairy section but there was a Butter and Jam section, Carraigeen, Knitted Garments. Noble Star, no. 17 in the Stud Book was by Black Paddy and stood with Jack Bolger in Oughterard; his uncle Willie Roe is Holding the Stallion in the Connacht Tribune picture
Between ‘32 and ‘76 there are no records of a Show (a long break of 43 years) but plenty of horse and pony racing at the then sandy Errismore unfenced commonage, an area between the beaches of Dogs Bay and Gurteen. where many sports activities were held.
This was where the Roundstone Pony Show was held on its revival in 1976 by James de Courcey.and others. This local committee ran shows here, with 10 or 12 classes, for 6 years, until it moved again.(apart from one year when nearby Murvey was chosen as venue. By about 1985 the Roundstone Pony show was being held in the grounds of Ellistron Lodge, between Roundstone and Gurteen where it was an annual event for most of the 8 years until 1992
The 1982 picture shows Cuchulainn (Abbeyleix Owen X sparrow Hill) as a 3yr. old being presented with his prize by Dawn Broome. Also in the picture is Judge Joe Murphy. Cuchulainn later became a Grade A showjumping pony and won the Clifden stallion Class in 1986. It is of interest to see how the pony showing tradition has remained in the area over the years as the same family names occur time and time again. Conneely, King, Flaherty, Nee, Conroy, Mannion, Joyce, Sweeney, Lydon, Folan, Walsh, McDonagh, Diamond, Mulkerrins, Curran, Molloy, de Courcey, O’Malley, O’Brien, Lee and many more are names which occur again in the Shows of the ‘30’s, the 70’s and up to the present day.
The Show was to remain dormant until 2006 when an area of Errismore Hill above the village was excavated and transformed into a purpose built showing ring (complete with tiered seating) by Roundstone man Paddy McDonagh (Yank) whose father Tommy had been the main mover of the Shows of the 1980’s. Since then the Shows have gone from strength to strength and the All Ireland Supreme Champion of Champions Show in September attracts competitors from far and wide. This will be held on Sunday 13th of September this year. Three Showing pics courtesy of the de Courcey family