Lib Petch Stories, Day One
After the colt inspections on Friday there was a welcoming Reception that night where the An Capaillín annual for 2012 was launched by Frank of Malley of Rosmuc, son of Michael O’Malley who travelled two Connemara ponies to Olympia in London back in 1912.
Lib Petch, a breeder and founder of the famous Coosheen Connemara pony stud, gave an illuminating and humorous talk on the early days of Connemara pony shows and inspections as she experienced them in the 1960’s. The tale of her two days of travel with a pony and eventual arrival in Clifden from West Cork was just incredible.
With no horse box or trailer available, the first part of the trip for the pony was in the back of an open lorry to Cork city, then by train to Dublin’s Kingsbridge station, from where it was walked to the westbound train station at Westland Row: In Galway they loaded the pony into another open lorry, packed to the gills, and bound on the rocky road for Clifden Show. There was no respite on arrival, as the ponies were unceremoniously off-loaded into the town square, where owners had to hold on to them until their Class was called. Lib was later to breed many clifden prizewinners and is a noted Pony Judge both in Ireland and overseas.
Picture shows Mikey King at ’69 Show. Courtesy David Shaw Smith ‘Connemara and its Ponies’.
The showing field in wet weather could be quite a muddy area at the time and the fully-shod stallions of the day (their work routine involved much road work at that time) were run up and down on the road outside. If two stallions came too close together and stood up on their back legs to attack each other, sparks and clatters filled the air!
After the Show the entire 2 day journey to West Cork was done again in reverse. Lib is thrilled with the changes which have transformed the Clifden show-grounds since those far off days of 50 years ago and she has never missed a single show. A display of old pony photos made for interesting viewing on the night.