This year the Colt Inspections and Classifications for the Studbook were carried out at the Showgrounds on the Thursday and Friday at the end of March. Saturday 1st April saw the first introduction of show-jumping Derby-style to the Festival timetable and this was followed by Educational talks later that afternoon. Niamh’s Weblog unfortunately did not get to any of these earlier events but Saturday night’s Dinner Dance and Hall of fame Awards attracted a large and festive crowd to the Station House Hotel. Not since 2013 had there been a similar Society night of celebration and the three year gap ensured that both the meal and the chats and reminiscing with old friends were valued and enjoyed all the more. Eleven of the fourteen nominees were on hand to accept their Award. Most of them were receiving recognition for their long years of breeding and producing good Connemara ponies, in years when it was neither profitable nor popular to do so, or in promoting the pony.
I was happy to meet up again with legendary Hall of Fame recipient John Daly of Lough Mask House and his wife Pat. John grew up in Mayo surrounded by horses and ponies and now, eighty eight years young, he is still involved, having bred Connemaras, National Hunt racehorses and currently breeding Coloured horses. He was a rider in the beach-racing scenes in the “The Quiet Man” film of the early 1950’s when his father supplied all the horses for the film which was shot in Connemara, and John, a born raconteur, has many a tale to tell of those times. The Dalys travelled to Hunts with hirelings in winter and to summer Shows like Galway in a trap, always leading a few horses and ponies trotting behind the trap. The following day they would compete with these animals at the Show. John, a competitor for many years, remembers driving his Connemara pony Starlight in the trap to Galway on Day One, winning the Champion Stone Wall and the ‘jumping over the course’ Championship on Day Two and the next day Starlight was hitched up to pull the trap home again over some thirty miles of narrow and uneven roads. On a later occasion he rode The Quiet Man, (named after the film) to victory over the Galway course to take the major trophy of the Show. The Quiet Man was then bought by the Italians and the next year, ridden by the famous Captain Raimondo d’Inzeo, the pair clinched the Aga Khan Trophy for the Italian team with two faultless clear rounds.
John’s ‘Easter’ and ‘Island’ pony mares were sometimes grazed on Islands in Lough Mask and he is shown here swimming a stallion out to visit the mares in springtime. Photo by David Shaw Smith from film ‘Connemara and it’s Ponies’ 1969. A group picture taken at the Awards night shows John Daly sitting on the left. All names are given below.
Hall of Fame recipients 2017
Mr. Joe McNamara, Co Galway. Mr. Tom MacLochlainn, Co Galway. Countess April Merveldt, Co Kildare. Mrs Niamh O’Dochartaigh, Galway. Mr. Frank Quinn, Co Galway. Mr. Seamus Mulroe, Co Mayo. Mr. Gabriel Murphy, Co. Mayo. Mr. Padraic Curran, Co Galway. Mr Peter Meehan, Co Louth. Mr. John Daly, Co Mayo. Ms. Ann Reade, Co Longford. Mr. James DeCourcey, Co Galway. Mr. Stephen lHeanue, Co Galway. Mr. Thomas Keaney, Co Galway. Go to Stallion Parade 2017. Go to Gallery Spring Festival’17 In my STALLION PARADE pics. I just have a selection of some of the very fine ponies exhibited but all the stallions I saw were of an extremely high standard and so well turned out, they were amazing! The few snaps in the GALLERY, while not of the best quality, are just to show some of the Hall of Fame people as they were on the night. I hope you enjoy looking! I still hope someone will take on my hobby after I come to a full stop pretty soon. Niamh’s Weblog