Westport Show 2013 Click on pic. to enlarge
You can see Croagh Patrick’s distinctive conical summit from many vantage points in Connacht but this iconic mountain is Westport’s own piece of history. Looming above the town its scree- lined slopes have for centuries attracted penitent pilgrims who come in their thousands each year – many in bare feet, especially on the traditional 1st Sunday in August, to climb ‘The Reek’ and pay homage to the Saint. Patrick himself is reputed to have spent forty days and forty nights fasting on the summit back in the 5th century, where he was in turn plagued by demonic black birds until eventually the angelic white birds of inner peace materialised.
On the first day of Westport show, the first Sunday of June, the mountain, coated in a softening blue haze, appears anything but purgatorial, while horses, including Irish Draughts, Connemara ponies and all sizes of showy ponies fill the three showing Rings in Paddy Joe Foy’s Drumindoo Stud show-grounds below the Mayo mountains.
Today, the weather is not warm but it is dry and the early heralds of summertime, the Hawthorn or ’the May’ and the delicate primroses of roadside banks, are in full bloom telling us that better weather must be on the way.
It’s been a long winter bringing harsh weather and fodder shortages, yet the young Connemara ponies look healthy and well-cared for, some even carrying a bit too much condition for their young legs. Judges Jimmy Canavan and Deirdre McGuckian settle in for a long day of assessment and choices.
Yearling Fillies. In the initial class for yearling fillies, it was rather disappointing to see only three ponies in the ring as Connemara pony watchers love to see and size-up the current year’s young stock at the early Shows. Pic But these were three ‘lookers’ and in Red ribbon position was Moyard’s Thomas Mullen’s Derryvinnane Beauty by Kippure Alcatraz X Ardgaineen Lass. Achill’s Peter O’Malley’s filly by Atlantic Tiger X Atlantic Queen of Joy took number 2 position and Bunowen Castle Girl by Castlestrange Fionn X Doonhill Lass took the Yellow rosette back to Rosmuc for Martin Naughton.
Yearling Colts. Five new colts cavorted in the ring in the Colt Class where Murvey Rocco by Glencarrig Knight X Murvey Rita, owner/bred by Martin Keaney of Roundstone, was the judges’ number one choice for best Yearling Colt.
Caroline Lydon from Carraroe had her trademark colour, an impressive dun yearling colt, Uggool Power Boy by Caherlistrane Boy out of Breaffy Cailín, called in to 2nd place.
Two Year old Fillies.
There were eleven 2 year old Fillies in this Class. Doonhill Misty Dawn by Currachmore Cashel X April Dawn Lady, owned by Damian Gorham of Ballyconneely was the Judges choice here for the Red. She was followed closely into 2nd place by Leitrim’s Laura McWeeney with her Longstone Jenny by Tassies Diamond out of Killaspic Gold Lady.
Next in were the Two Year old Colts. Only two in number but a fine pair of ponies. Claire Lacy from Co. Offaly impressed the judges when she showed Hazelrock Cruise by Lucky Rebel out of Smokey Jenny to take the First place. Mayo’s Denis Gallagher with his golden-dun Liscarrow Joker by Crannard Joker X his own Pheasant Hill Lass was runner-up.
Hazelrock Cruise was then chosen Junior Champion
with Doonhill Misty Dawn standing Reserve Junior Champion.
A break occurred when the show was officially declared Open by the incoming Irish Shows Association President, Mr. Jim Harrison and Paddy Joe thanked all competitors and spectators for supporting the Show.
It was now Mares time. There were 6 mares brought forward in the 5 – 6 yr. old Mares Class and the winners here were two well-known showing – ladies. First in the line-up was Grace Murphy with Lakeside Misty (Rosscastle Fred X Surprise Angel) who took this RDS Medallion class plus the Red rosette. In runner-up spot was Caroline Lydon with her striking grey, Fuinseog (Currachmore Cashel X Feenish Lady) a prolific show-ring winner over the last couple of years.
In the following Class for 3-4 year old younger Mares, it was mens time again when Moycullen’s Tom Clancy with Lough Conn Daisy (I Love You Melody X Loughill Molly) was first called in to take the winner’s rosette and was soon joined in second place by Joe Burke showing a daughter of the Burke’s family – owned stallion, the famed Currachmore Cashel, Kilconly Dream Girl who is out of Dream Lass.
Denis Gallagher’s brood mare Pheasant Hill Lass with her foal at foot has now qualified for and will represent Co. Mayo at the All- Ireland Broodmare Championship at the Midlands Connemara Pony breeders Show at Mullingar in late July. Pheasant Hill Lass is by Castleside JJ and the dam is Little Lass. This good-looking dun mare then came 2nd to Thiergartenhofs Larissa in the following competitive Class of Mares 7 yrs. and over.
This German bred mare was bought as a young filly by Galway’s Grace Murphy some years ago and has since been successfully shown in Ireland both In-Hand and under –saddle. She is by Skousboes Morning Rock X Lily.
The Stallion Class winner Errismore Rocky by Currachmore Cashel x Gold Label is bred and owned by Patrick Conneely and Ann Marie Conroy from Bunowen in Ballyconneely. And here I would like to digress a little. Both the Conroy and Conneely families are steeped in the old tradition of Connemaras as Ann Marie is a daughter of the late well-known and respected Josie Conroy who was a stallion custodian as was his father Michael before him, since the early days of the Connemara Pony Breeders Society in 1937 when Michael Conroy stood Adventure.
Both father and son had travelled the back roads of the region every year during the covering season, in an era before horseboxes or trailers, occasionally with more than one stallion in tow from a bicycle, to cover mares in many areas of Connemara. Among the many stallions who stood with father and son were Hillside Rover (approved Irish Draught) Innishgoill Laddie, Calla Rebel, Dun Lorenzo, Clonkeehan Auratum, Carna Dun, Rebel Wind, Macdara, Killyreagh Kim, Dun Aengus, Abbeyleix Owen, Mervyn Kingsmill and finally Smokey Duncan, who stood for 8 years with Josie at Bunowen. (photo is from the 1970 documentary Connemara and its Ponies) These men and their like would have known the seed, breed and generation of nearly every Connemara pony in the Stud Book. Josie, sadly no longer with us, will be much missed. He would love to have seen Errismore Rocky being presented with the Connemara Champion of the Show award later in the evening..
Tom and Eddie Bourke’s AC Samson of Envang, a German import, was awarded the Blue ribbon in this Class.
The winner in the Gelding Class was Emlagharan Hazy Mist (Dolan Mick X Hazy Glen) and 2nd placed was Reuben shown by Triona Murphy of Robe Stud. The threatened rain was beginning to fall when the first of four Ridden Connemara Connemara Classes entered the Ring. Judging was carried out in record time as spectators sought dryer pastures.
The four Classes consisted of two under 16 Ridden and two over 16, two of which were International Connemara Performance Championship Ridden Qualifiers for Finals due to be held at the Parks, Moycullen in late August. Grace Murphy continued her winning ways by taking the Qualifier over 16 with Lakeside Misty and the other over 16 Class with Thiergartenhofs Larissa. With sister Lorna along as groom on this occasion, this pair of Galway sisters had a great Westport show.
The under 16 Ridden Class winner was Rosswood Little Lady by Knockillaree Tomas X Misty Ross, owned by Galway’s Michael and Mary Connolly. There was some confusion over the identity of the lone pony in the Ring for the under 16 Qualifier. I have one photo and if you can identify the pony and rider this Blog would be exceedingly grateful.
Loughconn Daisy with Moycullen’s Tom Clancy stood Reserve to Supreme Champion Errismore Rocky at the end of a long and busy showing day. For Books see www.marne.ie Photos C. Niamh’s Weblog