Posts Tagged ‘Shillelagh and District Hunt’

Shillelagh and District Hunt, Tally Ho Meet, November 17th 2012

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

David Nolan with the hounds.

Pierre serves up some Dutch courage.

Howard rallys the troops.

Mandy and Dixie ready to rock.

Tally Ho meet.

Following the hounds.

Wingfield Hunt, December 3rd, 2011.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

The Shillelagh and District Hunt held their annual meet at Wingfield, close to Ballythomas and the Gap today. A good turnout on what was a chilly but nevertheless bright day. Lots of jumps and ditches to negotiate, especially between Wingfield and Toberpatrick. The hounds, ably led by huntsman and Master of the Hounds David Nolan were doing their stuff, those in the saddle were having a ball.

Mandy Hayden aboard Cluny, Wingfield Hunt, Dec' 2011.

Huntsman and Master of the Hounds David Nolan, Wingfield Hunt, Dec' 2011.

One of many drains, Wingfield Hunt, Dec' 2011.

They start them young, no fear at the Wingfield Hunt, Dec' 2011.

Life's a ditch, Wingfield Hunt, Dec' 2011.

Heading for the hills, Wingfield Hunt, Dec' 2011.

Tally Ho Hunt.

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The Tally Ho hunt meets a mile down our lane and cuts across the town lands of Toberlonagh, Toberpatrick, and Wingfield, negotiating dikes, ditches, banks, and gates. Overcast, misty, and damp, a good crew set out led by huntsmen David Nolan, Colin Jackson and Howard Woods. I lost them in the bog close to Abbeylawn, an occasional blast of a hunting horn and the baying of hounds receding into the undulating countryside the only evidence of their presence.

Setting off at Tally Ho, November 2011.

Howard and Mandy, Tally Ho Hunt November 2011.

Tally ho hunt, Susan.

Tally Ho hunt, Colin.

Cheshire Home Hunt, Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow.

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

The Shillelagh and District Hunt held the 50th annual Cheshire Home Hunt last Saturday. The final meet of the season and one which is always looked forward too, staff and residents of the Ardeen Cheshire Home in Shillelagh, Co Wicklow, enjoyed the buzz and spectacle as the hunt members gathered before setting out. Celebratory stirrup cups were handed around, banter was exchanged, and a group photograph was taken. Then to the sound of a hunting horn and the baying of hounds the large contingent literally headed for the hills.

Ready for the off, Shillelagh and District Hunt members gather outside the Ardeen Cheshire Home.

A real family day out, there was as much interest from those not taking part as those in the saddle. Even the damp weather didn’t put the followers off as they headed to their favourite vantage points above Shillelagh village.

Andy and Tara Kinsella enjoy the annual Cheshire Home Hunt.

Me, I headed to a place called, “The Birney”, I think that is the way you spell it, out the Parkbridge Road and turn right at the first crossroads, then on up the hill to where the lane bisects a forestry. Damp but not cold, it was not long before I heard the hunting horn and the sound of galloping hooves carried by the mist.

Huntsman David Nolan clears a forestry barrier above Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow.

In a flash of reds, blacks, and browns, snorting, steaming, horses, ponies and hounds, shod hooves ringing on tarmac, quips, laughs, and smiles they were gone, off into the forest. What I like about the Shillelagh’s is the sense of community, encompassed in the young riders who are encouraged to take part. They start them young in these parts, and there is no shortage of enthusiasm either, epitomised by father and son team Jasper and Jed Kelly.

Community spirit epitomised by the Shillelagh Hunt, Co. Wicklow.

I enjoyed following the hunt this year. It acts as a focal point for social interaction, gets people out in the air, and grounds one to nature and conservation of the rural landscape and way of life. I even get up on a horse myself now, but whisper it, “you won’t catch me going hunting”, I value my legs and arms too much. An armchair horseman, that’s me.

Huntsman David Nolan leading the hounds, Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow.

Point to Point at Fairwood Park.

Monday, January 17th, 2011

The Shillelagh and District Hunt held their first point to point of the new year at Fairwood Park, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, last Sunday 16/01/2011. The sun shone from a steel blue sky, it was chilly but there was no wind. With a lot of rain having fallen the night before the course surprisingly was in good condition, soft but drying throughout the day, Fairwood because of its location on a hillside drains very well.

In the parade ring, S & D Hunt Point to Point, Fairwood Park, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

With six races on the card, a couple divided due to large entries, proceedings got under way at noon. By that stage a sizable crowd had turned up no doubt swelled by the fine weather and they were treated to some excellent racing. As always there was great colour which contributed to the spectacle and of course the beautiful surroundings set in the heart of south county Wicklow.

Round the bend at Fairwood Park, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow.

The Shillelagh and District Hunt, celebrating its centenary of point to pointing  this year, shares ownership of Fairwood Park with the Rothwell family (well known in racing circles) and the Tinahely show committee. In the recent past forward thinking people in the area purchased land to serve the community not once but twice. Tinahely not only has a showgrounds (Fairwood Park) that holds arguably the biggest one day agricultural event in Ireland, The Tinahely Show, in nearby Coolboy are the grounds of the The Tinahely Riding Club, home to a full cross country course and show jumping arena complete with flood lights.

Lining up at the start, Shillelagh and District Point to Point, Fairwood Park, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

On the day hunt members and friends man key positions from race commentator to starter to the foot soldiers stationed at each jump who help fallen riders and make sure that the obstacles are in perfect nick before each race. Also important are the bookies, one of whom travelled down from Belfast, and the catering vans (quarter pounders with cheese and chips laden with salt and vinegar) mmmm, sure you’d have to wouldn’t you.

The long hill, Fairwood Park, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

The races went off without a hitch. Local favourite Loggan Lass, a six times winner on the course, trained by dairy farmer John Walsh and ridden by his son Aaron unfortunately ran in fifth in the first, the disappointment sweetened by a third place later in the day. Being close to the track it was interesting to hear the jockeys interacting with the race officials, the different points of view prefaced with language sometimes quite industrial, or should I say agricultural? All in the spirit, taken and received with good heart.

Fighting for the finish line, Fairwood Park, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow.

At days end the large crowd, participants, and organisers, headed for the exits happy in the knowledge that they had experienced a well run uniquely Irish event. The day was kind and the racing exciting. There is something about the sounds and smells of live horse racing, you do not need to have a great knowledge of horses to enjoy it. As for the amateur ethos, yes there is an innocence to it, but when the tapes go up and those hooves thunder, it becomes a serious business. Great fun though…

New Years Day Hunt, Carnew, Co. Wicklow

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

What better way to start the new year and blow away the party cobwebs then to take a rough and tumble ride in the country. The Shillelagh and District Hunt meets in Carnew, Co. Wicklow, annually on the first of January. At least forty riders ventured out this year, some a little worse for wear, and had a fine day out in glorious sunshine.

Meeting outside Sinnott's pub, Carnew, Co. Wicklow.

Heading out the Fern’s road the plan was to work a wide loop around the village towards the Kilcavan gap. Due to soft conditions a lot of farm land was out of bounds. To make up for this various makeshift jumps had been organised along the planned route.

Huntsman David Nolan leading the charge.

David Nolan works and manages a fine pack of hounds. They love the run out and are very responsive to his calls and commands.

On the scent.

Hedges, ditches, gates, or pallets, there is no stopping the Shillelagh Hunt members when they get going. Hold onto your hat, grab the mane, and keep your heels down!

Howard Woods clearing a gate, Carnew, Co. Wicklow.

Tally Ho!!

Friday, December 31st, 2010

The recent cold spell decimated the hunting calender locally with eight meets called off. However nothing was going to deter the Shillelagh and District Hunt from holding their traditional boxing day event in the village of Tinahely, Co. Wicklow. It was agreed to give the hounds a run and stage a walking hunt. Not quite the same razzmatazz given the equine absences but an escape from cabin fever and a chance to socialise non the less.

A huntsman and his hounds, boxing day, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow.

Gathering in the village square outside Murphy’s Hotel the local community imbibed hot whiskeys and ports, discussed Christmas, snow, the economy, future meets, and what ever else caught your fancy. The hounds yelped and the huntsmen added a bit of colour. To the sound of a hunting horn the group headed off in the direction of Coolboy hounds sniffing and quartering the ground. A fine tradition upheld.

Crossing a stubble field, Parkbridge, Co. Carlow, Ireland.

The following Tuesday after a sudden and welcome thaw Egan’s public house of Parkbridge hosted the annual children’s Christmas Hunt. An opportunity for the youngsters to experience a hack out over open country. Well attended the day was mild and grey, the ground soft but not heavy. Hip flasks and stirrup cups are the pre-hunt ritual, keeping warm or dutch courage? Probably a bit of both.

Participants arriving to the Parkbridge hunt.

The Tinahely Riding Club and the Shillelagh and District Hunt are fundamental to the local community, like the GAA they are inextricably linked with rural life. Horses create a common bond and a deep rooted social outlet appreciated by both young and old alike.

Clearing a ditch, Parkbridge Hunt.

The kids had a ball on what was a grey foggy day. It stayed mild and the rain did not fall. The horses got a much needed run out and the hounds enjoyed mooching around the countryside.

Out of the fog, Parkbridge Hunt, Co. Carlow.

At days end all those involved retired to Egan’s for much needed sustenance. Hot soup and sandwiches for all, crisps and lemonade for the youngsters, and of course we cannot leave out uncle Arthur.

A pint of the black stuff, Egan's of Parkbridge.