KITTY Donohoe is a force of nature. You may or may not know her, but you will certainly be aware of one of her great life achievements. She was for many years the driving force and power behind the development of Goresbridge Horse Sales. Today she still is a guiding influence on the business which is run by her eldest son Martin.
Goresbridge Horse Sales was founded in 1968 by Kitty’s husband Ned. It was to become Europe’s largest auction house for sport and leisure horses, while in later years it developed Ireland’s only breeze-up sale for thoroughbreds. Its rise to prominence was not without difficulties, but each of these was met head on by Kitty and her family.
Kitty did not have it easy, and her challenges were not only on a business front. She was expecting her tenth child when, a decade after the founding of Goresbridge Horse Sales, her husband died suddenly. Though coming from a non-equine background, she knuckled down to face what must have been an uncertain future, and with family assistance she continued Ned’s legacy and ran the sales.
If there were glass ceilings, Kitty did not recognise them. She guided the business to success, while sometimes facing heartbreak and personal challenges at home. Yet she showed the steel and resolve necessary to continue moving forward, and with a growing family who were developing rewarding careers themselves.
If there is a phrase that sums Kitty Donohoe up, it was one I heard about this week, delivered by her daughter during celebrations for Kitty’s 80th birthday. It is a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt and she said: “A woman is like a tea bag - you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”
Goresbridge itself may be a small village, but it houses two businesses that have a global influence. The sales company is joined by Connolly’s Red Mills and together they have helped to make the village a place that is known throughout the world. It is a gem in Kilkenny’s richly endowed crown.
You might wonder why I am writing about Kitty Donohoe. Well, this week she was honoured with the lifetime achievement award by Kilkenny Chamber, joining former Dragons’ Den member Bobby Kerr as a recipient. Kitty’s work was summed up neatly in a comment from the Chamber’s president who said: “In all aspects of life Kitty sets high standards.” How true.
Well done Kitty. The Irish equine and equestrian communities are proud of your success.