THE funeral took place last Saturday of John (Johnny) Hoolan, Dunkerrin, Co Offaly, renowned in Irish Draught circles as the breeder of Pride of Shaunlara and Dunkerrin Grey Mist.
John also bred a number of showjumpers, including Dunkerrin (Furisto) and Moneymore (Farhaan). The story, as told by Philip Heenan himself, was that John, in a hurry to go home at milking time, told the late stallion master to select any Ringroe stallion to cover John’s mare.
The result was Moneymore, by the Shirley Heights horse Farhaan. That horse won the Grade C (1993) and Daewoo (1997) championships at the Horse of the Year Show for Carl Edwards.
Boston Burglar, the dam of the stallion half-brothers Pride of Shaunlara and Dunkerrin Grey Mist, was bred by Johnny’s father Patrick. Foaled in 1964, she was by Prefairy, a rare Precipitation son, that stood with Jim O’Meara in Toomevara and out of the Irish Draught mare Outer Limits (Ballycotton).
That thoroughbred cross provided the trademark quality of many of her dozen recorded progeny. She bred just two colts, including her first foal, by another of O’Meara’s stallions, the famous Irish Draught: Milestone.
Named Pride of Shaunlara, Boston Burglar’s only Milestone foal became an Irish Draught household name. One of the most iconic photos in Irish Draught archives is of Pride of Shaunlara, with the late Susie Lanigan-O’Keeffe on board, walking by the steps of Ashfield House with his ‘look of eagles’ gaze trained on the camera.
Susie and Marily Power bought ‘Pride’ from Dan Downey to stand at their Suma Stud. Marily recalls meeting his breeder on his Dublin Horse Show visits. “I have more reason than many to be grateful to John as he bred one of my horses of a lifetime, Pride of Shaunlara whom I had the pleasure and privilege to own for some 19 years. John was delighted the year Pride won the stallion class and we told him he had just come up to see we were treating him well!”
Another stallion owner to pay tribute is Deirdre Keegan. She and Donal Feely stood Dunkerrin Grey Mist, Boston Burglar’s second-last foal, at Clooncagh Stud.
“I remember, after we got him, talking to John. Boston was old when she had him and John used to bottlefeed him in the morning to help out the mare. So ‘Dunny’ was getting the best of both worlds and was well on the way to being the cheeky man we had for over 20 years. Great man, great legacy.”
John’s generosity in sending Boston Burglar to Co Tyrone as a foster mare in 1983 saw her covered by the local thoroughbred Cornelscourt to produce Boston Lily.
It was typical of his kindness - Matthew O’Meara remembers John handing him £1 when he’d call to their yard - and of his ‘help out’ generation. A keen greyhound fan too, John Hoolan was one of a kind.
Condolences to John’s brother Malachy, sisters Kitty, Peggy, Sadie and Carmel, relatives and wide circle of friends.