WHEN Ed Donohoe takes to the rostrum next Wednesday at Goresbridge Horse Sales, he will do so not only in his customary role as lead auctioneer but also, for the first time, since taking over the running of Goresbridge.

At the start of this year, Ed and his wife, Siobhan, officially took over running the equestrian side of the family auction house from his brother, Martin, and the latter’s wife, Mary Frances, who remain at the helm of the antiques section.

For those attending Goresbridge’s first sale of the year – or for the increasing number following online – there will be little obvious change to proceedings. “This is a well-oiled machine manned by an excellent team, so there is no need for anything dramatic, although I do hope to start selling on time,” said Ed, who began working at the sales yard as a very young boy.

“In those days, I was mucking out stables between sales, but then moved on to selling saddlery when I was 16 and to selling ponies two years later. I’ve been the main auctioneer here for the past 25 years and I’d say I’ve only ever missed two sales in all that time. I love selling and, while I may not be on the rostrum as much as before with my new position, I certainly won’t be giving up the hammer.”

As testament to his love of selling, and his business acumen, Ed runs the very successful Donohoe Town And Country estate agency based on Patrick Street in Kilkenny City. “We sell country houses and land and residential property all around Kilkenny. There is a brilliant team of five staff in the agency office, which gave me the confidence to take on this new role and I’m very excited about the future.

“I also want to build on Martin’s legacy. He, too, has always been involved with Goresbridge Horse Sales and took over running the financial side of the business in 2000. He built a new indoor school, improved the outdoor arenas and updated the restaurant facilities.

“In 2010, he launched the first select sale of event horses which, since 2011, has been run at Barnadown as the Goresbridge Go For Gold Sale. He also established other boutique sales, such as the Supreme Sale of show jumping foals and the Select Sale of three-year-old show jumpers, which we want to develop further.

“Since Covid, and the move to more online selling, which opened up the market hugely, Martin has encouraged vendors to produce better quality videos to upload on to our online gallery. More performance videos and videos showing the horse’s conformation will give potential purchasers the confidence to bid online.”

With both the estate agency and the horse sales to occupy his time, Ed can sit back when it comes to Goresbridge’s brand, communications and social media platforms, as they will be driven forward by Siobhan, who has a background in accountancy and is a columnist and multimedia presenter with the Iconic Media Group.

“I hope to bring a fresh approach to that side of the business,” said Siobhan, who also runs her own marketing and public relations agency. “Ed and I have a shared vision of promoting the sales and future possibilities. I will be taking over the communications and social media platforms for the entire Goresbridge brand and will also be looking into further improvements in the restaurant and relaunching the tack shop in September.”

Before then, Ed plans to revamp the mixed sale in July, hold a second foal sale towards the backend of the year and a special sale in December. There will, of course, be the usual emphasis on the October foal sale, the standalone sale of three-year-old show jumpers in early October and the Go For Gold Sale in November.

“The Go For Gold is the marquee sale of sport horses in Ireland and has been a huge success,” states Ed. “Every year it attracts a wider audience and, last year, 18 horses were sold into the United States alone. Covid upset things when it came to the actual auction, and we just want to tweak things a bit to improve it going forward.

“We are just getting our feet under the table, but we have a five-year plan in place for Goresbridge Horse Sales and will be re-investing into the business, which could include improvements to the complex itself. At the moment, we are concentrating on our first performance sale of the year, which has attracted a very big entry.”

There are 227 lots listed in the catalogue for that sale, which takes place next Wednesday, March 6th. Sally Parkyn’s preview is on page 98.