THE opening sale of Connemara Ponies in Clifden last weekend saw the strong prices for the native breed continue as visitors flocked to the West of Ireland town. The ongoing fears that the sale of Connemaras might slow down was debunked again over two days in Clifden when a four-year-old gelding topped the sale for €13,000.

That price fell just short of the corresponding sale last year, and there was also a drop in the clearance rate to 65% (90% in 2022) but with seven ponies selling for a five-figure sum, the first sale marked a strong start to the year for breeders and producers.

The top priced was Lot 362, Knockagulshy Hero, a four-year-old dun gelding. Consigned by Castleblayney’s Keith Wilson, the 14.2hh is by the performance sire Castleside JJ, out of Gold Dust 2nd (Glencarrig Prince). Just as he did at this sale last year, Ballinasloe’s Kieran Egan signed the docket for the gelding who is described as having a super canter and jump. The value of pre-sale marketing was evident with the sale-topper as the successful buyer had seen videos of the pony beforehand.

Egan, a regular at every sale, commented after the sale: “There were some very good videos up on him on the sales website and I saw them beforehand so I had spotted him.

“We have ridden him at home, the pony is 100%. I intend to produce him; Michelle Geraghty rides for me but she is a guard in Dublin so doesn’t get that much time here. I have had numerous phone calls since I bought him to sell him on so we will just have to wait and see.

“He has been well produced and, for a four-year-old, he is not green at all. He jumps really well. He is bred in the purple to jump, his breeding is excellent.”

Asked why the demand and prices for Connemaras is so much higher in Clifden than at any other sale, Egan said: “In any other sale, you will only get 30 or 40 ponies, whereas in Clifden, there are 400 ponies over two days. They put on a good show, the owner is very decent and they look after the customers too.”

Lot 172, Tynagh Paula, made €11,800 in the ring on Saturday afternoon \ Rynes Walker


The next best price was €11,800 for Garry Aherne’s 10-year-old mare Tynagh Paula (Lot 172). By Westonhouse Straboe Bobby out of Tynagh Dawn (Laerkens Cascade Dawn), the mare has earned 67 Showjumping Ireland points in two seasons, jumping up to 1m under Billy Aherne, and has also done cross-country and Pony Club activities with the West Waterford branch. Sligo dealer and sales regular Tiernan Gray signed for the mare, one of 14 he purchased.

Making €11,000 on Saturday was Lot 119, Heather Murray-Good’s five-year-old bay stallion Belmont Mill Hill, by Gurteen Dara out of Queen of Clonberne (Clonberne Boy). He was sold online to Damien Gill who will stand his as a sire at his Cloontuskert Stud.

Ringside, Gray signed for two lots at €10,200. The first of those was Aine O’Keeffe’s roan six-year-old Prince Celtic. The 148cm gelding by Lehenagh Lad out of Celtic Mysty (Wings of Victory), has been ridden by a 10-year-old at Pony Club rallies and has hunted with the Duhallow Foxhounds.

Just a few lots later, Gray had the final say on Rathroe Boy (Lot 147) at the same price. The 15.2hh grey by Tullykyne Prince out of Kidromin Libby was sold by Sophia Harding who said the gelding has been schooled over coloured poles and cross-country fences.

Gray’s fourth five-figure purchase was another to have hunting experience with the Duhallows in Lot 189, Kircullen Dancer. Sold towards the end of Saturday’s session by Grainne Geary, the six-year-old gelding is by I Love You Melody out of the Brook Lodge Buster mare Kilberan Jill.

Lot 132 Knockagonnell Bealtaine Bay was sold for €10,000 \ Rynes Walker

Patrick Taylor and Hannah O’Gorman were, as usual, active throughout the weekend and went home with a total of 15 ponies, more than any other buyers. The pair, who split their time between Tipperary and the UK, where they sell ponies, cobs and sport horses, gave €10,000 for Lot 132, Glenn Turley’s five-year-old gelding Knockagonnell Bealtaine Bay (Coral Misty’s Bobby x Boden Park Finnard).

Among the O’Gorman/Taylor purchases was Lot 198, Uggool Duncan (Caherlistrane Bay x), a six-year-old gelding who has some showing experience. He gave €9,700 to Faye O’Connor for the 1.51hh grey.

He also picked up two Lots at €9,000; they were Lot 15, Dasher Monaghan, a four-year-old by Kippure Columbus sold by Aoife Cuffe, and Lot 194, Callow Conor, Charlie Foley’s five-year-old by Knockillaree Tomas.

Martin Connors got €9,500 for his six-year-old 148cm gelding Rathcline Billy (Lot 41), knocked down to Niall Daly, while also sold in the €9,000 price range was Nicola Fitzgerald’s four-year-old Rathkerry Melvin who has won red rosettes in the show ring. He was signed for by Miriam O’Donnell.

Some 82 ponies were sold overseas. The UK still remains the biggest market for Connemara ponies with 46 sold, while 19 went to the Benelux countries of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Nine ponies went to Germany, six to France, and two to Sweden. The next sale is on April 1st. Entries are now open.

Lot 144 Prince Celtic was sold for €10,200 at Clifden sales \ Rynes Walker