SEVENTY-FOUR members of Dressage Ireland attended the national body’s annual general meeting which was held last Tuesday week at the Maldron Hotel in Tallaght, Dublin.

The meeting commenced with an address by chairperson, Marguerite Kavanagh, followed by presentation of the 2020 and 2021 financial statements by Richard Twomey of Richard Ensor chartered accountants. Company secretary, Laura Kearney of Mason, Hayes and Curran was also in attendance to oversee proceedings.

After presentations by Miriam Walsh and Ronan Murphy, both they were reaffirmed onto the board. However, since becoming a CLG (company limited by guarantee), the constitution of Dressage Ireland – and corporate governance – meant it was time for board members serving six years or more to step down for a period of at least one two-year term.

Donie McNamara, Joan Adrain and Gisela Holstein duly did so and were thanked for their unwavering service by Kavanagh who made presentations to them on behalf of Dressage Ireland. Six candidates went forward on the night for and after presentations from each, four were elected, through a paper ballot, by the voting members in attendance.

The successful quartet comprised overseas member Dane Rawlins who has represented Ireland at international Grand Prix level and brings a wealth of competition knowledge and experience to the board. Northern Region member Christine Newton is the owner of a mortgage company with a background in finance and insurance.

Qualified accounting technician Simone Hession, from the Midland & Western region, competes at high levels with her home-bred Irish Draughts and is organiser of the Wild Atlantic Dressage Festival. Eastern Region member Jane Whitaker is an archaeologist by profession as well as a dressage judge. Her project management and organisation skills will be invaluable as she returns to the Dressage Ireland board.

In her closing address, during which she called for a minute’s silence in memory of Dressage Ireland founder Joan Keogh who died in July, Kavanagh acknowledged that corporate governance is now a critical component of all sporting organisations and that Dressage Ireland is mindful of its duty to maintain compliance with such requirements.


She further commented that while activity levels within dressage remain high, Covid did effect membership which is only slowly rising again. However, the predicted pinch in the economy will present challenges for the organisation. Kavanagh also emphasised the importance of the sport to the wellbeing of participants.

On the competition front, the Slieve Bloom national dressage championships got under way yesterday (Friday) at Barnadown and continue throughout today and tomorrow. Judges from the Dressage Ireland list have been joined by Britain’s Sarah Leitch and Jo Graham, New Zealand’s Andrew Bennie and The Netherlands’ Hanneke Gerritsen.