THE death took place recently of Castlewellan show horse owner/breeder Joe (P.J.) Lavery whose proudest moment in the ring came in 2014 when his Jacksons Drift mare Glenaguile and her filly foal by Centre Stage took the reserve title in The Irish Field breeders’ championship at the Dublin Horse Show.

Joe’s son Rory, who is well-known throughout the horse industry as a farrier and a former amateur jockey turned show jumper, told the Irish Horse World that “Dad was a horse lover. He always loved having a foal around the place to look at. He handled them really well and they were always so quiet.

“He got into horses through my mother, Eileen, and her father Hugh McCann who was a big winner in the show ring and sold his horses well. Hugh sold the Dublin two-year-old winner Crisp Counsel to Jimmy Ryan from Ballinahinch, Co Tipperary, who became a great friend of Dad’s and he made many trips down to Tipperary buying young horses and going to shows.”

“In the mid 1990s, Dad bought the colt foal winner at Dublin who had been champion all year for Paddy Corbett, another friend of his. A chesnut by Love Tail, he turned out to be a lovely horse. He also bought a half-bred filly at Tattersalls who won everything on the county circuit before finishing fourth as a yearling at Dublin. She was then sold to the late Paddy Downes and went on to win the All-Ireland the following month.”

Not too surprisingly, Lavery’s favourite show was in his home town, Castlewellan, and while he enjoyed many victories in those rings it was there in 2014 that Glenaguile and her foal qualified for Dublin and the filly won the foal championship. Joe also had a big interest in racing and, at the time of his death, owned the four-time-winning hurdler Outrageous Romana, a Mahler mare who is due her first foal by Sea Moon.

Hospitality industry

Lavery spent most of his working life in the hospitality industry, moving between front of house and chef duties. He ran a bar, McIlroys, for many years and so was very well known. He was a great singer and even got to sing at his own funeral as his recording of ‘My Castlewellan Town’ was played in the church and received a great ovation.

Joe, who died suddenly on February 28th, is survived by his partner Sally, his children Deborah, Conor and Rory and four grandchildren to whom The Irish Field extends its sympathies.