Breed Ambassadors: Connemara mare and foal to graze at Ireland’s presidential residence each summer

A mare and foal from Kylemore Abbey breeding program in County Galway will arrive at the presidential residence, Aras an Uachtarain, in May of 2021

Charmed by the breed that embodies the spirit of his country, the president of Ireland will welcome a Connemara pony and foal to graze on the fields adjacent to the official residence each summer, starting in May of 2021.  

The pair will come from Kylemore Abbey, a 1,000-acre estate nestled near the Atlantic Ocean in County Galway. Kylemore Abbey and its Victorian Walled Garden is one of the most visited attractions in Ireland. The abbey was built in the late 1800s by a wealthy British businessman and politician. Today, Kylemore Abbey is home to the Benedictine nuns of the Kylemore Abbey Community, who arrived in Kylemore on December 4th, 1920, having fled Belgium during the First World War. For over a century they have been a force for social good in Ireland, developing Kylemore as a girls’ boarding school, which operated until 2010.

Since the school’s closure, the Abbey has turned to tourism and now attracts over half a million visitors a year. About 60 percent of which come from USA, France and Germany.

A stud of Connemara Ponies was added to the estate last year with the objective of showcasing Ireland’s national equine breed  for international visitors. In total, there are four brood mares, 3 fillies and 2 colts. These ponies embody the various attributes and characteristics of the breed, including the grey, bay, dun and silver colors. The herd includes ponies with performance bloodlines, mares with bone and surefootedness and the pleasant character that is suitable for adults and children alike.

The new ‘Kylemore Paddock’ provides a platform for Connemara Ponies in the most natural of surroundings. “Peaceful” is the Kylemore Abbey stud prefix and it symbolizes the tranquillity of the Estate and the link to its tradition.

The ponies at Kylemore Abbey live outdoors in their natural surroundings all year round. These lucky ponies get to enjoy spectacular views of the Connemara landscape while grazing sheltered fields on the estate.

Since they arrived at Kylemore Abbey last year they have attracted a huge number of admirers. Visitors delight in seeing these friendly ponies pop their heads over the fence as they enjoy lunch outside the Garden Tea House. A special paddock has recently been developed, where sightseers can enjoy the foals ‘playacting’.

Click here to listen to the EQUUS Barn Stories podcast episode featuring the story of two friend’s misadventure in Ireland, chasing a wayward pony down a motorway.

The vast majority of visitors who come to the estate would have little or no knowledge of the breed. The Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society provided information signage to tell the history and background of the Connemara Pony to all who visit the newly established paddock.

A recent visitor to Kylemore Abbey, was president of Ireland, President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina. They enjoyed an engaging and immersive experience and following this visit, Kylemore Abbey has agreed that, starting in May 2021, they will provide a placement of a Connemara pony and foal to graze the fields adjoining the presidential residence each summer. 

According to Conor Coyne, executive director of Kylemore Abbey, “the placement of Kylemore Abbey’s Connemara ponies and foals on the estate of Aras an Uachtarain, will provide a superb showcase opportunity for Ireland’s national equine breed.”

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