Serena Finnerty is best described as a ray of brilliant sunshine. The Co Clare native is infectiously upbeat and positive, and even her voice sounds as if it is smiling.

Now located in Turloughmore, Co Galway, Serena and her husband Martin combine their busy working lives with running a farm and looking after their dogs and horses.

“We live on Martin’s family farm, which was originally used for growing potatoes,” Serena says. “Over time, that has changed over to forage production. During COVID-19, we had a big sort out and a tidy up and, as a result, Martin and myself set up as beef farmers.

" We rear suckler calves to around 18-20 months of age and then sell them on for finishing. My grandfather kept sheep and cattle, so farming was in my family, too. We fit the cattle in around our day jobs, and between us both we manage.”

Serena currently works as a sales rep for a distribution company in Dublin, but her first love is for all things skincare and cosmetics. “I owned my own shop initially, but I went on to apply for a position at a pharmacy.

"I worked as an over-the-counter consultant for small medicines. The pharmacy had four beauty counters, and it was here that I realised my passion. I trained with skincare brands Clarins, Esteé Lauder and Lancome, and I went on to work as a counter manager for Lancome for a number of years.

"I completed an internationally recognised diploma to become an ITEC makeup artist through the School of Makeup Artistry in Galway. I absolutely adore it, and I hope in the future that I will be able to fit it back in to my working life.

"I so enjoy making people feel good about themselves, either through advice or through application.”

Hunting field

Serena’s husband Martin works as a plumber, and he is also an equestrian enthusiast. The couple met on the hunting field in Galway. “I have a hunting background, and my friend asked me to ride a horse at a hunt for her.

" I didn’t know many people out that day, and I managed to fall off the horse. I was soaking wet, covered in mud and not looking my best when I then met Martin. We didn’t find any foxes that day, but I did find a husband!”

The couple currently own seven horses between them. The best known of them all is undoubtedly Cisco, a tall coloured gelding. “I have owned Cisco for 16 years now, and he is 22 this year. "There is nothing we haven’t done together; we have hunted, taken part in cross country rides and been show jumping, both in the Riding Club and as an amateur with Showjumping Ireland.

"We have even had a go at dressage, a puissance and some side saddle. Thirteen years ago, I broke my pelvis, hip and femur in a fall from Cisco, and five years ago I broke my pelvis again. They were both freak accidents, but I think people were left wondering why I would want to keep riding him. He might have broken me, but he also fixed me all over again. I wouldn’t be where I am today or have the friends that I do, if it had not been for Cisco.”

Dublin Horse Show

Serena is a Showjumping Ireland judge, and she is aiming to sit exams in November to move up a level. She also works as a show steward at the RDS Dublin Horse Show.

Martin is an SJI course builder, and he was in attendance in the Simmonscourt arena at the recent Dublin Horse Show, in the role of assistant course builder. “Last year I got to steward the main arena during the Nations Cup, and it was an incredible experience.

"This year, I was on the rota for the first round of the Nations Cup, and I also got to be in the judges’ box for the Association of Irish Riding Clubs team final on the Sunday afternoon. It was amazing!”

Serena’s equestrian journey began at a young age. Her neighbours were dealers and breeders, and Serena would spend any spare time working in the yard in exchange for a spin on a pony. “I was the ultimate horsey child!” These days, she dedicates any spare time to setting up and running various events, and making equestrianism accessible for all. “Do things not for yourself or for the glory, but for those who will benefit the most from your actions.

"I want to be an encouraging person for others. I have met so many genuine people at horse shows. Horses have taken me to so many places, and have brought so many people into my life. I am very lucky.”