I’m an agricultural adviser with Teagasc, that’s my job. I am based in the Clonmel office and work as the organics adviser for Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny and east Cork. Here at home, I’m farming with my mam and dad; we are suckler beef and sheep farmers.

Growing up, I would have always been a pony-mad child. I was always with ponies; hunting and going up to the wood. Horses would have been a big part of our family. My dad does a bit of in-hand showing at local shows, at the likes of Killusty and Clonmel. He usually has a cob at Killusty, they are his favourite. I don’t ride as much as I used to, with work and everything.

Family ties

Our family has been involved with the Killusty show for as long as I can remember. In 2005, dad was approached by a committee member to host the show. It had gotten so big that they needed a new site. It’s been here since. It is a great privilege for us as a family to host.

The show would’ve started in Clare Castle stud in 1962. Then it moved to the school field in Killusty village, literally at the foot of Slievenamon. Then it got too big for that location – which is a good complaint – and that is when dad was approached and it was moved over the road to our field.

In 2020 with COVID-19, we said it was a great opportunity to reseed the field and then, after two years without a show, we were kind of looking at it and wondering if the sod would be strong enough if we got a wet year.

So we decided to move the show to our home yard, which is three and a half kilometres outside the village of Killusty. It is a bigger field and it just turned out to be the ideal site. So it seems to be the new home of the show since last year.

Everyone commented on the space and how was easy it was for access. The whole show takes place in just one field.

Classes for the masses

Killusty [show] started off with four showing rings, now there are seven. We’ve over 90 horse and pony classes. It’s probably one of the largest IPS (Irish Pony Society) shows.

The dog show draws a crowd in itself and the fancy dress class is so popular too. It is unbelievable what the kids come up with.

Last year, I was appointed field manager. They asked me if I would do it and I said I will. As the youngest serving committee member,

Children from age four up to 12 dress themselves and their ponies up. Last year, the little lad that won was decked out as John Deere – he was in a boiler suit and the pony was rigged up as the tractor. It was brilliant. He told me he already knows what he is going to dress up as this year. They put so much thought into it.

Managing the field

I started off as a steward in ring one when I was 11. That is where most of the in-hand classes are. I’ve been there since, that’s my spot on show day.

Last year, I was appointed field manager. They asked me if I would do it and I said I will. As the youngest serving committee member, I just felt like it was a huge responsibility at the time. It was a big task to take on, but it was to try make the most of the space we have in the new location.

It was also a nod to how we all get on as a committee. Everybody’s input is valued. There are about 20 on the committee. It is completely voluntary. We have meetings throughout the year and are planning all-year round.

I look after the social media pages; we are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. My sister is the treasurer for the past two years.

Everybody gets on, there are great characters and we all just want to make it work.

That is the one thing that is special about Killusty; we do have such involvement in the community and there is a great committee.

It is important that our show is completely voluntary run; it does not receive any grants or funding. We rely on sponsorship and donations. We are extremely grateful to all the local businesses that continue to support us. Without our sponsors, competitors and spectators, there would be no show.

When you see the buzz that happens, people come from all over Ireland to show at Killusty.

They go away with a happy face and they say, ‘thanks very much, see you next year’. And you do see them them next year.

That is what’s nice about the show community. You might only see people once a year or bump into them at other shows, but everyone gets to know each other. It is a nice community.

Anyone who comes to Killusty will always remark on the view that is there, it is unbelievable. There is nowhere else really to be on the first Saturday in July, only at Killusty in the sunshine.”

Killusty Pony Show, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, takes place on Saturday, 1 July at the showgrounds, Grangebeg, Fethard, Co Tipperary.

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