The Connemara Pony Festival in Clifden starts today with crowds expected to descend on the capital of Connemara.
Today, Thursday August 9, and tomorrow, Friday August 10, will see the 89th annual Connemara Pony show take place at the Showgrounds in Clifden. There will be entertainment for young and old as well as the chance to get close to one of the most famous pony breeds in the world. Top ponies from all over Ireland will travel to compete in 24 in-hand classes. The event, which is being sponsored by Sweeney Oil Company, Galway Irish Crystal, and Manor Connemara Ponies, will see a dog show, domestic arts show, and Irish dancing.
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Best Dressed Lady competition, the event will take place again this year. Judged by former model Gillian Quinn, the winner will receive a €500 Carraig Donn voucher. Second prize is a weekend away at the Delphi Mountain Resort and third is a piece of jewellery from The Celtic Shop in Clifden.
The Performance Show will take place tomorrow, Friday August 10, and there will be a wide range of classes. The highlight of Friday’s events will be the Manor Connemara Ponies High Performance Class boasting a prize fund of €3,000. There will also be working hunter classes, a puissance competition, and a champions’ parade.
The Connemara Pony Festival will conclude with a catalogue sale of ponies, which will occur on Saturday August 11 and Sunday August 12 at Clifden Mart, beginning at 10am on both days. There will be 520 lots on offer.
The festival, which began on August 5 last, has proved to be an exciting event so far. The year 2012 is an important one in the history of the breed, as it marks 100 years since Rosmuck man Michael O’Malley brought two Connemara ponies to the Olympia in London, introducing the breed to the world.
Mr O’Malley was remembered during the festival, with a commemorative plaque placed in Rosmuck in his memory.
The festival opened on Sunday night with the 10th Show Queen competition taking place at the Station House Hotel. To mark the competition’s first decade, winners and runners-up from previous years were invited to attend.
International Day took place on Tuesday August 7 and the International Committee of Connemara Pony Societies met to discuss various issues on the breed. The international reception took place on Tuesday evening at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. The final of the Irish Connemara Green hunter occurred yesterday.