By Michael Glynn
Stallion owners in the western counties operate in adversity at the best of times with their breeder brethren in the premier thoroughbred counties reluctant to support them, but when the fates conspire against you, it makes things all the more difficult.
Such was the experience of John Lynch of Windmill View Stud in Kiltormer last Autumn when, in the matter of weeks, he lost his promising Galileo stallion Gatewood and a foal half-brother by him to a €546,000 sale topper in Hong Kong in separate circumstances — with his misfortune then being compounded when the dam of the latter aborted a sibling as a consequence.
“Anyone who works with horses will know that disappointment and loss lurk around every corner,” says John phlegmatically.
His stoic attitude to such a sequence of setbacks is born out of a greater tragedy endured by John and his wife Rita when they lost their eldest son Johnny, at the age of 20, in a car accident 13 years ago.
“Our son’s death took a long, long time to come to terms with and I suppose something like that puts everything else into perspective,” John points out. “You never look at things the same again.
“I was crestfallen when I discovered Gatewood dead in his box one morning last September, and the disappointment was doubled within a couple of weeks with what happened to the foals. But none of that compares to real grief . . . the loss of someone you love. It pales in comparison.”
Gatewood, trained by John Gosden to win the G3 Prix de Reux at Deauville and the listed Wolferton Handicap over 10 furlongs at Royal Ascot — he later won the G3 Geelong Cup in Australia — has left 100-plus progeny to represent him on the racecourse after his four seasons at stud, and John fully expects them to make an impact.
“He had done very well for us, covering up to 40 mares a year and his foals were selling well, regularly making over €5,000 which was more than double his covering fee. The oldest are now three year-olds and I will be surprised if there are not some very good ones among them.
“He had the class and speed to win at Royal Ascot, the durability to come through 28 races on two continents perfectly sound, and he had great conformation and temperament. What’s more, he stamped his stock in his own likeness and they were all bays. I always take that as a good sign in a stallion.”
Although John has the compensation of five of his own mares in foal to Gatewood, the one he was most looking forward to, a colt out of the US-bred Mining mare Mine Inning, got himself entangled in sheep wire last Autumn and, in his panic, suffered fatal injuries. To worsen the woe, the mare, stressed by this freak event, lost the foal she was carrying.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Exploring the merits of moving into the west
Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.
“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.
These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.
But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.
Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.
One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.
The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing
A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.
They lifted and footed his turf.
John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.
He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.
“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.
Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!
“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.
Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.
They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.
Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat
It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.
After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.
“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”
But it could have all been so different.
Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.
She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.
Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.
Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.
Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.