Kerry farmer Mick Teahan with a Kerry Bog Pony and foal in the Kerry Bog Village. Photo Joe Keogh

A NEW INITIATIVE has been launched at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park to preserve and promote awareness of one of Ireland’s rarest breeds of pony.

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park has teamed up with the Kerry Bog Pony Cooperative Society for the joint initiative. The popular visitor attraction, which already is home to a range of Irish native breeds, has engaged with the Society to secure a pair of Kerry Bog Ponies for its farm.

The Kerry Bog Pony has experienced a resurgence in recent years having declined in numbers throughout the 20th century to only 26 known mares and 6 stallions in 1990. Today there are around 450 ponies with approximately 50 foals being registered each year.

Little is known of the origins of the Kerry Bog Pony. The original ponies identified by John Mulvihill were located in South Kerry. Based on their genetics it has been suggested that the ponies could have been imported by the Vikings who had an encampment at Beginish near Valentia Island from the 10th to the 12th century.

“We are very grateful to The Kerry Bog Pony Cooperative Society for the support they have given us in reaching out on social media to pony breeders and owners across the country with a view to securing a pair of ponies,” explained Niall Moloney, Farm Manager at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park”.

He stated, “One of our primary missions in Bunratty is to increase awareness of native Irish breeds and how they have formed part of our social and cultural history in Ireland down through the centuries. We are looking to expand on our collection of native Irish animals from Droimeann cattle to Irish Wolfhounds and from Irish Red Deer to Tamworth pigs, and, in doing so, help to preserve and promote our heritage”.

Tomás Rosengrave, Chair of The Kerry Bog Pony Cooperative Society commented, “We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with Bunratty Castle and Folk Park on this project and in the future on educating all visitors to the Folk Park on our native Kerry Bog Pony while also celebrating its heritage and character. The Kerry Bog Pony is a very versatile breed, makes an excellent child’s riding pony but also excels in many equestrian sports such as carriage driving for adults. We are delighted that all visitors to the Bunratty Castle Folk Park Farm will have the opportunity to get know this great Irish breed of pony”.

Kerry Bog Pony owners or breeders are asked to contact Niall Moloney on niall.moloney@shannonheritage.com, or visit www.kerrybogpony.ie or www.bunrattycastle.ie.

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