Connemara Pony

Oughterard Travel Blog

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The Twelve Pins (Bens) are rarely out of view on the Connemara horizon.
After a two-hour walk through the streets of Galway, Catherine, Leigh Ann, and I met back with Des at our pre-arranged spot in the cathedral parking lot.   We were still a good two to three hour drive from Clifden on the Irish country roads.   A room for the next two nights was reserved for us in the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, located on the famous Sky Road in Connemara

The Abbeyglen Castle was built in 1832 by the founder of Clifden, John d'Arcy.  When d'Arcy died, the estate was sold and as a result of the 1846 Famine, fell into serious disrepair.  The Hughes family purchased the castle and grounds in 1969 and have been lovingly restoring it for the past forty years.
Wild Connemara pony
  The castle is now a tastefully decorated  four-star hotel with lush, sweeping grounds.

Des seemed to enjoy the drive from Galway to Clifden.  The Irish weather was cooperating and we were riding right into the heart of Connemara National Park and the Twelve Pins (Bens) Mountains, although they looked more like hills than mountains.  This is also home to the sturdy Connemara pony, who are native to the area and much in demand.  Most of the wild ponies have been rounded up and broken, but we were lucky enough to come upon a pair of the beauties grazing next to the river.

These lovely creatures are believed to be from Scandinavian ponies first brought to Ireland by the Vikings.  Legend, however, says that galleons from the Spanish Armada ran aground in 1588 and the Andalusians on board were set loose.  These Spanish horses bred with the native stock, thus refining the breed, and the harsh Connemara landscape made them hardy and strong.

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The Twelve Pins (Bens) are rarely …
The Twelve Pins (Bens) are rarely…
Wild Connemara pony
Wild Connemara pony
photo by: kingelvis14