Famous Old Ballabuidhe Horse Races

‘BALLABUIDHE’ – Hall of Fame

 The Hall of Fame is awarded to people or animals who have over the years, supported or enhanced Ballabuidhe to make it what it is today, of which Ballabuidhe Race Committee are very grateful – It is hoped that there would be some person or animal chosen every year to award the Hall of Fame award to. It has been decided that it will only be awarded in very special cases and it will not be awarded every year unless there is somebody to merit it.


Mr Eric Tyner & Jackie McSweeney

This year, the inaugural year of the HALL OF FAME AWARD. It will be shared between two people and one organisation, the organisation being the Founder members of the Ballyboy Race Company who had the foresight to purchase Droumleena Lawn and give Ballabuidhe a permanent home forever, this is the first award that will be made, we can never forget those brave nine men, they will be the first recipients of the inaugural Hall of Fame.

Mr Eric Tyner

Mr. Eric Tyner who has been racing in Ballabuidhe since 1948 will get the award from the galloping side of the event and Mr. Jackie McSweeney from Aherla who has been racing in the trotting scene since the early fifties will get the trotting award. Eric Tyner raced horses in the old Ballabuidhe racetrack at Prospect Lawn with a horse called Black Magic; Pat Lordan was believed to be the jockey that day and Pat is still hale and hearty like Eric. I don’t know how many winners Eric has had in the years since but it is surely a record that will never be surpassed because as a young boy growing up Tyner’s dominated the meeting, which they still do.

Jackie McSweeney

Coming to Jackie McSweeney, my first memories of Jackie as a young boy was to see him riding that great horse Aherla Glen and that horse was very seldom beaten, I think he won something like thirty races on the trot which was an outstanding record. A great story told about Jackie was that when he bought Red Flame he was given money to go to Bantry Fair to buy some Springing Heifers, Jackie arrived home with Red Flame and two white shorthorn heifers, I wonder what his father said to him that evening, whether his father gave out to him or encouraged him, it gave Jackie a lifelong love in the trotting game. As far as I know he either rode or drove six All Irelands winners which was an outstanding achievement in its own right. The one thing that stands out in my mind for Jackie was the standing ovation he got from the crowd when he won the grade “C” sulky in Dunmanway after the personal tragedy in his own life, I think that day the crowd just cheered him on and gave him a brilliant welcome home, “a special Ballabuidhe one.” The horse he drove that day was Springtime.


Corney Cremin & Limed Hazard

They say that to get into a Hall of Fame in any organization you have to be special and this year we have 2 special candidates Corney Cremin from Bantry who receives the galloping Hall of Fame has always been a gentleman and in our association with him has been one of the quietist people that we have ever dealt with in horse racing, we never had a quibble with him, our memories of him are all good. Just looking at his long career starting back in 1936, with his long association with Ballabuidhe up to the present day, it was a lifelong thing and he is a fitting recipient of the Hall of Fame.

‘Limed Hazard’, as the term says could be dubbed the ‘King of Ballabuidhe’, any horse to be unbeaten in 18 starts in the one track, it was some achievement, so for this year they are two very fitting recipients of the Hall of Fame Award.

I have many happy memories of Ballabuidhe going back longer than we care to remember. I remember as a lad going up to the races, it must have been 1936 or 37 on the train from Bantry for half fare which was 9d old pence. About 1939 we had a half bred pony at home and he had won a few local races around the Bantry area. H e was named ‘Coal Dust’. So I ventured out to Ballabuidhe with him and “ Oh Boy” did I get an eye opener. He finished a bad last of four.
I realised in later years that at the time there was no such thing as a fourth prize but a nice gentleman put his hand in his pocket and handed me a red 10/= note saying there’s your prize and bring back a better one next time. It was years later when I discovered that the kind gentleman was none other than the late Hughie Mac. RIP. I often think of him for it.

A few years later I raced a mare called ‘The Rapid’ in Prospect Lawn, of the year I’m not sure but she was second to a horse of Peter Brien’s called ‘Golden Curl’ which was ‘Nutty Solario’ inside the rails and the last horse Vincent O’Brien rode as a qualified rider at Mallow some weeks before. We ran her again in the Consolation Race that evening and she finished third and I was very happy with my total prize money £4 won by ‘The Rapid’. That mare broke down and went to my Aunt for breeding afterwards.

By that time I was into the greyhounds and stayed with them until around 1964 when I got involved with a great sportsman, horseman, boulplayer and footballer, The late Thomas O’Donoghue of Glengarriff for whom I procured and helped to prepare a few useful horses that were later to race with distinction at your meetings for a few years.

By now, our kids were growing up and needed to be directed to some healthy sport and as any weren’t showing interest in the dogs I introduced them to the ponies, and we hit the road in 1966 and raced all over Munster for the next 30 years. It was 1996 when I called it a day, as by then most of the family had married and gone their different ways, and I was left without a good work rider, someone you can’t train horses properly without.

I sold my last horse ‘Saddlers Cross’ to Michael Tierney of Kinsale, and fittingly he won the Ballabuidhe Derby for him the following year, having previously won 2 for us.


Mick Burns & Joe Sheehy

This year two long supporting men have been honoured by their selection for the prestigious Hall of Fame Award namely Mick Burns, from Banteer who at the age of 13 rode for the first time in Prospect Lawn in 1939 in a pony race.

Among the many runners and winners up and down the country that time were Little Kit, Brown Ivy, Black Prince, Young Bess, Out All Night and many many more.

That went on for a number of years until around 1966 when he decided to go into the training business for himself. Since then he trained a lot of young lads to ride and go into the racing career. He travelled all over Ireland to the race meetings and among the many horses he trained and ran at Ballabuidhe were the memorable Bright & Merry, The Black Bird, Padlock, Approaching, Take The Floor, Daisy, Take it Easy, Glandore Girl, Salmon Leap, Pacemaker, Miss Donaghue, Black Band and The Rake.

He doesn’t go to many races now, as he says himself “The years are catching up with me”.

Second man to be honoured is Joe Sheehy from Union Hall, a local man known and respected by everyone throughout West Cork. His feats over the years are known throughout the Country from riding horses to driving the sulky.


Pat Lordan & Matt Murphy

Pat Lordan rode his first Pony race for his father in the early fifties on the beach in Courtmacsherry and went on to Ballabuidhe some time later and won a lot of the big races for Eric Tyner and Nat Hawkins, he went on to ride in Dingle.

He rode four Derby Winners for Eric Tyner then he spent time with the late John Oxx ( snr ) in the Curragh. He came back home to ride amateur with great success in the Point to Point Field. He has family ties with Dunmanway as his mother came from there and still have a lot of relations there.

The family tradition is still going strong as his two sons ( Pat & Wayne) started in Dunmanway. Pat won a lot of races for Mick Burns and went on to win a Dingle Derby for him, he also won three All Ireland saddle trots for Matt Murphy.

Wayne also won a lot of races for Eric Tyner and won a All Ireland saddle trot for Matt Murphy and went on from there to start his apprenticeship as a flat jockey with a Dunmanway man Thomond O’Mara based in Tipperary.

And to follow on the tradition his grandson, 12 year old Darragh has already won 17 pony races, he said he will be in Dunmanway this August week-end hoping to see him ride some winners. He wishes to thank Ballabuidhe Race Committee for all the support of their success in their carreers.

Matt Murphy a native of Drimoleague – a place with a strong trotting tradition. Can remember attending road trotting in Drimoleague, 1949 where Flying Saucer was ridden by Joe Sheehy.First trotter he purchased was a square trotter ‘Funny Boy’. In 1975 ‘Funny Boy’ won the Grand Prix in Skibbereen Gymkana. It was a race run over 2 Sundays against horses from Dublin, Belfast and Limerick.

He went through lots of horses, some more successful than others. One that stands out was ‘ Shell Smoke’ who won many ‘A’ trots including 3 All Ireland Trots in a row. He was ridden by Pat Lordan ( Junior ).

Ballabuidhe has been a very lucky venue for him, In 1988 he got 1st & 2nd in the Grand Prix with ‘Wee Dougal’ and ‘Stoneriggs Cuddy’. Another great horse from the Innishbeg Stables was H.T. Adios who had over 60 wins in his racing career including ‘ All Ireland’ and ‘ Horse of the Year’ titles. 1991 saw a remarkable achievement for the Murphy family with a treble, ‘Horse of the Year’, ( H.T. Adios ), ‘ Driver of the Year’ ( Tadhg Murphy ) and ‘Jockey of the Year ‘ ( Donal Murphy ).

Another very successful horse from the Innishbeg Stables was ‘ Saunders Spirit ‘ who had many a battle with ‘Limed Hazard’ yet still won lots of races. Wayne Lordan ( now a successful jockey in the international stage ) rode ‘ Saunders Spirit ‘ to All Ireland glory on the Ballabuidhe track.

His family are now very involved in trotting, so is Matt, now out of the limelight but still helping with lots of the homework.


Michael Fehily & Sammy Burchill

This year we are inducting into the Ballabuidhe Hall of Fame the Heads of two well known racing families who have competed at Ballabuidhe over the years and both of them have passed on the love of racing to their families.

Michael Fehily

Ballabuidhe has been a long standing tradition for my Family and I. I went there in my younger days to watch the racing and of course fair night. Little did I think I would have horses racing there one day myself. 1983 was my first year to participate with a 12.2 pony Grey Pearl, John Barrett, rode for me at that time until my own family started race riding. Noel, Eamonn and Micheal then rode themselves and we had some great ponies such as Darkie, Bay Pearl, Curra Lass and one of the best horses we had Distant Drums gave us our first Ballabuidhe Derby Win. That was a great honour for us being our home meeting. Noel Eamonn and Micheal then moved on to the Point to Point racing and some of the younger Jockeys to ride for me were Brian Crowley, John O’Donovan, Alan O’Keeffe, Richard Forristal and Stephen O’Donovan.

Horse and Pony racing has been great for me and my Family, it provided a training ground for Noel and others like him. I was Chairman of the Horse and Pony Racing Assoc. for 18 years and have made some great friends during my years involved. There is great credit due to Committees such as the Ballabuidhe Committee for holding these race meetings year in year out they are providing alot of fun and entertainment for a lot of people both as participants and spectators.

In the past members of Ballabuidhe Race Committee often remarked that it was an pity that there was no horses or horse owners based in Dunmanway but Mick Fehily changed all that coming along with a wonderful string of ponies and horses and it was great to see a local owner and local jockeys win at Ballabuidhe. It created a whole new buzz to have a local man involved. And indeed his son Noel has gone on to be the first professional jockey from Dunmanway.

Jackie McSweeney

No one will be surprised that Sam Burchill, one of the most popular men in trotting, is inducted into the Hall Of Fame.

Sam, from Rineen near Skibbereen, got involved nearly thirty years when Bellevue arrived in his stable. Other inmates around that time include Go Easy, Little Fox, and later, Allianna. Sam has been particularly successful with his own road horses.

He trained Another Rascal and Rob Haw to many successes, but it is with Stoneriggs Rascal, that he is most famously associated. The “King Of The Road drew a large following wherever he raced and remains one of the most popular road horses ever. At present, Sam also trains Porterstown Jack, multiple winner in harness at home and across the water.

Sam’s other great interest lies in Irish Draught horses. His mares include the lines of the great Galtylara through the Glen Of Aherlow. The mares, and their foals, have won all over the country and a progeny of one of them is Grade A showjumper, Rineen Clover. But on the show circuit, dearest to Sam’s heart is the “Pride Of Ballabuidhe” final.

He did not win it in 2007, but was successful in the preceding three years. Having won it over half-dozen times in all, it should be no surprise if he wins it again, to really crown Ballabuidhe for him.

Sam Burchill has shown that he is a horseman from his toes to his fingertips, from his early days as a trainer and now with his Irish Draught Mare and his family the same, every one of them has been involved as either jockeys or drivers in the sport of trotting in West Cork with great success.


Mrs Violet Hurley & Mr. William Gleeson

Mrs Violet Hurley

Voilet says thanks very much for selecting me for the Hall of Fame award.

I am in the Trotting and Harness Racing a good many years. I had about 20 horses over the years.

My first horse was Dillons Girl, the first day I raced her in the saddle was in Enniskeane. I won the grade “A” Trot from Darkie.

My second best horse was Dana and we won a lot of races together. I won a lot of races at Ballabuidhe, Trotting and Ladies Sulky.

Bought a good few of my horses from the late Walter Cunningham who passed away late last year. He was one of my very best friends all through the years.

I enjoy the Trotting and Harness racing very much, I help now with the running of the Irish Trotting and Harness Races.

Mr. William Gleeson

Billy Gleeson started out with ponies. He had 5 winners at pony races and hunted a lot with ponies. Unfortunately, he had to give it up (retire?) as he became too heavy.

Then he started training, and making and breaking horses which was during the war. He worked a lot with them, e.g. working them on the land and doing contract work with them.

In 1943 he was involved in the making of a film called “The Battle of Agincourt” in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow. It was produced by Laurence Olivier who was then married to Vivien Leigh. Because Billy’s horse became sick, he was left with nothing to do so he was given the job of “bathman” to both Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and so became quite friendly with them, to such an extent that they wrote a letter of thanks to him afterwards.

In 1945 he started a livery yard and in 1955 began hiring horses for hunting, thus supplied them to all the hunts.

In 1960 he was invited by Mr. Jennings of the Department of Agriculture to judge for Bord na gCapall which he did for about 15 years and in every county in Ireland.

In 1968, Billy set up an Equestrian Holiday Centre which ran for 20 years. This was made possible by his wife Helen and family and they received lots of international visitors.

In 1974 he took out a racehorse trainers licence and trained 20 winners.

In 1982 he was invited to judge at Ballabuidhe and has been doing it ever since. He considers this a great honour and feels privileged to have been asked. Ballabuidhe Show to him is different to any other show. When he would give a rosette to a winner and shake their hand, there was a special feeling because the person receiving the rosette would do so with deep appreciation and with no monitory gain involved. Basically, it’s for the love of the horse and the pride in keeping it.

He gets on very well with the people and organisers of the show and at this stage he would like to thank everyone who has helped him along the way and during his lifetime.
He would like to say a very special thanks to the organisers of Ballabuidhe and also to Joe and Mairead Higgins and family in Dunmanway for their hospitality.
A special thanks also to Ballabuidhe for including him in their Hall of Fame. He would like to wish a long life to Ballabuidhe fair and races.


George Deane & Paddy Cournane

George comes from a family with a long tradition of being involved in shows and trotting in West Cork.

George was elected a Judge and first president of the Irish Trotting & Harness Racing Federation in 1984, a position he still holds today and he was still judging up to two years ago and acted as a senior judge at Ballabuidhe for many years.

George got involved in the racing side of things when he bought a brood mare and bred two horses which he subsequently raced with great success on both the roads and fields of West Cork namely Hilo’s River and Hilo’s Dale and we are proud to welcome George into the Ballabuidhe Hall of Fame and join the other great trotting people who are already there.

Paddy Cournane got involved in racing as a jockey riding in the Horse and Pony circuit in the early 50’s and later moved on to owning horses and ponies in the 60’s.

He has been competing at Ballabuidhe since the early 50’s as a jockey and owner and has had a lot of success with his charges over the years.

Kerry is a county that over the years has given Ballabuidhe a lot of runners and a lot of great competitors and Paddy has been one of the best. Paddy has been a good friend and a great competitor at Ballabuidhe for over 50 years and we are proud to honour him and welcome him into the Ballabuidhe Hall of Fame.


Jackie Cowan – RIP

This year we are honouring Jackie Cowan Posthumously for the wonderful work she has done for Ballabuidhe over the years.

Not alone writing pre-race publicity and race reports in the various newspapers but also doing the pace form for the race programme over the years and any other thing that we asked her to do, the answer was always yes and everything she did was done voluntary with a smile.

It was during a visit to Ballabuidhe in the early 80’s she got the interest in Trotting.

Jackie was a tireless worker on behalf of racing in West Cork She always saw the bigger picture and tried to point West Cork racing in the right direction through writing in the various publications she contributed to.

Jackie was very proud when the horse she jointly owned with Veronica McCarthy ‘Limed Hazard ‘was entered into the Ballabuidhe ‘Hall of Fame’ and this year Jackie joins him.

It’s something that should have happened in her lifetime but we never thought she would leave us so early. We know she is with us today in spirit and we think of you Jackie on this Ballabuidhe day and we are very proud to enter you in the Ballabuidhe ’Hall of Fame’


The Kane Family

This year we are honouring the Kane Family from Dublin who have been one of the great supporters of Trotting and Harness Racing in West Cork.

In the early 1960’s Sulky racing was first introduced into West Cork, Paddy Kane Senior was one of the leading lights who was involved in those excursions into West Cork to Skibbereen Gymkhana. That time it brought a new dimension to trotting which was starting to stagnate in West Cork and for the rest of his life, Paddy continually visited and raced in West Cork especially at Ballabuidhe and he gave a great love of Trotting and Harness racing to his sons Patrick, Gerard and the late Jason,

They have continued in that great tradition of coming to West Cork to the various festival meetings. Long may their support of West Cork meetings continue. They in turn have passed on the love of the sport to their sons and daughters. Patrick’s sons – Patrick jr. and Mark, and Gerard’s son Sean and his twin daughters Mary and Emma, who in the future, no doubt, will associate West Cork with fine racing and good friends.

So to the Kane Family we say we are proud to welcome you one and all into the Ballabuidhe Hall of Fame.

Patrick Kane Sr. R.I.P. 18th July 2002
Jason Kane R.I.P. 24th August 2009