What I did on my summer vacation: Connemara pony edition

A mare and foal from the historic Kylemore Abbey are spending the summer amongst steeplechasing legends at the Irish National Stud

Summer travel is a chance to see new places and make new friends, and a Connemara mare and foal have made the most of that opportunity this year. At the end of June, the pair traveled across Ireland, leaving their home at historic Kylemore Abbey to spend the season at the Irish National Stud in County Kildare. Since their arrival, the mare, Gray Lass, and her colt, Peaceful Promise, have been greeting visitors to the Stud alongside living Irish steeple legends, with names like Beef or Salmon and Hurricane Fly.

(You can see video of the pair shortly after their arrival to the National Stud at the end of this article.)

Sisters Karol and Jeanne pose for a picture with Snowy and Peaceful Promise before the horses set off on their summer travels to the Irish National Stud. (courtesy, Kylemore Abbey)

As two of Ireland’s leading visitor attractions, both with an equine interest, this partnership between the two facilities saw the west and the east coast of the country come together to offer visitors to the National Stud an opportunity to see the beautiful, native Irish pony.

“The Irish National Stud and Gardens are delighted to welcome the beautiful Gray Lass and her colt foal Peaceful Promise from the iconic visitor’s attraction, Kylemore Abbey. They will be here for the summer months show casing Ireland’s wonderful national breed of Pony,” says David Wardell, Tourism Manager, Irish National Stud.

Since the introduction of the ‘Peaceful’ Connemara pony herd in Kylemore Abbey in 2019, they have become a key part of the visitor experience with daily feedings, opportunities for visitors to name the new foals online, and a pony trail with interesting, fun signage running along the pony paddock which illustrates why the Connemara Pony is sought after worldwide as both a performance pony and as a trusted family pony.

To learn more about the Kylemore Abbey and their Connemara pony herd, visit https://www.kylemoreabbey.com/

Once at the Irish National Stud, Peaceful Promise quickly began enjoying himself. (courtesy Kylemore Abbey)

The considerable number of visitors who visit the National Stud on an annual basis will be able to learn more about the Connemara pony from interpretive signage, like that found on Kylemore’s Pony Trail. This offers a wonderful opportunity to promote the Connemara breed, both in Ireland and abroad. This is something much appreciated by the Connemara pony lovers, as David Sheedy, President of the Connemara Pony Breeders Society points out, “The Connemara Pony Breeders’ Society is delighted with this wonderful initiative between Kylemore Abbey and The National Stud. We look forward to seeing our Connemara pony take its place amongst some of the most wonderful horses in the world.”

While Gray Lass (affectionately referred to as “Snowy”) and her foal are enjoying their “holiday,” they will be greatly missed by the Benedictine nuns who have called Kylemore Abbey home for over one hundred years, and who have grown very fond of the ponies. Each Spring the nuns keep a watchful eye over the mares as they prepare to foal. One nun who has developed a special relationship with the ponies is Sr. Karol, a music teacher and artist, whose paintings of the ponies have been developed into a beautiful range of cards and tea towels available for purchase in the Kylemore Abbey Craft and Design Shop.

The colt who traveled to Kildare this June was aptly named “Peaceful Promise” through an online competition. The now annual foal naming competition has become a highlight of spring each year and sees hundreds of names suggested by followers of Kylemore from all over the world.

A delegation from Kylemore Abbey including Sr. Karol, Kylemore’s pony handlers, and President of the Connemara Pony Breeders Society, David Sheedy, travelled with the mare and foal to give them a proper send off to mark the beginning of a great partnership between pony lovers and two of Ireland’s leading Visitor Attractions.

“We are delighted, in Kylemore Abbey, to share our love of the Connemara Pony with our friends at the Irish National Stud and Gardens. Kylemore Abbey has a long-standing tradition of promoting the best of the West of Ireland and this partnership will bring the national breed of Pony to Ireland’s showcase for all things equine,” says Conor Coyne, CEO, Kylemore Abbey.

Visitors to Kylemore Abbey can get to see the “Peaceful” Connemara pony herd who spend the summer months frolicking with their foals by the Garden Teahouse. Daily pony feedings offer Kylemore’s nearly 560,000 annual visitors the opportunity to get up close to the ponies and learn about the beautiful breed from an expert Connemara pony handler.

Local media covered the arrival of Snowy and Peaceful Promise at the Irish National Stud.

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