Heritage & History

Connemara Ponies RunningAs a child all Lady Hemphill wanted was a pony, so it was appropriate when the time came for her Mother in Cloonee, County Mayo, to search for a suitable mount for her daughter. When she was just eight years old her wish was granted and  'Peggy' was bought for £14, a pony that started a long and successful bond with the Connemara Breed. Anne hunted Peggy and her mother drove her in a trap, she was part of the family and she later provided two foals.

Peggy was still alive when Anne left Cloonee to marry Lord Hemphill, and they started their married life together at Tulira Castle in Co. Galway.

The Tulira prefix was an enterprise that began when the Hemphill's where having dinner with film director John Houston who at the time lived nearby at St Clerans. He mentioned he was selling off his ponies, so there and then a deal was done, for two mares Glen Nelly who was by Gil, and Star of Fahy, a mare by Dun Lorenzo that Bobby Bolgers father Jack had sold to John Houston. Soon both mares were sent to the local stallion Tooreen Ross, who sired the foundation Stallion Tulira Mairtin and the mare Tulira Mavourneen, who subsequently became a Dublin champion. 

As each decade passes the progeny of these mares has enhanced the profile of the Connemara Pony throughout the world. Great credit must be given to the careful selection and thought that was put into the bloodlines of the Tulira Ponies as they feature amoungst both Sires and Dams in many different countries.

Cottage by Lake in ConnemaraLord and Lady Hemphill made regular visits to Connemara and one day when they were travelling near Recess a beautiful head appeared through the gorse bushes so they stopped to look. The pony was Noreen Grey who was a twin and later produced 13 foals including Tulira Rocket.

On another occasion when in the Maam Cross area they spotted on the side of the road – a small but perfectly made 2 year old filly Glencaugh Star who turned out not only to be a brilliant hunter for their seven year old and youngest daughter Mary Anne, but later as a broodmare to produce Tulira Heather the dam of Tulira Robuck and several stallions exported to the UK.


The Castle was sold in the early 80’s and the pony herd was dispersed. In 1988 Lady Hemphill bought two of her original breed back from Willie Leahy, these were Tulira Mary Clare, and Tulira Heather a daughter of Carna Bobby and Glencaugh Star, who was also to provide the Hemphill’s with one of the most outstanding ponies of his era Tulira Robuck. His career needs no introduction with many accoldades in Ireland and England. 

Lady Hemphill has given much of her life to ponies and to the betterment of breeding and performance. Her dedication to the pony club and country life is unending. She was up to quite recently a familiar figure seen riding across country on one of her good hunters with her class from the pony club in pursuit, jumping obstacles of every sort and kind. She believed that all kids had to get over anything and this was the right foundation for good riders, with many of her pupils from the past freely admitting they owe a huge amount of their success to her. 

Hunting was and is her passion. When Lord Hemphill was master of the famed Galway Blazers, their children and friends would hunt the many Connemara ponies. Also by Tooreen Ross was the gelding Patsy Fagan, who ridden by the Hemphill’s eldest daughter Angela, was known throughout Ireland and England  both as a performance pony and on the hunting field. 

Refelection of mountain in lake, connemara, irelandLady Hemphill was a renowned and respected judge around the world and in the latter years her expertise was called on to judge at almost every show in Ireland. She also served on the Horse Board contributing her huge experience freely to the country.

Her neighbour and long time friend Packie Whelan stands her stallion Tulira Robuck but as always, in the paddock at Dunkellin there are mares and depending on the time of year foals. 

Hopefully the great tradition of these Tulira Ponies will continue, as the breeding can be found in Connemara's all over the world, dominating in of course Ireland and the UK.

To produce progeny that has been, and is so precious for many generations, is without doubt the greatest wish that Lady Hemphill had for the future.


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