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Joe Garrihy at the plough with Doonbay, followed by Michael Harhen.

Working in bygone days in Ennistymon

Ennistymon will host a special screening of a television documentary filmed in the area and featuring local people more than 30 year ago.

First broadcast on RTE in 1979, Neville Presho’s television documentary, A Horse’s Tale focused on the last days of the farm working horse in the locality.

The Old Ennistymon Society is showing this film on Wednesday next, August 27 at 8pm at the Courthouse Art Gallery and Studios as its contribution to this year’s National Heritage Week, and admission is free.

A Horse’s Tale features Moy National School children watching farmer Joe Garrihy from Carrowntedaun, Lahinch and his trusted Irish Draught mare, Doonbay at work.

“The overall theme of National Heritage Week this year is Family… Generations Exploring Heritage Together, so we decided that the screening of this particular film offers an ideal opportunity for young and old today to do just that,” explained Kathryn Comber, Secretary, Old Ennistymon Society.

The documentary, produced in association with RTE, was inspired by prize-winning entries from pupils at the Moy National School, under the guidance of School Principal, Úna Uí Rócháin, in a national essay competition. The competition, based on the theme These Changing Times – An Saol ag Athrú, coincided with the International Year of the Child.

Three schoolchildren from Moy NS, John Garrihy, Seán Curtin and Michael Harhen, were featured observing, and lending a hand to, Joe Garrihy and Doonbay as they carried out various tasks on the farm. These ranged from cutting and harvesting the hay to drawing home turf from the bog.

The film also showed the mare being shod at Moloney’s blacksmith forge in Ennistymon while her repaired bridle is retrieved from the local Crowe’s saddlery. Scenes were also shot at Kilmihil cattle fair and the Spancilhill horse fair.

“Not only does the film call to mind many largely forgotten farm practices and traditions but it also highlights how closely linked local towns were with family farms and rural communities in their hinterlands,” added Kathryn Comber.

The film plot involved a mare competing for her master’s affections with a tractor, symbolising the doomed attempt of old traditions to survive against modern equipment and methods.

A Horse’s Tale was one of a four-part series called Curious Eyes produced and directed by Neville Presho. The series also featured children observing and experiencing skills and traditions practiced by older people on the Aran Islands, in North Tipperary and Belfast.

Aside from the film screening, a set of evocative photographs from the era in question will also be shown at the Ennistymon Courthouse event. This will be followed by a group discussion, with contributions and reminiscences from a number of people featured in, or closely associated with, the film including Colman Garrihy, the son of Doonbay-owner, the late Joe Garrihy.

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