‘Good God, what a land of breeders, you see quadrupeds everywhere,’ says Samuel Becket in Molloy. The Connemara pony is a strong and hardy breed, well suited to Ireland’s Atlantic coast. Some believe it to be descended from the Scandinavian ponies brought to Ireland by the Vikings. Others that it might be the legacy of the Irish Hobby, a now-extinct breed, known to inhabit the land before the 13th century. Others suggest they are the legacy of the 1588 Spanish Armada, when Andalusian ponies were set lose from the galleons to breed with local Irish stock. Now the excellent Occasional Press, which ‘publishes art-based projects as and when it has the means to do so’, has produced a delightful collaboration with poems by Tony Curtis and images by David Lilburn.
This is a book about ponies – not horses – and the difference says everything about identity and pride.
This is a book about ponies – not horses – and the difference says everything about identity and pride. ‘I asked the man holding the reins, how much he wanted for his horse.’ ‘You called his pony a horse. That is like calling a bodrum, a drum; a currach, a boat. It’s a wonder he didn’t smack you; I would have.’ The poet also asks where one goes to find a Connemara Pony? His answer: ‘You follow the light west… until they appear out of the earth, moving towards you like grey, misty ghosts.’ David Lilburn, an accomplished printmaker and painter has used his improvisational skills to create intense images of this wild landscape and the hardy pony that inhabits it, to accompany these humorous, sometimes mischievous, poems.
Sue Hubbard’s latest publications include: Girl in White, Cinnamon Press (a novel) and The Forgetting and Remembering of Air, Salt (poetry).