Background to creation of the Kerry Bog Pony Co-Operative Society Studbook

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, John Mulvihill of the Red Fox Inn and Kerry Bog Village, Glenbeigh, County Kerry, took a keen interest in a local breed of small ponies that were declining numerically on the mountains and moorlands of the area. Gradually, he built-up a picture of the typical morphology of the ponies and decided that they were worthy of conservation as part of our heritage. Olive, his wife, gave him much encouragement and he assembled a small herd from the hinterland around Glenbeigh.

John Mulvihill was advised to keep records for each foundation animal and to document the parentage of each foal produced. There were several reasons for adopting this practice:

  • It seemed a common-sense thing to do.
  • It would enable some control over inbreeding.
  • It would provide evidence to try to eliminate any undesirable traits that might emerge in the offspring.
  • It would form a historical record.

He was much encouraged by the interest shown by Mr Daniel Hutch of Bettyville Veterinary Hospital in Kanturk. Mr Hutch suggested that the shared characteristics of the “breed” could be confirmed through blood-typing and DNA analysis.

Visitors to the Mulvihill’s Kerry Bog Village found the ponies to be an attractive feature of the displays. John found it difficult to make adequate progress on his own and he decided to bring the matter to the attention of a wider audience. At that time, he decided that The Kerry Bog Pony would be an appropriate modern name. The existence and numerical growth of the early population was a newsworthy item and articles about the ponies appeared in newspapers.

Then the national press carried a story about the local pony and published photographs. The national television service became interested and this led to the appearance of an attractive Kerry Bog Pony stallion “Flashy Fox” on RTE’s Pat Kenny Show.

Dr John Flynn, Head of the Blood Typing Laboratory at Weatherby’s Ireland, was watching the TV programme and became interested immediately in the beautiful conformation of the pony. That interest led to documentation of the blood type and DNA characteristics of the foundation animals.

Dr Leo Curran had his book “Kerry and Dexter Cattle and other Irish native breeds: A History” published in 1990 and was invited to lecture on the bovine subject in places in Kerry. He was told about the Kerry Bog Pony and had discussions with John Mulvihill, advising him to keep accurate records of pedigrees and relationships within the Kerry Bog Pony population. Thus, a small informal group of interested Kerry people and others came to form the Kerry Bog Pony Society. Kerry Bog Ponies had extended throughout the island of Ireland. The Consultative Committee for the Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture included reference to the Kerry Bog Pony in its report on AnGR to the FAO.

In 1995 Mr. Timothy Clifford MVB, MRCVS of Listowel wrote a breed standard based on examination of the animals forming the known herd of Kerry Bog Ponies.

When the new millennium dawned, it became clear that a more formal organisation was needed. A more broadly based and representative committee was formed in 2003. The committee became aware that it needed to become a legal entity. In August 2004 the society became a member of the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS) recognised as a development cooperative with charitable status.

In January 2005 the Kerry Bog Pony became partner No 6 in the Equisave programme which is to develop co-operative actions which will add value to indigenous breeds by linking the territories they occupy and by promoting sustainable development.

At the First AGM of The Kerry Bog Pony Co-Operative Society Ltd held on 27th February 2005 the Breed Standard drawn up in 1995 was adopted unanimously.

The Committee then had formal discussions with the Department of Agriculture and Food. Staff members at the DAF were extremely supportive and with their help and guidance The Kerry Bog Pony Co-Operative Society Ltd was formally approved on 1st July 2005 as a studbook keeping organisation in the European Community.

On the 14th July the Irish Horse Board agreed to issue passports to Kerry Bog Ponies and to maintain the Breed Register.

The first inspections were held in October 2005.

The first passports were handed over by the Irish Horse Board on 7th January 2006.