A G.A.A., History, Rugby, Folklore, Connemara Ponies and Statistics of Omey Church Parish (Clifden) and External Additions, also An Insight Into Connemara Political Families.

New December 2022 Connemara Pony Memories

Connemara Pony Memories 2022

James Mongan, Tom MacLochlainn, Padraic Heanue, Sean Luskin, Graine O’Malley, Malachy Gorhanm, and Prisilla Diamond.

 Produced by john o malley in Association with Connemara Community Radio

This programme is now available permanently on the Radio Podcasts

New November 2022

What do we know about the evolvement of Connemara Pony?    2022

Connemara Ponies are synonymous  with Connemara since the 1800s.  There are many suggestions/theories how this distinct name evolved from the small Irish pony that was widespread in Ireland at that time and not exclusive to Connemara.  (Just for the record Archeologists have discovered that the small Irish Pony existed based on excavations in Loughrea Co Galway  in 2018 – (on line)

The primary being that it evolved from an event within Connemara.  The only potential evidence available at this time is that two Arab stallions swam ashore at Ballinaleama near Slyne Head after a Spanish cargo ship was shipwrecked and its sailors lost.   The animals were discovered by Matthew Coneys and James Melia in approximately 1820.  One of the stallions was retained locally and the other sold at Clifden/Errislannon  (admiralty on behalf of the King in this instance received only 50% of the windfall –an Irish solution to an Irish problem) This animal was reportedly brought to Carna but there is no confirmation of that to date.

There was a further development in west Connemara in the latter parts of the 1860s.  Mitchell Henry arrived and purchased the  Kylemore  (massive) estate.   He almost immediately commenced the building of the current Castle/Abbey and commenced the reclamation of the primary estate from bog land to agricultural land.  He also encouraged the tenant farmers on his estate to do likewise.  It has been suggested that the stallions introduced by him on the main estate to increase the strength of the local ponies were Spanish.  A relative of staff from the past confirmed the arrival of the stallions but was unable to confirm definitely the source.   We know for definite that the original estate prior to the arrival of Mitchell Henry was a haven for equines.  This is confirmed by the name of the lake on the estate —  Pollacapall  comes from a legend and means “place of the horse” ( another reason  it’s understood –  to increase the stability of the local pony was  — all the Marble used in the building of the Castle was drawn by pony/horse and cart from the pier at Letterfrack to the castle a distance of three miles plus.  When animal welfare was applied the ponies could only haul small amounts)

It is also interesting to note that Mitchell Henry was the main organiser/sponser of the famous Kylemore Races, (held on the Estate) for example in 1873 he ran races for ponies under 13.5 hands.  At this particular meeting there was a winner’s prize of £10 for one particular race.  As the perceived gentry would have the best equines at that time; he also had race/s for the tenant owned ponies.  He even had a covered stand erected presumably as the annual  festival was held in March.

The horse drawn equines used by Bianconi in Connemara during the 1800s had slanting shoulders developed by the heredity harness trait.  Although some were as small as 13 Hands it appears they had little impact on the native Connemara breed.

There is no record or reference/folklore available at this time  in relation to Spanish equines In the 16th century at Inishbofin.  At that time  the  Spaniards harassed the west coast of Ireland and one of their leaders, Alonzo Bosco, settled on Inishbofin and used it as his base.

Another interesting Stallion that was based in Ballyconneely in the late 1800s early 1900s was ‘Stail’(gaelic word for stallion) Wickham.  Apparently this stallion was known far and wide for his strength/agility. This stallion because of his liveliness would need three men to control him when servicing a mare.   This stallion was quoted by many as being the best, for example when Josie Mongan Carna (TD) was making one of his many famous after mass church gate political speeches in 1927 at Ballyconneely, a regular reference to Stail Wickham—-  ‘In the old days when you wanted the best foal you brought your mare to Stail Wickham and now if you want the best politican to represent you –vote for Josie Mongan’.  Locals believed that Stail Wickham was a ‘throwback’ from the afore mentioned original Arab stallion that landed near Slyne Head in 1820 approx.

The reference to the Spanish Armada and the suggestion that the Spanish ponies/horses swam ashore and bred with the local Irish ponies in Connemara;    It’s well documented that the Spanish Armada was forced to dump all their ponies/horses overboard because of a lack of provisions especially water that is before they reached the outer Islands of Scotland. ‘The fleet commander, Medina Sidonia, ordered all the horses and mules to be thrown overboard to save the available rations’ especially water (there are records of this).  So you can imagine when they reached the mid west coast of Ireland they had little food or water if any?

The decision of fleet commander should also be considered in a different light.  It’s well documented that the human in an emergency can recycle their own urine to substitute for water.  However the equine is very choosy in relation to water and will not even sip it, if there is the slightest contamination.   Horses have been found fully dehydrated in the vicinity of slightly tainted water.   So horses will not drink their own urine.

According to folklore the Spanish Armada ship that came ashore in Carna had no animals on board except for one very small terrier type dog which was claimed by a local farmer near Mace Head.   The terrier type dog was used on the Spanish Armada ships to control vermin especially rats.

Although we know what happened to the terrier; what befell the Spanish sailors is rarely discussed with clarity?

The current Connemara Pony was created by cross breeding with bigger type ponies/horses so in essence it is now a hybrid breed.  The small Irish Ponies especially on the western seaboard were used by tenant farmers.  The Irish pony was small approx11/12 Hands high and would be of little use for ploughing and drawing carts on the bigger estates but they were of immense value to the tenant farmer for everyday use, shopping transport etc. However tenant farmers because of sub division of holdings could no longer sustain a small pony and the Donkey became the norm for such holdings.

The creation/enactment of the land acts in the late 1800s which gave farmers ownership of sustainable land holdings for the first time placed a new emphasis on farming.  The land holdings increased because of mass emigration/death commencing with the Great Famine.  (An example, population of west Connemara from 1841 to 1911 decreased by 45%).   It appears at this time pony owners believed that a stronger/bigger pony was required uniformly for farming purposes and initial organized cross breeding took place.  It developed from there on and pony owners/breeders eventually formed a society to regulate the Connemara Pony, this happened in 1923/24.  Since that date Connemara Pony Societies have been established Worldwide.

The main emphasis at the beginning for the Connemara Breeders Society was the regulation of breeding and displaying of the Ponies at the annual Pony show for in hand assessment.  However this has changed especially in this century where there is now a special focus on the ridden/performance ponies.

The regulation has led to  -for the first time ever proper identification through blood checking etc and it is generally accepted that the Society has now developed a true/absolute/undisputed  Connemara Pony?      (The loose criteria that applied up until the latter part of the last century has being consigned to the trash box)?

(see also From Rosmuc to London Michael O’Malley 1912)

  Research john o malley

New June 2022

Wicklow GAA

Reeling in the Years

In the past, the common fuel for heating homes was Turf /Peat. The Turf/Peat was extracted from the bog. The historical method of extraction involved the use of a spade with a flange to create/shape the turf sod.  The turf spade was/is called a Slean in Gaelic or Slane in English.

Ellie O’Malley gives a demonstration below of this almost dead art/skill on her grandparent’s bog at Moyard, Connemara Co Galway.

Ellie O’Malley is a member of the Wicklow Minor Gaelic Ladies Football team/squad for 2022.  She is a member of the Eire Og club Greystones.

Footnote -. As is visible from the GAA archives Wicklow has never won an all Ireland senior men’s football title, however, in 1902 the Wicklow town of Bray represented Dublin when Dublin won the title that year.

New January 2022

                                            A Brief Introduction to the late Jackie Salmon

The Connemara GAA legend Jackie Salmon was born in Cloonluane Renvyle in the 1930s.   He was born into a passionate GAA family with his father Stevie prominent in the GAA in Connemara in the 30s and 40s. Jackie like multitudes emigrated at a young age, in his case to England first and later New York so he only played football primarily at under age before emigration.

He became very prominent in New York as a player and administrator with pride of place initially with his beloved Connemara Gaels.  However as an administrator he expanded his role and progressed all the way to the highest office, culminating in his election as president of greater New York GAA, initially for six years.  This occurred in 1978 when he replaced the legendry John Kerry O’Donnell.   His popularity during his presidency was created by his kindness and support to especially emigrants from not alone Connemara but Nationwide as well.  After his six year stint as president his popularity still remained and it was no surprise to see him being elected once more in 1990 for a further six year period.    Many people paid tributes to Jackie on his departure from this life however the true reflection of the man was, the thousands that paid tribute to him when he was alive?

By john O’Malley and read by Colleen Curran – listen to text and a poem on Track no Music 13

Some  sporting  heroes  do  it  all  for  fame
But  Jackie  Salmon  shunned  the  acclaim
Started  his  life in   Cloonluane  Renvyle
A decade where World War 2 delivered human vile
His first GAA memories – the 52 minor final loss
Emigration followed- first to England then New York

A true Connemara Gael in the capital of the U.S.A
Renowned for his association with emigrants in the day
Became leader of Gaelic football in this foreign land
Reaching the GAA pinnacle in 78 and in 90 again
A helping hand for the new arrivals and a place to stay
Was common place for Jackie from day to day

Returning home to Renvyle in his retiring years
Mixing with the Gaels he left behind as a youth in tears
Never boasted about his contribution to the GAA
Preferred to leave this for others to have their say
So farewell Jackie and thanks for what you have done
For you- you’re proud Salmon family and everyone

New May 2021

 See section: Local History – Ballyconneely -bottom of the page

In the 1880s the Canadian Government  made Grants available  for  the construction of new fisheries, Piers and Harbours in Connemara. Including Doleen Pier in  Ballyconneely Village.

See also history of  Canadian W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Ivor Ernest Smithson J/89117 RCAF Age 23, who is buried a short distance from the pier both of which sites which are inter-visible.

New May 2021

Bye/By, Elections in Ireland may comply with legislation however they do not comply with the Constitution.

                      Submitted to the Dail Petitions Committee

Available to download here: Petitions Committee for 33 Dail 2021 May

Re: Petition No: P00006/22 “Bye/By Elections in Ireland may comply with legislation
however they do not comply with the Constitution.”
Dear Ms.
I refer to your correspondence dated 11 February in relation to Petition No: P00006/22
“Bye/By Elections in Ireland may comply with legislation however they do not comply with
the Constitution”.
In this context, it may be useful to set out the current statutory framework for the holding of
bye-elections. Article 16.7 of the Constitution provides that ‘…..elections for membership of
Dáil Éireann, including the filling of casual vacancies, shall be regulated in accordance with
law’. The law in relation to Dáil bye-elections is set out in section 39 of the Electoral Act
1992, as amended. Similarly, Article 18.10.3 of the Constitution provides that ‘Casual
vacancies in the number of the elected members of Seanad Éireann shall be filled in the
manner provided by law’. The law in relation to Seanad bye-elections is set out in section
13 of the Seanad Electoral (University Members) Act 1937 and in Part V of the Seanad
Electoral (Panel Members) Act 1947 as amended by the Seanad Electoral (Panel Members)
Act 1954.
The Programme for Government – Our Shared Future contains a commitment to examine
the replacement of bye-elections with an alternate list system. In this regard, you may wish
to know that the Programme for Government also commits to the establishment of a
statutory, independent Electoral Commission. The establishment of the Electoral
Commission is currently being progressed as part of an Electoral Reform Bill, which is
included on the list of priority legislation in the Government’s current legislation programme.
It is expected that the Bill will be published shortly.
It is envisaged that the Electoral Commission will hold research and advisory functions, and
therefore it will be well placed to make recommendations to Government on electoral matters


This petition relates to

—-Article 16 -7 Subject to the foregoing provisions of this Article, elections for membership of Dáil Éireann, including the filling of casual vacancies, shall be regulated in accordance with law (emphasis added) ([Article 28.2 and also Article 5] ‘subject to the provisions of this Constitution)  See Crotty v An Taoiseach 1987.= “It is not within the competence of the Government,or indeed the Oireachtas to free themselves from the constraints of the  Constitution

The State are carrying out By/Bye  elections based on the law that was drafted (based on 1922 Constitution)

— However the legislation is not compliant with the 1937 Constitution.

The Seanad has nothing to do with Dail Elections for example if the Seanad was abolished at referendum all reference to same would be deleted.  In addition members elected at Seanad Eireann have no legal right to vote in the Dail chamber.  Even the Co opted seanad Ministers  members have no vote in legislation.  (as you are aware former  ************ believes not even at committee stage).

Drafting of legislation can and have led to errors in legislation.  These are usally corrected when brought to the attention of the relevant Department (‘It is necessary for the minutiae of many legislative provisions to be formulated, and indeed revised and updated, following the enactment of the principal law’) this can only be done in the Dail Chamber.

The current legislation is repugnant to the Constitution, however there can normally be no retrospective legal claims  agianst legislation drafted in error.  As you can see from above in this case all that is required is a correction of the principal law.  Howeve there is a legal view that it is no longer an error from 2016 onwards because the State was aware ====

This is what I sent to the AGs Office — This is what I sent to the AG      –Being the chief officer in the State and there by assisting the Government to ensure that State/Legislation is compliant with the Constitution you

may  wish to pursue the enclosed attachment which clearly demonstrates that the current legislation in relation to Bye Elections is not compliant with Article16 of the Constitution.


 Dear Mr. O’Malley,

 RE Bye-elections and Article 16

 I refer to your email message of 25th May 2016. Your observations as to whether the current statutory provisions for filling casual vacancies in Dáil Éireann by means of bye-elections is in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution, have been forwarded to the relevant officials in the Department of the Environment, Community, and Local Government for their information.

 Yours sincerely, **************** Director General’s Private Office   AGO; 4071

Just on a point of clarification if Article 26 is applied to legislation   and approved by the Supreme Court the matter  is closed notwithstanding that it was repugnant to the Constitution.

Lots of unnecessary stress and expense to the State and by extension the tax payer  have occurred over the years in relation to Bye/By elections. Including the termination of sitting governments. 

 So Iam now asking the committee to make a decision based on the submissions and a Constitutional lawyer. 

(I also note that the Department has now corrected the afore mentioned however I note there is no apology to the Committee for the misleading information originally submitted.)

For your information you can see from the attachment how the EU Petitions Committee dealt with my petition in relation to Educational discrimination applied by the Irish Government to farmers.


Just on a point of clarification if Article 26 is applied to legislation   and approved by the Supreme Court the matter  is closed notwithstanding that it was repugnant to the Constitution.

Lots of unnecessary stress and expense to the State and by extension the tax payer  have occurred over the years in relation to Bye/By elections. Including the termination of sitting governments. 

 So Iam now asking the committee to make a decision based on the submissions and a Constitutional lawyer. 

(I also note that the Department has now corrected the afore mentioned however I note there is no apology to the Committee for the misleading information originally submitted.)

For your information you can see from the attachment how the EU Petitions Committee dealt with my petition in relation to Educational discrimination applied by the Irish Government to farmers.


New  May 2021

Co-operatives can play a Constructive Role in the Management of                                                   Environmentally Designated Commonages 

Case Study Area – Clifden Region and a Segment of a Bog Complex

Click on Rural Research Topics

New April 2021

Archive photographs from Ballyconneely news.

The Covid, Rabbits Wedding, 2020 by Aoife Cashman.

Children’s Book    ISPCA  Mallow

Available to download here: The wedding Easter 2020

New June 2019

Track no Music 12 ‘Goodbye to Errislannan’

New May 2019

An Audio Presentation of  the Historical Memories of the Ballyconneely Seaweed Factory


John O’Malley

[email protected]

In association with Connemara Community Radio

– See audio track ’00 Ballyconneely Seaweed Factory History’

July 2018

An Audio Presentation of  Connemara Rugby History and Memories


John O’Malley

[email protected]

In association with Connemara Community Radio

Featuring: Fr. Ned Stankard, Br. Vivian Cotter, Paddy Flynn, Matt O’Sullivan, Gerry King, Pat Walshe, Dr. Mick Molloy, Aidan O Halloran, Mairead Coyne, and Kenny Pollington.

Click here to view Connemara Rugby History and Memories Page

– See audio tracks commencing with Rugby o1 Fr.Ned Stankard.

April 2018

An Historical Audio Overview Presentation of Ballyconneely Parish


John O’Malley
In association with P.K. Joyce, Bridget Lydon, Colleen Curran, & Connemara Community Radio

– See the first audio track on the Audio player.

– Pictures Coming Soon…

GAA History, Folklore and Audio Memories, 1912 – 2011

Part Two – Audio

-Includes History of Church Buildings and Photographic Memories

-Resettlement of some Connemarians in Meath, the creation of the Rathcairn Gaeltacht,

         -Memories from Errismore Races, Boxing Memories from Sean Mannion,  Rosmuck

        Part Three –  Audio

Other GAA Regions including – Mícheál Breathnach – Leitir Moir-Carraroe- Oughterard -Carna/Cashel – Na Piarsaigh – Spiddal/An Spideal – Moycullen – Clonbur- Killanin – Renvyle-Barna – Oileann Arann

An Insight Into Connemara Political Families


Colleen Curran & John O’Malley


The history of political families in Ireland gives an insight into the evolving cultures that were part and parcel of the management of Ireland. It is well documented that the Irish Kings were at continuous war to attain/retain and defend their estates at regional/provincial and national level. This was followed by the invasion of Ireland by external bodies (that commenced with an invitation) and the acquisition of the Irish Kingdoms. However over time the management of Ireland once again returned to the native Irish with the formation of a new Irish Government which was officially acknowledged worldwide in 1921.

It could be argued that Connemara followed a similar pattern; initially Irish families controlled/managed it. For example the Kealy/Keeley families were the dominant landlords during the 12th/13th centuries, until they were dispossessed by the ‘The ferocious O’ Flaherty’s’ in the latter part of the 13th century. The remnants of the O’Flaherty castles/forts are still visible in Connemara to this day; also some former residences have been restored and occupied. There are many stories that remain to this day in relation to the ‘The ferocious O’ Flaherty’s’. For example a reference to their conflict with the wealthy Normans of Galway City was established in text format and inscribed on thecity walls- “from the fury of the O’Flaherty’s, good Lord deliver us”. They were also in conflict with their fellow Irish families in Connemara. The folklore of how a section of the clan slaughtered the Conneely families and burned their commune near Doon Hill in Ballyconneely has descended through the centuries. This includes the hiding place of the pregnant Una Conneely who was the only one of her clan to escape on that fateful night- her hiding place retains its name to this day ‘Scáilp Una’ (Scáilp gaelic word for a gap in the rocks). The ‘The ferocious O’ Flaherty’s’, had also an alliance with Grainne Mhaol (Grace O’Malley) the Pirate Queen.

Connemara was represented in the Irish House of Commons (Dublin) from the 13th century until the Act of Union (1801) under the constituency of Galway. From the Act of Union until 1885, MPs sat at the House of Commons (London), also representing the constituency of Galway. However this was delivered by primarily ‘Land Lord Gentry’ which included people like Richard Martin and Mitchell Henry and previously by John Eyre whose estate in Connemara is still not dormant. The Geoghegan Land Lords of Ballyconneely had also representation in the House of Commons but not representing an Irish constituency.

It could be argued that it was 1885 that Connemara got its first really true representation, when Connemara was established as a constituency in its own right and electing one member to the House of Commons. The first member elected was Patrick James Foley (native of Leeds) in 1885 and represented the area until 1895. The second member elected was William O’Malley (Ballyconneely) in 1895 and represented the area until 1918. The third and final member was Padraic O’Maílle (Maam) who was elected in 1918 when he defeated William O’Malley; this status remained until the establishment of the new Irish State (agreed in 1921).

Although the British Government bequeathed to the Connemarians their own constituency, alas the new Irish State did not follow suit and Connemara was once more incorporated into Galway County. This remains the norm to this day; however the current Minister for the environment (2014) has bestowed a municipal status on Connemara within Galway County Council elected members.

The new Irish State has delivered many Connemara political families that have made a contribution to the management of the State and the primary focus of this presentation is to give an insight into some of the families from and/or associated with Connemara. The families presented have a direct political association at various levels, for example Galway County Council, Dail Eireann/Seanad and also the EU Parliament. Some of whom are still active in political life.

These audio presentations will concentrate on segments of families that are still living/associated with Connemara. Each family will be given a separate heading and track number in text format.  The presentation will commence with the audio introduction  by Colleen Curran (track Politics – 1000 Colleen Curran). The Audio player is on the right hand side of the first page starting with track 0-scroll down to track 1000

The presentation is a heritage research project compiled and edited  in its entirety by Colleen Curran archivist/researcher /producer at Connemara Community Radio  and John O’Malley an accredited researcher.  The project is supported by the Leader Programme which is delivered by Forum Letterfrack.

Footnote: There are many attempts in the public domain at giving a credible definition to the name Connemara but it could be argued that the really true meaning has evolved from its visual impact on a map.  For example from the Spiddal region to Leenane incorporates a multitude of sea/bays/inlets which is a direct translation??