TV show features Cork family dedicated to horses

New RTE series Horse Country explores the world of sport horses, and spotlight falls on the Burchills of West Cork
TV show features Cork family dedicated to horses

Emma Burchill and Joey in new RTE series Horse Country

WE Irish are famed the world over for our love of horses.

In particular, the Irish sport horse has rich and deep roots in Ireland, even though it gets less attention than its cousins in thoroughbred racing.

Encompassing the strands of showjumping, three-day-eventing and dressage, as well as other recreational activities, this sport and industry is an important part of the social and recreational life of rural Ireland.

A new six-part series called Horse Country starting on RTÉ1 on Tuesday at 7pm speaks to various people involved in sport horses.

They include the Burchill family of West Cork.

Farmer and part time construction worker John has passed on the horse bug to his daughters - college student Deirdre (pictured with him on the cover of TV Week) and precocious 11-year-old Emma.

The Burchill trio compete with their horses and ponies with both success and frustration.

The series is set in the Covid summer of 2021, when many sport horse events were cancelled, and those that did take place were attended only by the competitors and their close connections. But the competitive passions were always in evidence.

Horse Country tells stories of success, failure, frustration and exhilaration, with many threads coming together at the RDS Horse Show in the final episode.

John Burchill and daughter Deirdre in new RTE series Horse Country
John Burchill and daughter Deirdre in new RTE series Horse Country

What each story thread has in common is the passion and love that Irish people have for their horses.

Other participants include Liam Lynskey, who paves roads in the west of Ireland for a living but his life-long enthusiasm is breeding from his top class Connemara and Irish Draught stallions.

Last summer his Connemara pony made the challenging journey to the RDS finals with both thrilling and humbling results.

For six teen members of Kildare Pony Club, qualifying for the Three Day Eventing national championship in Tattersalls in Meath is what the year is all about.

Finbar and Joanne Mulligan have a modest breeding operation with one big goal: to breed a full sibling to the star Irish sport horse, Kilkenny.

Elsewhere, siblings Abbie, 20, Holly, 21, and Ryan Sweetnam, 17, are top class show jumpers, while Noel Cawley was a business legend as CEO of Kerrygold and now the retiree is one of the top breeders of show jumpers in the country. His obsession is a contest for three year olds at the Horse Show he’s entered unsuccessfully for 30 years. Maybe, this is the year.

Margaret and Des Jeffares breed and sell top class horses alongside their blackcurrant farm in Wexford.

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