LAST year before the Grand National this reporter wrote a piece that needs to be reined in.
The story concerned a horse called The Lamb that won the famous race in 1868 and 1871. I wrote: “Horses of all shapes and sizes have won the Aintree Grand National but Cappamore can boast it had the first Lamb.”
James Phelan pulled me aside with a smile at the launch of the Old Time Gaels of East Limerick to set the record straight.
“I would like to tell you why it is Ballyneety, not Cappamore, that can boast it had the first Lamb,” he wrote.
The Lamb was born in a field known as the Moat field - as it is cone shaped and bounded by streams - on a farm owned by the Hinchy family, and to this day it is still in the Hinchy family, said James.
“The farm is located in Ludden, Ballyneety, behind Ludden graveyard. The story goes that Mrs Hinchy looked out her kitchen window one morning and saw a small animal which she took to be a new born lamb out in the field. On closer inspection it turned out to be a small foal.
“After that it was known as The Lamb. The rest is history, so in my view and the view of locals here in Ballyneety this clearly establishes our right to claim The Lamb as one of our own,” wrote James, who enclosed a picture of the Moat field.
The Cappamore connection is from the foal being sent to be weaned and reared at McGrath’s of Towerhill, cousins of Mr Hinchy and forbears of Andy Egan, who now owns the field.
To this day the four acres where the horse was broken is known as The Lamb’s field. Fr Liam Ryan wrote an excellent piece on The Lamb in the Ceapach Mhor of 2007.
Fr Ryan said the tiny grey colt bore not the slightest resemblance to a future racehorse. However, it began to win small flat races. Standing barely fifteen and a half hands high the joke in England was that the horse would not be able to see over the fences let alone jump them. But everybody had to eat their words as The Lamb romped to victory.
So while The Lamb has strong Cappamore links, it was born and bred in Ballyneety!