Donegal Gaeltacht Riding Club was a popular choice for the Associations of Irish Riding Clubs Club of the Year Award.
The news was announced at the Lancelot Awards which took place last Saturday (18th February 2017) at The Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise, Co. Laois.
The club represented Ireland and the Association for the first time in continental Europe at the World Club Tournament in France in July.
The team of Donegal Gaeltacht Cassandra McGee, Patricia Warren, Michael Mc Hugh, John McDaid and chef d’equipe Lawrence Smyth created a wave of interest and were exceptional ambassadors of the Association.
The club was featured on national news on RTE’s Six One programme in the build up to their departure.
The team narrowly missed out on a podium finish riding unknown horses over three rounds but made many new friends from all over the world. They were even afforded a reception with the Mayor of Lamotte-Beuvron, Pascal Bioulac at City Hall.
Club chairman Lawrence Smyth said after the announcement, “thanks for all the congratulations and a huge thank you to the clubs all over Ireland who voted for us. Our club is made up of outstanding members who are a great credit to Donegal. Trish Warren, our secretary, is our greatest strength.”
Michael Ryan was announced as the winner of the Person of the Year Award. The Tynagh member received the highest club vote of any the nominees for this years awards.
Michael, due to an injury has not competed in the past number of years, but this has not allowed this to affect his involvement with the Association. Michael has been an exceptional volunteer and mentor.
The Tynagh member is a well-respected safety officer within the region and also at a number of national events such as the hunter trials and riding clubs festival. Michael was described as always being courteous and friendly while carrying out his duties.
Jane Gaffney was named as Club Secretary of the Year. The former secretary of the Warrington club in Kilkenny, moved to Sligo after getting married and became an active member of Benbulben Riding Club.
Jane was described as a role model secretary who combines a great work ethic, invisible but incredible leadership qualities and a willingness to serve others with love and caring affection. Her fellow club members described her as the ‘loveliest lady’ any club could possibly hope to have as their secretary.
Long-time member, Angela McCann was named as Club Member of the Year for her encouragement and support for fellow club members in Brooke Lodge.
As a member of the club committee, Angela was described as always enthusiastic and supportive towards new ideas for the Club and its development while never failing to acknowledge the hard work of others.
The final award of the day, the Lancelot Award which is awarded to a person or a group who has made a significant contribution to the Irish Sport Horse industry was presented to Damian McDonald, former CEO of Horse Sport Ireland.
McDonald played an important role in the equestrian world for almost a decade and was tasked with an enormous brief to bring together the various sectors of the industry, which he did with success.
The Lancelot Awards are presented annually by the Association of Irish Riding Clubs to recognise the sterling efforts of its members who regularly go beyond the call of duty in organising or helping at club, regional or national level.