“Ireland’s Mr. Show Jumping”
- 2 January 2015, 16:22
FRANK McGarry was the ‘father of Irish show jumping’ as it is known today. An entrepreneur and astute businessman as a cattle dealer, he had the foresight to bring the North and South together for the sport of show jumping, though this was not without its problems.
As Ireland’s leading show jumping owner and an early chef d’equipe to the Irish civilian team, he got to know all the household names of the sport from the 1950s to current times. He was a team selector and judge for many years, built the West of Ireland’s first indoor arena, and introduced the familiar green jackets of Irish show jumpers.
He met both Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and bought a horse from film director John Huston while Huston was lying in a bath, cigar in one hand and a brandy in the other. He owned and trained one particular horse, Go-Sly-Up, who won more jumping events than any other in history, 513 Grand Prix and puissance competitions in total. He built Ireland’s biggest and most innovative riding school, opened by Charles Haughey, and helped to win the Carrowmore Case to prevent a refuse dump being built next to Sligo’s famous megalithic tombs.
As a boy, McGarry was shipwrecked and marooned for two months on Inishmaan where, with no replacement ferry available to deliver provisions, he lived off potatoes and fish. When eventually Frank got back to the mainland, he walked the many miles home; boys on the local cross-roads scattered, thinking they had seen a ghost, and at his back door his mother fainted – all believed him to be dead.
The remarkable story of renowned Sligo man Frank McGarry is the tale of a bygone age and a fascinating insider’s look at the big business of international show jumping.
The book can be ordered at this link