Rothwell’s keep with tradition in Tinahely

  • 10 April 2020, 18:36

Horse Sport Ireland’s breeding department recently spoke with the Rothwell family in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, to discuss the history of their breeding operation in the Wicklow hills, and, their future plans.

‘Greenhall’ is the prefix of the Rothwell family farm and all their stock. It originates from the townlands of Greenhall, Tinahely where the farm is located. It’s a family-run farm, with Derry, Emily, Sharon and Mary all actively involved. It’s a mixed farming enterprise, of horses, cattle and sheep.

Mary Rothwell with Greenhall Wishing Well (ISH) by Crosstown Dancer (RID) out of Greenhall Miss Cruise (ISH) by Cruising (ISH) Picture by Susan Finnerty

Before the Rothwell family were resident in Greenhall, Derry’s grandfather John Rothwell farmed in Courtown, Gorey, Co Wexford, but moved to Tinahely when his son Derek snr was just two-years-old back in 1924. The farm in Tinahely then continued to be farmed by Derek Snr.

Derry tells us ‘It was always a mixed farming enterprise and in those days the broodmares would have also worked the farm, so they needed to be very versatile and bred to function. As time passed, my father focused more on breeding the traditional quality sport horse, and thoroughbreds. Dad was an active member of many organisations. He was county chairman of the IFA and played an instrumental role in setting up the equine section of the IFA while acting as vice chairman. He was a loyal supporter of point to points and kept many point to point racehorses over the years. We actually still have 4 thoroughbred mares breeding today.’


Mary continued to explain ‘Derek was very passionate about conformation of horses, so much so that he was a founder member of the Irish Shows Association and one of the instigators behind the junior judges’ course.  Derek Snr bred many RDS winners but held the Pembroke Cup (owner/breeder prize) in the highest esteem, as the pinnacle for any breeder.’

Derek had a mare, Miss Muffet (ISH), by Darantus (TB) out of Battlemaid (ISH) by Battle Burn (TB) who bred Jack Horner (1986) by Varano (TB) that won in HOYS ‘.

Derry added ‘I retained two of her fillies by Laughtons Flight (ISH), Miss Flight (ISH) & Darantus Flight (ISH). The purpose of holding onto these traditional bloodlines was to breed event types that would hopefully perform to the top level. I was very fortunate that this paid off and that these mares bred five-star eventers, “Brave Heart (ISH) by Billies Bank (TB) and stallion “Barnaby Flight (ISH)” by Young Barnaby (TB)’.

Greenhall Heatwave (ISH) 2018 foal by Dignified Van’t Zorgvliet (BWP) out of Greenhall Catwalk (ISH) by Mermus R (KWPN) Photo: Laurence Dunne

As Derry got more involved in the farm, he showed a lot of pedigree Simmental and commercial cattle with great success. At the same time, his horse enterprise gradually grew and grew, taking the more dominant role and the family’s interest. Two of his early purchases Barrowstown Girl (ISH) and Cailin Deas (ISH) were to become the foundations of his broodmare enterprise.


Barrowstown Girl (ISH) was by Touch Stone (ISH) out of Fermanagh Girl (ISH). Most of her progeny were winners in the RDS and most notably Greenhall Flowing River (ISH) by Weavers Web (TB). Mary tells us ‘she holds a record for winning all 4 Irish Shows Association All Ireland Championship Titles. She won from foal to three-year-old, and in the RDS she was champion filly as a yearling, two-year-old and three-year-old, as well as taking supreme young horse champion title as a yearling and also as a two-year-old. Derry has always tried to retain a filly from his mare lines to keep the line alive. The Barrowstown Girl line remains with a filly by Porsch (BWP) and a filly by Chillout (ISH).


Greenhall Cailín Deas (ISH) by Mister Lord (TB) out of Bassom Lady (ISH) by Bassonpierre (TB) was purchased as a two-year-old.

Mary elaborated ‘She was a prolific winner in the show ring, hunter broodmare champion in the RDS and breeders champion. She was also closely related to many performance horses, including Big Ed, jumped by Robert Splaine. She turned out to be an exceptional Broodmare. Her progeny has gone on to breed international show jumpers and eventers as well as top class show horses in hand and under saddle. Out of Cailín Deas, we have retained five mares in the herd. three by Cruising (ISH), one by Porsch (BWP) and one by Colin Diamond (ISH). Millennium Cruise (ISH) and Greenhall Dot (ISH) who are both by Cruising (ISH) have both been crowned RDS Breeders Champion in 2011 and 2012, and the third Cruising daughter, Greenhall Miss Cruise (ISH) is dam of the RDS ridden hunter champion mare and reserve supreme ridden hunter champion, Greenhall Wishing Well (ISH).’


Most of the mares are home-bred but another mare purchased by Derry was Greenhall Indicator (ISH) by Limmerick (HOLST) out of Weavers Wonder (ISH) by Weavers Web (TB), which he has had from a yearling. Derry elaborates ‘This mare has herself been very successful winning, champion filly in the RDS, champion broodmare in Balmoral and reserve champion in the RDS breeder’s championship. One of her progeny Greenhall Granuaile (ISH) by Frankfort Boy (IRE) had great success in 2019, when they were crowned ‘Stepping Stones’ league winners, and the ‘Young Event Horse’ series league winner. Greenhall Granuaile (ISH) is now owned by our neighbour Joan O’Connor and was ridden by Sarah Ennis for these results. She is also the dam to HOYS working hunter qualifier Brooklodge Merryman (ISH) which is a 2013 gelding by Mermus R (KWPN).


Mary added ‘Overall there are around 20 broodmares breeding annually in Greenhall. Dad and I have a simple breeding plan in mind, it is quite similar to Derek’s, we wish to produce a quality, correct animal primarily but incorporate bloodlines that can go down the route of ridden hunter, show jumpers and eventers.

We are very lucky to have some of the good old traditional bloodlines including, Cruising, Laughtons Flight and Weavers Web, etc. We aim to produce good looking, athletic animals to compete in many different disciplines. Our stallion choices are based on suiting our mares, and so far, we have been very lucky to breed horses to be successful as show jumpers, eventers and in showing, both In hand and under saddle. We hope for continued success’

Mary Rothwell with Millennium Cruise (ISH) by Cruising (ISH) out of Greenhall Cailin Deas (ISH) by Mister Lord (USA) Picture by Susan Finnerty

  • Tags: