Portarlington Lions Club held their 5th annual Hunt Chase to great local reception on Sunday, October 21.
Supported by 130 riders from North Kildare Hunt, the hunt began at Railway Bar and made its way up Main Street, around the Link Road, the Portlaoise road then into the surrounding fields, before returning via the Ballymorris road and Corrig (Carrick Wood) to the Railway Bar.
Leading the hunt was Sean Meleady who kindly offered his fine horse and carriage on the day, carrying Chairman Willie Murphy up front, and ‘lioness’ Marie Corcoran with her grandchildren. The carriage was closely followed by this year’s Master of the Hunt Marcus O’Loughlin.
“There was a wonderful turnout this year, especially at Kilnacourt roundabout. It was like a festival day. We had a busy week building up to Sunday, the club members were helping to put up the twenty jumps. We were concerned about the inclement weather but on the weekend I think God was on our side,” said Willie.
He was delighted with the crowds who turned out to applaud the riders, who included men women and children, as they trotted through the streets.
Halfway through the chase, which doesn’t involve any foxes, riders took a rest at Blackhall Bridge, where club members Marie Molloy, Fergal Dunne and Brian Whelan were on hand with welcome hot punch.
The chase finished back at the Railway Bar. Proprietors Shay and Christine had made their large yard available for the horses. Lion Matt Dunne presided over a charity auction of items with a horsey theme, and a raffle of prizes kindly donated locally. Together with subscriptions given by the riders, a substantial sum was raised.
“Approximately €3,000 was raised, we are an umbrella group so it will help many local charities. Most recently we bought a woodworking lathe for the Mens Shed group,” said Willie.
He thanked all of the people who helped make the day a success, including Gerry Dunne, a club member and local farmer, who planned the route and helped with machinery to install the jumps.
“We are very thankful to the landowners, without their support it could not take place,” said the Lions chairman.