Liam O Raghallaigh traces the link between The Quiet Man the movie and a horse of the same name who featured in the film and subsequently went on to help Italy win the Aga Khan trophy at the 1955 RDS Horse Show

The Dublin Society, a philanthropic organisation, was founded by Thomas Prior, Samuel Madden and other patriotic visionaries, in Trinity College, on June 25th, 1731, “to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically.” It’s aim was to stimulate economic activity and aid the creation of employment in Ireland by improving ‘husbandry, manufactures, science and other useful arts’.

For the first few years they concentrated on tillage technology, land reclamation, tree planting and other agricultural areas, and were the first to introduce ‘grants’ as incentives. In time they created, or nurtured, The National Botanical Gardens, The National Museum, The National Library, The National Gallery and NCAD.

The Society adopted the ‘Royal’ prefix in 1820 when George lV became Patron, and it became The Royal Dublin Society – the RDS.

The first Dublin Horse Show was organised by The Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland, and held on the lawn of Leinster House on July 28th, 29th and 30th, 1864, “to promote advances and best practice in horse breeding, and showcase Irish horses.” Could this have been the first ‘Buy Irish’ campaign?

In 1868, The RDS took over the running of the show, with competitions for ‘led’ horses and the first ‘Lepping’ events: Richard Flynn won the stone wall competition with his hunter, Shane Rhue, which he sold later that day for £1,000. Ass and Mule classes were also listed.

In 1869, horse ‘lepping’ came more to the fore with competitions for High Leap over hurdles, a Wall Leap and a Water Leap. Prizes were £5 for First and £2 for second.

In 1881, The Royal Dublin Society moved to a green field site at Ball’s Bridge, where the first continuous jumping course was introduced, and the first viewing stand erected; it would accommodate 800, and stood where the Grand Stand is today.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own