My first recollection of going to agricultural shows was in the late ‘80s. With goats, not horses. My grandfather Tom and my father Michael showed a mare and foal in Tubbercurry and so around that time, I started going to shows with my goats. I won the championship in Tubbercurry two years in a row and also won at Swinford agricultural show.

I remember one time washing the nanny goat with Fairy Liquid and I didn’t wash it out properly. For weeks after, every time it rained, the goat came up snow white. My first entrepreneurship came from that goat as I’d milk her some mornings before school and sell the bottle of milk to my neighbours whose daughter had asthma, as goat milk is said to be good for it.

My father gave me my first foal, out of the mare my grandfather showed. We travelled to all the local shows – Ballina, Castlebar, Claremorris, all just over 25 miles from our house – in a tractor and trailer.

With that pony, we went to Claremorris Equestrian Centre where Charles Hanley was the instructor and did all the Claremorris leagues in 1995. After that, I got a job working for Stephen Joyce in Ballymoe, Co Galway. I recall selling the first horse I ever had foaled to Stephen on the Fair Green in Ballinasloe.

I lived with the Joyce family, was very well looked after and that’s where I got my first introduction to purebred Connemaras. Stephen stood Westside Fred and Wings Of Victory and we travelled to both local shows and all the shows around Connemara that summer.

I went back to complete my Junior Cert and left school straight after.

Irish Summer: Liam Lynskey and DS Are You With Me battle through the rain at Galway County Show. \ Susan Finnerty

Concrete jungle

I left Ballymoe in 1997. As it happened, it was the night that Princess Diana died. We were coming home from a nightclub in Dunmore after my going-away party when we heard the sad news.

I left horses that night and didn’t own another horse for 10 years. I knew if I had stayed in horses then, I’d never have been able to afford the horses that I wanted to own. So I went to work in Birmingham with two brothers of mine, Michael and Tommy.

I didn’t like the concrete jungle much so came back to Ireland and around early 2000, I started my roadworks company: Liam Lynskey Pavings Limited.

The vision was always to own stallions, I wrote down as a child that I was going to have my own stud farm. So that was always the aim of the company – to eventually have enough money to buy horses and ponies.

My first buy was a Connemara stallion, Black Shadow. I bought him as a two-year-old and he’s 20 now. The very first horse was the great mare Lady In Red Star (Grosvenor Lad x Ginger Dick) that I bought from Hughie Murphy. She’s from the late Eddie Murphy’s breed and we won all over the country with her. And our first Irish Draught stallion came soon after in Moylough Bouncer from Eamon and Gladys McArdle. I remember showing them in the RDS in the very early days.

I stood at Ring 2 watching the Connemara performance class in Dublin and thought, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be great to own a pony that could jump around that track?’ Little did I know that Black Shadow would win that class with Hannah Gordon in 2016. That was some day!

From performance Connemaras, it had to go to the performance Irish Draughts next with Moylough Bouncer. I started competing with him myself in working hunter classes. We won a couple of championships and got so many admirers for him.

Ticking boxes

I said he has to get a more professional jockey than me so I gave the reins over to Matt Gordon and the aim was to jump in a Connaught Grand Prix class. Bouncer got his Gold Merits for sure, jumping at 1.30m and one leg of the Connacht Grand Prix. So that was that box ticked, I was very happy with that. Moylough Bouncer also gave us the RDS and Balmoral champion DS Bounce With Me Baby.

From Moylough Bouncer, we got Strictly Come Bouncing, owned by Sean Ruane from

Foxford, to show in-hand. She won championship after championship, Dublin twice and at least two or three national titles.

And then we also had Ballagh Bouncer, a fully-approved son of Moylough Bouncer, competed by Hannah Gordon. He stands here at Derryronane Stud and has ticked all the boxes in doing dressage, Dublin performance classes, show jumping and the odd day I take him out show jumping myself. Performance is the key.

The great thing about the agricultural shows around Ireland is it’s a great family day out. My wife Grania and I bring the kids; Katie, William and our youngest, Grace to as many local shows as we can.

They’re always with me and help us at some of the shows we run, like the Traditional Irish Horse Association performance championships at Mullingar, where Jen Haverty photobombed us in The Irish Horse Photo of the Year!