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Cooley Peninsula Cowboys

The shrewdness of the east Ulster farmer is legendary. Even those most frugal of people, the Aborigines of the Australian outback, speak in hushed tones about the prudence of County Down farming folk. But who couldn’t but admire the Northern farmer who might tether his horse in the street, allowing it to munch away in its nosebag, while he relaxes in the pub. In order not to waste a single grain of oats, the wily farmer brings along a couple of hens, and ties one foot of each hen to the front legs of the horse – to feed on any morsels dropped by the nag.

Riding on horseback, (without the hens!) across the Cooley Peninsula you’ll notice the great swathes of water beneath you, Carlingford Lough, Dundalk Bay and The Irish Sea. You may also notice the great swathes of water above you – for as the locals say ‘If you can see the hills, it’s going to rain, if you can’t see them, it’s raining.’

Arriving by horseback into Carlingford is the ideal way to enter this outpost of medieval sophistication. The ancient cobbled streets ring to the sounds of the horses’ hooves as you canter past glowering Taaffe’s Castle. Carlingford boasts two castles and one mint – not bad going for a town of 850 souls. It also boasts more than a dozen fine restaurants, a veritable gastronomic motherlode that includes Ghan House, a fairytale Georgian pile with style to spare.

Check out ravensdale- equestrian-centre.com for more information.

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