Sheepskin style at Mullingar races
The Times We Lived In: Published December 14th, 1957. Photograph by Dermot Barry
From left D Moggan with Lord and Lady Fingall at the faces in Mullingar. Photograph: Dermot Barry
They don’t look as if all their Christmases have come at once, these folks. If you didn’t know better, you might think the gentleman on the left is telling the couple that their favourite dog has just jumped on a boat and emigrated to Australia.
We can reveal that the occasion is rather more joyful: a day at the races. “From left,” reads the caption, “D. Moggan with Lord and Lady Fingall at the races in Mullingar.”
A perusal of the relevant sports pages from 1957 added a few snippets of detail. On the day this picture was taken, Lady Fingall’s horse Anson was running in the first race, the Kinnegad Old Hurdle. “He looks just the sort to make a name for himself over the jumps,” wrote our racing corr. He did. He won.
Anson, ridden by Pat Taaffe, was one of four winners for trainer Tom Dreaper on this particular day; and if some of these names are starting to ring sporting bells in your head, well, it was the Dreaper/Taaffe team which would, in 1961, bring a horse called Arkle to make his debut at Mullingar.
Lord Fingall himself, meanwhile, was a keen amateur national hunt jockey – easy to distinguish as he always wore his glasses on the course. While in action on the racetrack he was said to be “as blind as a bat and as brave as a lion”.
To describe the Fingalls as horsey people would be an understatement – but we don’t have to. The photograph says it all. The traditional tweed of Mr Moggan’s overcoat is almost three-dimensional. Those practical matching sheepskins make it plain that our aristocratic couple is planning to stay at the races until the final chilly hurdle.
Speaking of which, by now we should all be safely across the deceptively tricky set of annual hurdles known as the festive season. Let’s hope that – despite the occasional expression of doom, gloom and/or consternation – it has, overall, been a good one.
These and other Irish Times images can be purchased from: irishtimes.com/photosales. A book, ‘The Times We Lived In’, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from irishtimes.com and from bookshops, priced at €19.99.