The Times We Lived In: Their cup runneth over

Published: May 21st, 1954.Photograph by Dermot Barry

Lady Fingall, right, presenting the Joseph R O’Reilly memorial cup to Mrs B Allan, wife of the owner of the winning horse Copp. Photograph: Dermot Barry

Lady Fingall, right, presenting the Joseph R O’Reilly memorial cup to Mrs B Allan, wife of the owner of the winning horse Copp. Photograph: Dermot Barry

 

“I say – look what I got! Rather super, isn’t it?”

This serious piece of silverware is more of a mug than a cup, that’s for sure. And if anybody is planning to drink champagne out of it, they’re going to have to invest in a brace of magnums. (Or should that be “magna”?)

Today’s photo comes from Fairyhouse Races in May 1954, when a horse called Copp won the Joseph R O’Reilly memorial cup. The outsized trophy was duly presented by Lady Fingall – on the right of the picture – to the wife of the horse’s owner, Mrs B Allan, on the left.

The ladies look absolutely delighted. Swathed in fur and sporting what looks like sensible tweed underneath, Mrs Allan beams at the camera as if she has won the jackpot of life. Lady Fingall, as behoves the presenter of the enormous article, is keeping a responsible eye on it lest the lid should fall off and clatter to the ground.

But she, too, is smiling. It’s a fair bet that there has been a bit of chat with the photographer about how, exactly, they should hold the thing in order to show it off without dropping it. And no better women for the job. Look at their headgear: those hats are practical, not pret-a-porter. Designed for keeping heads warm, not turning them.

It’s good to know that although the Joseph R O’Reilly Memorial Hurdle is now one of the more modest events in the Irish racing calendar, this impressive chunk of steeplechase silverware is still making waves, indeed producing drama, at Fairyhouse. This year’s race fell before the first hurdle when heavy rain caused the final day’s racing of the Fairyhouse Easter Festival to be abandoned: but it was rescheduled on April 17th and won by the 10-year-old hunter Sizing Coal, who pipped Fenno’s Storm at the post to take the honours.

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, €19.99

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