Red post boxes, the Old Bailey and St Paul's Cathedral may be as quintessentially English as they come but images of such landmarks have settled in nicely in their new home in the heart of the Irish countryside in Millstreet, Co Cork.
The London landmarks, along with representations of Stonehenge and the Cliffs of Dover, are among the 15 fences from the showjumping course at the 2012 London Olympics that have been acquired by Noel C Duggan for the Millstreet International Horse Show.
Mr Duggan's son Thomas explained how they had acquired the fences designed by top international course designer, Bob Ellis, and how they planned to make them a feature of the Millstreet event which kicked off yesterday and runs until Sunday. "I went over to the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham in October and I made a few inquiries and discovered they were in storage so I went out to see them.
“I was surprised to get them to be honest because I thought they’ld be treated almost like a national treasure in the UK given the Olympics was such a success, but evidently not – so we bought them and we’ll be using them in our main arena in this year’s show.”
Mr Duggan is happy to have Millstreet course designer Mark McGowan incorporate the London landmarks and other English images into the extensive complex that he and his family have developed at Green Glens in Millstreet.
"I'm proud to describe myself as an Irish nationalist but our relationship with Britain has changed – the visit of Queen Elizabeth two years ago where she got a great welcome in Cork is a reflection of that and I see us using the English images as something in the same spirit. "Over the years, we've welcomed a succession of top British riders to Millstreet – riders like Harvey Smith, David Broome, Malcolm Pyrah and Nick Skelton. And this year we have over 20 riders from England, Scotland and Wales so we hope they'll like the new fences."
The show had a number of difficult years when a row with Showjumping Ireland in 2007 over insurance had an adverse effect on participant numbers. The dispute led to Showjumping Ireland threatening to sanction competitors who went to Millstreet. The Duggans took a case to the Competition Authority which found competition law had been breached and Showjumping Ireland issued an apology to the Duggans.
This year’s show has a record 6,500 entries, including leading riders such as Cian O’Connor.