Dingle Peggy is the sequel to Connemara Mollie, the story of Hilary Bradt’s first ride through Ireland in 1984. Connemara Mollie is a fine read:
“The writer has an unfailing honesty and self deprecating humour that make you glad that although she made the journey on her own, she is still willing to share it with you. She tells you what she sees, and describes the people she meets with a clear view, but always with generosity. Most of all, this is the story of a brave Connemara pony, and her rider, the relationship between the two of them described with an obvious, but understated, love. This is a true story; the ending desperately sad.” From my review of Connemara Mollie
Although the ride ended in tragedy, with Mollie’s death, Hilary Bradt was determined to go back and finish the journey. After six weeks in Englahd, she returned to look for another pony. Off she went to the local horse dealer, Pedar, who produced “a nondescript brown pony with a silly hairstyle.” Peggy kept her neck firmly horizontal when ridden: this it turned out, was because she pulled Pedar’s gig, which also explained her partially hogged mane. Besides, Peggy wasn’t Mollie, the beautiful grey Connemara everyone had turned to look at. But when Hilary took Peggy out for a trial ride, she had redeeming qualities: she had a certain enthusiasm about life, and when she wanted to look at something, she tilted her head sideways to look out under her blinkers, even when she wasn’t wearing any.
Hilary decides to hire Peggy, and they set off. This book is just as good as the first: for the sensitive I can reassure you that this one doesn’t end sadly. Peggy is just as full of life at the end.
There are moments of humour – I loved the bit where Hilary loads Peggy up in front of a youth hostel and gets on, only to fall off on the other side, and the recurring motif of her human companion, Susanne’s blue and white duffle bag. Unlike the earlier journey, Hilary has a companion for at least part of this one. Susanne didn’t quite understand what was necessary to get luggage to attach to a saddle bag, and turned up with a blue and white duffle bag which was the curse of their joint journey.
Dingle Peggy is another great travel book from Hilary Bradt: Ireland is as lovingly described as before, but it’s the characters that make this a such a fine book. Bradt is clear sighted but never judgemental about everyone she meets Hilary Bradt’s great gift is to put over her enormous affection for Peggy without slipping for one instant into either sentiment or cod-mysticism. It’s a gift to be able to convey the character of a pony so well. I felt I knew Peggy by the end of the journey; that if I went camping with her she’d yell a greeting to me, and fuss if she had to move off tarmac .
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Hilary Bradt: Dingle Peggy
Adult, non fiction