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-1 The farmer raised the rifle and took aim. The little Grey horse did not move, its eyes were glazed and lifeless. “Stop, don’t shoot ,”a young voice cried. A young boy climbed over the upturned milk churns and scrambled over the broken cart. “Please don’t shoot him,” he pleaded, “he’s to small he cant carry the load.” “He’s useless,” the farmer replied, “can’t run, he can’t work.” The boy’s father stepped out of their Rusty old jeep and crouched over the stricken animal. “Easy boy,” he said, running his hand along its tattered mane. “Please Da can we keep him and make him better,” Declan Kavanagh begged, tears streaming from his deep blue eyes. Dan Kavanagh was a strong willed man, but a look from his son could always melt his heart. “I’ll call the vet and get him to take him back to the old barn,” Dan replied. “Get that worthless animal off my property,” Tom Kelly said, “if he’s still here when we get the milk into town; I’ll put a bullet into his skull,” he thundered, storming off… “What’s the story Liam,” Dan inquired as the vet closed his battered leather bag. Liam Scanlon gestured for Dan to follow him outside, out of earshot of the boy. “Well he’s suffering from malnutrition for starters, he’s been whipped half to death; and the fevers getting worse.” Dan dropped his head gloomily. “It will break the boys heart Liam,” he whispered. “The Horse has suffered enough Dan,” Liam put his hand on Dans shoulder, “Its for the best. call me when the boy goes to sleep, and Ill give the horse an injection and let die in peace.” Dan looked in at his son. Declan sat beside the horse cradling its head. The animal's breathing was shallow and uneven. He nodded grim faced and waved goodbye to the vet. The pale moonlight poured through the open bedroom window. Dan Donnelly rose wearily and made his way to the rambling old barn. He lit a paraffin lamp. The lamp cast an orange glow across the straw filled floor.

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Dans jaw dropped “I don’t believe it!” He exclaimed. “Declan,” he called as he raced back into the house. Father and son could scarcely believe their eyes. The little Grey horse stood before them, grazing casually from a trough of nuts. “It’s a miracle,” Declan said gleefully. His father was inclined to agree with him as he checked the horse over. Apart from a little unsteady, the horse seemed none the worse for his ordeal. “We’ll call him the bony boy,” Declan giggled as they made their way back to the house. “The bony boy it is,” Dan replied. “When he gets a bit stronger we’ll take him to Mickey Macs, he’ll be able to tell us what class of a horse he is,” Dan concluded . Mickey Mac Dermott inhaled heavily on his tattered woodbine and exhaled slowly. He was a tall man with broad shoulders. His face was long jawed, and he had a look that would strip your soul. “Well he’s too small to be a work horse,” he informed Dan. “He’s well sinewed for a little un,” he continued. “Aye there no doubt in my mind.” Dan and Declan leaned forwards in expectation. “He’s a class of a racing animal,” Mickey informed them. “Mickey you can’t is serious,” Dan replied in dis-belief, forgetting it was sacrilege to question Mickey Mack’s judgment. “Take him to Caragh strand and give him a canter, then you’ll see.” Dan pressed a twenty pack of woodbines into Mickey’s pocket. While the great man did not accept money for his advice, donations of other varieties were gratefully accepted. “There she is boy,” Declan whispered reverently. The sea spray splashed lightly against their faces as they gazed across the water. Caragh strand was a sandy strip of golden sand. It undulating banks were about two miles long tapering into a flat stretch which dug its heels into the Atlantic Ocean. “Da says you can see to the end of the earth from here,” Declan said patting the Bony boy. The Animal tossed his head up and down, the fresh sea air and the soft sand under his hooves, making him impatient to

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gallop.Declan swung the horse around and pointed him up the sandy banks. Dan Kavanagh stood at the waters edge and gazed out at Sleive Gara lighthouse. The mist was settling gently on the water as dusk began to fall. The shining tower rose out of the water like a grey giant, warning the tiny fishing boats against the jagged rocks which littered the waters edge. Once every year the lighthouse served as a landmark of a different kind. An invisible line was traced from its cold Grey walls, across the water to the edge of the Golden strand. This was no ordinary line; the lighthouse marked the finishing line for the Moy valley cup. Dan could here his grandfather’s words ringing in his ears. “Three miles at a steady clip, when you reach the crown of the hill, let out some reign and Gallop for the Lighthouse.” Sea Swallow had been the apple of Dan Kavanagh eye, ever since a strong foal had been born to a mare at his grandfather’s farm. He was a brown chestnut colt with a distinguishing white star on his forehead. He grew into a fine strapping sort and by the age of ten, was going for a record three in a row in the Moy Valley cup. Dan Kavanagh was known as the finest horseman in Ross Na Geary. Only one horse had ever won the cup three years in a row, and as Dan rounded the final turn in the 1947 Moy Valley cup, he knew he and Sea Swallow were about to make history……….. The thunder of hooves rumbled across the sandy earth as two horses entered the final furlong side by side. Scanty Boy edged ahead of Sea Swallow, his coat awash with sweat. Tom Kelly shot a sneering look at Dan and spurred his mount towards the shadow of the Lighthouse. Dan tucked in behind, the cheers of the crowd rising over the crashing waves. In the background the voice of the racing commentator Tim Turley boomed out over the crackly Tannoy. “ And its Scanty boy by a length as we race inside the final furlong, But here comes Sea Swallow,……… Sea swallow is fighting back and strikes the front,…….Sea Swallow has fallen……Catastrophe for Dan Kavanagh,”……….. As they pulled the makeshift screens around Sea Swallow, Dan limped away crying bitter tears. His beloved horse had broken his leg in the shadow of the lighthouse, his dreams lay in tatters. Disillusioned, Dan vowed never to have any involvement with the race in any shape or form again.

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Standing watching his son cantor up the hill filled him with conflicting emotions. He had longed for a son

to follow in his footsteps and win the cup, but he knew it was a rough and dangerous race, for both horse and jockey. A deep voice drifted over his shoulder. “Don’t worry Dan, lightning wont strike twice,” Dan turned to see a wise old face smiling kindly at him. “Mickey you took the heart out of me, I taught you were a ghost.” “Well you have the look of a haunted man all right” Mickey replied with a twinkle in his eye, the horse is moving well,” he continued. “Lets see what he has under the Bonnet,” Dan said, “Come on Dec let em go,” he called out as horse and rider turned into the straight. Declan spurred the horse forward with a smack of the whip. The Bony Boy ground to a stop, planting his hooves into the sand. Declan scratched his head and looked at Mick and Dan for some explanation. Mickey walked over to the horse and patted him reassuringly. “What’s wrong with him Mickey,” Dan inquired. “He doesn’t like the stick and who can blame him,” Mickey said cheerily. “How on earth can we race him,” Dan answered, crestfallen. Mickey looked intently at the little Grey horse. “Let him do his own thing lads, this is no ordinary horse,” Mickey concluded. “Declans not strong enough to ride him hands and heels,” Dan countered. “Look in the horses eyes Dan, the eyes are the mirrors of the soul ; and his eyes are so deep you could nearly see to Australia,” Mickey said, lighting up a woodbine. “It can get rough out there Mickey,” Dan said, I’d fear for them both.” “The horse might be skin and bone Dan, but he’s tough and anyway,” Mickey paused, Declan wont be riding him…… you will!” It took a moment for Dan to realize what Mickey was proposing. “Mickey,” he spluttered, searching for lost words.

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Mickey cast a withering look at Dan.” Everyman has to face his demons some day, God sent this horse to

right a wrong. Now its up to you whether you want to face him in heaven or hell.” Dan Kavanagh cast a look at the expectant face of his son and looked out across the Ocean. The Sun had slipped below the water line as the last of its rays petered into shadow. “I’ll have to sit on him first Mickey,” he replied still in shock. “I’m not promising you anything now mind.” “Good man Dan,” Mickey enthused. “I’ll be off now, I’ve a fierce thirst on me that only a Dram of the finest Scotch will cure!” The next morning Mickey took the Bony boy and Dan to the strand for a tryout before the big race. A group of riders appeared from over the sandy banks. “Tom Kelly,” Dan growled as they drew alongside them Tom Kelly shook his head, a mocking smile sewn to his lips. “The dead jockey arose and appeared too many,” he sneered. “Easy Dan,” Mickey urged sensing the anger within him. Dan settled back on the Bony boy, his eyes still blazing. “What have we got here boys”? Kelly crowed, looking at the Bony boy. “Your not seriously thinking of running that yoke in the Moy Valley cup,” he continued. “We’ll run him Kelly and the only thing you’ll see is his behind,” Mickey Mack replied. “This isn’t a donkey derby Mac Dermot,” Kelly hissed through clenched teeth. My advice to you is don’t enter, and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain”. “We’ll be there Kelly, Hell or high water,” Mick flashed back. Tom Kelly turned his mount and gestured for his brothers to follow him. “We’ll see you on the strand tomorrow Danny boy,” he shouted as they galloped away. “They’ll be cooking up a plan to take us out Mickey,” Dan said, a worried look sweeping over his deep green eyes. “That they will,” Mickey nodded. He straightened his peaked cap and puffed out his cheeks. “Its time to test the horses mettle, Gallop him from O’Leary’s boat to the Lighthouse,” he ordered.

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Dan took a deep breath and shook the reins on the little horse.

“Now boy,” he said softly, “Its time for both of us to face our demons.”
A flock of seagulls lined the strand as they picked up speed and charged for the lighthouse. The birds rose into flight as horse and rider dashed towards them. For a moment they raced side by side, before the gulls arched high into the sky. The Bony Boy lengthened his stride, before he knew it Dan Kavanagh had passed the lighthouse. He eased the horse down and squeezed his ears playfully. He dismounted as a breathless Mickey Mac joined them. The Bony Boy rolled in the sand having enjoyed the fast gallop. “Well what’s the verdict Dan,” Mickey inquired. “He’s got a great cruising speed, and there’s no doubt he’s got all the gears and great balance but; …. Mickey could tell what Dan was about to say. “Tom Kelly is right about one thing Mickey; I would save myself a lot of pain if I stayed away from the Horses.” Mickey put a consoling arm around Dan and gently led the Bony Boy with the other. “You can’t live a life without pain Dan, it’s in your blood. If you love something it will cause you grief at some point.” Mickey gave the reins to Dan and turned for home. “Sleep on it Dan,” he said, the race is not till tomorrow.” Dan barely heard him as he trudged up the strand, he was deep in thought and time was running out for a decision. Mickey Mack rose early the next day and opened the door of his whitewashed thatched cottage over looking Caragh strand. The sun was creeping over the horizon, casting gentle warmth from its golden rays. “The calm before the the storm,” Mickey mused as he stepped back inside. He knew the course builders would arrive about nine and put up the wooden stakes around the contours of the track. By eleven they would have the ropes in place to mark the division between riders and spectators. At midday the first of the throngs of people would start to arrive. They would come from all over the parish to see the wonderful spectacle that was the Moy Valley cup. Mickey settled back in his chair as his battered old kettle danced on the range. He settled back in his rocking chair and glanced at his silver pocket watch, and waited.

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Ros Na Geary was a hub of excitement. The Red and Yellow bunting flapped gaily in the summer breeze as a steady stream of people made their way to Caragh strand. Dan Donnelley glanced at the old grandfather

clock in his bedroom, it was two o Clock. A set of racing silks lay on the bed. He looked at the blue and white quartered silks lovingly. His Father and Grandfather before him had carried them with pride and distinction. He rose heavily from his stool and went down stairs. “Sorry son,” Dan said, I can’t do it,” He said as Declan rushed breathlessly into the living room. “Da the horse is gone,” Declan said, a shocked look on his bright young face. “What” Dan returned, he knew by the look on his sons face, he was not joking. “Did you try the barn and the paddock,” he inquired. Declan nodded anxiously. “Where could he be,” Dan cried, panic starting to set in. They spent the next hour searching for the bony boy, but to no avail. “We’ll go down to the strand,” Dan ventured, “perhaps someone drove by him on the way to the big race”. They made the short journey to Caragh strand, the time was a quarter to four. Around the same time Mickey Mack closed the wicker gate leading to his cottage and sauntered down the grassy incline which roamed lazily to the strand. A huge crowd had come from all over the parish; almost every vantage point was taken as a great sense of anticipation swept over the crowd. Dan and Declan scanned the surrounding areas for any sign of the lost animal; Dan spied Mickey in the distance. “Mickey,” he shouted, “the horse is gone,” Mickey glanced at his watch. “They’ll be off soon,” he said casually, “don’t worry Dan the horse will turn up.” Dan shrugged his shoulders; he knew there would be no point searching for the animal until after the big race. The bugle sounded calling the horses into line. In the background the voice of the race commentator Tim Turley boomed over the Tannoy. “Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Blue riband event. The One Hundred and Fifty Second running of

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the Moy Valley cup. This year’s renewal features a record twenty two runners.” The starter Father Harry Murphy mounted his roster, as horses and riders jostled for a good position. Tim

Turley was in full flow. “You pay your money, you take your chance, Three miles in the run to the lighthouse.” Father Harry raised the white flag. “And there,” Tim Turley stopped as the priest’s right arm hovered for a moment, but did not wave the flag. A small grey horse galloped up to the tape and planted its hooves into the ground. There was a stunned silence for a moment. “The Bony Boy,” Declan cried, racing over to the little horse. Mickey turned to Dan. “Looks like the horse is going to race without you,” he said. “Come on Da” Declan begged “He can’t do it on his own.” “I’ve got no gear,” Dan protested. “I have it all here,” Mickey replied. “Father Will you give us a minute,” Mickey asked the smiling cleric. Father Harry turned to Tim Turley. “Give em Five Tim and not a second longer,” Mickey ushered Dan to a small tent that acted as a changing room, and took a set of Blue and White silks from a grimy cloth bag. “Mickey,” Dan gasped, there the set my father gave to you for training Sea Swallow.” a tear welling up in his eye. “That’s right Dan,” he said his voice breaking. “Wear em with pride”. Dan hugged his old trainer, “Id run through a brick wall for you Mickey, that I swear to.” “Just ease him into the race and watch out for the Kelly’s ,they will try to force you out at Riley’s corner,” Mickey instructed as the bugle sounded once more. “Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to the big race,” Tim Turley voice boomed over the Tannoy once more.

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“This years Blue riband will have Twenty Three runners,” he said waving gleefully at Dan. Father Murphy called out as the now restless horses and riders swarmed forward onto the tape. “Steady keep line or I’ll call you back, “Steady now boys“……..he let the flag drop. “And there off and running in the Moy Valley cup.” A huge cheer went up from the crowd as the horses

charged forward. The roar of the crowd always sent a shiver down Dan Donnelly’s spine, for those precious seconds he felt like he was king of the world. An elbow crashed into his ribs, momentarily he was unbalanced. “Welcome back Dan,” Liam Kelly shouted as his mount spurred past the Bony Boy. Dan grimaced in pain and was thankful his horse did not rear up. He settled the Bony boy in mid-division and charted a wide berth on the outside. The horses thundered up the hill out of view of Mickey and Declan. “The fun and games will start on the second circuit,” Mickey informed Declan. “Dan needs to get a pitch on the inside turning for home,” he continued as Tim Turley called every post. “Blackie's magic leads them turning in on the first circuit, from Nellie’s pride and Silver biscuit. The favorite Guns of Ballynaul stalks the leading group, and at the tail of the field Paddy last is living up to his name.” The thundering hooves heralded the arrival of the horses into the straight, Mickey was relieved to see Dan had moved up and was lying about sixth. The Lighthouse loomed large on the horizon; the horses snorted and fought the reins. Some wanted to go faster, while others had already cried enough. The crowd cheered again as they passed the finishing post and climbed the hill for the last time. Soon the early pace would tell on the foolhardy and stamina would come into play. The cheering died down; Dan Kavanagh's heart beat a little faster as the infamous bend known as Riley’s corner came into view. Dan glanced over his shoulder to see if the other Kelly brothers were still going. Up ahead Tom and Danny Kelly were lying in third and fourth respectively. The look was to prove costly as Liam and Davie Kelly drove up on his inside. Dan cursed his luck and pushed the Bony Boy forward, he knew he had to make the bend first. The Kelly’s were ready for him, forming a wall of hoses four deep, which forced him

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wide. Dan slowed aware he would be carried out as the track narrowed at the sharp bend. In the shadow of the post Mickey Mack was a worried man. He knew Dan was boxed in at Riley’s corner and would have to go wide as the bend straightened out, losing many lengths in the process.Mickey also knew the bony boy would have to sprout wings on the short run in to make up the lost ground. Dan Donnelley’s heart sank as the door slammed firmly shut at Riley’s corner. “Where are you Dan,” Tom Kelly crowed as he hugged the inside bend, he gestured to Liam to veer wide. “Davie,” he shouted go with Liam, “take Kavanagh ou.t. Dan saw Liam Kelly’s mount a fraction too late. The big bay horse slammed into the Bony Boy knocking him even wider on the turn. The horse lost his action and dropped back; Davie Kelly was waiting for Dan and cracked his whip across his jaw. Dan was blinded for a moment as the leather tore the flesh from his jaw. “Goodbye Danny boy,” Davie laughed as the horses entered the final furlong. Tim Turley grasped the microphone a little tighter and called them home.

“It’s Mister Mister and Larry Grimes, from Tom Kelly and guns of Ballynaul, the Bony Boy is back in
third and Admiral Nelson in fourth wont be making history today folks!” Dan Donnelley put his head down and drove for all he was worth, the Bony boy responded instantly, pricking his ears as the cheers grew louder. “There neck and neck, stride for stride, Mister Mister, Ballnaul, and here comes the Bony boy on the outside with a rare rattle.” “Go boy Go,” Dan urged, they were running out of track and were still a couple of lengths down. Tom Kelly could see some thing coming on his outside, “Kavanagh,” he swore whipping his horse savagely. To Dans right and left people were screaming, jumping up and down. To Mickey Mack it seemed to happen in slow motion. The three horses headed for the line as one, the bony boy was finishing best of all but still had half a length to find. “You could throw a blanket across them folks, Ballynaul, Mister Mister, and the flying Bony Boy with one…. Last…..lunge……… “Ooaah……. its desperately close, it’s a photo,…….Ballynaul, Mister mister and the Bony Boy put it up to the judge in a Moy Valley cup Thriller.”

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Dan eased the Bony Boy down as Mickey and Declan raced over. “Shur he could nearly go round again Mickey,” he said panting heavily, “Did he get it,” Dan inquired anxiously. “Well Declan has no doubts anyway,” Mickey responded as Declan hugged his father and kissed the horse. “If Tim Turley couldn’t call it,” Dan said “only one man can.” The one man in question was the famous racing judge, 'Hawk eye Williams'. As the three horses a riders circled around the enclosure, speculation was rife as to the winner of the One Hundred and Fifty Second Moy Valley Cup. “Kelly held it,” one punter shouted. “Are ya blind,” another called “Ballynauls a stonewall.” “Stop talking Bull will ye,” another shouted joining the fray, “The Grey had its head down on the line,” The ring was abuzz with excited chatter the sure thing was almost all agreed to dis-agree! The only man with all the answers strode purposefully towards the commentary booth. He exchanged words with Tim Turley, before jotting down three numbers on a white envelope. The tension was unbearable as an eternity seemed to pass before the crackly tannoy burst into life. Declan held his fathers hand while Mickey held the Bony boys bridle, there was a hush as Tim Turley gave the call. . “The result of the fourth race, the Moy Valley Cup, “23, 11, 14, “winner alright, winner alright.” “We won, we won Declan screamed in delight, and Dan hung down and hugged the bony boy as Mickey did a little jig around the trio. A huge cheer went up as the crowd swarmed around the winners. The Kelly brothers stared in disgust as the winning jacket was placed on the little grey horse, and Dan lifted the cup high into the air. “And it’s the Bony boy and Declan Donnelley from Ballynaul, “there neck and neck, stride for stride” Mickey and Dan sat on the beach staring out across the water, as the younger Donnelley raced around the little grey horse, doing a good impression of Tim Turley. The Moy Valley cup shone brightly in the setting sun, a testament to Ma Rileys fine polishing. The Bony boy rolled happily on the warm strand as a sandy haze clung to the horizon. Neither Mickey or Dan had spoken for a while, they were savouring the moment, neither wanting the day to end…

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THE BONY BOY Mickey got up reluctantly brushing the sand from his cloths. He inhaled the sea air and broke into a

contented smile. “My father used the say the oceans were the bellies of the earth, “you could see and feel things at the waters edge, like nowhere else” “Aye he right about that” Dan replied. “I’ll be off now Dan” Mickey said, “I’ve an appointment with Arthur Guinness at Slatterys bar”! “Well” Dan quipped, “You can’t keep a man of his stature waiting”. Dan watched him go, the old trainer walking in his usual jaunty fashion. “Hey Mickey” he called out, “Thanks… Thanks for everything”. Mickey waved and continued on his merry way. A flock of seagulls rose into flight, arching away towards Killnamanny hill, a distant bell peeled lazily in the distance. Dan Donnelley led Declan and the Bony boy up the sandy banks as they headed for home. Down below them as the surf ebbed gently against the golden sand, the ghosts of Moyvalley cups past, thundered towards the shadow of the lighthouse…….