Cairlinn comes back to her roots
Blackpool born Cairlinn (which is ironically the Irish for Carlingford!), first established a riding school in the village in the early 1990s, but with the unpredictable tourist industry of the time it was an unsuccessful venture.Cairlinn has, however, every reason to celebrate her new role at Carlingford Lough Equestrian Centre, which has gone from strength to strength as a
Blackpool born Cairlinn (which is ironically the Irish for Carlingford!), first established a riding school in the village in the early 1990s, but with the unpredictable tourist industry of the time it was an unsuccessful venture.
Cairlinn has, however, every reason to celebrate her new role at Carlingford Lough Equestrian Centre, which has gone from strength to strength as a significant tourist attraction over the last two years.
To manage an equestrian school in Carlingford has been a labour of love for the accomplished rider and showjumper who has painstakingly researched the venture for the last decade.
Although not a native, Cairlinn’s family history in Carlingford dates back to the 1600s. Her father, who sadly passed away earlier this year, was part of a long line of Carroll’s from the village.
“We lived in Carlingford when I was very young, so I don’t much remember that period in my life. Mainly I grew up in Blackpool and Yorkshire, and then Somerset.”
“As kids, we would have spent a lot of summers and Christmases over here, so it came very natural to me in the early 1990s when my parents moved back to my dad’s native Carlingford that I would come to reside here.”
After leaving Blackpool College with a Higher National Diploma in Hotel and Catering, Cairlinn put her budding interest in horseriding to good use when she trained for her assistant instructors exam and then took over the role of assistant manager at Blackpool Equestrian Centre.
“I left that role to establish my own riding school in Carlingford Ghan house in 1992, and during that time also trained to British Horse Society Stage 4 with Eric Smiley, a fellow member of the BHS society, and a bronze European medallist who has ridden for the Irish in numerous Olympics.
After several years, the business closed due to economic reasons, and she took up a Post Graduate degree in Equine Science at U.C.D in which she achieved Honours.
Admitting that she was “hugely disappointed” by the failure of her initial venture, Cairlinn decided to invest her energy and optimism in Ghan House, which her parents had bought with the intention to completely renovate and re-develop.
“Myself and my brother Paul approached my mother with the idea of turning Ghan House into an exclusive corporate venue. My parents previously had a hotel in Somerset, England, so capped with my teenage years of washing up and mopping floors, and management catering training at Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, I had the experience to do it.”
Now, she admits that after several years of “very hard work and commitment making Ghan House the success it is,” she decided to return to where her heart always was..... horses.
Taking up several jobs at the time, including showing horses owned by local man Liam Rice and working as an assistant manager at Castle Leslie, she realised that with Carlingford’s ever growing popularity that it was an opportune time to re-instate the Equestrian centre.
‘But this time, I wanted it to be done with more of a twist, in that it would be much more than a riding school and trekking centre. It is a venue where horses and riders are trained to compete at a competitive level so that ambitious students may pursue dreams of show jumping or dressage.”
Not only is it a tourist attraction nestled in between the new Four Seasons Hotel and the beautiful Ghan House, but Cairlinn’s Equestrian Centre is a place where students are taken and trained to pass a vocational equine course.
“It is ironic that the lady I have working with me is actually a former student of mine from the school in 1992, and now I am teaching her daughter, so that has definitely come full circle!”
Ideally suited for both children and adults, beginners and the more experienced riders, Cairlinn adds that she is now specialising in children’s summer camps which include 3 and 4 day trail rides. Catering for all levels, 5 years and upwards, she also specialises in providing students with British Horse Society training, which is the world recognised training awards needed to work in the equestrian industry.
“It has been going really well, and I’m delighted to say that we’ve been getting a lot of customers not only from the Dundalk and north area, but also from Northern Ireland. The entire area around Carlingford is such an ideal location for trail riding.”
Despite running the centre full time, Cairlinn hasn’t given up her own equestrian ambitions.
“Most recently, in order to keep up with the industry, I took up competitive dressage on a horse that I actually bred myself, and within the space of three years I qualified and competed at four national championships.”
They say its an ideal world if your work is the very thing you love to do. Well done Cairlinn for being a testament to that very sentiment!
Contact Carlingford Lough Equestrian Centre on 087 679 0691 or email email@example.com