Friday 23 March 2018

Eugene shows Irish visitors around Baldwin yard

The President and Mrs Sabina Higgins met head farrier, Eugene Cullen.
The President and Mrs Sabina Higgins met head farrier, Eugene Cullen.

The TV was watched with particular attention at Castleboro near Clonroche last Thursday night.

Bridie Cullen was delighted to see the pictures from President Higgins' visit to the Baldwin race yard in Newbury.

Star of the show was her farrier son Eugene, who was shown shoeing a horse and chatting with the distinguished visitor.

'I was glued to the news,' admitted Bridie, who had been tipped off in advance that the 53-year-old might be on the box.

'I am very proud because he is over there a long time. He is a great lad and rings me every second day.'

Speaking from Newbury, the former apprentice jockey revealed that he only knew for certain that he would meet the President and his wife the evening before they arrived at Andrew Baldwin's yard.

'I was proud as punch. It was a great experience,' declared the Wexford native who has worked in the UK since 1979.

'The president asked my where I was from and his wife told me her brother is a doctor in Wexford. He didn't ask me for any tips.'

His brothers Noel, John and Damien Cullen, as well as sister Sadie, all still live in Ireland.

Eugene was on the roll at the primary school in Courtnacuddy and then attended the vocational school in Adamstown.

He first started working with horses as a teenager at the Clonroche yard of Willie Deacon who helped arrange his apprenticeship with John Dunlop in England.

He rode a few winners for Con Horgan but switched in 1995 to become a farrier as he reckoned he would not make the grade in the saddle.

'I come home as often as I can, two or three times a year, but I am always very busy,' he said down the line from Newbury where he looks after more than 150 horses.

'I am pretty settled over here now and it is unlikely that I will come back to Ireland to live as all my friends are here.'

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