AUDIO READING FROM THE COLLECTION: THE BYERLEY TURK
When Moyra Donaldson first saw saw the equine paintings of Wexford artist, Paddy Lennon, she fell in love with the strength of the art and the powerful depictions of horses. With the powerful feeing that her poetry reverberated with his art, she contacted Paddy and asked if he might be interested in working together on a project. Blood Horses is the result of their collaboration and reflects not only both artists’ mastery of their medium, but also their lifelong experience with all things equine.
Lennon’s paintings combine with Donaldson’s poetry to evoke the history of our human relationship with horses. Central to the book is the story of the three Arab stallions that were the founding fathers of the modern thoroughbred, The Byerley Turk, The Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Barb. All three stallions have fascinating stories and the Byerley Turk has Irish connections, winning at Downpatrick Races before being ridden at the Battle of the Boyne by his owner, Captain Robert Byerley.
The stunning book, with a foreword from Cathal Beale of the Irish National Stud, also looks at the part that horses play in the lives of those who work with them and ride them, the glories and tragedies, our partnership with them and their effect on us.
An exhibition of the paintings has toured Ireland, including the RDS, Downpatrick Racecourse and Galway Festival.
Linen bound hardback limited edition also available, signed by both artists.
The Byerley Turk
Foaled in an electrical storm,
the Turk slid from his mother
into a world that cracked light
across his retinas; his first breath
was air that crashed with sound,
so he was forever after unafraid
of thunder, gunshot, musket flash
and cannon; all the alarms of war.
For the Ghazi horsemen
he was the only kind of horse
worth riding, one of the fast horses
of their ancestors from the East,
refined down generations.
see a horse bathe in the lake of itself
stand up in the air in a song of itself
otherness in the eye of the horse
What a pleasing trophy
for Captain Robert Byerley
of the Sixth Dragoon Guards,
this tall, bay horse of courage
and elegance, taken
from a fallen Turkish Sipahi
in the fighting at Buda;
then loaded onto a vessel
of the mighty Dutch Fleet,
bound for Carrickfergus.
On through Ireland
with the Captain,
and a bit of sport along the way.
wins the Silver Bell
at Downpatrick Races,
local runners left behind
like heavy-footed farm horses.
The Turk accepts the roar of voices
and the slaps of praise
as no less than his birthright.
in the shape of a horse
in the shape
of a story of horses
strike up fountains
in dry places
Then on to the next battle
to be waged for William of Orange.
See the churn of mud,
the water, blood,
splashing up from
his high-stepping hooves
as he crosses the Boyne,
ears pricked, eyes shining
with battle light.
lend me your courage,
lend me your lineage,
lend me your dark eye to drown in
The Turk, retired at last from war,
stood at stud at Middridge Grange
and Goldsborough Hall,
sired Jigg, who sired Partner,
who sired Tartar, then Herod,
Highflyer, Florizel, Woodpecker,
Buzzard, through Sultan, Flying Dutchman,
and down to Nijinsky, Frankel –
lie down on earth
feel the hoof-beats
centuries of horses
crossing the winning line
of the 2000 Guineas, the Derby,
the Oaks, the St Leger,
necks stretched, nostrils fluted for breath,
hearts pounding; our thoroughbreds,
ridden by feathers of men
with legs and arms of steel.
Captain Byerley wept when he buried
his venerable Turk in Yorkshire soil.
bury me with a bridle at my head
a handful of oats at my feet
not all will be waste
when I have fallen to dust
rising up in the shape of a horse
Near the Irish National Stud,
where visitors come to see
where Arab sheikhs
find a next winner,
look for his image.
The Byerley Turk,
a founding father,
painted by John Wootton,
reins in the hand of his Arabian groom,
in the background, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.
the way of the horse
is clean and pure
and not to be entered