In 2014 horses made big news in New York City, when the city’s new mayor, Bill DeBlasio, promised to disband the horse and carriage industry in Central Park as his first order of business. His pronouncement set off a storm of controversy with heated pushback from horse drivers and stable owners, many of them Irish, who protested their portrayal as abusers of animals. They defended their industry and its practices as ethical and a culturalstaple of the city, not only for tourists, but for the local population as well. Dating back to the mid-nineteenth century (and before) horses provided the power for public and commercial transportation, building, and sanitation as well as private transportation and recreation.No longer powering the machinery that makes the city work, horses are still a presence on the streets of Manhattan pulling carriages and carrying mounted police officers. The Irish, then as now, brought their equine experience with them from farms and rural villages and found a natural fit working with horses as owners, drivers, and farriers in New York. We’ve talked with members of the carriage industry and Hilary Sweeney to discuss the history of the Irish connection with horses and found that while much has changed, much in the business remains the same.
- Linda Dowling Almeida, Writer, Producer, Narrator
- Michael Stallmeyer, Producer, Engineer
- The Chieftains, "Ballad of the Irish Horse," Ballad of the Irish Horse, Shanachie Records,
All of the interviews used in this podcast are drawn from the Archives of Irish America at New York University and have been recorded as part of the Glucksman Ireland House Oral History Project.
- Eddie Hayes, farrier
- Hilary Sweeney, scholar
- Conor McHugh, stable owner and carriage driver
- Cornelius (Neil) Byrne, stable owner
- Christina Hansen, carriage driver
- Stephen Malone, carriage driver