From his home in Sligo town Johnny McNiff teaches children from urban backgrounds to ride horses.
Johnny McNiff from Emmett Place, about half a mile from the centre of Sligo Town, has rescued 11 horses from the slaughterhouse. The horses have since become a source of great interest to the local children.
The kids come along when they see the ponies looking for spins and rides and we give them their turns and most of them, well you can see for yourself, they're all pretty good riders now.
Concerned about the lack of recreational facilities for youngsters in the area, Johnny decided to teach them horse riding skills and he does this in the urban setting of Emmett Place.
Johnny provides this service free of charge and it is proving to be so popular that he hasn’t enough ponies to meet the demand. The average family cannot keep a horse as they need a lot of space and they take a lot of time so Johnny is providing the children with a unique opportunity.
I think it’s great recreation for kids and it keeps them out of trouble.
The children he teaches come from all walks of life, but they are all from urban areas and, more importantly, all love horses.
The children saddle up their horses and if the weather is good, they head out of the town. A mile away is their own racecourse, the stretch of land that links Coney Island with the mainland. When the tide is out there children participate in horse races on the strand. They also practice jumping pillars on Coney Island.
An ‘Ireland’s Eye’ report broadcast on 19 April 1983. The reporter is Tommie Gorman.