Tommy Brennan (1940-2014)
Tommy Brennan was born in Kilkenny on 29 January 1940 and grew up on the family farm at Dunnamaggin. He hunted with the local Co Kilkenny Foxhounds from a young age. After training in animal husbandry he worked first at Skiddoo Stud in Dublin where he became partnered with a famous horse ‘Kilkenny’.
Tommy and ‘Kilkenny’ were successful competing in both Eventing and Jumping, and represented Ireland at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, finishing fourth in the Eventing. In 1966 Tommy and ‘Kilkenny’ were on the gold medal team at the FEI World Eventing Championships. Another one of the winning team, Major Eddie Boylan rode a horse named ‘Durlas Eile’ which was bred at Rahealty Stud, Thurles by Father Sweeney.
Between 1963 and 1968 Tommy won 67 international events around the world. In the 1968 Mexico Olympics, Tommy became the first Irishman to be selected to compete in two disciplines at one Olympic Games for both the Jumping and Eventing. Sadly, one month before the Games, his Jumping horse ‘Tubber Mac’ broke a leg in a fall at the water at the Dublin Horse Show. Whilst competing at the eventing in the Mexican games, a river adjacent to a fence burst its banks resulting in Tommy and his horse being swept downstream. Tommy couldn’t swim and was rescued by the then FEI President, HRH Prince Phillip.
When he retired from competing he turned his talents to designing Cross Country courses around the world, including the European Championships course at Punchestown in 1991 and 2003. He was chef d’equipe of the Irish Junior Eventing Team and also at times for the senior team. Tommy was always a great friend of Holycross show, winning the Holycross Restoration Trophy in 1971. He was awarded the gold badge of honour from the Federation Equestrienne International in 1985 and in 1997 he was added to the Irish sport council hall of fame for services to equestrian sport.