Chance phone call sparks enduring links to polo for Ireland and the USA
POLO Wicklow Ireland’s founder Michael Herbst was amazed to see so many long-time friends at recent anniversary celebrations this month that saw Ireland meet the USA in the country’s only year-round, all-weather arena, and it all began with a phone call 30 years ago.
Micky, as he is affectionately known to all who know him whether past, present or future, is convinced that the only people who do not play polo are those who believe they can’t, and his conviction comes with the recommendation that anyone who is not playing polo must give it try as soon as next week. It wasn’t for his first or even his 10th polo match that took him to Newport, Rhode Island USA to play on a team against the USA; it was, however, a match made in heaven, the spark that lit the bug to build and arena in Wicklow: the USA’s Yale University team has mounted a team ever since, beginning with that first fateful phone call, 30 years ago.
“I got a phone call 30 years ago and the man on the other end said, ‘I built an arena and I would like to have you on a team’, said Yale University’s polo manager and team captain (retired) Eileen Flint when she spoke with Pynck.com at the recent celebrations. “I had no idea who this man was but yes indeed, I was up for a polo match in Ireland.
Weekend celebrations in May included the Novice Cup that brought the season’s beginners – most from University College Dublin – to the arena where so many have learned the sport of ‘Hurling on Horseback’ in matches guided by veteran players. The Novice Cup match, sponsored by Pynck.com paved the way for the main event, when once again Ireland met the USA but this time and for one time only, the tournament ended with everyone a winner.
“It’s not just a game, it’s a family,” added Eileen Flint. “We are very fortunate to have this arena and consequently nobody else has it as good as we do.”
Radiantly healthy octogenarian Micky is comfortably settled into retirement from polo, although occasionally keeping his hand in as Third Man or sidelines umpire (see the video with Micky Herbst, Eileen Flint and the USA Yale University’s Liz Brayboy). Meanwhile, the next generation polo manager has taken up the reins for Polo Wicklow.
The daughter of Micky and Wendy Herbst, Siobhan Herbst thanked her parents at the 30th anniversary black-tie ball and added: “None of this would be possible without the support of my parents.”
Tags: Arts & Culture
Image credits: Kim Mullahey