An initiative of Horse Sport Ireland

Iris Kellett Show Jumping Legend & Exhibition

General June 17, 2013

Photographs & Copy -Courtesy of the RDS Archives

Iris Kellett is heralded as one of the most exceptional figures in the history of Irish show-jumping and equestrianism.

In a career spanning over 30 years Iris Kellett established herself as one of the top riders of her generation. She flourished at a time when women and civilian riders were gaining prominence in international competition, and she was to become a leading ambassador for both.

Iris’s contribution as a teacher and trainer is unparalleled and her legacy can be traced through the successes of her many students and the outstanding horses that she trained and bred.

Iris Kellett on Morning Light 1969

Iris Kellett on Morning Light 1969 Copyright RDS Archives

This years’ Dublin Horse Show Library exhibition, “Iris Kellett Show Jumping Legend” looks at the life and career of Iris Kellet and explores the lasting contribution she made to equestrianism both in Ireland and internationally.

The exhibition will run from August 2nd – September 30th, 2013. Library opening hours are Monday to Friday 10.00am to 5.00pm, closed Monday 12th August 2013. Please note that there is an entry charge during the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show (Wednesday 7th August to Sunday 11th August inclusive). At other times, entry is free and open to the public.


About Iris Kellett

Iris Kellett was born in Dublin on January 8th 1926, the only child of Harry and Dora Kellet. She was raised at Mespil Road, Dublin, where her father ran a riding school on the site of a former British Army cavalry stables, which he had purchased in 1924. Harry Kellett worked as veterinary surgeon in the British Army, and passed his skills and ethos on the proper care of horses onto his daughter.

Iris attended St Margaret’s School, Mespil Road, and would come home each day to teach and help out at the stables. The Mespil Road stables were of such importance to Iris that she would refuse an offer to study veterinary science at Trinity College, Dublin in order to fully commit herself to the school.

Iris’s first appearance in equestrian competition was at the age of 9, when she won ‘Best Girl Rider’ at the 1935 Dublin Horse Show and from then on she was to become a regular fixture in competition. Iris and her great horse Rusty competed as members of the first Irish all civilian Nations Cup team in 1947, and won the Princess Elizabeth Cup for the European Ladies Championship, at White City in 1949 and 1951. Iris proved the equal of top male riders, and was a fitting ambassador for the growing involvement of women in competitive show jumping.

In 1952 a fall from a horse, resulting in a shattered ankle complicated by a bout of tetanus, put a halt to Iris’s show jumping career. It was almost ten years before Iris was back on top form, competing again for the Irish team in the Nations Cup during the 1960s and winning the European Ladies Championship, on Morning Light, at the Dublin Horse Show in 1969.

In 1969 Iris retired from international competition to devote herself to teaching, training and breeding horses. In 1972 she sold the riding school on Mespil Road and moved to Kill in County Kildare. Here Iris would go on to train some of the greatest names in Irish show-jumping including, Eddie Macken, Paul Darragh and Jack Doyle.

Iris Kellett passed away on 11th March 2011, leaving behind countless friends and a legacy as a competitor, teacher, and breeder that is unparalleled.


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