Time to give polo a go in Glenealy

Hidden within the village of Glenealy, is the family run Polo Wicklow, one of Ireland’s five surprisingly down-to-earth polo clubs.

Polo Wicklow was set up by current owner Siobhan Herbst’s father, Michael Herbst, in 1993 on the family farm where Siobhan grew up.

They would play polo together as a family and decided to open the sport to the people of Wicklow.

But the people of Wicklow weren’t too sure what to make of this new game they’d heard was only played by Royals in Britain.

“We are Wicklow’s best kept secret,” joked Siobhan. “Someone once stopped at the petrol station to ask where we were and was told there wouldn’t be anything like that around here.

“When my father ran the club he was happy with it being kept a secret, but I want to make it more of a business and get more people involved.”

Acting on that, earlier this month she ran one of her many Polo Taster Days, welcoming people of all abilities to meet some of the club’s 25 established members, gain an understanding of the game and give it a go.

The taster welcomed 16 new faces and 50 per cent have booked to return for polo lessons with Siobhan. These new polo fans come from far and wide and from all walks of life, going against popular perceptions of who can and cannot play polo.

Siobhan explains: “There is a perception that polo is an elitist sport, that comes from the English. In Ireland, it’s completely different.

“Here if you go into a polo club, you’ll be welcomed with open arms because we are delighted to have the players.”

If you want to have a go and aren’t near Wicklow, polo clubs are spread across Ireland at the Bunclody Polo Club, Waterford Polocrosse Club, Ballindenisk Polo Club in Cork and Northern Ireland Polo Club, which is situated in County Down.

Ireland is also home to the oldest polo club in Europe, The All Ireland Polo Club, in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. The club has been bringing the tradition of polo to the people of Ireland since 1873.

In even better news, Siobhan is adamant that you don’t have to be among the super rich to play either. Yes, you do have to have access to a horse and equipment, but it’s not as pricey as you think.

“You can absolutely play polo on a budget,” she said. “Ireland lends itself quite well to it, people look after their own horses and play the cheapest way they can. Irish polo is completely different to English or Spanish polo, it’s at a lower level.”

An accomplished polo player herself, Siobhan is the captain of the Irish Ladies Polo Team. She and her team mates took home the bronze trophy last September at the Polo World Cup in Argentina.

Polo Wicklow, which recently installed a stylish wine bar, has matches at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. on Sundays.

Those hoping to view a polo match are asked to phone ahead to ensure it will be going ahead.

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