Mairin Johnston

Irish author. Born in 1931 in the Liberties in Dublin. Has written in both the feminist and social history spheres, including a book about Dublin women, Dublin Belles, which is probably her best known work to date.

She has written only one children's novel as far as I know, which is a pony story. It is a well-written although slightly harrowing story about a young girl's attempt to stop the live export of horses for meat from Ireland to the Continent. This was big business by the 1940s, with a huge number of the country's horses and donkeys being bought up by businessmen eager to make a quick profit. In fact so rapid was the turnover of the animals that the business became dubbed 'The Pony Express.' Not only were there objections on humane grounds to this practice because of the terrible conditions the animals had to endure, but also Irish farmers who could not use tractors were rapidly running out of working horses as they could not compete with the meat prices! The book is centred upon the real-life attempt to stop this cruel and greedy practice, with the young heroine being caught up in historic events of the time.

Horse & Pony Books:

Paperback original
SUMMARY: Historical pony novel set in 1950s Dublin. The story of a young girl's involvement with a real-life movement to stop the live export of horses from Ireland to the Continent. Young Katy loves ponies and the family own a mare called Amber. One day she witnesses a scene of cruelty involving some ponies and soon finds out the horrific truth about The Pony Express, the live export for meat of animals in terrible conditions. When Katy finds out that Amber's mother Dusty is about to become the latest victim of the Pony Express, she resolves to do something about it. In doing so, she also finds her true vocation in life.
WARNING: Scenes of cruelty.
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Collector's Info:
Paperback first edition. Easy to find in the UK and usually low cost. Slightly harder to find and more expensive in the USA, but by no means impossible to source.