WHEN the Leinster Leader published the story of the Shergar theft in its edition of 12 February 1983, details of the case were still very sketchy.
But we did report that “a man believed to be from the area was questioned by Gardai and later released.”
We also reported that “earlier rumours that the horse had been shot were speedily discounted” and that scores of trainers phoned the Aga Khan’s stud at Ballymany, to offer what help they could.
The report said a demand for £2 million had been made.
Whatever happened to Shergar, later thought to have been shot and buried in the Leitrim area, the Leader editions of February 1983 had at least one reminder that life went on and other horses had been fed, an advertisement from Joe McElroy Feeds, the Curragh.
In another piece on the media attention Kildare received as a result of the horse-napping, local comments were reported including the lack of security on Ballymany before the theft, and its installation after the event...closing the stable door after the horse had bolted, as it were.
We recalled how Shergar, upon retirement, had been paraded on the streets of Newbridge and how the town felt it had a “special claim” on him.
Garda Chief Supt. James Murphy told one press conference that if Shergar was not recovered it would “do an amount of damage to the industry.”
The media madly sought “colour,” in the absence of information. And there were benefits to local hostelries from the horse’s vanishing. “Pubs were scoured and quantities of Guinness paid for by hopeful reporters and consumed by grateful locals.”
That month also, we reported that two men who got into a row in the Curragh Inn Pub in October 1982 over who who would win the French Prix de L’Arc and were fined £2 and £4 respectively.
The Shergar story is filled with tales of phone calls at a time the mobile phones did not exist in the manner they do now.
But ominous phone calls of a different nature and for a different reason were also reported in our 12 February 1983 edition.
Former reporter, Tony Browne, reported a “sinister” development in threatening phone calls received by Celbridge based Dail deputy, Ben Briscoe, who represented Dublin South Central at the time.
Mr. Briscoe was one of a number of TDs, including Charlie McCreevy, who had called for the resignation of the late Charlie Haughey.
A round the clock Garda checkpoint was placed on the Briscoe home at Templemills, and also on the home of Deputy Mary Harney in Newcastle.
Although Mr. McCreevy had received threatening calls during a previous heave against Mr. Haughey, he received none on this occasion and did not receive Garda security, the Leader reported.
- Henry Bauress