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Alice's pony charms Southern Star's huge Facebook audience

October 30th, 2017 10:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Love is – Alice Clifford with Jude, her miniature Shetland pony, at home near Lough Hyne. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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THE Rubber Bandits had a hit with their song, ‘Horse Outside,’ but Skibbereen woman Alice Clifford’s ‘horse inside’ photograph has caused a social media sensation.

The Southern Star Facebook page has racked up more than one million views of the photo Alice submitted of her Shetland pony, Jude, taking shelter from Storm Ophelia in the utility room off the kitchen in her home.

Almost 1,150,000 have viewed the photograph to date and there have been more than 50,000 comments and reactions, plus more than 18,500 shares of the image of the miniature brown Shetland pony, with its blonde mane and tail, safely nestled indoors.

With the storm gathering momentum on Sunday night, Alice said: ‘I panicked and brought Jude in because I didn’t want him to be alone and frightened during the hurricane. I made up a bed for him next to the radiator and used a stair gate to keep him enclosed.

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‘Jude has an enclosed shelter in the garden, but there was no way I’d leave him out in that,’ Alice said of the storm event on Monday, October 16th, that prompted Met Éireann to issue its first ever countrywide Status Red weather warning.

She said he also got a text from a friend saying he was worried that the shelter might not stay upright in the winds so she rushed out to the garage to get a tarp and a pile of hay and made up a little stable in the house.

Alice (23) is a student of art at Rossa College, and – as a self-confessed animal lover – also works part-time at Allie’s Boarding Kennels in Spain, near Baltimore.

Alice lives at the top of a hill near Lough Hyne, so she felt perfectly justified in bringing seven-month-old Jude indoors because the winds on the 16th were howling around the house.

In Lough Hyne, alone an estimated one hundred trees were felled – literally snapped in two – by the ferocity of the winds.

‘It was when the wind started to pick up around 8pm on Sunday evening that I decided to bring Jude in,’ said Alice. ‘I was glad I did because by midnight the wind sounded quite ferocious.’

The intensity of the storm continued right throughout Monday as the two hunkered down – with Jude cosy in his straw bed and Alice taking refuge under a blanket or two because the power was out.

The power in the Clifford household went out at 11am on Monday morning and didn’t come back until 10pm that night. And, for the next two days, remained intermitted.

It wasn’t until 8am on Tuesday morning that Alice felt confident about releasing Jude back into nature and the company of Scampi, the Shetland next door.

During his stay, Alice couldn’t resist taking a photograph and sharing it with her friends on WhatsApp. It was her friends who insisted that she send it to The Southern Star because they thought it was hilarious.

‘I sent it in on Wednesday,’ said Alice, who couldn’t believe that it made the final cut out of literally hundreds of dramatic photographs of Storm Ophelia that were taken throughout West Cork.

‘I know it was an endearing photograph but I had no idea it would capture people’s heart to the degree that it did. It was a great experience and Roo – the 14th month old Norwich Terrier – loved having him here.’

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