The Irish Equine Centre was very fortunate in enjoying the patronage and support of both Dr. M. Vincent and Jacqueline O’Brien and the recent passing of Jacqueline O’Brien ends a long and auspicious chapter in the history of the IEC.
Dr. Vincent and Jacqueline O’Brien, together with Sean Collins, Stan Cosgrove and other bloodstock industry leaders were part of the group that worked to bring about the foundation of the IEC in the early 1980s. Jacqueline headed a fund raising committee which organised a key and successful prize-draw in which the major prizes were cars and other high-value lots. This was followed by an annual golf classic held at Thurles Golf Club in the late 1980s. Her remarkable abilities as a photographer were also put to good use by the IEC in that she photographed all the pictures used for the annual Christmas card sale, another effective fund raising venture for the IEC.
Jacqueline was a member of the first Board of Governors of the IEC and served on a number of the IEC’s committees. She was instrumental in securing many significant donations which helped bring about the development of the IEC and its excellent laboratory facilities – which were the first of its kind in Ireland dedicated to equine health.
She took a huge interest in the development of the diagnostic services provided by the IEC, and in typical Jacqueline O’Brien fashion, spent many hours researching scientific papers so she could knowledgeably contribute to the development of the necessary diagnostic services. Her lasting trademark was the commitment of phenomenal energy and intellect throughout her tenure at the IEC. She performed a variety of roles ranging from fund raising ambassador to “caterer-in-chief” and hostess at many of the IEC functions which helped ensure the Centre’s survival. Most importantly, her service and dedication to the IEC was unrelenting and she was universally adored and admired by all the staff.
Jacqueline will be remembered by many in the bloodstock and racing industries for a variety of roles given the range of skills and interests she displayed. At the IEC she will be remembered for her wit, good humour and great intellect. Her contribution to the development and inception of the IEC, particularly in the early turbulent years, can never be matched. Both Vincent and Jacqueline were honoured at the IEC at a function in April 2008 to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the IEC. The presentation was made by her Excellency Mary McAleese, the then President of Ireland. Most recently, Jacqueline returned to the IEC in June 2015 as guest of honour at the inaugural Open Day and was reunited with many staff members and former Governors. Her energy and enthusiasm was just as evident that day as it had been over the previous decades.
Everyone at the IEC extends their heartfelt sympathy to the O’Brien family. May she rest in peace.