By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
HOLLAND – A horse farm operator and former mounted patrolman for the Philadelphia Police Department, Thomas Walsh of St. Christopher Parish in Northeast Philadelphia has harnessed his dream – to work with horses in his retirement.
“Being around horses and the horse business reminds you of the higher power who created all this for man to enjoy,” said Walsh, 67, owner and operator of Thomas E. Walsh Equestrian Services at Cul Na Greine Farm in Holland, Bucks County. Cul Na Greine, Walsh explains, is Gaelic for “a place in the sun.”
It’s an appropriate name for his business, because from sunrise until after sunset, Walsh is tending to some aspect of his horse farm at 149 Middle Holland Rd.
Walsh’s business provides a wide range of equestrian services, including riding lessons for children and beginners; horse boarding on a co-op basis; horse transportation and horse training, as well as racetrack layup services, which provides a place for injured racehorses to recuperate.
“It’s a pleasant atmosphere for people to come with their equestrian needs,” Walsh said of his farm that prides itself on healthy and humane treatment of horses.
Walsh purchased the property in December 2004. He doesn’t have to go far to tend to the horses. He and wife Patricia live on the farm in a stone farmhouse that is 167 years old.
A retired police captain of the Philadelphia Police Department, Walsh worked with horses as a mounted police officer and superviser for 15 of his 34 years with the police department. He retired from the department in 2003.
“It’s been a love of mine and provided an income for many, many years,” Walsh said of his love of horses.
A native of Northeast Philadelphia, Walsh was just a boy when he began riding horses in Philadelphia’s Pennypack Park. “I always thought they were an amazing animal – they’re kind and they serve mankind in so many ways,” he said.
“There’s a certain ambiance [about] horses,” Walsh added. “I could turn horses out in the morning in the ring, for instance, and just watch them gallop across the fields. They’re so powerful, but so dependable.”
Walsh earned a degree in criminal justice from Temple University in Philadelphia.
He converted to Catholicism shortly after he and Patricia were married at Visitation B.V.M. Church in Philadelphia in 1965.
They are the parents of two daughters: Meghan Farrell, a former director of guidance at St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls in Philadelphia, and Abigail Walsh; and the grandparents of two grandchildren, 4-year-old Ronan and 18-month-old Meadhbh, which is Gaelic for Maeve.
Presently, Walsh owns two horses: a thoroughbred named Murphy and a pony named Paddy for the grandchildren.
It was the promise of a farmhouse that sold Patricia on the idea of a horse farm. “It’s been my husband’s dream for years,” she said. “I always said to him, ‘Tom, if I like the house, I’ll go.’ And I love the house.”
So in 2005 they made settlement and Patricia has had fun refurbishing their home, which was built in 1841, ever since.
“It’s beautiful, peaceful and lovely,” Patricia said of life on the farm. “It’s been a delight. It’s fun for the kids – they all come. The grandchildren love it.”
Raised in Visitation B.V.M. Parish, the former Patricia McGuckin graduated from Visitation B.V.M. School in 1953 and is a 1957 alumna of Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls in Philadelphia.
She served as the librarian of St. Christopher School for 23 years, retiring in June 2007. At St. Christopher Parish, Patricia is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.
Patricia praised Thomas’ stalwart work ethic. “He never stops,” she said. “He’s up early in the morning. He’s out there hours and hours at a time. We went to Italy over the summer and we got an international phone so that he could keep in contact with everybody [back home] thousands of miles away. That’s how seriously he takes it. He really, really enjoys it.”
For more information, call Thomas Walsh at (215) 806-4499.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.