All eyes on the Irish National Hound
Roddy Bailey sees the Meath Foxhounds in winning form, the
Kildare also in the ribbons—and a few surprises
Stradbally Hall, home to the Cosby family
for 450 years, provided a striking setting for the annual
Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association Show in Co Laois, Ireland.
The park is central to the Co Laois Hunt and the father, grandfather
and great grandfather of the present occupier all held distinguished
office throughout the Hunt’s history. Their enthusiasm
for hunting is continued by David Cosby, current owner of
Stradbally, who hosts the show of foxhounds and beagles under
the auspices of their respective governing bodies. The impressive
venue also supported the launch of An Irish Scrapbook, a new
hunting work co-written by Desmond McCheane and Cyril Smyth.
Martin Scott, my fellow Hunting Magazine
correspondent, former Master and huntsman of the Tiverton
and VWH (and still the breeder of the latter), with Adam Waugh,
Joint Master and huntsman of the South and West Wilts, judged
both doghounds and bitches from 11 packs of foxhounds from
Ireland, including the East Down from Ulster. The standard
has noticeably risen in recent years and the quality of professional
production was a joy to watch.
‘Man of the Match’ was
young Mark ‘Spud’ Casserly—whipper-in to
the Meath—who proved that ‘he on the reins’
is as important as anybody else in the ring. Mark’s
eyes never left his charges or his huntsman as he slackened
collars to show a shoulder or deftly warned his boss of a
judge’s unexpected turn. Meath huntsman John Henry was
confined to the ringside after a bad fall last season. His
brother Kenny ably stood in for him: ‘He’s doing
a better job than me!’ John called after the kennel
claimed both the doghound and bitch championships. Amid the
glee at the Meath’s success were wishes of good fortune
to the sidelined John Henry coupled with the hope that he
will soon be hunting hounds again.
The Meath did not have it all their own
way. The Kildare, fresh from a successful foray across the
Irish Sea to the Wales and Border Counties Hound Show at Builth
Wells, claimed numerous ‘tickets’ including the
Reserve Bitch Championship with Label ’03. Joint Master
and breeder of the Kildare hounds, Rupert Macauley, could
hardly contain his joy as his unentered bitch, Pleasure, took
first in her class, having won a second in good company in
Wales three days before—and she is not yet a year old.
The Carlow Farmers’—a Corrigan family concern
helped by huntsman Noel Skelton—had a profitable morning,
winning the Couples class and the Reserve Dog hound Championship
with Foreman ’03.
More Hunts in Ireland use traditional English
hounds than are ever seen in England. The term is arguably
a misnomer but two classes and a Challenge Trophy reflect
this enthusiasm. Huntsman Graham Buston showed the Waterford
hounds to perfection, impressing the spectators with his sympathetic
and quiet handling of these ‘Old English’ foxcatchers.
Those spectators included a number of visiting Masters from
Britain led by South Dorset Master and huntsman Rory Innes
and Mr Richard Tyacke, who holds the same position at Wynnstay.