Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Grallagh Harriers at Meadow Court Hotel, Galway

The Grallagh Harriers master and huntsman David Burke at the Meadow Court meetThe Grallagh Harriers Master and huntsman David Burke and field move off from the meet at the Meadow Court Hotel near Loughrea. / Noel Mullins photo

The Grallagh Harriers hunt much the same country as the Galway Blazers. The meet was at Meadow Court Hotel in Co. Galway, near my hometown of Loughrea. It brought back many happy memories so close as it is to St. Clerins, the former home of film director John Huston who wrote the screen play and/or directed such classic films as The Maltese Falcon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Asphalt Jungle, African Queen, and Moby Dick. The list goes on. He won the Oscar twice and directed his father Walter and his daughter Anjelica to Oscar-winning roles as well.

John Huston was MFH of the Galway Blazers in the 1960s. It was nothing unusual to see his house guests following the hunt by car―Hollywood film stars like Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Orson Wells, playwright Jean Paul Sartre, or Paul Newman who bought a Connemara Pony from Lady Anne Hemphill.

An American Foxhunter Meets the Irish Banks

fugateandgus2.johnflavinThe author on Gus: muddied but unbowed / John Flavin photoDid you ever hear the expression “cheating death?” This question was posed to me by Bob Goodman, my newfound friend and fellow foxhunter, as we both emerged from one of those double drain jumps common to the south of Ireland. The question carried added meaning coming from Bob, a former Air Force fighter pilot with 336 combat missions in Vietnam.

I arrived in Ireland on January 18, 2019 and made my way from the airport straight to Flavin’s stable near Tramore in County Waterford to practice jumping banks and ditches before the next morning’s hunt. On a good horse who knew his business, I found these obstacles to be easy enough, and I was assured that actual hunt conditions would be no more challenging than these practice jumps. Although confident, I had a sense that actual conditions might in fact be different…

Belle Mead Foxhounds Establish New Hunt Record at Tally Ho Lake

belle meade.reflected gloryEpp Wilson leads foxhounds, staff, and field. / Reflected Glory photo

The radio crackled.“Tally-Ho coyote at the Catfish Pond headed west.”

It was the first day of our annual Joint Meet weekend with the Shakerag Hounds (GA), and we had just unkenneled 22-1/2 couple of hounds. Whipper-in John Bell had already left—standard operating procedure—to get into position for the draw and viewed the coyote away even before we put hounds in. Tally Ho Lake is in the southeast corner of our hunting territory, where only two herds of cattle remain in our entire country.

The East Galway at McDonagh’s Pub, Tynagh

East Galway Foxhounds huntsman Liam McAlinden moving off at the meet from McDonaghs Pub in TynaghHuntsman Liam McAlinden and foxhounds move off from McDonagh’s Pub in Tynaugh. / Noel Mullins photo

As the end of the season approaches, it has not come soon enough for some East Galway followers. The hunt could open a hospital casualty ward what with old foxhunting injuries resurrecting themselves—niggling joints, dodgy knees, frozen shoulders, and sore hips. Joint-Master Joe Cavanagh has just had knee surgery, and remarkably he was following by car a few days afterwards. One hunt follower I met was walking very bandy, like a jockey, and he admitted that he would definitely not be able to block a terrier in a corridor! But the East Galway followers are made of stern stuff and despite their temporary handicaps they all look fine when mounted on their hunters!

To further compound matters, some of the hunt horses also need rest. But East Galway has a reputation for producing top-class show jumping and eventing horses, and despite their value they are not being kept in cotton wool; they are being called into action to get followers to the end of the season. No doubt a bit of serious hunting will sharpen them up for the competition season.