Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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FHL wants your hunt reports! Stories and photos. Submit yours here.

Duhallow Foxhounds at Kilbrin: The Oldest Foxhound Pack in Ireland

duahallow.ger withers.powerDuahallow huntsman Ger Withers / Catherine Power photoFounded by the Wrixon-Becher family, the Duhallow foxhounds have been hunting North Cork from the Kerry border to Doneraile continuously since 1745 making it the oldest foxhound pack in Ireland. (For those who question how to reconcile that with the Scarteen, the recorded history of which goes back to the early 1700s, the keyword is “foxhounds.” The Scarteen Black and Tans are technically known as Kerry Beagles, though they dwarf any beagles we know today.)

The Duhallow pack existed before 1745, but there is no recorded history. That year, Henry Wrixon of Ballygiblin rented a fox covert, Regan’s Break, for thirteen guineas. Henry passed the pack on to his son, Colonel William Wrixon, who in turn passed it on to his own son. In 1800, Sir William Wrixon Becher, MFH met with several other gentlemen to form a club to be called the Duhallow Hunt Club. Sir William had taken on his wife’s maiden name, Becher, she from the same family for which the infamous obstacle on the Grand National Steeplechase course at Aintree, England, Becher’s Brook, is named.

Hark Forward Travelogue: Belle Meade Hosts Tennessee Valley

bmh.tvh.group.pelhamCreek diggers at the freshly repaired Natalie's Crossing. L-R: Back row: Eric Doebbler, Epp Wilson, Lee Ann Carson, Winser Exum, Mike Coke, Terry Cooper, Kelly Holliman, Ed Maxwell. Front row : Anthony Coleman, Andy Blair. / Gretchen Pelham photo

What a day! I arrived at 11:30 last night—six and a-half hours instead of four hours. Siri always thinks I can drive from Tennessee to Judith and Epp Wilson’s in Georgia in just four hours, but I know better. There is a little place called downtown Atlanta that Siri ignores. I always add an hour for the twenty miles it takes to go through downtown. Well, last night Fate gave me a clear run at fifty miles an hour though downtown on a Friday night, hauling my trailer. Holy crap! On a Friday night! I actually saw pavement between cars!

But Fate screwed me on everything else: construction delays, insane fuel stops, so I arrived very late. But today made it all worthwhile. After sleeping in (heaven), Judith and I took their three-month old Crossbred puppies for a long walk this morning, a horseless trail ride. It was the two of us, the foxhound puppies, her Gracie and Marty house dogs, and my Holly. Who was in heaven. And worn out. She’s going to sleep for a week.

Then we went foxhunting this afternoon. Belle Meade and Tennessee Valley have always had great joint meets at Belle Meade. Somehow, our Penn-Marydels and their Crossbred hounds hunt amazingly together.

The South Tyrone Foxhounds at Minterburn

STF.Stephen Hutchinson MFH in a brave jump onto the road fox hunting with the South Tyrone FoxhoundsSome get it right. Stephen Hutchinson, MFH in a brave jump onto the road with the South Tyrone Foxhounds / Noel Mullins photo

I never cease to be amazed at the challenges of foxhunting in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. On a good hunting day, for many, it would be easier to ride in the Aintree Grand National. Such is the challenge of crossing this well-fenced countryside with its network of wire, drains, and hedges, that visitors seldom return a second time!

If there is any weakness in the hunt membership, it is that they have too many veterinary surgeons following and not enough physicians. In the course of this day’s hunting, every one of the vets was in trouble. Since Dr. Cathal Cassidy emigrated to New Zealand it has not been the same, particularly as he was a psychiatrist, which, given the cavalier attitude of the followers across the hunting country, is the branch of medicine most suited to the needs of the South Tyrone followers. In fact the horses look sounder than the riders.

Opening Meet at Scarteen: A Centuries-Old Tradition

scarteen.huntsman.cropped.powerMoving off to Opening Meet in the village are Chris Ryan, MFH (at left) and huntsman Raymond O’Halloran, leading staff, hounds, and a select few. Joanna Turvey (center) wears the colors of the South Notts Foxhounds (UK).  / Catherine Power photo

Recorded Scarteen history only goes back to the early seventeen hundreds, so we don’t know exactly how long the opening meet has been held in Knocklong, Ireland. But through those centuries that have been recorded, the venue has remained an unbroken tradition.

Part and parcel of that tradition is to have hounds and followers (both foot and mounted) blessed for the coming season. This ecclesiastical duty falls to the local padre who came to the kennels with bell, book and candle to invoke Divine support. No doubt our young huntsman welcomed this as any huntsman would. However, a huntsman in his first season particularly needs a bit luck and a tail wind to see him through.