John Pickering, one of Irish foxhunting’s witty raconteurs and colorful characters, passed away recently in his adopted town of Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. In his career he hunted the East Down Foxhounds, the Golden Vale Foxhounds, the Oriel Harriers, and was whipper-in and huntsman to the legendary Master of the Bermingham and North Galway Foxhounds, the late Lady Molly Cusack-Smith.
I first met him when he was hunting the Oriel Harriers in the 1980s. At a meet north of Dundalk, in County Louth, hounds put a fox away from Bell’s Covert, but he only ran a couple of hundred yards before going to ground in an earth in the middle of a field. To make matters worse his best hound Heckler was down in the earth with only his stern in view. Pickering sat casually back in the saddle and remarked, “I think I will have to take that hound to a shrink.”
“Why”, I asked, to which Pickering replied, “Because he thinks he’s a bloody terrier!”