Development of the Breed

From The Complete Irish Wolfhound, Revised Edition (2nd)

With the founding of the Irish Wolfhound Club in 1885, the way was paved for orderly growth of the breed, for members of the club agreed to exercise care in selecting and breeding from existing specimens.

At the Dublin show in 1885, a class was scheduled for Irish Wolfhounds. Twelve Hounds were entered. Since that year, Irish Wolfhounds have been represented at all principal champ­ionship shows in England and Ireland, except, of course during the war years.

Among the early sponsors of the breed was John F. Baily, Esq., of County Dublin, one of the gentlemen mentioned by Father Hogan in his HISTORY OF THE IRISH WOLFDOG. In endeavor­ing to help the breed, Mr. Baily bought stock of R.T. Martin of Artane, County Dublin, one of the prominent breeders and exhibitors.

Mr. Martin owned Ch. Marquis of Donegal, Connaught, Nuala, Leinster, and others. Donegal was a tall dog, standing some thirty-five to thirty-six inches, and from him descended many good Hounds. Mr. Martin also owned Ch. Dhudesia, whom he later sold to Major P.S. Shewell, who started a successful career from the exhibition point of view. About this same time, Mr. Bolton started with the breed. During his many years as a Wolfhound breeder, he bred, among others, a very noted bitch named Cheevra, who went to Mr. A.E. Gerard. Her name can be seen today in some of the old pedigrees.

Mr. George Crisp stayed at the top for many years and bred and owned many notable Wolfhounds, including Ch. O'Leary. 1902 was the year of O'Leary's death. That same year also marked a sort of turning point, at which the breed passed its most difficult time, and after which good conformation was generally to be found, and size was easily attainable in males.

Captain Graham served as the club's first president and held office from 1885-1908; Major Shewell was president from 1910-1915; and J.W. Booth, Esq., from 1922-1925.

In 1924 an Irish Wolfhound Association was formed and the following year the Association published a "Club Report." Also in 1925, the Association amalgamated with the Irish Wolfhound Club, making a unified front, and the first "Year Book" of the Irish Wolfhound Club was published in 1926. Officers were: President-General, The Earl of Cavan, K.P., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., X.C.B.; Vice-Presidents, Mrs. T.H. Barr, Major C.E. W. Beddoes, Captain T.H. Hudson, Miss M.S. Kearns, N. Nagle, Esq., and H. Pemberton, Esq.; Honorary Secretary and Treasur­er, K.P. Strohmenger, Esq.

The names of some of the earlier breeders, together with their kennel names, may be useful for reference. Some are still active, some have retired from breeding activities, and a few have passed on. We know, of course, that the two devas­tating wars greatly depleted the ranks of Wolfhoundry.

The list of early breeders is headed by I.W. Everett, for he is credited by many as having carried the breed through World War I, and his FELIXSTOWE Hounds were famous all over the world. Mr. Everett passed on in 1950, but he left a heri­tage of work well done.

Others who were actively successful in the interim be­tween the two world wars were: R. Montagu Scott-IFOLD; Captain and Mrs. T.H. Hudson-BRABYNS; Mrs. Barr-GREVEL; Mrs. Nagle­-SULHAMSTEAD; Miss M.S. Kearns-SOUTHWICK; K.P. Strohmenger­COVAL; Mr. D. le B. Bennett-CHULAINN; Mrs. Beynon-BOURNSTEAM; Rev. C.H. Hildebrand-CLONARD; Esther M. Croucher-RIPPINGDON; James V. Rank-OUBOROUGH; Miss N.I. Nichols-BRADFIELD; Phyllis Gardner-COOLAFIN; Miss Ansel-PENTAVALON; H. Pemberton-COMBER­FORD; Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Crisp-HINDHEAD; H.R. Fisher-LINDLEY; Mr. T.B. Bolton-STEYNING; Mrs. M.V. Massy-WEALDSTONE; E.G. Trousdale-LYNSTONE; Mrs. Knox-RAIKESHILL, and Dr. R.J. May-­BALLYTOBIN.

In the 1926 "Year Book" of the club, the late Miss M.S. Kearns wrote with authority in the "Parental Influence on Type." We shall quote the first part, which begins with pre-World War I Hounds:

"I will go back to Brian II and Bran II, the founders of the two principle strains. Taking Brian II first. Captain Graham mated him to Nookoo which mating produced Mrs. G. Williams' Ch. Dermot Asthore, a fine wheaten hound with black shading, a good rough coat, but just lacking quality. This dog mated to Mrs. Gerard's Cheevra produced Ch. Marquis of Donegal. Ch. Sportella and Princess Patricia of Connaught (dam of Ch. Cotswold). They were not of such good type as their sire, lacking his coat and outline. Mated to Mr. A.J. Dawson's Tynagh (s. Ch. O'Leary, d. Lady Kathleen) Dermot Asthore sired quite another type of hound or rather Tynagh gave the type - Brian Asthore, Iseult, Wildcroft, Dermot Dhulert and Ch. Gareth, were all better type than Cheevra's progeny, showing plainly that in both these cases the bitch gave the type, as in neither litter were they Dermot Asthore's type.

"Going back to Brian II. Mated to Mr. Birtill's Tue­fella he produced Mrs. G. Williams' Ch. Wargrave and Mr. W. Williams' Ch. Daireen and Ballyhooley. I never saw Teufella but have heard that she was beautiful. Captain Graham gave Ch. Daireen the prize for best type in a big entry at the Kennel Club Show 1902. This was my first K.C. Show, and I knew very little about it, of course, but admired Daireen immensely. She and her two brothers I considered the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen. They were all three wheaten, the two dogs light like their sire Brian II, Daireen red. Ch. Wargrave mated to Miss Pope's Laragh sired Mrs. G. Wil­liams' Ch. Artara, a very beautiful bitch and one of the best Wolfhounds of her day of either sex. Captain Graham awarded her the bitch challenge certificate at that same K. C. Show (1902). Mated to Mr. Allen's Acushla (s. Ch. O'Leary, d. Lady Kathleen) Wargrave produced Aughrim, a very beautiful type like his sire, but with more quality and the most per­fect head of his day, and I have never seen a head equal to it yet, though some of his descendants have run it close. It is wonderful how this type persists in this line, it has even come down through Ch. No Dennis (s. Aughrim, d. No Drogheda) a son of AUGHRIM and rather like him. His grand­son, SULHAMSTEAD PEDLAR, sired Mr. Everett's Ch. Felixstowe KILCULLEN (s. Sulhamstead Pedlar, d. Sarah) who is also won­derfully like her great, great grandsire. Aughrim mated to Mr. C.E. Palmer's Hibernia sired perhaps the most beautiful Wolfhound we have had - the huge Donegal who stood 37.5 inches and was a larger edition of his sire, not quite such a beautiful head but the same lovely quality. He died of distemper when only sixteen months old, before he had at­tained his full development or lost his awkward puppy move­ment and nervousness. He raised a storm of jealous critic­ism, as all extra beautiful dogs do, and his detractors would not allow anything for his youth, I suppose because they knew that if he lived he could beat anything they ever bred. His dam, Hibernia, was quite a small light wheaten bitch but very beautiful and remarkably like Aughrim's son Ch. No Dennis and this beautiful Hibernia, and thus we get Ch. Felixstowe Kilcullen, about the same size as Donegal and with a good deal of his beauty. A daughter of Aughrim, Wyck Biddy (s. Aughrim, d. Wycke Mark Coleen) rather like her sire with his beautiful head, passed on the type to all her puppies, particularly to Mr. F.E. Dawson's Llantarnam Tara (s. Conn, d. Wyck Biddy) and Biddy's, i.e., Aughrim's type appears to a striking degree in her great-grandchildren,proving that a bitch certainly can transmit type, and this is a purer strain than Pedlar's as down to Biddy's sons and daughters there is no trace of the Felixstowe Dane cross.

"Going back to Ch. Wargrave, mated to Mrs. Herbert Compton's Wolfe Colleen, he produced Wolfe Tone and Dr. Pitts Tucker's Juno of the Fen. These two hounds were quite a different type to any of Wargrave's other progeny, again proving that they took their type from their dam. Wolfe Tone mated to Major Shewell's Princess Patricia of Connaught (s. Ch. Dermot Asthore, d. Cheevra) produced Ch. Cotswold Patri­cia. Juno of the Fen mated to Mr. Walter Williams' Finn (s. Bran II, d. Roseen Ruaidh) produced Felixstowe Dromore, dam of Ch. Felixstowe Kilronan (s. Ch. Cotswold, d. Felixstowe Dromore).

"Now we will take Bran II, founder of the second strain. Mated to Princess Oona he produced Ch. O'Leary. I never saw O'Leary alive, but I have seen him in the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. One cannot tell much from this what he was really like, but Captain Graham, when I first joined the Irish Wolfhound Club, told me to go and study him for type. I would have liked better to study him in life. I believe he was a very typical hound, by no means big, but with plenty of quality. He gives quality wherever he appears in a pedigree. Mated to Princess Patricia of Con­nuaght, he sired Ch. Cotswold, a beautiful wheaten hound full of quality and type. Born in 1902 he was first shown at Cruft's 1903, he retired after the C.C. Show, October, 1908, and in that time was never beaten, and held the Graham Shield for six years. He has not given his type to any of his progeny in any great degree. Mated to Mr. Pemberton's Frona (s. Thady O'Flyn, d. Brenda) he produced two bitches, one Mr. Pemberton's Cynethrith, dam of Bolebrook Frona (s. Ch. Lindley Hector, d. Cinethrith) and grand dam of Comber-ford Mick (s. Wyke Mark Dan O'Hagarty, d. Bolebrook Frona). The other Major Shewell's Cotswold Kelpie, a beautiful wheaten bitch sold abroad when quite young. These two bitch­es took their type from Frona, who never bred a bad puppy. Mated to Miss McCheane's Wolf Watch, Cotswold produced Cots­wold Watch, a small brindle hound, sound but very ordinary. Mated to Felixstowe Dromore he produced Cotswold Bloom and Ch. Felixstowe Kilronan. Cotswold Bloom was a very tall, good-looking brindle bitch who mated to Mr. Pemberton's Cen­wulph (s. Gareth, d. Frona) produced Thommond, a very tall, lightly built hound of good type. Ch. Felixstowe Kilronan, a red wheaten hound, was the tallest dog of his day until Donegal appeared. Mated to Mr. Pemberton's Frona, in one litter he sired Mr. Pemberton's King Offa and Ch. Creoda and Dr. Fisher's Lindley Biddy and Ch. Lindley Lupin. All this litter had their dam's type. Frona's second litter by him produced Mr. Pemberton's Andy, a tall red dog very like Kil­ronan. This dog should have done much better than he did, but had the misfortune to appear when the judges had a mania for the coarse, heavy Dane type, and was again and again beaten by dogs who could not hold a candle to him for type and soundness. Kilronan mated to Miss Windley's Good Hope (s. No O'Niel, d. Adel Colleen) sired Mrs. Heywood's Wyke Mark Dan O'Hagarty. Born in February, 1914, he is the sire of many present day hounds. Mr. Pemberton's Comberford Mick (s. Wyke Mark Dan O'Hagarty, d. Bolebrook Frona) is not like Dan and most of Mick's puppies have a distinct likeness to Ch. Lindley Hector, Bolebrook Frona's sire. Dan mated to the Rev. C.H. Hildebrand's Sarah, sired many good hounds, among them Mr. Hildebrand's Ch. Rachel, Mr. Bradbury's David, Mrs. Southey's Crewkerne George, Mrs. Bennett's Deborah, Captain Hudson's Colleen of Brabyns, and many others. Mated to Mr. Montagu Scott's Deidre of Ifold, he sired Ch. Patrick of Ifold, Mrs. Massy's Wolf of Ifold, Mrs. Ellis' Gerg of Ifold and Mr. Butler's Findchoem of Ifold. None of these hounds take their type from their sire.

"The two hounds that have done the most to rescue the breed after the war are Hindhead Mollie (s. Hy Niall, d. Norah) and Sulhamstead Pedlar (s. Bryan, d. Lady Alma of Sheepey). Mollie appears in most present day pedigrees. She was bred by Mrs. H.L. Crisp, and was a light grey bitch, not very big, but very nice type."

Mrs. Nagle gives us an insight into conditions during World War I when she says:

"I had my first Irish Wolfhound in 1913. I bred one litter during the first World War, at that time the Kennel Club would not register any pedigreed dogs except bred by their special permissions, which are rarely given owing to the food position. In that litter was Sulhamstead Pedlar, who later made a great name as a sire. He sired Mr. Ever­ett's unbeaten 37.5 inch Ch. Felixstowe Kilcullen and was the grandsire of Sulhamstead Dan exported to America, who became the ancestor of many famous American hounds. The line from Kilcullen was carried on by his brother, a large, very plain hound, Felixstowe Kilbarry, who sired Ch. Sulhamstead Conncara, out of Caragh, a great brood bitch, dam of Int. Ch. Sulhamstead Thelma, Ch. Acushla of Ouborbough and Ch. Clodagh of Ouborough. These were all top class hounds.

"Ch. Sulhamstead Conncara was one of the greatest sires of the breed, and his name is in nearly every Irish Wolfhound pedigree many times over. He had size, 36 in., quality and soundness and type. He was a romantic story, as he was born blind and his breeder Mrs. Lockhart was put him down but I had pick of the litter and went to see him and I thought he was the best Irish Wolfhound puppy I had ever seen, so I brought him home at six weeks old. He was blind but so outstanding I showed him and he got his title and nobody ever knew he was blind until I told them after he retired from the bench. He sired many great Cham­pions including Ch. Galleon of Ouborough and never produced a blind puppy.

"During the last war very few Irish Wolfhounds were bred but the breed was just kept going, and just before that war I had another great dog Ch. Sulhamstead Fella who at ten months won the Challenge certificate and the Brewers Cup for the Best Hound at Birmingham. His sister Sulhamstead Fara was sent to America at the beginning of the war, became a champion and the dam of some great hounds.

"Clonboy of Ouborough, a son of Ch. Chulainn Casey, was the sire that produced the best hounds during the last War. He sired Ch. Artel Ballykelly Sandy, his brother a great sire out of a daughter of Ch. Sulhamstead Fella. Clon­boy also sired Int. Ch. Mulligan of Boroughbury, and Ch. Ouborough McCarthy of Boroughbury, both bred by Mrs. James."

"Ch. Mulligan of Boroughbury sired Ch. Kerrymand of Bor­oughbury, the sire of Rippingdon Gelert."

In writing of the hounds that had the most influence on the breed, Miss Croucher comments that Hindhead Mollie had a lot to do in stabilizing the breed but that none can get away from the influence of Ch. Sulhamstead Conncara and his descendant, Ch. Rippingdon Dan of Southwick. The two bitches whose names appear in most pedigrees are Ch. Biddy of Oubor­ough and Sweetbriar of Rippingdon; they, again, are in every present day pedigree if traced back far enough.

The recent English club book covers the seventeen years prior to publication, and in an article about the Hounds since the war, Mrs. Nagle says:

"Things were now getting crucial, as every hound traced straight back to Clonboy of Ouborough and it was imperative to have an outcross. Thanks to the kindness of Miss Jeanette McGregor of America, who gave Rory of Kihone to the Irish Wolfhound Club, the situation has been saved. Rory was selected by Miss Croucher during her visit to Amer­ica as being suitable to mate with English bitches. She went for quality, conformation and soundness. The result of his mating to Sulhamstead Felcara has been Sulhamstead Freda, win­ner of two C.C.'s and best of breed at Crufts, and Sulhamstead Fellus, winner of Ch. Certificate, the Graham Shield and best of breed at the L.K.A. Rory's mating to Sulhamstead Mesa pro­duced Sulhamstead Manna, winner of two Challenge Certificates, and Sulhamstead Melba, winner of C.C. at Birmingham. His mat­ing to Sedestan Sandra produced Sedlestan Rosalie, reserve Certificate at the L.K.A., and to Spark of Boroughbury he pro­duced Sanctuary Symbol and Sanctuary Serene, good winners in the Junior Classes."

Mated to Rippingdon Rhapsody, Rory pro­duced Rippingdon Brackenbury Rhythm, a winner at ten months of age. Rory of Kihone now belongs to Miss Harrison and Miss At-field. He has won his championship and has made good use of great opportunities offered to him, the pick of the winning bitches visiting him.

Mrs. Nagle adds,

"We now have Mrs. Van Brunt's Ch. Barney O'Shea over here, which will provide more valuable outcross blood. He will be the second Cragwood Irish Wolfhound impor­ted from America, as many years ago Cragwood Darragh came over, and his best daughter Ch. Iduna of Hindhead bred many Champions and left a great mark on the breed.

"It is to be hoped that now the breed is on its feet again, more people will take them up. Actually they are not big eaters for their size and do not require any more exercise than other dogs."

The lifeblood of any successful breed club is an active, interested, capable secretary, since all else will then fall in order. It's interesting to note that K.P. Strohmenger ser­ved as secretary until 1930, when he continued on as treasurer and Mrs. Nagle assumed the secretaryship; and in 1937 Mrs. Nagle was both secretary and treasurer. World War II brought changes, since everyone was busy winning the war. From 1939 to 1954 Miss E.M. Croucher was the secretary and Miss Marion Clark was the treasurer - a position she still holds. In 1955 Major J.H.L. Godfrey became the honorary secretary, a post he held until 1960, when ill health forced him to resign. He was succeeded by William Marriott.

In 1664 Katherine Phillips, otherwise known as "The Matchless Orindo," wrote a poem about an Irish Greyhound. Katherine Phillips was born in London but went to Dungannan, Ireland, as a child. Although there are various versions of this poem, this is the original:

"Behold this Creature's Form and State
Which Nature therefore did create
That to the World might be exprest
What mien there can be in a Beast,
And that we in this shape may find
A Lion of another kind,
For this Heroick beast does seem
In Majesty to rival him;
And yet vouchsafes, to Man, to show
Both service and submission too.
From when we this distinction have,
That beast is fierce, but this is brave.
This Dog hath so himself subdu'd
That hunger cannot make him rude,
And his behaviour doth confess
True Courage dwells with Gentleness.
With sternest Wolves he does engage
And acts on them successful rage.
Yet too much courtesie may chance
To put him out of countenance.
When in his opposer's blood
Fortune has made his vertue good,
This Creature from an act so brave
Grows not more sullen, but more grave.
Man's Guard he would be, not his sport,
Believing he hath ventur'd for't;
But yet no blood or shed or spent
Can ever make him insolent."

This page was last updated 07/11/2021.