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O 13t N SA h M LE ay 20

Volume 13 Number 1 Spring 2014 £3.00 / €5.00



9 771476 824001



Great Game Fairs of Ireland 2014 Following a year when the GREAT GAME FAIRS of IRELAND demonstrated conclusively that they are Ireland’s premier game and country fairs we are delighted to announce our 2014 dates and to announce that with many new attractions planned for both fairs – they will be bigger and better than ever.




BIRR CASTLE, CO OFFALY 23RD & 24TH AUGUST 2014 For Further details: Call 028 (from ROI 048) 44839167/44615416 Email :

Main Cover: Stevie Munn on The Six Mile Water


ROI Comment

85 Tom Fulton’s Hunting Roundup


Northern Comment


Countryside News

90 Hugh Brady Looks at The Irish Working Setter

24 Exclusive - We talk to New CAI Chairman John Clarke

94 Show Gundog of the Year

28 An Italian Gun Expert Selling Beautiful Guns In Ireland Derek Fanning investigates

99 Great Game Fairs of Ireland Gear Up For (EVEN MORE) Extravagant 2014

32 IKC Retriever Championship Full Report by Shauna McGroarty 42 The Red Mills Interview Ken Lindsay talks frankly 48 Gundog Calendar 2014 Retriever Working Tests 50 The IGL Retriever Championship Full Report

Irish Game Angler Cover: From a painting of Sea Trout by David Miller

54 The Cocker Spaniel Championship 2014 David Hudson was there! 58 Exclusive - The English Springer Spaniel Championship 2014

96 Country Chat with Billy Lewis

102 The Gatekeeper - A Disturbing Tale by Julian Schmechel 105 A J’s Angst 107 Irish Game Angler Launches 108 Angling ‘Catch & Release’ Policy & Netting Ban Announced 110 Michael Martin - The Legendary Dollaghan Returns 114 Fine food and fishing at Mount Falcon Estate - By Emma Cowan 118 Simon Cooper Asks - Why Do We Fly Fish? 122 The Secrets are Out - Stevie Munn’s Angling Year

62 Sporting Friendships and the Year Ahead by Scotland’s Linda Mellor

128 Lawrence Finney’s Passion For Fly Tying

66 Dog Show Reports from Margaret McStay

130 Mark Tierney Says ‘No Salmon Nets’ Means Putting Fish First

68 Terrier, Lurcher & Whippet Shows and Racing – all Champions qualify for New Competition.

132 Johnny Woodlock’s New Angling Challenges 134 George Barron Leafs through Books of The Loughs

72 A Fieldsports Education by Steven McGonigal 76 Art and Antiques with Michael Drake 80 Duck Dri - Part of the Fabric of Country Clothing since 1989 82 Frank Brophy recounts A Close Encounter In Africa

138 FISSTA’s News & Views 144 Fisheries Development Funds The Inside Story 146 Angling Expo Ireland Posts Success

The online version of the magazine will be updated monthly. Visit Managing Editor: Albert Titterington, ROI Editor: Derek Fanning, NI Editor: Paul Pringle, Associate Editor: Irene Titterington Sales and Marketing: Paul Robinson Publishers: (Editorial & Advertising) Country Lifestyle Exhibitions Ltd. Cranley Hill, 5b Woodgrange Road, Hollymount , Downpatrick BT30 8JE Tel: (028) (from ROI 048) 44839167 Email:


ROI Office: ROI Office: Derek Fanning, E: Tel: 05791 20003 Printed by W.&G.Baird Distributed by Easons (Dublin), E M Distribution Also Available by Subscription ISSN No. 1476-8240 The views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily those of the editor or the publishers. Whilst every care is taken to ensure that information published is accurate and reliable, the publishers cannot be held responsible or accept liability for any errors or omissions in this pubication. ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written consent of the owner. No liability is accepted for the safe custody of unsolicited materials and manuscripts. Publication of accepted articles is not always guaranteed and the publishers will not be held liable for any manuscripts, photographs or other materials lost or damaged while in their possession, although every care will be taken. The editor reserves the right to amend any such articles as necessary.

Published in association with Ireland’s country sports and country living web portal

Country Sports and Country Life RoI Comment


am very interested in the reasons why people pursue certain hobbies; and in the feelings and emotions which they associate with those pursuits. These feelings, these reasons, are sometimes of course expressed in books and I recently came across a very famous angling book, first published in 1653, which wonderfully expresses a person's feelings associated with the pastime of fishing. This book is 'The Compleat Angler' and the author was Izaak Walton. The feelings described in his marvellous book are no different to those feelings which contemporary anglers experience. Walton in fact features in a stained glass window in Winchester Cathedral. In the window he's wearing a black, stovepipe hat and knee-length boots, and has shoulder-length white hair. At his feet lies a basket, net and rod and he is supporting his chin in his right hand while his left hand is holding a book. In the background a river meanders into the distance. Trees border the river and hills stand behind its banks. It's a portrait of rural calm, of peace and inner contentment. At the bottom of the window there's an inscription which is a bit of advice to the viewer, ‘Study to be quiet,’ advice which is as relevant now as it was at the time of the window's making. ‘The Compleat Angler’ is a practical book advising people on angling techniques, but it is also a work of contemplation, of philosophy. Indeed, it was subtitled ‘The Contemplative Man's Recreation.’ It is the opposite of contemporary political correctness which casts aspersions on angling claiming that it's a cruel pastime. On the contrary, Walton says that angling is in fact ‘a noble calling’ and is a good impulse;he celebrates rural tranquility and the contemplative life. The book was recommended to the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Charles Lamb in the following terms: ‘It breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity and simplicity of heart. It would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it; it would ‘Christianise’ every angry, discordant passion; pray make yourself acquainted with it.’ When we read it we enter a very attractive world of repose and peace, a world of wisdom and truths, a world which is a good primer for life itself. At the core of angling, after all the practical stuff, is this world of rural peace and satisfaction. After the fisherman reaches his chosen spot, after he has cast his line, there comes a period of immobility, inactivity, of waiting. Angling is in fact a countrysport which is ideal for philosophers and poets. The form of Walton's book is a dialogue between ‘pescator’ (fisher) and ‘viator’ (traveller). Pescator takes viator fishing, shows him the practical aspects of angling and relates his philosophy. As they fish, fresh-faced milkmaids


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

sing ballads while going about their work, and each evening pescator and viator enjoy beer in a tavern during which they sing a song in praise of the country life or of fishing. One of the songs goes as follows: 'Oh, the brave Fishers life, It is the best of any, 'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife, And 'tis belov'd of many: Other joys are but toyes, only this lawful is, for our skil breeds no ill, but content and pleasure.' Walton asks the ancient philosophical question, ‘whether Contemplation or Action be the chiefest thing wherein the happiness of a man doth most consist in the world?’ Walton argues that there should be no opposition between contemplation and action and it's wrong to set one above the other. Rather, we should proceed through life in easy relation with both states of being. He said that both states of being come together when fishing. ‘Both these meet together,’ he wrote, ‘and do most properly belong to the most honest, ingenious, harmless Art of Angling.’ Walton wrote disapprovingly of the work ethic, with its po-faced practitioners. He didn't like an undue emphasis being placed on materialism and reality. Reality and the material world are of course very important but we can choose our emotional reaction to this state of affairs. He felt compelled to defend angling against the 'serious grave men' who 'scoff' at it. He wrote: ‘There be many men that are by others taken to be serious grave men, which we contemn and pitie; men of sowre complexions; money-getting men, that spend all their time first in getting, and next in anxious care to keep it; men that are condemn'd to be rich, and always discontented, or busie. For these poor-rich-men, wee Anglers pitie them…' What he was saying in 1653 remains as true as ever. In our consumer culture, in this world of toil and financial anxiety, angling represents a bubble, an oasis, of contentment and contemplation. Walton pointed out that part of the peaceful nature of angling was due to the pastimes's proximity to water. He pointed out that rivers are often used for quiet contemplation and reflection. He cited the children of Israel who decided to sit down by the banks of the Babylon when they wanted to remember Zion. ‘Both rivers, and the inhabitants of the watery Element,’ he wrote, ‘were created for wise men to contemplate, and fools to pass by without consideration.’

Derek Fanning ROI Editor

Country Sports and Country Life Comment


’m writing this as the shooting season draws to a close and while I enjoyed every day of it, every moment whether in good company at some shoot or other, it has been a little different to those of previous years. I seem to remember someone saying that in your youth it begins with the quest for getting a shot, moves into the quest to add something to the bag, right through the ‘look how many I got’ stage to arrive at the stage where the entirety of the day is experienced fully. The beauty of nature and the impact that surroundings make indelible footprints on our consciousness. The camaraderie of the company, the work of a gun dog as ‘the youngster’ develops from being merely ‘trained’ to an animal which has seen it all, done it all, and like yourself has a serious number of winters under its belt. Yes, it’s an old dog with a grey whisker or too, a wee stiffness in the joints and, like us perhaps, an old dog who is not looking for any more new tricks: just the enjoyment of the sport at a more leisurely pace perhaps. Well, now Pringle, you may be thinking, what on earth has this got to do with an editorial in this magazine. So I’ll tell you. Earlier in the year we had some extremely worrying health news on the family front which I though could well put to an end any thoughts of shooting that I might have been nurturing. While the outings were indeed curtailed, I learnt a salutary lesson - enjoy the moment. And that’s what I did on the few occasions I was out. One day per month, I was shooting somewhere beautiful, surrounded by nature, friends, and my dogs and living and enjoying the time to the full. As well, every week I went picking up with my two labs, the experienced dog and the young dog. More good friends, more fresh air, more fun. Every day was a pleasure, culminating in a friend asking me to take on one of his dogs which was not coming up top his expectations for field trials. Me? Another dog — he must be joking…..Sure these two are only……….? Then I checked to find that the older dog was in its ninth year with the youngster only a year or so behind. So how fortuitous was that then? The realisation that it was the dogs and not just me outside the first flush of youth and out of the blue, like Don Corleone, came an offer I couldn’t refuse. Bailey is two years old, trained but needing experience and a bit more confidence and is now part and parcel of the team. When my wife came with me to have a proper inspection before making the decision to take him it was a no brainier for me. ‘Yes, we’ll take him,’ she said and dutiful as ever, how could I possibly refuse! I’ll report on his progress in due course.

A young man’s first woodcock ‘The only things worth a dime are old dogs and children and water melon wine,’ or so the song goes. Well, one young man I saw in January at a shoot with his father certainly came up to the mark as far as I was concerned. Readers may already know that I’m all for encouraging people of whatever age into country sports and conservation and I recalled seeing this young man accompanying his Dad to shoots before. There he was again, a bit older, a bit taller, but still with the same keenness, the same smile and importantly the same manners and obvious respect for the countryside. But this time there was a difference; he said he’d had his first go with a shotgun with his Dad on Boxing Day under strict supervision. He’d bagged a pheasant no less, on top of a couple of pigeons, so the apprenticeship with Dad had really paid off. Now here he was, again with Dad, walking on to the first Drive and I didn’t see them again until after the final drive

before lunch. Somehow, he seemed to be taller, smiling even more, happiness oozing out of every pore. What had happened? He had been at the peg and Dad had offered a shot at a pheasant if one came into view. It didn’t. But what came in its place to the young man (and to many sportsmen and women) was priceless. His first shot at a Woodcock. It was now being carried with all the ceremony of a regal procession. By the time the day ended, that young man was still smiling fit to burst. Another rite of passage, another step along the path for the ‘new dog,’ and a memory to be recalled when he is the same age as his Dad or even older. I know full well the pleasure and pride that his Dad felt that day. I’ve felt it myself with my son. Things change with the passage of time, but some things remain exactly the same.

New entry Now on the trout season. I hope to be on the Six Mile Water as usual on opening day and to actually get out more on the river this year. Yes… I know… I say that every year, but this time I mean it. Whether or not I really do get a line wet more than last year is open to question. We shall see, as family health matters could put a rude stop to it. No matter. Out once, twice or weekly, I shall enjoy every minute. I shall appreciate its unique qualities, along with the excitement of just being ‘ on the water’ again as I have done since that day, long ago, when my old friend and I first tried to cast a clumsy fly on the Bann. ‘Duffers’ fortnight’? Not really, as it was in March that we did it. But those two particular ‘Duffers’ are still going strong, still reminiscing about ‘remember the time forty years ago when we….’ Maybe this season we will set up a few more special occasions to add to the memory bank. You could do that for yourselves too next time you’re in the field or on the water or maybe introducing a youngster to country-sports. There’s nothing better as far as I’m concerned.

More angling news Still on the angling front, the demise of the Irish Angler means there is no longer specialist game angling coverage in Ireland. So, after speaking to a number of people and organisations, we have decided to fill the gap with a new publication called THE IRISH GAME ANGLER. Initially this will take the format of a ‘magazine within a magazine’ as a specialist section within Irish Country Sports & Country Life. THE IRISH GAME ANGLER will also be developed with additional pages in an online for-mat on Pulling the two together is great for readers and for businesses. It should potentially give anyone marketing Irish angling products, the most effective marketing medium they have ever had, as well as offering even more to readers. Have a look at the super angling features and photographs in this edition - rest assured there’ll be lots more angling to come! I hope to meet many more readers at the Great Game Fairs of Ireland, when the season kicks off at Shanes Castle for the Irish Game & Country Fair. Shooting, fishing, fine food, hunting, hundreds of trade stands, ringside thrills, entertainment and trips back in time for everyone with the re-enactors; maybe even a game fair memory or two for you to think of, as the seasons come and go. I can almost feel the sunshine now! Paul Pringle Northern Editor Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


COUNTRYSIDE NEWS A sneak preview of the Great Game Fairs of Ireland’s new event at Montalto Estate, Ballynahinch on the 27th & 28th September etails of this new event have been hard to come by, even to ICS&CL magazine, as Director Albert Titterington has been ‘playing his cards very close to his chest’ about an event which he states could be the most spectacular country sports and country living event he has ever organised. If this is true, and the snippets of the planning and attractions we have been privy to, would tend to indicate that the veteran of 53 game and country fairs over 36 years has taken this to his heart as a ‘pet ‘project. Having arguably delivered the two best ever Irish game or country fairs ever at Shanes and Birr Castles in 2013, he intends to make 2014 a real celebration of Irish country sports and the Irish countryside with two magnificent fairs leading up to an end of season spectacular at the stylish new venue of Montalto Estate.


Albert informs us that final touches are being put to the plans for this event which will put Ballynahinch and County Down ‘on the map’ and all will be revealed at the press launch in March when the web site will go live. But we managed to get Emma Cowan to get us at least a ‘keyhole view’ on what will be a unique part of the event - a real focus on fine food.

A Medieval Feast Through the Yellow Door The Yellow Door’s Simon Dougan, one of Northern Ireland’s top chefs will be cooking up culinary delights with a distinctly Medieval flavour at the inaugural Ballynahinch Harvest and Country Living Festival, 27th and 28th

September at the beautiful Montalto Estate. The Yellow Door have popular deli’s and restaurants in Belfast, Lisburn and Portadown and it’s the Yellow Door’s professional outside catering team that will be managing the food offering for the entire two-day event but the undoubted highlight will be the Medieval Buffet Banquet to be held in the Carriage Rooms fine dining hall. “I’m really excited about the concept of the Medieval Banquet and I’ve got great plans in store,” said Simon. “The room will be set out in period style with long tables and bench seating, featuring reindeer hide covers for a bit of comfort with a difference. A keen shot himself, Simon is particularly excited about the chance to cook up game recipes with a Medieval flavour and a modern twist. “I can’t reveal all just yet but expect the food to be gutsy and really flavoursome, with game dishes like pigeon pie, lots of meaty flavours and wholesome soups served in freshly baked bread bowls,” he said. “There will be a hedgerow harvest too with elderflower drinks and dishes and I’ll also be putting a strong focus on desserts, like lemon posset and traditional puddings in a mouth watering display.” Adding to the Medieval theme, the Carriage Room Banquet will feature a falconer with an owl flying around the tables, a harpist, knights in armour and servers in Medieval costume. The Yellow Door will also be providing food on site around the Festival. Among other things, look out for a burger food station with a difference, providing food theatre with chefs demonstrating the art of burger making while you wait for your freshly made, truly delicious burger. Find out more about Simon Dougan at or visit the Yellow Door Deli on Lisburn Road, Belfast or Woodhouse Street, Portadown. Simon’s book ‘The Yellow Door, our stories, our recipes’ is available to buy in store.

Top Chef Simon Dougan - planning game recipes with a Medieval flavour and a modern twist.

Emma Cowan


Joe Craig 24th January 1922 - 5th February 2014 t was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Joe Craig, who passed away on the 5th February, less than two weeks after his 92nd birthday.



Joe was a true gentleman in every sense of the word and will be greatly missed by many shooting and gundog people throughout Ireland We offer our sincere condolences to his

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

three sons Vincent Maurice and Ian and to the entire Craig family. A full appreciation of Joe's life will appear in the next issue. Winston Kelly

Greers of Antrim & Coleraine

62 Greystone Rd, Antrim, BT41 2QN 028 9446 0066

COUNTRYSIDE NEWS Barbour Celebrates Its 120th Anniversary stablished in 1894 in the port of South Shields in the North East of England, Barbour, the leading British heritage and lifestyle clothing brand is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year. Originally set up to provide protective outerwear to fishermen, sailors and mariners from the worst of the British weather, today, Barbour offers a complete wardrobe of clothes and footwear for men, women and children. Shirts, knitwear, trousers and accessories are now as just as much in demand as Barbour’s iconic outerwear. Barbour’s collections span from function to fashion offering different ranges for all ages, from technical sporting clothing to heritage fashion styles, inspired by Barbour’s archives and re-interpreted into modern, contemporary silhouettes. In 2014, Barbour remains 100% family owned. Chairman, Dame Margaret Barbour has led the company for over 40 years and her daughter Helen Barbour, the 5th generation of the family, is Vice Chairman. The brand is a global success sold in over 40 countries worldwide including Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the US and Japan and further overseas expansion is planned. The company is proud to hold three Royal Warrants from HM The Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Prince Charles. Today, Barbour is worn as much


Brimham Jacket: Seam sealed waterproof safari inspired jacket with box pleat bellowed pockets and Alcantara piping details. Self-fabric shoulder patches with epaulettes. Available in navy, army green, sizes S-XXL in the city as it is in the country and the choice of collections suit many different lifestyles. Collaborations in recent years with designers such as Anya Hindmarch, Alice Temperley, Paul Smith, Tokihito Yoshida and Norton & Sons have all provided a unique interpretation of Barbour’s archives and attracted interest from a new fashion conscious audience discovering Barbour,

perhaps for the first time. From oilskins in 1894 to motorcycle wear in the 1930s to the lifestyle collections today, Barbour has always been renowned for providing the best practical country clothing, whether knitwear, shirts or jackets to keep its wearers warm and dry, a reputation the brand is proud to uphold.

Eland Jacket: Hooded longer length wax jacket with 1’’ diamond profile stitch yoke details. Available in Olive, Sizes 8 – 18; Hedley Shirt: Frill top, strand collar shirt in Tattersall check cloth. Available in ivy, imperial purple, sizes: 8 – 18


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

The Spring Summer 14 collections are testament to how far the brand has come in 120 years. Classic country clothing is Barbour at its best. Practical and functional, the collection is designed for those who live, work or love the outdoors. Camping by a lake, walking the dog, cooking on an open fire, Barbour clothing imagines a world of possibilities. Knitwear and shirts in navy, cream, pale blue and red feature strongly this season alongside lightweight, practical weatherproof jackets designed for spring showers and summer rain, a staple of any British summer. Steve Buck, Managing Director, Barbour said: “The company has come such a long way from the original business in 1894 to the global lifestyle brand it is in 2014. Throughout its evolution, it has been guided by the Barbour family who have each made their own special contribution in shaping the brand into what it is today. Attention to detail, quality, durability and fitness for purpose have been the guiding principles since Barbour was founded. While the range and styles may have expanded, we have always remained true to our heritage and are very proud to be celebrating our 120th anniversary.” For details on the Spring Summer collections, please visit or call 0044 191 427 4210

Smyth Country Sports, 1 Park Street, Coleraine BT52 1BD N. Ireland (+44) 02870343970 HomeďŹ eld & Stream, 18 Church Street, Enniskillen BT74 7EJ N. Ireland (+44) 02866322114 Courtlough Shooting Grounds, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin Ireland (+353) 18413096 Sportsden, Trimgate Street, Navan, Co. Meath Ireland (+353) 0469021130

COUNTRYSIDE NEWS PA-i5 adapter for iPhone® 5/5s from SWAROVSKI OPTIK

MOST GLORIOUS TWELFTH FOR SOME YEARS ith the 2013 grouse season officially ended Scotland's leading sporting agency, Sporting Lets, has reported one of the strongest shooting seasons for many years. Experts believe this year’s grouse season has generated an estimated £38million for the Scottish economy which includes the supplementary boost to rural communities in terms of tourism spending and seasonal employment. Sporting Lets, run by leading Scottish property consultancy CKD Galbraith, operates both walked up and driven grouse shoots on some of the finest Scottish estates and its shooting programme was almost fully let throughout the whole season. Robert Rattray, partner at CKD Galbraith and head of the firm’s Sporting Lets agency, said: “This season has been quite a contrast to 2012. A cold and prolonged winter set the scene for a late Spring followed by one of the warmest and driest summers for a number of years. As a result some grouse were well grown offering fabulous shooting right from the start of the season whilst some chicks were literally days old and provided a developing stock which enabled good shooting into late October and early November.” Some big bags were recorded, notably The Lammermuirs, which had an excellent stock of birds and shot very well into late October, with one moor recording over 500 brace. Perthshire continued to improve with the best driven shooting had in the Crieff to Amulree area. The Angus Glens performed generally well with minor exceptions and some exciting shooting into late October. Aberdeenshire was more mixed, partly due to the winter snow, with some moors reporting good shooting whereas others had to cancel significant parts of their programme. Inverness-shire generally performed much better than last year as a result of some of the more marginal moors shooting much better numbers. The best day from one high ground moor saw well over 300 brace shot. Robert continues: “Walked up grouse shooting is hugely popular and still very affordable being around £100+vat per brace with bags this season ranging from five to 25 brace for teams of up to six guns. However it is not as easy to find these days with some moors including Caithness and Sutherland having fewer grouse whilst bigger moors tend to concentrate on driven programmes. Driven grouse shooting is much sought after and the average day this season offered between 50 to 100 brace for a typical team of eight who paid in the region of £150+vat per brace. Given this year’s excellent performance anticipation is running high for the 2014 season and a number of teams have already confirmed bookings for next August and September.” The majority of parties booking grouse shooting come from within the UK and demand shows no signs of abating. In addition there are also significant numbers of international sportsman that visit the country to shoot grouse. Scotland has an established reputation for offering world class sport together with an overall experience that cannot be matched anywhere in the world. Sporting Lets has been bringing retained international clients to Scotland for over thirty years and demand remains strong. To find out more, visit the firm’s dedicated sporting website at and follow us on Facebook: and Twitter:


potting scopes and binoculars from SWAROVSKI OPTIK can now operate in perfect harmony with an iPhone*. This is thanks to SWAROVSKI OPTIK’s PA-i5 adapter for iPhone* 5/5s, which turns longrange optical devices in a single motion into telephoto zoom lenses, thus presenting digiscoping to every user from new perspectives, whether they are observing wildlife and birds, out hunting, or while traveling and enjoying their leisure time. The adapter from SWAROVSKI OPTIK is available from specialist retailers from March 2014, as well as at The assembly process is quick and easy – you attach the adapter to the relevant eyepiece cup. Suitable adapter rings are available for most SWAROVSKI OPTIK spotting scopes and binoculars. Once the adapter ring is removed after digiscoping, the remaining aluminium frame provides elegant, top-quality, and robust protection for your iPhone* in everyday use. You can still quite easily slip your iPhone* in any one of your pockets. The RRP is £113.00 including VAT


Forthcoming Tournament “Pistols – 10 Years” n open pistol shooting competition will be hosted on the weekend of June 6-8 2104 by Castlebridge Invitational Pistol Club (CIPC)/Irish Bulls-Eye Sports (IBS) in County Wexford. The shoot will be held on the Club’s indoor range at South Slob, Wexford and is open to target shooters North and South who hold a licensed pistol or revolver and current shooting insurance cover. This special tournament will mark the 10th anniversary of the return of licensed handguns in the Republic following Frank Brophy’s landmark High Court win in June 2004, with the support of the NARGC. Entrants will receive a certificate commemorating their participation in the event medals will be awarded for the first three places in both small-bore and centre-fire events. All shooters are invited to what will be an entertaining weekend with an emphasis on fellowship above serious competition. NRA rules will apply; entry fee €15 with all excess proceeds being donated to Hospice. A dinner will be held on Saturday night June 7th in the nearby Farmer’s Kitchen Hotel, where overnight accommodation will also be available. Further details available from; or


Correction n the Winter edition a photograph in Johnny Woodlock’s article ‘Blame Europe’ a photograph was incorrectly captioned as a rod caught spurdog rather than a rod caught bass’. Apologies to all concerned.



Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Lochindorb Estate grouse moor



Hunting at twilight poses particular challenges to hunters and technology. The binoculars from the SLC 56 range are the ideal choice for observing right into the night. Their perfect, long-range optics combines outstanding edge-to-edge sharpness and DODUJHğHOGRIYLHZZLWKH[FHSWLRQDOOLJKWWUDQVPLVVLRQ SWAROVSKI OPTIK – allows you to determine the moment.


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COUNTRYSIDE NEWS Jack Murphy Spring Summer 2014 Menswear Collection he menswear collection from Jack Murphy this season is handsome, smart and quintessentially country with contemporary twist... which is precisely what we have come to expect from this reliable Irish clothing brand. Jack Murphy know that so often country sports enthusiasts have had to choose comfort over style when it comes to clothing so they strive to ensure their range of menswear fuses fashion and function perfectly in each and every style, every season. And this season they have certainly succeeded on that score. With a long history of producing durable, functional clothing for the outdoors the Irish clothing brand now takes these classic country staples and transforms them into smart, stylish and contemporary garments with a host of practical features and a hint of luxury at a surprisingly reasonable price, Suited to all aspects of country living and country pursuits whether your day involves shooting, fishing, riding, a trip to the races or heading for a pint in the local pub Jack Murphy menswear is the perfect choice for those who love life in the country but don’t always want to sacrifice on style. Whether country pursuits are a way of life


Jack Murphy - practical with a dash of debonair. or an occasional weekend hobby Jack Murphy provides a range of clothing to ensure you look the part yet stand out in the crowd. Encompassing magnificently fine knits, a host of gorgeous shirts in traditional country checks, understated fleece styles,

striking quilts and classically styled waxes the new collection is wholesome, reliable and practical with a dash of debonair... perfect for the man who wants to be well turned out, whether rain or shine, no matter what the occasion.

MUNNINGS RACES TO FIRST PLACE AT BONHAMS £2 MILLION 19TH CENTURY PAINTINGS SALE he 19th Century Paintings sale made a total just shy of £2million at Bonhams in January. First place went to The Fair, a sporting painting by Sir Alfred James Munnings (1878-1959) which captures the hustle and bustle of a rural horse fair. The picture sold for £182,500. It was purchased direct from the



Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

artist pre-1916 for the sum of £35 and has been passed down within the family for a century. At the time this picture was painted, Munnings was a member of the Lamorna Group, a bohemian artist’s colony which had sprung up near the coastal village of Lamorna in Cornwall. The sale featured several works by other members of the group including Stanhope Forbes and Samuel John Lamorna Birch. But there is a darker side to Alfred Munnings’ story. It was in Cornwall that Munnings met his first wife, fellow artist and horsewoman, Florence Carter Wood. The couple were married in January 1912 but Florence attempted suicide on their honeymoon. A tangled love triangle involving Munnings, Florence Carter Wood and Munnings’ friend, Gilbert Evans, was to end in tragedy. Florence succeeded in taking her own life in 1914 as the looming shadow of the Great War fell upon the country. A number of other paintings in the sale exceeded expectations. The Mountain Patrol by Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski (Polish, 1849-1915) sold to a bidder in the room for £98,500 nearly doubling its pre-sale estimates. More than one bidder fell in love with Quinterelle II, a nude study in watercolour by Sir William Russell Flint (British, 1880-1969) estimated at £15,000-£20,000, which was eventually secured by a bidder on the telephone for £76,900. Dreams came true for the sellers of A dream at Dawn by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) which made £55,000 against £15,000£20,000 estimates. The work, painted when Millais was at the height of his fame, depicts a young girl in a white night dress standing on her balcony, dreamily gazing at the sky with head in hand as she waits for morning.



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COUNTRYSIDE NEWS Firearms Licensing Republic of Ireland There is growing concern and uncertainly amongst the Republic’s firearms certificate holders in respect of firearms licensing and the rumours which have been circulating. This has been further exacerbated by the conflicting information that has been flowing amongst the shooting community. At the time of going to press Department of Justice and Equality issued the following statement to CAI: The Department is currently examining key issues relating to firearms licensing, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána; • No proposals have yet been finalised • It is expected recommendations as a result of this process will be made in due course • No decisions will be made in advance of consideration of these recommendations • Opportunities for consultation with relevant stakeholders will be explored when work on the proposals is further advanced We will continue to monitor this situation in respect of all our members to ensure that those who partake in country sports and legitimate shooting activities will not be unduly penalised. Northern Ireland Firearms legislation continues to dominate the agenda in NI and we regularly engage with the PSNI and Department of Justice in our quest to resolve the ongoing issues. As such, CAI attended a meeting on Wednesday 5th February with the Department of Justice, BASC and the Gun Trade Guild NI where discussions centred on the banded system, young shots and fees. The meeting was constructive and our continued engagement will we hope, bring a solution that will be beneficial to all sides while maintaining public safety; on which all parties are agreed is of paramount importance.

Rathcormac Gun Club’s Game Tasting Night Rathcormac Gun Club marked the closing of the 2013/14 season in fine style with a game tasting night. The event was opened by Barry O’Connell, Club Secretary, who outlined the objectives of the Game Tasting Night, which were to introduce game meat to a wider audience; showcase the conservation work that is undertaken by gun clubs the length and breadth of Ireland; and celebrate what was a momentous year for the Gun Club. The conservation projects undertaken during the year were chronicled on display boards around the function room and these included game crop plots; pheasant release program and duck pond management; and their youth development programme, all of which were the focus of discussion prior to the meal.

The season closed in style at Rathcormac Gun Club’s Game Tasting Night when over 230 people enjoyed the fare.


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

The menu for the Game Night was: • Roast Woodpigeon Breast with Celeriac Mash and Port Wine Jus • Roasted Wild Rabbit with Bacon and Lemon Thyme Bread Stuffing • Pheasant Confit with Roast Root Vegetables and Autumn Berry Jus • Succulent Braised Venison with Wild Mushrooms and Blackberry Jus The format of the meal was buffet style and Chef Martin O'Regan provided a background to each dish and how it was cooked as he served. Each person got an insight and cooking tips before tasting all four dishes and in all, over 230 people enjoyed the fare, with very positive feedback on each of the menu items. The food critic in all of the guests broke out, with people surprised at how good pigeon tasted, the tenderness of the rabbit, the rich taste of the pheasant and the great flavour of venison. All the dishes on offer were savoured and this resulted in lively discussion as to which dish was the best and the debate went on (and on) for quite a while! Rathcormac would like to extend particular thanks to Paul Fletcher of Premier Game and Barry and Bernice Kennedy at Kades Kounty Glenville for successfully facilitating such a well run event. Following the meal, Micheal O'Donovan, (Chairman, Rathcormac Gun Club) conducted a raffle, and thanked McDonnell Bros, Lazy Dog Shooting Ground, Lakeland's Shooting Grounds, Carroll's Mountain Shooting Ground and Yellow Road Gun Club for the sponsorship of prizes. Music on the night was by a local artist, Whacker, followed DJ Don Dorgan. Once the meal was over, the dancing began and the floor was full all night; a sure sign that everyone had a great night’s entertainment. Other Gun Clubs were also well represented with Tallow from County Waterford, Broadford from County Limerick, Yellow Road from County


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COUNTRYSIDE NEWS promoting the delights of wild game meat. A dedicated website is host to lots of information about the different types of game, when they are in season and ideas for lots of exciting recipes. Game is wild, natural and free range with a distinctive flavour making it a great alternative to beef, pork, lamb and chicken. And, as it's low in cholesterol and high in protein game is one of the healthiest meats available today. For example, venison, with its brilliant taste and extra lean meat, is perfect for anyone on a low fat diet. Gone are the days when pheasants and venison were kept for special dinner parties. Whether you're cooking for a mid week supper, a dinner party or a quiet night in with some-one special, tap into the fantastic array of recipes available and impress! The choice is endless. For further information and recipe ideas visit Chef Martin O'Regan provided a background to each dish and how it was cooked. Kilkenny and the majority of Clubs in North and East Cork. Photos from the event are available to view on - gallery section. Rathcormac would also like to thank all the landowners who by kind permission allowed them to shoot over their lands this past season and special thanks to those landowners who allow them to plant game crop or install release pens on their land. The Game Tasting Night has received a great reaction in the community and is still the topic of conversation. This is certainly an event that will have an annual presence on Rathcormac’s calendar, and they are happy to receive suggestions for next year’s event. Please feel free to contact them on

A Busy Spring/Summer in Store March has arrived and the majority of the hunting seasons are over for another year. Each season appears to be shorter than the last; however that may simply be the increasingly erratic weather giving this impression. The time spent in between seasons is often used to debate and for us to resolve issues surrounding Ireland’s country sports activities and this year will be no different. The spring and summer of 2014 will in part be spent negotiating what is best for Ireland’s many areas of legislation that has the potential to affect our members, and indeed the wider hunting community. CAI is still actively seeking an exemption to allow prophylactic tail docking and the removal of dew claws in working dogs. We presented evidence on this matter to the Joint Oireachtas Committee at the end of 2013 and will continue to monitor the issue. CAI has recently responded to numerous consultations in Northern Ireland in relation to the coastal areas and the finer details of the Marine Act NI. This Act involves the introduction of Marine Conservation Zones, which has the potential to curtail country sports in those areas. In addition to the consultations, we have, and will continue to, attend stakeholder meetings to ensure our members are fully represented. CAI will continue to work tirelessly during the summer months; on legislative matters, promoting the organisation, country sports and the admirable work that the country’s field sports enthusiasts undertake. CAI continues engage closely with other like minded organisations as we believe it is vital to stand united to strengthen our collective voice in the face of threats. We realise cooperation can strengthen our lobbying force, both in NI and R of I, for the benefit of our members; which is our ultimate goal. CAI members can feel reassured that we have their best interests at the core of everything we do and we continuously strive to provide the best service we can. Game: A Tasty and Healthy Alternative to Lamb, Chicken, Beef or Pork Hopefully, many of you will have enjoyed a bountiful season and this has seen your freezer well stocked with a wide array of game to be enjoyed in the coming weeks. Countryside Alliance’s ‘Game-to-Eat’ initiative is dedicated to


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

A Day’s Hunting in Different Country

As the hunting season closes for another year, one of the CAI team had a couple of days out hunting with different packs at the start of this year. The Fermanagh Harriers met near Lisnaskea, on a Saturday in mid January with an early starting time of 11am. This was to facilitate the beautifying of the ladies before the hunt ball that night! The day started well with, after a brief blank draw near the meet, hounds finding a good fox soon after they started. Hounds hunted fantastically over some lovely country and a good fast run involved a nice amount of hedges. The fox then travelled into country apparently not often hunted, crossing the main Clones/Lisnaskea Road. After a bit of road work here, hounds were lifted and everyone headed back over to the Donagh side of the main road. Here, between drawing covers, there were some nice brief hare hunts, which kept hounds and followers alike interested and kept everyone warm. The last hunt of the day was a good run on a nice large hare that tested some of mounted followers and their swimming abilities! The day finished with a nice wash down in the river and an even nicer one in the local pub afterwards. On a Wednesday at the end of January, a few stalwarts headed off to the Westmeath Foxhounds for a day’s hunting. The weather was awful with the rain coming sideways for the whole journey down and everyone in the lorry pondering just how wise a decision this was. There was a nice field out and shortly after 11am, the hunt moved off. Whilst the meet had been dry, the rain didn’t take long in arriving, and soon a steady drizzle was upon the field. It didn’t take long for the hounds to find their quarry and, with hounds speaking well, there was a good run, which after a time took everyone right back to where the fox was found. There were a few drains and fences in between, which the majority of the field handled well. There were plenty of foxes and the day continued with never too long a time between finding quarry. The only downside was that with such a great country of cover, foxes didn’t have to run too far before finding more cover. Nevertheless, it was a most enjoyable day and there was great hospitality afterwards with hot food and sandwiches, and maybe the odd hot drink, helping everyone to ignore the wet breeches!

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COUNTRYSIDE NEWS Dalcassian Gun Dog Club alcassian Gun Dog Club was founded in 1993 by two spaniel men Mr Declan Mulcahy and Mr Joe Keane and for seven years ran Section Four (Spaniel) events. It was re-affiliated in May 2013 and now is predominately a Section Two (Retriever) Club with The Irish Kennel Club and with the new young and very keen and active committee members in the first eight months of re- affiliation we ran five events. First was a Working Test in July at Dromoland Castle Estate; Mr John O’Connor won the Advanced Test with Hazel of Redbog, Mr John O’Brien won the Novice with Corrib Dubh and Mr John Gaffney won the Preliminary with Millmount Temptation. Next event was the start of the field trial season with a 16 Dog Novice Stake in September at The Breska Shoot thanks to The Harty Family and the winner that day was Mr Donal Donohue with Georgias Holystone. The club’s first 16 Dog Open Stake Trial was held at the Mulberry Shoot thanks to the owner Mr John Forde, this trial was run in November and the winner was Mr Thomas Loughran with Copperbirch Roosky. The second Open Stake was run in December and it was also a 16 dog Stake and was held at Lough Cutra Castle Shoot thanks to the owner Susie Gwyn Jones and the winner was Mr John Williamson with Gorton’s Gaelic Prince. The club’s third Open was a 12 dog stake on new ground for field trials in Bruff, Co Limerick thanks to Bruff Gun Club and the local land owners. Like all of the events so far this was also a great day out for all involved. The winner was Mr Michael Sheehan with Quarrypool Julie. The committee of Dalcassian Gun Dog Club would like to congratulate all the award winners from all our events and to thank the landowners and Gun Clubs for the permission to use their grounds. They would like to thank all the judges who have judged so far for us and also want to thank the sponsors Connolly’s Red Mills Engage Premium Dog Food for kindly sponsoring all our events. Thanks to committee members Keith McNamara (Chairman), Keith Harris (Vice Chairman), Paul O’Brien (Secretary) David Woods (Assistant Secretary), Trevor Howard and our Treasurer and Photographer for all the events Ms Jana Scupakova for the memories of our days in the field and the members are all looking forward to more great days in the beautiful countryside of the island of Ireland.



Award winners and Judges at the Working Test in Dromoland Castle Estate.

Novice Trial Donal Donohue with Holystone Georgais at the Breska Shoot.

12 dog open stake trial in Bruff, Co Limerick was won by Michael Sheehan with Quarrypool Julie.

Judges and Award winners 1st Thomas Loughran with FTW Copperbirch Roosky, 2nd Tom Lowry with Redbog Alice, 3rd Ian Davis with FTCH Glenanne Pi and 4th Tom Lowry with FTCH Watergreen Hunter at the Open Stake Trial at Mulberry Shoot in November along with the owner John Forde.

Open at Lough Cutra Castle Shoot award winners: 1st John Williamson with Gortan's Gaelic Prince, 2nd Lorenzo Hynes with FTCH Trumpetaker Ash, 3rd Robert Orr with Dunanelly Adder and 4th Christy Scott with Watergreen Gladiator.

Guns, judges, handlers and beaters at Lough Cutra Castle Shoot December 2013.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

All photos are courtesy of Jana Scupakova.

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‘Feast or Famine’ an historical and culinary odyssey from Emmett McCourt chef to the Great Game Fairs of Ireland. rish Countrysports and Country Life was delighted to attend the launch of Emmett’s book in the City Hotel, Derry where around 200 people gathered to help launch one of the finest food focused books ever produced in Ireland by one of Ireland’s most talented and entrepreneurial chefs. The Great Game Fairs of Ireland owe Emmett a great debt of gratitude as he was the catalyst for the development of one of the largest and finest quality Fine Food Festivals at any Game or Country Fair throughout Ireland or the UK. This year it is planned that the Fine Food Festivals at the fairs will be bigger and better than ever and the food focus at our new event in Ballynahinch will be the widest ever and of course Emmett will be at the centre of all of these promotions.


Feast or Famine: A Cultural Food Journey of the North West of Ireland £19.95 Emmett McCourt When it comes to food and drink, the North West of Ireland has a heritage second to none. Emigrant farmers from Derry and Donegal were the first to plant the Americas with seed potatoes and apple trees. They carried their recipes with them, too, and their descendants fed both sides in the Civil War.

The Scots-Irish from the North West didn’t forget their distilling skills, either – producing whiskeys, bourbons and moonshine across the Southern states. And fishermen from Inishowen, who settled on the New England coast, helped found some of the finest fishing ports in the New World. Derry chef Emmett McCourt researched the importance of his hometown’s contribution to world cuisine for many years. Through the Irish Food Heritage Project he has recovered ageold recipes, revived traditional cooking techniques, and rediscovered long-forgotten Irish treasures such as the lumper potato. Feast or Famine takes you on an historical tour of Derry and Donegal and explores what makes this region such an abundant source of food and drink. The author recalls the heady days when Lough Swilly was the herring capital of the world, Magilligan was a world leader in rabbits and Derry was producing millions of gallons of whiskey for the US. But he also records, using first-hand testimonies, the devastation wrought by the Great Famine in the 1840s. On his travels, McCourt cooks some brilliant meals, meets some fascinating characters and visits some of Ireland’s most celebrated foodspots – and a few unsung ones as well. Discover all this and much more in Feast or Famine, and join Emmett McCourt for a culinary odyssey not to be missed.

ISBN 978 1 906271 77 0 Published December 2013, Casebound with Dust Jacket, 272pp, Full Colour, 210mm x 297mm (tall) Available direct from amazon, waterstones and local book shops

Hair Raising Stunt Nets £2000 BDS and Ulster Reform Club Black Santa Appeal for NI Cancer Fund for Children ell known spaniel field trailer and Shot, William Thompson AKA ‘Moneybags,’ has raised a staggering £2000 for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children. The popular county sports enthusiast ‘used his head’ by getting sponsorship to have all his hair shaved off. Additional money was raised by a sporting clay pigeon shoot and draw with prizes that included a superb gun-slip sponsored by local gun dealer C. F. Beattie, Ballycarry. Very special thanks are due as well to Larne Wildfowlers who handed over all of the proceeds from the clay-shoot, and also to the visiting January Guns at Castle Dobbs, where participants sat down to a fabulous dinner provided William (front) after the deed was done afterwards by Head — also in the picture is best friend Eric Keeper Alastair Beattie who says he took great delight in and his team. watching a grown man almost cry!



Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

A very welcome contribution is received for the Black Santa Appeal. he British Deer Society’s Northern Ireland Branch (BDS-NI) in partnership with the Ulster Reform Club donated £660 to the Black Santa Appeal organised by St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. The Gift Aided donation was raised at a festive Gala Game Dinner organised by the Club along with BDS-NI. The Branch sponsored the event by providing the sustainably sourced wild venison which formed the centrepiece of the fine dining occasion.


COUNTRYSIDE NEWS ON HIS OWN’ WINS GOFFS THYESTES CHASE Record Turn Out For Grade A Race Kicks Off 100 Years of Racing at Gowran (Thursday 23rd January 2014) – Gowran Park Race Course recorded the biggest turnout in a decade today for a thrilling Goffs Thyestes Chase that marked the start of the Kilkenny race course’s centenary year Over 8,000 attendees witnessed Paul Townend ride the Willie Mullins-trained On His Own to victory to win the Goffs Thyestes Chase. The Grade A Race is the biggest national hunt race in the southeast with a prize pool of €100,000 and is regarded as a ‘trial’ for the Aintree and Irish Grand Nationals. The cream of racing attended the event, including jockeys Ruby Walsh, Bryan Cooper and Paul Carberry and trainers Willie Mullins, Henry de Bromhead, Tony Martin and Edward O’Grady. Complimenting the Goffs Thyestes Chase was the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle, a €40,000 race which was won by MalaBeach, ridden by Robbie Colgan and trained by Gordon Elliott. Celebrities such as actor James Nesbitt, John Brennan of RTE’s At Your Service and Dr. Eva Orsmond mingled with jockeys and trainers at the event which is the highlight of the season for Gowran Park race course. Top model and Kilkenny native Karen Fitzpatrick presided over the judging of the Most Stylish Lady competition, which was won by Liz Maher from Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow. Her elegant ensemble comprised a 10year-old black John Rocha coat, Umit Kutluk fur collar and grey Philip Treacy hat, which she bought in a half-price sale three years ago. It was matched with pearls, red leather gloves and a red broach, black lace tights and Paul Green suede court shoes. She received a luxury €1,500 Kilkenny City centre shopping & leisure prize comprising a €500 voucher for Peaches the boutique, a €500 voucher for Murphy Jewellers and a €500 stay & dine package for the Pembroke Hotel. “Liz looked so elegant.

Pictured at the Goffs Thyestes Chase race meeting at Gowran Park race course are Thyestes Chase winning jockey and trainer Paul Townsend and Willie Mullins with Henry Beeby, CEO Goffs. (Photo: Pat Moore) Her outfit was timeless, very stylish and — an important criteria for today’s judging — practical and appropriate for a winter race meeting”, commented Karen Fitzpatrick. Racegoers enjoyed a great day’s entertainment that included all-day catering, a champagne marquee and live music with Liam Byrne (Christy Moore Tribute), Marcus Prouse (Garth Brooks Tribute), Shane O’Dwyer and DJs.

Mild winter leads to early signs of spring he Woodland Trust has received a surge in records of birds nesting, shrubs coming into bud and snowdrops flowering, as Mother Nature takes advantage of the mild weather. In some parts of the UK, the charity has also received reports of ladybirds and butterflies, which is consistent with a long-term trend identified through data on its Nature’s Calendar website, suggesting spring is advancing earlier.


Spring is on the move in Northern Ireland too: •

Rooks first nest-building: observed 1 January 2014 in Hillsborough, County Down • Snowdrops first flowering: observed 11

Snowdrops (photo by Carole Sutton)


January 2014 in Newtownards, County Down Song thrush singing: observed 3 January 2014 in Banbridge, County Down • Hazel catkins: observed 8 January 2014 in Carrickfergus, County Antrim • Daffodils budding: observed 15 January 2014 in east Belfast The early sightings of so many species conform to a long-term trend in which spring has gradually arrived earlier in the UK, highlighted by data recorded on Nature’s Calendar since 2001. Research also suggests that over the last 25 years flowers have bloomed up to 12 days earlier than previously two. However, species fooled by warmer weather into early activity, whether blossoming or breeding, could be vulnerable to the sort of freeze not uncommon in February or March. Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust Nature’s Calendar Project Manager, said: “People may be surprised to see such springlike activity in January, but Woodland Trust data confirms that it has become more and more common over the last decade or so. What this highlights is the importance of having diverse, inter-connected habitats that allow species to react to any changes in climate and adjust accordingly. With habitats

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Hazel catkins (photo by Margaret Barton) coming under ever greater threat and fragmentation the pressure on our native flora and fauna will only increase.” By recording activity of species found in native woodland and other habitats, thousands of people have enabled Nature’s Calendar to become the leading survey into how climate change is affecting our plants and wildlife. The Woodland Trust is appealing for more people throughout Northern Ireland to take part in this UK-wide survey, as records here are currently scarce. Find out more at

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New Countryside Alliance Ireland Chairman John Clarke The latest in our interview series featuring people of influence in country sports When did you become involved in country sports and what are your particular interests/pastimes? I have been a keen shooting enthusiast for over 40 years. I am a member of several shooting syndicates and also participate in rough shooting and wildfowling. Growing up around the Lough Neagh basin, as a young boy I often accompanied my Grandfather and my Uncles on rough shooting days and wildfowling on the flooded meadows, and I developed a passion for the sport at an early age. I also formed a ‘Sporting’ clay pigeon club on my home farm back in 1980 which ran for about 10 years. Shooting has always been my main hobby, but I take a keen interest in all aspects of rural life and now that I have retired, I get a bit more time to spend working with the dogs and enjoying the changing seasons in our beautiful countryside. What are your interests outside of country sports? Country sports as I have said play a big part in my life and I don’t participate in other sports such as golf. I enjoy watching most sports, love music and have quite a few other interests and involvement with various organisations including church, schools and housing associations, serving on various Boards and committees. When did you become involved with CAI and what would you say has been your major contribution to the organisation to date? I have been a member of CAI for over 20 years and first joined the Board in 2004. The work and contribution that the 24

Board makes to the organisation is very much a team effort and as such I am delighted to be a part of that. What particular experience and skills do you bring to the position of CAI Chairman? Apart from being directly involved and participating in field sports for many years, I recently retired as a Director of one of Northern Ireland’s leading firms and have extensive experience of planning and strategy formation which I hope will be of use as we go forward. I have previously chaired ‘All Ireland’ professional institutions, and believe I have the skills necessary to effectively lead the board in decision making which recognises all points of view from across the Island. Country sports continue to be seen by many as ‘under attack’ - your predecessor referred to misunderstanding about the nature and skills required of country sports and in some cases prejudice. What would you say is the best way for CAI to deal with the current situation or is there a new strategy that you wish to deploy? A significant part of CAI’s remit is to educate in respect of the positive contribution that country sports makes to society, the environment and the economy. Amongst others, this includes extensive liaison with the public, MLAs and local political representatives. I believe this to be absolutely essential and continuous. What I am saying is that we need to be continually promoting our rural way of life; it’s not something we just do in the face of the next threat that comes along and to which we have to react. That is why organisations such as CAI are so

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

important. I don’t believe there is any new or magic strategy which can be employed, the work is ongoing and vital to ensure that our members’ standpoint is known, understood and respected. How do you personally want CAI to impact on the country sports scene today and will you be setting a fresh agenda for your team? CAI has been and indeed continues to be effective in representing our members and their interests. I hope to contribute positively and bring fresh ideas during my tenure as Chair but believe there is little point in reinventing the wheel or change purely for the sake of it! We have an excellent team, very ably led by our Chief Executive, and I don’t foresee need for any radical change to our agenda. CAI is one of a number of country sports bodies in Ireland - is there a requirement for this proliferation? Each generally refers to a cohesive and coherent approach to threats and opportunities to country sports on behalf of its members so is duplication of effort and expense really necessary? It is not for me to comment on any organisation other than that of CAI. Over the past number of years CAI has been at the forefront of the public stage (not to mention the political arena) and our continued membership growth speaks for itself; particularly in these difficult economic times. It is a major concern to readers and I have to say our publisher that, unlike the NARGC and FISSTA, none of the NI country sports organisations hold AGMS where members can vote for

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Courtlough Shooting Grounds hooting G round C ourtlough S Courtlough C ourtlough Balbriggan Balbr iggan Co. Dublin C o. D ublin Tel: T el: +353 1 841 3096 Fax: F ax: + 353 1 841 5462 Email: inf Web: W eb: w

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representatives, interact with staff and committee/board members and generally give feedback to the organisation. We appreciate that Irish members are entitled to go to the CA AGM in the UK but that really isn’t terribly realistic. Could you not take the lead in initiating a more democratic process? It is interesting that this issue has been raised yet again by ICS&CL nevertheless, I am happy to clarify. CAI is semi devolved from Countryside Alliance; however from a financial point of view CAI’s annual accounts are audited and included with the Alliance end of year financial report because it is a Company Limited by Guarantee. The Alliance calls an annual AGM on behalf of all regions and each fully paid up voting member and group leaders receive a full copy of the audited accounts and an invitation to attend the annual AGM of the Alliance. It is inaccurate to say that our members cannot vote for representatives or interact with us. We actively encourage and welcome feedback. CAI communicates directly with its members on a daily basis and in a variety of ways. Aside from the newsletter, we are readily contactable by telephone, email and website and many of our members use these means to communicate regularly and frequently with the organisation. We appreciate that CAI is at least more democratic in that it holds rolling elections to its board - is holding an AGM something you would consider implementing or in what other way would you seek to make upwards as well as downwards communication better within CAI? At this moment in time a separate AGM is not seen as a priority. As I have said, we actively encourage our members to engage with us on a regular and ongoing basis and an AGM should not be seen as the ‘be all and end all’ of communication within an organisation. Can you explain how members are currently appointed/elected to the board and how the chairman is elected? The Board is comprised of elected members and co-opted members so as to 26

ensure that the organisation can have the benefit of a full range of field-sports’ expertise and experience at this level. Each year a maximum of three positions become available, our membership are notified in December and a call for nominations for election is made. Once nominations are received, if there are more candidates than vacancies, a postal vote is carried out where each member (over the age of 17) has the opportunity to cast their vote. The postal returns are sent to an appointed independent scrutineer for counting. The Board may appoint members from other walks of life such as the Hunting Association of Northern Ireland, IGPA and the Ulster Angling Federation to assist us in delivering our objectives across all country sports and the rural way of life. The Chairman of CAI is elected by the Board of CAI in the normal way that applies to this position in most organisations. He or she must be a member of CAI. Have you plans for greater co-operation with the other bodies without losing what you would see as CAI’s particular identity and appeal? Can such co-operation present problems in some areas (the firearms licensing review could be seen as a ‘one size fits all’ approach with some concessions on the wish list of one representative body not featuring on another’s - yet these may become part of a bargaining process with the authorities with consequences outwith the concerns of CAI’s members). Sometimes the ‘all for one and one for all’ approach can have disadvantages as well - what are your views? CAI engages closely with other like minded organisations on matters of mutual interest and we believe that this is vital to strengthen our collective voice. However, if there are certain aspects for example in relation to legislation where we do not agree, we simply defer to our own agenda. As both a committed CAI member, a PR professional and someone who is on record as praising the heavy all-Ireland workload carried by your Chief Executive, I have been a little concerned that the

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

organisation that I would perceive as being the largest in NI has been some ways rather overshadowed in PR terms by BASCNI (who won’t declare their membership – so can’t be too large) in both the All Party Countrysports Group at Stormont and publicity on the Firearms legislation. Have you plans for CAI to take the lead on some issues in NI and/or ROI and what might these be? PR is important for any organisation and CAI are happy to publicise our achievements. As you say, our Chief Executive has a very heavy workload, but we believe our membership support and growth is in itself recognition of our endeavours. If we were to worry about column inches we would lose focus and waste valuable time. The Firearms legislation negotiations have dragged on to such a degree that it could appear as if the BASCNI-led negotiation team is more interested in the publicity it is getting, than actually moving things forward to attain a resolution. We have felt it necessary to take issue with the way this has been handled as we feel that on such an important matter there should have been much wider consultation and debate around the issues with ordinary shooters before submissions were made. As you are well aware our Chief Executive has been fully involved and indeed at the forefront in relation to the firearms legislative matters. Any questions in relation to this are for him to answer but I am happy to say that he has the full support of the CAI Board. As the new Chairman you will have personal goals for (a) country sports and (b) for CAI - what are they and how do you plan to see them achieved? I did not take on the Chairmanship of CAI to attain ‘personal goals’ but rather to assist the organisation in achieving our aims and objectives as we continue to face the challenges that exist currently and indeed lie ahead. Have you anything else that you would like to say to our readers? I would like to reiterate to all country sports enthusiasts the need to support organisations such as CAI who campaign and work tirelessly on their behalf.

Liam Fitzsimons

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By Derek Fanning

An Italian Gun Expert Selling Beautiful Guns In Ireland On a dark, windy evening during January I drove down to the lovely town of Cashel to meet the Italian gun expert and gun shop owner, Francesco Morelli. Cashel is a town which I am very fond of. It is magnificently situated, with the gorgeous and impressive Galty Mountains forming a backdrop, and it boasts the Rock of Cashel, a picturesque collection of medieval buildings perched on a limestone outcrop. Whenever I drive to the town I am always impressed and charmed by the sight of the Rock with the Galtees rising behind and Francesco’s gun shop and restaurant is only a couple of hundred yards from this location. As a journalist, one interviews many different characters over the course of one’s career. Some interviewees are charming, witty, interesting; others are tense, quick to take offence, suspicious, and say little. Francesco (I am happy to say!) fell into the character of charming, witty and interesting. He was good humoured, laidback and very passionate about guns and shooting. Francesco told me that his wife Giuseppa has been living in Ireland for 40 years, she’s also Italian and moved to Ireland when she was 11. He met Giuseppa in Italy and she was the reason that he decided to settle permanently in Ireland 17 years ago: “I was in Celbridge for a while in the food business, then we moved to Cashel where I opened a restaurant and about a year later I opened the gunshop. I’ve been involved with guns since I was a kid. In my adult life I was in the police

where I was fixing guns, fixing the old Berettas which was skilful work, all part of my policing duty. My first stint as a policeman was near Turin in northern Italy, then I moved to Naples, then to Rome. While based in Naples it was the time of the Red Brigades, a Marxist-Leninist paramilitary organisation which attained notoriety in the 1970s and early 1980s with its violent attempts to destabilise Italy through acts of sabotage, bank robberies and kidnappings.”

I asked how he got to know and love shooting so much: “I was raised in Casalattico which is a village near Monte Cassino. My father, my grandfather, great-grandfather and brothers were into shooting.I started shooting at the age of 10 in Italy, shooting local game such as pheasants and I was also reloading at that age too. I still enjoy shooting in Italy, especially wild boar hunting. Locally, I enjoy rifle and pistol shooting in the Midlands Shooting Centre at Blueball near

Francesco is a generous sponsor of events including Ireland’s largest game and country fair at Birr Castle. Tom Cahill (Manager Casale), Francesco Morreli (Proprietor Casale) presents the prize gun to Seamus Pierce and Mick Smith from the Derrinsallow Shoot organisers of the clay pigeon shoot. 28

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Tullamore, Offaly.” A few years ago the authorities wouldn’t issue Francesco with a pistol licence but not deterred he took the case to Court and won. The Morellis are famous in Ireland for food since the 1950s: “My uncle started working in Dublin in 1951. In the south of Ireland they’re famous for food, but in the North they’re famous for ice cream! They run restaurants in Roscommon, Galway and other towns. I was cooking in the restaurant until 8 years ago,” remarked Francesco, “but since then I haven’t had the time because I am working in the gun and fishing shop full time. My wife and daughter oversee the running of the restaurant and takeaway beside the gun shop.” But on to the main reason for the interview — the gun shop, where he is expertly assisted by local man Tom Cahill, who has been working with him for the past 17 years: “I started the gun shop 17 years ago when I saw there was an opening for going into the wholesale business and I’ve been doing the wholesale side for 16 years and it’s going very well. I sometimes work 15 to 20 hours a day, seven days a week. A lot of time is spent on the road visiting customers. I am one of only five gun equipment wholesalers in Ireland and sell shooting equipment to shops throughout the country.” His shop is very well appointed and sells a fine collection of Caesar Guerini and Sabatti guns. These are noted for their robustness, efficiency and beautiful craftsmanship. The Italians love beautiful craftsmanship, they love artistry and creativity, and this wonderful instinct finds expression in their gun-making. The guns which Francesco showed me were magnificent weapons, ideal for either clay-pigeon or game shooting, but they were also works of art. To my mind, shooting with one of these guns would be a pleasure and in those moments of idleness in the

Tom is holding a Caesar Guerini Maxum, 20 gauge, a very good gun for game shooting priced at €3,250. The Caesar Guerini Challenger Impact, sporting OU, retailing at €4,795 - fully adjustable so the buyer doesn’t have to customise his gun.

This time it’s the Caesar Guerini Eclipse Evo, 12 gauge, sporter.

Here we have a Caesar Guerini Timpio Light retailing at €2,250 and is an excellent game gun, very light and featuring a Prince of Wales grip.

field, when there’s a lull in the shooting action, you could enjoy gazing at the silver engraving and the woodwork of these guns. Francesco showed me a number of his beautifully made Caesar Guerini shotguns, including the Challenger Impact Sporting model, an over and under retailing at €4,795 and suitable for clay and game shooting. It is fully adjustable which means you don’t have to customise your gun. “Now this one,” remarked Francesco, “is the Ellipse Evo. It’s a 12 gauge sporter and is good for game and clay pigeon shooting. It has a round action which is very unusual on a sporting gun and Caesar Guerini didn’t do rounded actions prior to this. Some people prefer round actions because it suits their hands. As with many of the Caesar Guerini guns there is beautiful workmanship and intricate and artistic engraving. This gun retails at €4,400 and you are paying for the craftsmanship, the engraving plus the wood.” He extracted another shotgun from the cabinet: “This is a Caesar Guerini Tempio Light. It’s €2,250 and is a game gun, very light about 600 grams, with a Prince of Wales stock. And here’s another, the Maxum in 20 gauge, very good for game shooting and is €3,250 and again it’s beautifully engraved. He added: “We are importers as well as wholesalers, importing from China, Taiwan, India, Germany, UK, Austria, Spain, USA, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Denmark, Netherlands and Japan.” As well as a huge selection of shotguns and rifles, he’s an importer of Tanfoglio pistols and stocks most of the accoutrements associated with shooting as well as archery and fishing equipment: “We import clothing, gun-covers, all the accessories for shooting including cartridge belts, slings, boots and for archery we have leather arm-guards

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Caesar Guerini guns are manufactured in Italy and are noted for their craftsmanship and style.

and quivers, which I designed and then commissioned a factory to make. We buy our archery equipment directly from Taiwan which means we can offer better value for money. Archery is popular in Ireland, there’s a good market for it and I am going to start an archery club in Cashel. There are already a 40 people in the Cashel area who wish to join the club. Two weeks ago some disabled people from Tipperary visited us for some archery shooting practice with them. They had an hour’s training and then decided what equipment they required which was a very useful way to make an informed selection.” Francesco sells very fine fishing rods too, including Ron Thompson and Sierra fly rods which are priced from €40 to €5/600. “There is a big fishing club here in Cashel, The Suir is a good local river, known for its brown trout and from Ardfinnan down it’s good for salmon too.” His wife, Giuseppa Borza, helps him in the business as well and attends gun shows with him. “We primarily attend 30

gun shows because we want to check out the finest shooting products with the aim of acquiring them on a wholesale basis and distributing them to shops throughout Ireland. We are going to the US for the big shooting show at Las Vegas in the near future. This is the second largest gun show in the world and you’ll find products there you won’t find anywhere else. Game shooting is very popular in America so

I go to a lot of gun shows, looking for something new all the time.” When he visits Italy he sometimes spends a few days working in the Guerini Factory helping with the manufacturing of the guns. “This ‘hands on’experience means I am very familiar with the guns. I was there when Caesar Guerini first started, when it was founded by the two brothers Georgio and Antonio. A friend of mine introduced me to them when they first set up and I started working for them from day one. The relationship is not just between factory and buyer, it is between friend and friend: that is very important, that is what I like. If you work like that it’s good. A few years ago Caesar Guerini was gun of the year in America and Caesar Guerini is very big in England.” Sabatti rifles and shotguns are also acclaimed and the rifles are good for game and target shooting. Francesco is well known in the Cashel community for his ‘big personality’ and also for his generous sponsorship of many local events as well as rugby teams and hurling teams. Having seen his gun shop and chatted with Tom and the man himself, I could see why it is a major stop off point for so many enthusiasts. For more information about the products in Francesco’s shop have a look at or telephone 062 63106.

Francesco’s gunshop also sells archery equipment.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

THE IRISH KENNEL CLUB RETRIEVER CHAMPIONSHIP 2013 Report by: Shauna McGroarty and Ruby Boyce

Sponsored by

Photographs by Tom Fox (official photographer) Additional photos by Jana Cupakova

This year’s IKC Retriever Championship was held on 28th and 29th December 2013 in the beautiful Ballynatray House and Estate in Youghal, Co Cork by kind permission of Mr Henry Gwyn-Jones and family. The Guns for the day were made up of Mr Gwyn-Jones’ family, friends and a group of quality guns who have been part of the journey of the Ballynatray Driven Shoot.

Host Henry Gwyn-Jones

Many other people were involved in the trial over the two days including the markers, stewards, dog stewards, game carriers, number board carriers and many more people behind the scenes, ensuring the 2 days went as smoothly as possible.

The 2013 IKC Retriever Championship

This year’s championship was judged by Joe McGivern (Senior Judge), Roy Rankin, Declan McCarthy and Ronnie Farrelly. Between them they have a wealth of experience and extensive backgrounds in gun dogs. They have judged as well as participated all over Ireland, the UK, Europe and even further afield. Their commitment to and passion for gun dogs is evidenced in what they have put back into the field Judges : Joe McGivern, Declan Mc Carthy, Ronnie Farrely over the years and Roy Rankin

Suspense: Crowd, judges and competitors at the start of the day. 32

and through the successes they have had with their own dogs. Following the championship I had the opportunity to have a chat with Joe McGivern on his experience of being the senior judge. Joe has been an A panel judge in retrievers for approximately 30 years and has been in gun dogs for over 40 years, a lifetime

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

(photo Jana Cupakova)

of experience. Joe started his gun dog career with Golden Retrievers and has a natural affinity with the breed, however over the years he has competed on a bigger scale with his Labradors. Joe has judged the IKC Retriever Championships on 5 other occasions and qualified and ran in the championships on over 20 occasions and 3 times with 3 different Golden Retrievers. Joe said he was delighted to have been asked to Judge again on this occasion and thoroughly enjoyed his appointment and was happy with how the trial ran. Over the two days, Joe said he had seen some very good dog work as would be expected in a championship, however went onto say the second day was much better and the competitors really got a chance to show their dogs off. Joe said as good as the ground was, there was too much open ground but after talking to the keeper and guns on the first day, they asked for more birds to be shot into cover where possible. The excellent guns duly obliged and this resulted in a more exciting trial for the second day. Joe was very impressed with the dog work and said those who came through in the awards where the cream of the crop and congratulations must go to the hard work involved in getting there with their dogs. He said some excellent dogs and handlers fell by the way side

because of one thing and another, however there was nothing put forward in the trial that he wouldn’t have expected the dogs to handle. One dog in particular stood out for Joe and that was Tom Lowry’s FT CH Watergreen Hunter (awarded COM and Gun’s choice). He said the dog had an excellent run, very fast, stylish and hunted like a demon but fell short on the last hurdle, and as we all know Joe said, you are only as good as your last retrieve. Joe said judging the championships this year was most enjoyable but went onto say he doesn’t think he will judge another one due to his senior years creeping up on him. Joe has a passion for Golden Retrievers and said it was great to see a Golden running this year again in the championships. Joe has a young golden at the moment and he said he would love to get him qualified for a Championship before he has to ‘put the auld whistle away for good.’

The Running order: 1. Non runner 2. Mr Lorenzo Hynes with FTCH Trumpetaker Ash (DOB, 24.08.08) Winner of 2013 IKC Retriever Championship 3. Mr Richard Johnstone with FTCH Shimnavale Excalibur (DOB, 27.05.10) 4. Non runner 5. Mr Michael Corr with FTCH

Astraglen Hardy (DOB, 07.02.11) 6. Mr Eamon Murphy with Luna aruff (DOB, 14.05.11) 7. Mr Harry Gillanders with FTCH Ffynongain Razor (DOB, 04.04.10) 8. Mr David Beattie with Alabama Black (DOB, 1.12.08) 9. Mr Denis O’Grady with FTCH Tullyah Dasher (DOB, 26.05.09) 10. Thomas Lowry with Redbog Alice (DOB 16.01.11) 11. Mr Sean Nolan with INT FTCH Tweedshot Trimble of Lettergreen (DOB, 12.04.09) 4th in the 2013 IKC Retriever Championship 12. Mr Paul Toal with FTCH Altiquin Ripple (DOB, 14.04.08) 13. Mr Nigel Carville with FTCH Waysgreen Apollo (DOB, 18.08.08) 14. Mr David O’Sullivan with Redbog Andy (DOB, 16.01.11) 15.Mr Declan Boyle with Leadburn Jamie (DOB, 01.04.09) 16. Mr Danny Behan with Quarrypool Ainey (DOB, 24.05.07) 17. Mr Nigel Carville with Apollobay Apocalypse of Astraglen (DOB, 21.10.10) 18. Mr Michael Cronin with FTCH Watergreen Gemma of Monsell (DOB, 17.12.08) 19. Mr Sean O’Connor with Timpany Monty of Coolflough (DOB, 01.10.10) 20. Mr Damian Newman with FTCH Dunamoria Eve (DOB, 25.03.06)

First Day line up of even numbered dogs under judge Roy Rankin. Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Copperbirch Roosky (DOB, 19.08.11) 35. Mr Paul O’Brien with Corrib Warwick (DOB, 13.05.10) 36, Mr John Williamson with Norden Lights Cherokee (DOB, 23.01.10) 37. Mr Christy Scott with Watergreen Gladiator (DOB, 17.12.08)

well, keeping dog tight as there were several birds in close proximity, but unfortunately was called up. Dog no. 8 handled by David Beattie was then sent for same bird, the dog looked fast and stylish and made good work of the area but then drifted left and picked a hen bird. The judges had a brief discussion and they asked Dog no. 10 handled by Thomas Lowry to try the same marked Day 1 area as the previous two dogs. Tom’s Day 1 started off with a 20 minute dog held the area, hunted well and was heavy pheasant drive in open fields eventually called in. The judges with birds being shot in front of and walked out to the fall and made an over the competitors, landing in the extensive search but found no bird. On field and the wooded area between the their return they approached handler no. two lines of competitors. Most of the 8, David Beattie, and explained that he first retrieves were taken out in open wrong birded as the dog drifted out of fields with the dogs carrying them out the marked area. This was David’s first without any difficulty with just 1 or 2 Championship and he was disappointed dogs falling to very bad luck. to be the first dog put out in the Notable retrieves for one reason or Championships but hopefully there will another were: Dog no. 2 handled by be many more Championships for Lorenzo Hynes who was sent for a David to come. Dogs no. 6 and no. 10 running cock pheasant during the drive were kept in and sent again for another and retrieved nicely back to hand. retrieve. Lorenzo won the 2012 Championship Andrew Rooney and Nigel Carville with the same dog. Dog no. 6 Eamon produced some lovely dog work where Murphy was sent for a hen pheasant, he hunted the fall area very the dogs had to take a long cast down over a bank and then into cover; clean, swift and back nicely to hand. Retrieves were then lifted from the 2nd and 3rd drives before progressing onto the final retrieves of the day which were taken in a large green walled field where handlers stood at the top of the hill looking down A Stylish Cast (Photo: Jana Cupakova) Another stylish cast by Billy Lundy (3rd placed). towards the gallery behind the wall. Some very nice retrieves were pulled off in this round which required the dogs to cast about 150 yards down the hill then over a fence, lane and wall to pick the birds. Eddie Finn, Alan Leonard, Damian Newman and David Boyce all got to showcase their dogs casting, jumping and handling in front of a full And More Style from Alan Leonard A Golden Moment (Photo: Jana Cupakova) gallery. Following this, the (4th place).

21. Mr Alan Leonard with Barronstown Angel (DOB, 27.04.08) 22. Mr Gerard O’Neill with Highwalk Storm (DOB, 15.04.07) 23. Mr Damian Newman with Astraglen Trigger of Fendawood (DOB, 22.09.10) 24. Mr Eddie Finn with Tirgarve Claire (DOB, 15.07.08) 25. Non runner 26. Mr David Boyce with Dorrets Dragonfly (DOB, 31.07.10) 27. Mr John Behan with FTCH Quarrypool Rough Diamond (DOB, 24.05.07) 28. Mr Ian Davis with FTCH Glenanne Pi (DOB, 29.09.09) 29. Mr Billy Lundy with INT FTCH The Newcam Boss (DOB, 23.10.10) 30. Mr Andrew Rooney with Baryley Laddie of Laggengill (DOB, 27.08.07) 31. Mr Thomas Lowry with FTCH Watergreen Hunter (DOB, 18.02.10) 32. Mr Nigel Carville with INT FTCH Astraglen Faith (DOB, 24.10.08) 33. Mr Alan Leonard with Barronstown Dance of Tasco (DOB, 22.06.10) 34. Mr Thomas Loughran with


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Micky Corr (Chairman) and Martin O’Riordan (Head Keeper)

Secretary Declan Boyle with Haneke Simmons

David Boyce’s dog in action (placed 2nd). (Photo: Jana Cupakova) A Fine Delivery to Hand.

handlers were moved to another angle, this time sending the dogs on a long cast and over a fence to pick the bird, and once again Tom Lowry pulled off another very stylish retrieve and was closely matched by John Williamson, Sean Nolan, Ian Davis, Billy Lundy, Nigel Carville and Paul O’Brien. There was very little to separate the dogs on this retrieve. The judges met once again to discuss their cards and the cut was made for the 2nd day. 18 Dogs were required for the following day and they were dogs numbered: 2, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 35, 36

Day 2 The second day was another very fine day, colder than the first and not even the slightest breeze to help the dogs. The first drive lasted about 20 minutes and a good number of partridge were shot falling either into the stubble field or into a plantation of trees. Dogs on both sides of the lines would have 36

been in view of many of the falling birds. Once the drive had finished both sides of the line took it in turn to take retrieves from various areas. The most demanding retrieves were at the top of the stubble field up a steep hill. The difficulty being that the dogs went out of sight of the handlers once cast for the bird. The lack of any breeze also went against some of the dogs who were not able to pick up a scent when they got to the area, and were consequently called up. One such dog, who was having a nice run until this point, was John Williamson’s FT Ch Nordenlights Cherokee. This was the only Golden Retriever in the Championship and this was John’s second time running in the Championship with the same dog, the first time being the 2012 Championship where he was awarded a D.O.M. Those dogs that did make it, made a very nice job of the retrieve, much to the handlers relief when they could see them returning back down the hill and loaded with a bird.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

(Photo: Jana Cupakova)

The standard of work at this stage was what you would expect at a championship; there were many obstacles and diversions that fully tested the dogs and handlers’ skills. Nigel Carville had an eye catching 2 dog eye wipe in this round. Tom Lowry and Paul O’Brien produced some stylish clean work casting the dogs through a gate to pick birds, straight out and swiftly back to hand which seemed to be the order of the day for them. Billy Lundy also pulled off a lovely retrieve showing off this exceptional bitch’s natural instinct to hunt out wounded game ahead of dead game on the ground. The top dogs were starting to show through, Sean Nolan’s dog (winner, Int FT Ch Tweedshot Trimble of Lettergreen) produced some lovely stylish clean work and I am sure it crossed Sean’s mind at this point that he could be in the awards again at this year’s championships, having gained a 3rd last year with the same dog. Unfortunately some excellent dogs ran

Competitors at the start of Day 2.

into bad luck which meant that their Championship was over for another year. Once the required birds were lifted and all remaining handlers took their 4th retrieve, the judges came together to look at their books, 12 handlers made the cut and were called back for the next round. The handlers who made the cut were numbers: 10, 11, 12, 15, 21, 22, 24, 26,

(Photo: Jana Cupakova)

27, 29, 31 and 35. At this point the trial moved towards a wooded lane. The gallery were able to stand behind while competitors where called one by one down towards the judges to take retrieves, either off the lane or into a deep excavated area of about 80 yards which had grown over with cover and bracken. Once the judges had finished with

Winner with Championship Committee and Head keeper Martin O’Riordan .

the handlers in this location and all useable birds were picked, the trial moved towards the duck pond where ducks had been laying from the previous drive. The gallery was asked to stand at the entrance of the field while the handlers, dogs and judges and helpers moved into the middle of the field. Towards the bottom of the field there was a duck pond where ducks lay and to the left of the line there was a wooded area where ducks had also fallen. Tensions were high as the trial was almost coming to an end, 7 handlers remained and the judges put the handlers through their paces sending them from the middle of the field either towards the duck pond or into the wood. The handlers had two retrieves here and each time the retrieve was rotated which meant dogs were not following one another in subsequent retrieves. The 7 handlers completed their retrieves, the judges gathered again to look at their books and it was then announced that all 7 handlers needed to go to the duck pond for their water

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


retrieve. All handlers completed this final retrieve of the day without any difficulty, sighed a sigh of relief and congratulations were offered for those competitors who had completed the trial. The trial made their way back to Ballynatray House where refreshments were provided and the awards were announced.

Championship Treasurer Lady Waterford Presenting Prizes to 2nd placed David Boyce,

Championship Treasurer Lady Waterford Presenting COM to Thomas Lowry who also won the Irish Countrysports and Country life Tropy for ‘Guns Choice’.

Results: 1st Place Int FT Ch Tweedshot Trimble of Lettergreen handled/owned by Mr Sean Nolan Labrador Dog DOB: 12.04.09 Sire: Tasco Brimstone Dam: Tweedshot Mango Breeder: Mr S. Tweedy Sean qualified his dog for the 2013 Championship 3 times over by winning the Irish Gundog Field and Show Society Open Stake on 26th January 2013, coming 2nd in the Ulster Golden Retriever Club’s Open Stake on 20th September and also by winning the Labrador Retriever Club of Northern Ireland’s 2 day Open Stake on 31st October and 1st November 2013 making him up to an International Field Trial Champion. Sean competed in the 2012 IKC Retriever Championship with the same dog and was awarded 4th

place, showing this dogs ability to compete consistently at the top of his field. Sean was very lucky to have finished the season in style considering he had been out of commission for 6 weeks following a knee operation, this possibly made his win all the more rewarding considering he would have had to endure a couple of days of pain, all in the pursuit of his passion for gun dogs. 2nd Place Dorrets Dragonfly handled/owned and bred by Mr David Boyce Labrador Bitch DOB: 31.07.10 Sire: FT Ch Copperbirch Zeus of Glenanne Dam: FT Ch Rockenhart Ontario Breeder: Mr David Boyce David qualified his dog by winning the Clonakilty Field Trial Assoication’s Open Stake on 22nd December 2012 and also at the Cobh Field Trial Association’s Open Stake on 7th September 2013. This was David’s first award at the IKC Retriever Championship and a day he will not forget. David’s daughter Ruby reported on the other side of the line and was just as delighted to watch her father achieve this award. 3rd Place Int FT Ch The Newcam Boss handled/owned by

Championship Treasurer Lady Presenting COM to Eddie Finn.


Championship Treasurer Lady Presenting COM to John Behan.

Waterford John Geoghan from sponsors Red Mills and Harry Gillanders applaud the winners.


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Mr Billy Lundy Labrador Bitch DOB: 23.10.10 Sire: FT Ch Marranscar Blackcap Dam: Smirnoff Teal Breeder: Mr Billy Lundy Billy qualified his dog for the 2013 championship on 5 different occasions which has to be a record. Firstly by winning the Clodagh Valley Field Trial Association’s Open Stake on 5th December 2012, followed by winning the Labrador Retriever Club of Ireland’s Open Stake on 6th September 2013, winning the Ulster Golden Retriever Club’s Open Stake on 20th September 2013 and the winning the N.I.G.F.S.S’s 2 day Open stake on 18th and 19th October 2013 making his bitch up to an International Field Trial Champion. Billy was awarded the Fred McGuirk Cup at the 2012 Championships for the most stylish yellow bitch, with the same dog. 4th Place Barronstown Angel handled / owned by Mr Alan Leonard DOB: 27.04.08 Sire: Int FT Ch Waterford Edward of Tasco Dam: FT Ch Ffynongain Graphic Breeder: Mr Alan Leonard Alan qualified and ran two dogs at the 2013 championship qualifying his dog in the awards by wining Craigavon Gun Dog Club’s 2 day open stake in October 2013 and also the Clones Open Stake on 16th November 2013. Alan has qualified for the championships on many previous occasions and is not a stranger to the awards. Diploma’s of Honour Tirgarve Claire handled/owned and bred by Mr Eddie Finn FT Ch Quarrypool Rough Diamond handled/owned by John Behan FT CH Watergreen Hunter handled/owned by Thomas Lowry (and also Gun’s Choice) The Winner of the IKC Championship 2013 – Sean Nolan. Following Sean Nolan’s success at this year’s championship I was interested to find out a bit more information about his passion for gun dogs and how it lead him to where he is today with his dogs. Sean’s introduction to gundogs came

The Winner Sean Nolan INT FT CH Tweedshot Trimble of Lettergreen.

approximately 16 years ago while he was out walking a springer spaniel and he came across a working test on the Black Mountain organised by Mr Larry Lee SNR. That day at the test Paddy Magee, a friend from Sean’s youth who was taking part in the working test explained what was happening to Sean. They got talking throughout the day and consequently Sean ended up totally hooked on the sport. Weeks went by and Paddy had advised Sean to get a Labrador and maybe do a few working tests. Sean said he has a lot of good memories of training at every opportunity, working tests in the summer, picking up in the winter and eventually trialling. The first dog Sean ever had was a bitch called Rosie that he got from Sam Polley who lived in Cloughey in County Down. Rosie proved too much for Sean, which he put down to her being too hot and not having the experience to train her. Sean said around this time a friend of Paddy Magee’s, Bobby Robertson, had returned from England and Paddy

suggested they both go training with Bobby on a Sunday. This was the first proper lesson in gundog training Sean had received and he enjoyed every minute of it, and he said the icing on the cake was that Bobby didn’t charge them a penny. Sean said Rosie did not work out in the field so he got another bitch from Sam Polley from the same sire and dam, however this time he had a little bit more experience and he also had Bobby Robertson to turn to for advice. Sean said this bitch was called Mist, she was very clever, could find game and Mist was the first dog he ran in a trial. The trial was at Shane’s Castle in County Antrim and Sean said he was eye wiped on his first retrieve by the late Jim Barr, a gentleman in the sport who won the Irish Retriever Championship three times. Jim told Sean to keep training and that Mist was a good bitch. Two weeks later he got another run in Dundarave, County Antrim and Mist won the trial, she had just turned 17 months. Sean said he was over the moon and this was the start of

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


a partnership that lasted five or more years on the trial field. Sean said Mist received lots of awards in both the English and Irish Kennel Clubs, being placed twice in Two Day Stakes, lots of 2nds, 3rds and 4ths but could never get over the line to get first. Sean said he had some good times and some great laughs with different characters in the Gundog world. Sean retired Mist when she was 7 and gave her to his friend’s father Mr Harry McGutcheon, to shoot over and use for picking up. Mist sadly passed away in 2013 at the age of 13. Sean said after Mist he found it hard getting another dog capable of running in open trials. He went through four or five dogs but none were suitable after winning their novice trials. Sean said he remembers having a conversation with the late Sam Jennett and telling Sam he was finding it hard to get an open dog (something special) and Sam told him “You may only get one good dog in your lifetime, something special, and when it happens keep the dog with you as much as possible and enjoy every minute they’re with you.” Sean said in previous years he enjoyed picking up and trialling but didn’t put in the amount of time needed to have success. He said he now trains mostly on his own and also meets with his friend Gary McGutcheon once or twice a week who has a similar way of training and it works well for them

both. The person who has influenced Sean the most, first and foremost in the gun dog world, is Bobby Robertson. Sean said Bobby shared his experience with him and gave him the right foundation from which to build and expand his knowledge of gundogs. Sean said without a doubt the best dog he has had is Quinn, the dog that he won the recent IKC Retriever Championship with and that he’s that ‘something special’ dog that Sam Jennett spoke of. Sean said he is a pleasure to have in the kennel, has been easy to train and always wants to please. Quinn has won many awards and is the most consistent dog Sean has ever had, a great partner and long may it last said Sean. Quinn’s full title is INT FT CH Tweedshot Trimble of Lettergreen. Sean acquired Quinn from his good friend Jim Swindlehurst when Quinn was 16 months old. Jim Swindlehurst who has won both the IGL Retriever Championship and the IKC Retriever Championship, had three dogs in and around the same age in his kennel and Sean said he ended up with the worst one, in Jim’s eyes. Sean said he tells people that Quinn was a rescue dog and that he rescued him from Jim Swindlehurst. Sean said he feels honoured to have won the IKC Retriever Championship

and that it’s something that everyone starting off in gundogs aspires to do, and he is no exception. Sean plans to continue enjoying his partnership with Quinn and maybe even win the championship again one day.

Sponsors: Overall sponsor Red Mills Albert Titterington (Sponsor of the Winner’s Tophy and Guns Choice Perpetual Trophy) and subscriptions to Irish Countrysports and Country Life magazine for judges, first four placed handlers and hosts.

Finally Congratulations must go to the new IKC Championship Committee for organising such an excellent, well run event. Handlers train all year for this event and put a huge amount of time, money and effort into getting there in the first place. The committee did an excellent job of trying to ensure everything ran to plan, and that circumstances were as stress free as possible for the handlers on the day. Instructions were clear from the outset, the accommodation was excellent and the Estate is one of the nicest well kept Estates in Ireland, which all add to the atmosphere of the IKC Championship and makes for a very memorable weekend.

Winner Sean Nolan chats to the guns to find out whether they got any good photos of him! 40

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

PHOTO ALBUM OF THE IRISH RETRIEVER CHAMPIONSHIPS 2013 FTW: Waysgreen Apollo Hips: Single Digit Elbows: 0-0 CPRA/CNM: Clear

This Photo Album is being produced not only as a record of the Championships but also as a fund raiser with ALL proceeds going to Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children The album will have 250 plus photos of the Irish Retriever Championship 2013 divided into 4 folders: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Introduction of all competitors & judges DAY 1 - Competitors & dog work with spectators DAY 2 - Competitors & dog work with spectators The Presentation The Photo Album by ordered contacting Tom Fox ( Mobile No: 00353 87 9494734) The cost of the Album is â‚Ź25.00 Payment by Paypal; My; Bankdraft/Cash

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Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

with Ken Lindsay

The Nigel Carville Interview Question: Can I take you right back to the start and ask you what was your first dog and when and how you acquired it? A Springer called Musket from a field trailer called Victor Gwellyn. I was at the Saw Mill at Clandeboye and in the course of conversation we talked about his chat with my Father who’s told him of his two sons who were both mad keen on shooting, but one had developed leukaemia; that was my brother Walter the other was me. I mentioned that I was keen to buy a dog for shooting and he told me about Musket who had started to give tongue on game so putting out of trials but would be ideal for a shooting man. He was just the job and in fact his ‘fault’ put many a rabbit in the bag for my brother Walter and me over the years. A brilliant dog bred by Keith Erlandsson, out of his champion bitch Dinas Dewi Sele, Musket stayed with us until he died. Question: When did you purchase your first for trialling and what was their breeding and name? Marshely Mist was bought from a person called McMurtry from Ballyclare 1971. The sire was a very well known dog, Sliguy of Ardoon a FTCh owned by Jimmy Magee. Misty as I called her was the first dog which I trialled - I ran her in an Open at Clandeboye getting a Certificate of Merit under the late George Drummond from Scotland. A terrific first run, she entered bracken, pushed a rabbit, rock steady, the rabbit was shot some forty yards away. I simply said fetch, back and she took the line and retrieved the rabbit, no handing required. The second run was a disaster, in a field of cows. She definitely did not like cows. She became very subdued and that was that, our first trial with a COM. Question: What is your prefix and

why did you choose it? I don’t have a prefix. Question: Where and when was the first trial you ran in and how did you get on? In 1972 at Clandeboye as I mentioned earlier. Question: With which dog did you win your first Trial and what ground and what quarry? Henbury Park Hussar, a dog I brought in from Chris Burbridge in England and the trial was at Shanes Castle on pheasants. Question: What breeds of dog have you (a) Trained (b) Trialled Springers, Cocker Spaniels and Labradors, which I found interesting and not as much trouble compared to Spaniels where I think there’s much more involved. I’ve trialled Springers and Cockers. Question: How many Trials have you won? I really have no idea whatsoever. As I said a moment ago I really do have no idea. It never seemed important to me to keep records like that. I suppose quite a few over the past 40 years or so. Records haven’t been important as I train dogs principally for shooting not necessarily for trialling. Even dogs I trained that went to other homes gave me pleasure as I could see the enjoyment that they got from them too Question: Which of your dogs to date would you rate as your best dog(s) and why? A difficult question; I rated them all very highly. I’m a typical shooting man so if a dog gives me good sport I’m satisfied. I suppose if I was to pick one, going back nine or ten years, it would be a Springer dog called Glancarw Beda. Built like a tank, some might say an old fashioned type, broad headed, he won a number of trials, could hunt very hard in

a trial on game and, by the same token, run in an international test on green fields going just as hard. Beda could possibly have gone on to greater things but at that time I suffered from an illness that prevented me from taking him further. Typically we don’t have a great head of game on which to train our dogs and as I always say to newcomers here, train your dog to hunt FOR game not just ON game, it stands you and the dog in good stead. Question: Through your career you must have met, seen and been influenced by many handlers. Can I ask you which of these handlers most influenced and impressed you? I could list many handers, but John Agnew with Braehill Apollo for example immediately springs to mind. Others such as Johnny Burrowes, Jack and Frank Orr, very reserved gentlemen with their quiet handling; Jack went on to win the British Championship with Inlers Harryslin. Bob Fettis is another. Today of course Willie Edgar is someone who can compete with the best, trains on ground which is devoid of all game, yet can take his dogs out win Open Trial Stakes and then on to win at the CLA. Question: Other than your own dogs, which (a) Springers have you seen that you would rate as some of the best you have seen or judged? What impressed you about these dogs? (b) cockers have you seen that you would rate as some of the best you have seen or judged. Many years ago I judged a trial in Gortin, when Ivan Wilson came under me with a dog called Rytex Ruffer. I remember talking to Ivan later and told him how much pleasure I had got watching Ruffer giving an exhibition of how to work heather. Great drive, style, everything. The ironic thing was

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


towards the end of the run he passed a rabbit! But - what a dog! In Cockers, everyone thinks immediately of Keith Erlandsson and Gwibbernant Snake, and of course the bitch Speckle of Ardoon bred by Will Sloan that won the Championship three times. That was a time when writer Peter Moxon was known by some as the ‘Cocker knocker’ and it was people like Erlandsson, Peter Jones and Mike Shefford who kept the working breed going. Nowadays we have many working cockers, with some exceptional dogs which can hold their own with Springers. Northern Ireland has its own Cocker Club which gained its Open status this year so things are looking very good, meaning that its possible to compete in the British Championship. But back to the greats, so of course I have to mention Ian Openshaw, who’s dogs irrespective of breed, all go superbly well. The man is simply a gifted trainer. Question: What do you look for when judging a dog? I always look first at the handler and dog coming into line. Quite often you can spot someone coming into trials for the first time by the body language, nerves showing. I try to put them at ease and I look at the dog — fidgeting, sitting still, or whatever — but when I give the command to go I expect the dog to open up, hunt with drive and style. I’m looking for a dog that will hunt with hustle - bustle, thrash the cover and when it fonds game sit still and then retrieve on command. One handlers are gifted in running but not so gifted in judging. I recall judging at the CLA a few years ago with Jeremy Organ. The first dog under me was a Welsh team dog, and one of the first retrieves was a long, difficult one over a wooden fence. The dog went out all right but unfortunately it was not going over the fence, running up and down, up and down and the handler got frustrated. Normally people would say ‘that’s it, call your dog in’ but I always will give a handler every opportunity to pick it. So I walked him up to within about forty 44

yards and he managed it. I told him: “Look, you’ve got that retrieve the other work will be that much easier now.” And I must say it was very gratifying when the Welsh captain came over and thanked me for allowing the handler every opportunity. That’s what it’s all about: trying not to make dogs fail. The easiest thing when judging is to eliminate dogs - I always try to keep the 16 or 18 dogs in a trial, dogs will only be put out for an eliminating fault. Question: What changes have you seen over the years when judging and running trials that you think are positive and most negative. Judges of today are in the main very positive. They always try to give the dog the benefit of the doubt. I hate to see people judging with a negative approach. Some have the misapprehension that if a dog moves from inside cover when game is flushed that the dog should be eliminated, they think it is chasing game. I would not do that, in my mind the dog is showing sense by coming out of cover to the edge to mark the game, provided it doesn’t move any further. Unfortunately things today have become very commercialised, it can be lucrative to own a FTCh and some handlers become very protective over bloodlines simply because with their dog they are virtually guaranteed a number of services. I think the money aspect creeping in can spoil the sport. Question: How important is nutrition in conditioning your dogs for trials? Very important, it’s paramount to a dog’s well being. A friend took his dogs to Scotland shooting and complained to me that he only got half a day’s work from this two springers. Quite simply he was feeding cheap, inferior dog food. I knew their breeding well, they were bred to work so I simply asked him how he would have felt in Scotland, shooting every day on a diet of bread and water. Gundogs must be well looked after, kept warm and fed well. He took my point. Question: What food do you use and why?

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

I feed natural feeding, tripe and chicken and I’ve never had any problems with their coats, teeth, etc., and virtually never need to attend a vet for problems. Question: As well as a handler you have established a reputation as a breeder of good dogs and these dogs are in demand throughout the world. Can you tell us which KC recommended screening tests you use? Why you think it is important that breeders should use KC screening tests? Every breeder should avail of whatever is available, no one wants to breed from a dog with a hereditary fault. Question: What do you look for in a dog and bitch that you are going to breed? Conformation, a good sized stamp of a dog or bitch with the right conformation as I don’t like small, snipey dogs. I think breeders have got to a standard now where Spaniel confirmation is good. You have to see what way a dog is working - drive, style and marking ability, making no noise and a tender mouth. I want to keep my own line so like a number of successful breeders I line breed. If I had a soft bitch I would possibly want to mate her to a dog with a more forward nature, trying to put that stamp onto the pups. Question: You must have had many highlights as a trainer and handler as well as some disappointments. Can you share with us your highlights? And your biggest disappointment. One dog which I remember well, was Inlers Royal, which I won Novices and Opens with. I was in an Open in Clandeboye, Tim Healey and Derek Weir were judging and I had a terrific run under Tim, finding and retrieving three pheasants. I came under Derek next and hunted for a long time, couldn’t find game for a long time, came across a rabbit in thick brambles and pushed it to be shot by a forward gun about 40 or more yards out. Derek said to send the dog. Royal took a

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magnificent line to it and retrieved to hand. That led to a run off for first place. I had a superb run, Royal pushed his head into cover, produced a pheasant which was shot. He popped his head out of cover, marked the bird, turned his head and looked at me. The judge said to fetch it and I told the dog ‘fetch’ and Royal bounded out in completely the wrong direction in the opposite direction. That knocked us down to third and was a big highlight as well as a disappointment all in one. Albert Titterington ran an International Test in Punchestown and invited teams from England, and Wales to complete with the northern and southern Irish teams and I was captain for about seven or eight years and we won each time. Those were very big highlights. Question: You have been mainly associated with training Springers and Cockers what qualities do you look for in your own dogs? Conformation, a good sized stamp of a dog or bitch with the right conformation. I don’t like small, snipey dogs. I think we have got to a standard now where confirmation is good. You have to see what way a dog is working so I look for drive, style and marking ability, making no noise and a tender mouth. Question: Do you prefer handling dogs or bitches? No preference at all. Question : Have you trained any other breeds? As I mentioned already Question: Why do you think Springers are the breed most suited to your training methods for overall trial success. I think Spaniels are best suited to me as the form of shooting I enjoy most is rough shooting. I like to get a dog out and march after it and as I said before I really train primarily with shooting in mind. Question: If you didn’t have Springers which breed would you have? Cockers Question: On what grounds do you train and what do you like about them? 46

I’m lucky enough to train in Clandeboye Estate, natural holding ground for game with rushes, etc. Bearing in mind my dogs have been trained on ground which is devoid of game first of all, because if you take them to gamey ground too early you end up with a pulling dog. Question: What is your favourite Trial grounds and why? Having judged all over I have to say it is undoubtably Clandeboye Estate. Many others in the trial world would also say Clandeboye is the Mecca for Spaniel trials. Question: What sort of quarry do you prefer trialling on? No preference. I train dogs to be competent on all sorts of game. Question: What would your advice be to anyone who wanted to get into trialling spaniels? Come along to trials, join clubs and, if you want to acquire a pup, then do so from a reputable breeder. Question: Apart from your involvement in training dogs and judging you are well known for having given a lot back through an involvement in clubs and events. Please list of the highlights in this for you and some of the low points. I was voted in as Chairman of the Spaniel Championship Committee having competed in several Championships, I was approached by someone who said what he would like when he competed again in the next championship was to actually find game. His dog had competed in three championships and had never found game. At that stage the events were by invitation onto ground, and there not having to pay anything to the landowner. I thought that was not right with every estate becoming commercialised and that if we wanted to hold an event such as the Championship we must pay for it. In other words pay and play. I was Chairman for eight or nine years and we had terrific events at places such as Clandeboye, Glenarm and other all over the place. A low point was the apparently

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

orchestrated ‘boycott’ of the Irish Spaniel Championship for 2013 by several well known spaniel handlers from the South and North of the country. The decision by several well known spaniel handlers from the South and North of the country not to run effectively stopped proceedings. The reasons that were put forward for their decision not to run their dogs in the event were objections to the quality of the judges. It should be made clear that both of the officially appointed judges are members of the A panel of judges of the Irish Spaniel Championship and are well qualified to officiate at the event. Some of those involved in boycotting the championships had previously competed under those judges and accepted wins and points to make their spaniels FTChs. What I find extraordinary is that other handlers accepted the motivation of those people and apparently joined with them and this in itself poses questions to those handlers. The people involved appeared unconcerned with the serious damage they could do to the Spaniel fraternity in the long term. The wider implications that these individuals have not taken into account are those affected such as the very generous hosts and the sponsor who has for years maintained an extremely generous and supportive role of the Spaniel Championship these effects have, in this debacle, been deemed irrelevant. This is a very sad state of affairs that our sport finds itself in this present day — and the regulating body stands silent. Question: How important is it for people to get involved positively in the administration of gundog events and clubs? Very important. Question: When not judging, training or breeding, what do you like to do outside country sports? I am involved in a number of different voluntary bodies, one of which provides accommodation for elderly people requiring sheltered accommodation. Other than that I enjoy reading, gardening and nowadays grandchildren occupy plenty of my time.

2014 Retriever Working Tests These dates are accurate at the time of going to press Date





8 March TBA 22 March Larchfield

Ulster Select BASC

Johnny Rea Amanda Greer

028 2589 8428 028 9260 5050

5 April

Ballydugan Estate


Philip Turner

028 9261 1845

12 April

Delamont, Killyleagh

Killyleagh W/S

John Wilson

028 4482 8697

19 April



Noel Doran

028 3832 5272

7 April 26 April

Aughentaine Estate, Fivemiletown Shanes Castle. All entrants get a FREE ticket to the Game Fair at Shanes Castle sponsored by FEEDWELL. 3rd May Cleggan Lodge

Fermanagh Gundog G Wilson Prelim, Novice and Open Tests. UGRC URGC Selection test for Shanes Castle Int. Team Thomas Brady Joe Johnston Moyola R Kane


10 May



E. McIlwaine

17 May

Greyabbey Estate, ROSEMOUNT

Comber W/S

William Harpur

07788 927014 028 8673 6432 028 7946 8585 07900180005 02837552549 07799718963 028 9187 3534

24 May



Philip Turner

028 9261 1845

31May 1 June

Moira Demesne Moira Demesne


Noel Doran Noel Doran

028 3832 5272 028 3832 5272

7 June 14 June

Dobbs Estate Castlewellan

Lab Club Meningitis Charity

Joe Morrison Eddie Moore

07739 515200 028 9062 7664

21 June

Clandeboye - All entrants get a FREE Ticket to the Game Fair at Shanes Castle. Lab Club

Joe Morrison

07739 515200

Thomas Brady Joe Johnston

07788 927014 028 8673 6432

28 June

Irish Game Fair Shanes Castle

FEEDWELL Dog & Gun Preliminary & Novice Retriever Tests: RED Mills Spaniel Tests & Spaniel International

29 June

Irish Game Fair Shanes Castle

Feedwell International Retrievers team event/Open Test and Run Off for the Game Fair RedmillsTop Dog R. McGregor between top 2 spaniels and top 2 retrievers

2 August

Gosford Castle

Inter Club Test

Noel Doran

028 3832 5272

9 August

Craigavon lakes


Philip Turner

028 9261 1845

G Murdoch


Albert Titterington

028 44839167

16 August tbc URC Irish Game & Country Fair Birr Castle International Spaniel Team Event/ 23 Aug Spaniel Tests 24 Aug

27 Sept 28 Sept

Irish Game & Country Fair Birr Castle

Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival, Montalto Estate, Ballynahinch. Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival

International team event/Open Retriever Tests. Run Off for the Game Fair Top Dog between top two spaniels and top two retrievers *Novice and Open Handler of the Year see qualifications.

028 77729690

Albert Titterington 028 44839167

Joe Johnston

028 8673 6432

Albert Titterington 028 44839167

*The New Red Mills Top Working Test Handler of the Year Competition to be staged at Ireland’s latest and arguably most stylish Country Sports Event in the beautiful grounds of Montalto Estate will have qualifications as follows: Novice Handler of the Year :All dogs placed 1st or 2nd in a preliminary test in Ireland and those placed 1st to 3rd in a Novice Test are eligible to compete. Open handler of the Year: All dogs placed 1st to 3rd in any Open test in Ireland are eligible to compete.

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From Peter Smith

Photography by David Hudson

The IGL Retriever Championship 2013 There is always a great feeling of excitement and apprehension as one aproaches another IGL Championship, and this year was no exception. The venue was Lauder in the Scottish Borders, and the ground had been prepared to perfection by our hosts Wilson Young Snr, Wilson Young Jnr and Eskdale Shooting Services. The judges represented the four home nations with Guy Bennett (England), Mark Bettinson (Wales), John Castle (Scotland), and Nigel Carville (Ireland).The Championship was generously sponsored by Skinner’s, and there were 54 competitors, all Labradors except for two Golden Retrievers, and there were 30 dogs and 24 bitches. The Irish representation was unusually high this year and the following had qualified to run: Aidan Carr lab b Mizzen Milly, Nigel Carville lab d Waysgreen Apollo, Lorenzo Hynes lab d Ir Ftch Trumpetaker Ash, Alan Leonard lab b Baronstown Angel, Billy Lundy lab b Int Ftch The Newcam Boss, Gary McCutcheon lab b Ftch Altiquin Rain of Camgart, Damien Newman lab d Astraglen Trigger of Fendawood, Sean Nolan lab d Tweedshot Trimble of Lettergreen, Nigel Carville did not run because he was judging. Aidan Carr and Sean Nolan chose not to compete. The first morning, November 25th, dawned bright but frosty and there was the usual excited chatter as everyone assembled at the meet on Lylestane Estate. Part of the joy of attending these events is the renewal of old acquaintances and the wonderful camaraderie that exists between serious trial folk. Speeches, video clips and registration over we made our way to an innocuous looking strip of game crop (turnip and kale), which measured approx. 250 metres by 120 metres. Well-stopped and under shot, this strip held an enormous number of birds, sufficient for the judges, Mark Bettinson and Nigel Carville on the right and John Castle and Guy Bennett on the left, to complete the first round of two retrieves for all 54 competitors. The holding power of such a crop never ceases to amaze at these Championships, as, even after shots, subsequent retrieves, Judge’s deliberations, and the disturbance of competitors moving up and down the line, once reassembled we only moved a matter of metres before fresh birds flushed and competition resumed. These conditions proved problematic for some competitors, particularly the Irish, but those dogs accustomed to such hotbeds of scent and distraction The winner: Leigh Jackson and FTCh Ellijas Danny. 50

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life




3 1. Sally Richardson makes her way through the frosty cover with golden retriever FTCh Castlemans Mkussi. 2. Mr P Dixon’s Waysgreen Barracuda retrieving a cock pheasant. 3. Winner Leigh Jackson receiving a hen pheasant with Judge Mark Bettinson ready to take it from him. 4. Judges Nigel Carville, Mark Bettinson, Guy Bennett and John Castle. 5. Pheasants over the line at the drive on the final day. 6. Judge John Castle sums up the trial in front of the winners, Judges and officials.


6 Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


soon proved their worth and started to fill the game bag. Among those to shine early were Sandra Halstead with Drakeshead Vodka, Leigh Jackson with Ellijas Danny and last year’s winner David Latham with Delfleet Neon of Fendawood, who was given two very difficult blinds into a sea of kale, heaving with scent from departing birds. The judges did their work with ruthless efficiency, as one would expect at the Championship, and picked a bird, shot and marked 30 metres in front, which three dogs, all FTChs, had failed to locate. Still in our initial strip of game cover the first round was completed at 2.45pm, and we moved to slightly higher ground of small trees and white grass. Again game was plentiful, but marking was made difficult by the height of the cover. But as usual, the good coped and the inferior quickly eliminated themselves. At stumps on the first day 25 dogs remained in contention, and only Lorenzo Hynes and Damien Newman of the Irish had managed to retrieve a bird.

The Irish challenge fades Day two was damp and cold, especially as we gained height at the meet at Tollishill Estate where initially the cover was again turnip and kale. Scenting conditions initially proved difficult but eased as the day progressed. Very good work was seen from Nathan Laffy with Abbotsleigh Emu, and Mike Tallamy with Garrathall Quinn of Bridlebay. Also demonstrating good marking skills and the ability to hold a tight area were Billy Steele Jnr with Leadburn Mist. The lady handlers were also well in contention with Laura Hill and Stauntonvale Fastnet and Kirsty Cousins with Jagdens Gander (owned and part qualified by Tess Lawrence) still to the fore with no obvious detrimental work. Birds throughout this second day were spectacularly presented, the shooting being of the highest order especially when pheasants were driven off the high hill. Having concluded the fourth 52

round in some gathering rain, the judges called a halt and 14 dogs remained having completed five retrieves each. The Irish challenge for honours at this stage had ended with Lorenzo Hynes being eliminated on his third retrieve, Damien Newman on his fourth.

Back in the cover Day three saw us back in the cover at Lylestane on a bright day with a breeze which augured well for scent. Cross retrieving was now the order of the day and quickly the dogs were tested and we had some high profile casualties with Jane Coley and Waterford Ganton , and Billy Steele Snr with Copperbirch Paddy of Leadburn being eliminated. After the completion of round five the judges moved out of the game crop for a final drive. Nine dogs were lined up at the top of a hill about 120 metres from birds which were shot as a small copse produced enough birds, scattered over a 100 metre arc, to allow for two retrieves for each of the remaining dogs. Straightforward it may have seemed, but the judges call for specific birds to be picked by each dog caused final drama. Keith Bedford and Rayteens Cruise were eliminated for blinking, an inconsolable Kirsty Cousins and Jagdens Gander fell for picking the

wrong bird, and in a final ironic twist on the very last retrieve of the Championship, Laura Hill and Stauntonvale Fastnet were put out for switching. Six remained out of 54 at 11.00am on the third day, but it was a close run thing, and there were many permutations to consider before the results were announced after a suitably polished and amusing speech from Chairman of the IGL, Richard Parker.

Results The host, and Chairman of The Kennel Club Field Trial Committee Wilson Young Snr announced the results as follows: 1st Leigh Jackson lab d FTCh Ellijas Danny 2nd Nathan Laffy lab b FTCh Abbotsleigh Emu 3rd Sandra Halstead lab d FTCh Drakeshead Vodka 4th Richard King lab d FTCh Saxaphone Brown Ale of Lincswolds Diplomas of Merit David Latham lab d FTCh Delfleet Neon of Fedawood Billy Steele Jnr lab d FTCh Leadburn Mist This was a very fine Championship superbly orchestrated by Phil Wainwright and his team at the IGL. Great ground, superb shooting, and excellent dog work with a worthy winner. Windsor 2014 – bring it on!

Award winners: Sandra Halstead, Leigh Jackson, Nathan Laffy, Richard King, David Latham and Billy Steel.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life



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From David Hudson

The Cocker Spaniel Championship 2014 Judges Andrew Cunningham and Steve Bolton with Ian Openshaw.

Hot on the heels of the English Springer Championship at Comrie, came the Cocker Spaniel Championship held on the Duke of Buccleuch’s Queensberry Estate near Dumfries. Drumlanrig Castle was the meeting place for the trial and there can be few better spots for such an event: ample parking, first class facilities and some superb woodlands that had been left undisturbed for the whole season specifically for the championship. A record field of 40 cockers were running in the trial with a further couple that had qualified but were not competing. Chairman of the Kennel Club Cocker Spaniel Championship Working Party Jon Kean welcomed everyone to the trial and introduced the Judges: Steve Bolton, Andrew Cunningham, David Rayner and Steve Russell before we all set off in a long convoy to the beat for the first day, a mile or so from the castle. Getting everyone organised took some time, but with the weather wet and the day overcast Head Keeper Rab Clark was content for the pheasants to have time to settle before the first dogs were set off to run. The first few yards of the wood consisted mainly of rhododendron bushes and an initial flush of pheasants took to the air almost at once scattering to all four points of the compass. Once past the bushes though the cover was more suited to dog work and the cockers settled down to hunting through undergrowth that varied from sparse to thick, with windblown trees offering a bit of shelter from the drizzle and rain and proving particularly likely to harbour a pheasant or two. Because of the way the cover varied the line zigged and zagged through the wood in order to give the dogs the best chance of finding game. There was no lack of pheasants and Head Keeper Rab Clark and his fellow Guns quietly 54

advised the runners and Judges of the best route to take in order to find them. The birds tended to sit quite tightly in the wet requiring the dogs to make good every inch of cover to ensure that game wasn’t left behind. One fallen tree produced four or five pheasants for two different dogs, with a retrieve in between, and even the smallest bit of bracken or bramble was often good for a bird or two. Rab Clark was shooting in the centre of the line, aided by Ray Casey, John Palmer, Bobby Renwick and Billy Steel Jnr and all five shot to a high standard. Walked up pheasants are not the most challenging of targets, but to shoot at a field trial in front of a gallery of a hundred or more spectators, runner and officials must add considerably to the pressure of shooting allied to the need to drop game cleanly and safely. There was the occasional woodcock for variety and a single rabbit but it was pheasants that made up the bulk of the bag throughout the trial.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Head on and flat out Despite the wet, the cockers set about their work with all the drive, bustle and enthusiasm that characterises this tough little breed. There were some patches of bramble but much of the cover on this first day was bracken and scrub interspersed with the odd pile of brashings and the trunks and tops of windblown trees. Most of the dog work was thus on view as the 33 bitches and 7 dogs went about their task in typical cocker fashion: head-on and flat-out. Discipline though was generally excellent and, by the time the first round was completed in the gloom of late afternoon, there were still 26 of the original 40 runners in contention. The second day promised to be a little brighter and a lot drier than the first but sadly was not to last very long. Almost as soon as the trial had started it was brought to a stop with the news that one of the spectators had collapsed. A doctor

1. Will Clulee with FTCh Poolgreen Farlow Ben. 2. FTCh Winhocklin Single Star of Tiptopjack in calmer mood. 3. Judge Steve Bolton and Wendy Openshaw. 4. FTCh Trochry Ceili Mor of Howesyke retrieves a pheasant to Jamie Luxford. 5. FTCh Trochry Ceili Mor of Howesyke. 6. The Guns on the final day were Billy Steel Jnr, Russell Cano, Rab Clark, David Lissett and John Bailey. 7. Ready for the run off: Ian English, Ian Openshaw and Will Clulee.


8. Judges : David Rayner, Steve Russell, Steve Bolton and Andrew Cunningham.







8 Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


and two nurses from the gallery were quickly on hand to render assistance and a local ambulance was soon in attendance backed up by a helicopter from the Scottish Air Ambulance Service but despite everyone’s efforts they were unable to resuscitate the unfortunate gentleman. Under the circumstances it would have been unthinkable to continue with the trial and a sad and subdued field made their way back to the castle where the organisers, Judges, estate staff and the Duke of Buccleuch himself considered the options that were available to them. Jon Kean called for a minute’s silence and expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased, then gave us the news that it had been decided that the trial would recommence the following morning. This was obviously going to involve a great deal of reorganising on the part of both the trialers and the Queensberry Estate, who were hosting a driven shoot the next day, but to everyone’s great credit the event was able to continue on the Friday morning with practically the whole field in attendance. Rab Clark and Billy Steel Jnr were shooting again, this time with David Lissett, John Bailey and John Cano drafted in to make up the team. We were once again on keeper Keith Cottle’s Laird’s Rigg beat, starting out along a steep bank where a wood had been clearfelled and replanted with young larch trees.

throughout a long and entertaining morning. By the time the last dog had run it was past midday and the Judges held a long conference before calling back three dogs to run off for the top honours. The run off was by no means a token affair and all three runners: Ian Openshaw with FTCh Brookfurlong of Tiptopjack; Ian English with Broadmeafarm Beau and Will Clulee with FTCh Rowston Snooty managed a clean run leaving the Judges to make up their minds as to who was first, second and third before we all returned to the castle for lunch and the awards ceremony. This began with a special prize for picker up Cammy Watts for ‘The Best Retrieve by a Labrador at the Cocker Spaniel Championship’: an honour he will not be allowed to forget in a hurry. Then it was down to the serious business and Kennel Club Chairman Professor Steve Dean presented the prizes.

Prizegiving and results First place went to Nigel Partiss’s FTCh Brookfurlong of Tiptopjack handled by Ian Openshaw. Runner up was Ian English with Broadmeafarm Beau and third and fourth spots went to Will Clulee with FTCh Rowston Snooty and Wendy Openshaw with FTCh Tiptopjack Sixpence respectively. There were also 13 Diplomas of Merit: Carl Colclough handling Mr H Kirby’s Chyknell Eagle, Nick Gregory’s FTCh Tudorbriar Moonstar, Andy Skinner’s

Glenugie’s Heather of Murrayeden, Richard Preest’s FTCh Centrewalk Moonshell, Nick Thomas’s FTCh Jess of Misty Valley, Ron James’s Rowston Spikey Aderyngi, Ben Randall’s FTCh Heolybwich Fatty, Ian Openshaw handling Nigel Partiss’s Mallowdale Music of Tiptopjack, Nick Gregory handling Mr O Philips’s FTCh Voodoo Black Widow, Ian Openshaw handling Nigel Partiss’s FTCh Winhocklin Single Star of Tiptopjack, Jason Atkinson’s Naxshivan’s Honesty, Jeremy Davies’s FTCh Nantsannan Calpurnia of Dolbrenin, Wendy Openshaw’s Chyknell Dove. Steve Bolton came forward to speak on behalf of the Judges and thanked everyone involved, especially the Drumlanrig staff, the organising committee and Rab Clark and his keepers for all their efforts over the three days. Of the trial he said that they had enjoyed watching some super dogs. Some had slipped up after doing great work; others had impressed under one set of Judges only to do less well under the others, Overall though, despite testing ground and some hard retrieves the little dogs had handled it fantastically. There is no doubt that we had been treated to some first class dog work over the three days that the trial ran and while the sad events of Thursday cast an inevitable cloud over the proceedings this was a Cocker Championship to remember for all the right reasons as well.

Harder going than the first day The going here was a lot harder than on the first day with thick brambles to test the dogs’ courage and to snag the legs of the handlers, Guns and Judges. At times simply walking through the briars and over the branches and ditches was difficult for humans but the cockers made light of the it all, battering their way through with every sign of enjoyment. Again, there was plenty of game for those dogs that were prepared to work for it and the shooting was first class. Retrieving those big cock pheasants in places where the little dogs literally had to force them through the brambles called for strength and courage and I saw no lack of it 56

Handler Ian Openshaw, owner Nigel Partiss holding FTCh Brookfurlong of Tiptopjack with Wendy Openshaw.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life



From David Hudson

The English Springer Spaniel Championship 2014 It takes a tremendous amount of work to organise an event such as the English Springer Spaniel Championship. Firstly there must be sufficient ground to test a field of fifty plus dogs over three days and enough — but not too much — game on the ground. There is all the personnel to arrange from Judges and stewards to Guns and game carriers. There must be car parking for a crowd that will probably number several hundreds, toilet facilities, refreshments for the spectators, public address systems, transport, programmes, sponsors, lunches for the competitors, judges, keepers and stewards plus all the small details such as armbands identifying competitors, the press, the sponsors and others with responsibilities in the field. When the championship is scheduled to take place in the Scottish Highlands in the middle of January there must be a nagging doubt that bad weather could jeopardise the whole thing, but luck was with the organising committee and conditions were almost perfect. The trial was held on the Enggaard family’s lovely Dunira Estate near Comrie in Perthshire from January 9th to 11th 2014. We met on all three days a few miles north of Comrie on the Kingarth beat where a thousand or so acres of undulating ground had been deer-fenced in order to let the cover grow up sufficiently to hold game for rough shooting. The beat was rocky and uneven, covered in white grass, bracken, rushes, a few stands of young trees and a number of little ponds. There were the remains of several old tumbledown crofters cottages scattered about and a line of scrubby trees marking the course of the little river in

the bottom of the valley. In order to ensure the best possible conditions for the trial the ground had not been shot during the past season and Head Keeper Doug Stewart was rightly confident that there would be ample game for the competitors. The first day was bright and cold with a skim of ice on the road as we walked from the meet to where the trial was to begin. The Judges: Jim Clark, Bill Leonard, Simon Tyers and Garry Veasey split into pairs; the Guns John Bailey, Richard Claydon, Matt Armstrong, James Grainger and Martin O’Riordan spread across the line, the first two dogs were set off in front of

Andrew Cunningham with Kilhopemoss Minder. 58

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

big gallery and almost at once the first pheasant took to the wing and was promptly dropped into the rushes for the first retrieve. There were 54 runners in the championship: 22 dogs and 32 bitches, but this bias towards the ladies did not extend to the other end of the lead with only three female handlers taking part. This was a very full card for the Judges and with the standard of work being extremely high there were few runs cut short by dogs misbehaving. Not everything was perfect of course: several dogs were lost when they moved as a bird was flushed and there was an occasional eye-wipe but in general it was a real pleasure to watch a series of really good dogs doing their stuff in front of the gallery. The Guns shot well throughout the three days and it was rare for a dog to work hard to get a pheasant on the wing only to see it escape unscathed. Despite the number and quality of the runners the Judges made excellent progress through the card and by the time the light was staring to fade in the late afternoon 51 of the 54 entries had been seen and the Guns had accounted for 69 pheasants, 3 woodcock and 2 ducks. Spaniel Club Chairman Anne



4 3

6 5 1. Cock pheasant retrieved by Aidan Patterson’s FTCh Buccleuch Dawn by Freecrow. 2. Alec Coutts’s FTCh Wyndhill Brett of Stagsden retrieving a cock pheasant. 3. Peter Avery’s Moonreed Bandit delivers a woodcock. 4. Judges Jim Clark, Garry Veasey, Bill Leonard and Simon Tyers. 5. The Guns were John Bailey, Richard Claydon, Martin O’Riordan, Matt Armstrong and James Grainger. 6. Runner-up FTCh Broomfield Annie retrieving a hen pheasant 7. Gallery third day.

7 Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Greeves announced that 31 dogs would be required for the second day: 28 that had successfully completed the first round plus the 3 that had not yet been down in front of the Judges.

Slightly thicker cover with more bracken The next morning was overcast with a feel of rain in the air that never amounted to much more than a drizzle while the trial was in progress. The cover today was slighter thicker with more bracken to encourage the pheasants to sit tightly and the numerous little rocky hillocks that sometimes made it hard for the gallery to follow all the action. Progress through the card was quite rapid with a few dogs spoiling good work by moving to flush or shot, or failing on a retrieve. We stopped for an early lunch with 16 of the 31 runners still to be seen, the Judges announced that the trial was over for the day, and we then had a long walk back to the vehicles just as the rain began to fall in earnest. There had been a light fall of snow overnight and the final day began with a sharp frost that made the single track road out to the meet at Easter Ballindalloch somewhat tricky both driving in and then walking out to the beat. Proceedings were quickly under way with the early dogs running through quite boggy ground where game was at times quite hard to find giving the early runners plenty of opportunity to show how well they could hunt. Though at times they had to work hard for it there was game for every dog and with the Guns maintaining their excellent form of the first two days a bird found and flushed nearly always resulted in the chance of a retrieve. Of the 5 Irish competitors 2 had made it through from the first round: Aidan Patterson’s FTCh Buccleuch Down by Freecrow and Willy Edgar’s Int FTCh McGwyn Dealus and both performed well. I was particularly impressed with Aidan Patterson’s run in the first round but was unable to see 60

enough of his second round run to see why he was not to feature in the awards later. With two dogs running simultaneously it is inevitable that spectators and the press will not be able to see everything that happens in a spaniel trial, though as events at the very end proved, sometimes the gallery can see more than those who are right in the line.

The run off The second round had been completed and the Judges called two dogs back to run off for the top honours: Andy Bennett’s dog FTCh Helsmway Heath and Eddie Scott’s bitch FTCh Broomfield Annie. They started off on a flat area of grass and rushes and the bitch quickly flushed a cock pheasant that was shot and fell into some long rushes thirty yards ahead of the line. As she went for the retrieve the gallery, standing on a low hill perhaps thirty feet above the Judges, could clearly see the pheasant running, but at ground level the bird would have been hidden by the rushes. Annie emerged from the rushes and took the line but was distracted by a fresh pheasant that flushed as she tracked the runner. She sat to the flush and was then called back to the fall where she was obviously unable to find the bird. Helmsway Heath was then sent forward but crucially was also asked to hunt the area where the cock had been seen to fall and when he too was inevitably unsuccessful the Judges

went forward to conduct their own search. With no pheasant to find the bird was discounted and after a few more casts the trial was over. We made our way back to the meet and lunch after which the results were announced.

Results The winner was Andy Bennett with FTCh Helmsway Heath while second place went to Eddie Scott with FTCh Broomfield Annie: a result that might possibly have been reversed had Annie been allowed to follow the line of that running pheasant. Third and fourth places went to Richard Wells’s FTCh Downslee Domino and Ian English’s FTCh Helmsway Hope and there were seven Diplomas of Merit for: David Lissett handling the Duke of Buccleuch’s FTCh Buccleuch Jazz, Eddie Scott’s FTCh Broomfield Rosetta, Ian Openshaw’s FTCh Hollydrive Kurt, Willie Edgar’s Int FTCh McGwyn Dealus, Jim O’Neill’s FTCh Wyndhill Lena, Peter Avery’s Moonreed Bandit and Tom Phillips’s FTCh Cowarnecourt Gaffer of Edgegrove. We had enjoyed three great days of top quality spaniel work amidst beautiful Highland scenery. Head Keeper Doug Stewart and his staff went to tremendous lengths to ensure that the trial was a success, and Chief Steward Paddy Morley and Stuart Waugh in charge of the line always tried to ensure that the gallery could see as much of the action as possible without compromising the work of the dogs.

Winner Andy Bennett and FTCh Helmsway Heath.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

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By Linda Mellor

Sporting friendships and the year ahead The shooting season came to an end so quickly; it seems like only yesterday when I was out shooting grouse in the warm August sunshine in the Scottish Highlands. Without doubt it was one of my best shooting seasons to date, I enjoyed many varied sporting days in Scotland and further afield. We have not had any challenging weather like snow to hamper the season. The birds thrived and provided good sport. January was full of activity; the last week was very busy on pheasant shoots as a photographer and a Gun. I also enjoyed a morning on a farm in Auchterarder with James Kirkcaldy, of JK Country Sports and his guests shooting geese. We spent a number of hours huddled in hides in the pouring

rain waiting for the geese, we chatted, we laughed and a couple of geese were shot. My day with a shooting syndicate on Haltree Farm, Heriot, south of Edinburgh, really stood out though. The syndicate has 11 full Guns and two half Guns and shoot over 1,000 acres. Scott

Taking a shot as the geese show up.


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Thomson runs the shoot with the help of his wife Melanie and 16 year old daughter, Rebecca, who has been beating since she was 9 years old. Melanie is a top clay shooter and shoots for Scotland and she certainly showed the boys how to bring down the high flying pheasants! It was a cold day

Shooting partridge: note the shot pattern.

with an icy wind and intermittent sleet, but it didn’t dampen the fun and the laughter. Scott and his small team of beaters presented great birds on each of the six scenic drives. We shot through then sat down to a delicious four course meal in the bothy, prepared by Melanie. It was a heart-warming feeling driving home having shared a highly enjoyable day in the company of good friends and I look forward to shooting with them next season. I think friendships and laughter are two of the many reasons we look forward to our shooting dates. Sometimes you don’t see one another outside the shooting season but you always look forward to the next time you shoot together, because you know it will be a fun filled day. At my local shoot on the Balbirnie Estate, I always look forward to November when a small group of shooters come over from Northern Ireland to enjoy two day’s shooting. Seasoned shooter Michael Henry says friendship and trust go together: “Friendships built up over many years ensure a degree of trust which greatly lessens the chance of disappointment. Scotland also has a lot to offer in terms of opportunities not generally available in Ireland in regard to grouse, goose and

Melanie Thomson going for high birds.

Seasoned shooter Michael Henry. Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Game Fairs offer ideal opportunities to catch up with friends.

Phil Coley.

Iain MacGregor checking for eye dominance with students. 64

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

even pigeon shooting. Having established that trust and rapport with your host, there is less to worry about and you can get on and enjoy your days away. I find you know you are winning when the conversation takes on where it left off the year before!” Michael told me his first year shooting in Scotland was 1976 and it cost him £56 for a week’s shooting and accommodation. It won’t be long before daylight extends and the countryside springs to life. The springtime light is great for me getting out on a few local roe doe stalks and perhaps a hind on the hills in Perthshire. The available light is something we photographers watch with great interest, as it can turn a normal scene into a something rather magical. You could be out fishing when the sun lights up the river like a mirror, or out stalking when the sun appears and bathes the landscape in fiery oranges and pinks. I find it very uplifting to be out at dawn; it is an incredible sensation when the sun appears over the horizon and you experience a change in temperature; it takes me back deep into the past when ancient hunters lived of the land and worshipped the seasons. The warmer months also signal the start of the game fair season and I hope we have a repeat of last year’s warm dry weather. I enjoy driving around the UK to attend the game fairs as there is always so much to see and do but, for me, one of the most enjoyable parts of my travels is catching up with friends and meeting new ones. I love the social side of fieldsports and many of us use social media like Facebook and Twitter to stay in contact - but you can’t beat a game fair for proper face to face networking opportunities, not to mention a good excuse to spend some money! This year I hope to be booking a ferry ticket for a trip across to Shane’s Castle for the Irish Game Fair in June. Shooting is going to play an even bigger part in my life throughout 2014 and, hopefully, beyond. I started shooting clays last year and became interested in trap shooting.

As a photographer and writer I felt it was important to document my progress and share my experiences. So, in January, I created a Facebook page (the Diary of a Lady Trap Shooter) when I started my journey into trap shooting. Each week I go to Auchterhouse Country Sports, a few miles NW of Dundee, to shoot. I am being coached by Iain MacGregor, a Commonwealth games coach with a considerable pedigree in shotgun coaching. Iain coaches game and clay shooters and is a regular deer stalker, last year he shot a gold medal feral goat in Ireland. Working with Iain is enjoyable and very interesting; it is exciting learning a new skill and I enjoy the challenges each session brings. At this time of year, one of the biggest challenges to shooting clays is the cold temperatures and staying warm, so after each session we have our debrief in the Clubhouse close to the fire with a mug of hot tea. Each week I update my Facebook page ‘The diary of a Lady Trap Shooter’ with my

progress. In March I will be working on the mental skills for trap shooting with Phil Coley of Clay Shooting Success. Phil Coley works with many clay shooters, beginners through to International shots and is able to concentrate on the mental skills side to help improve your shooting. My 2014 started on a fine sporting note and looking at my diary it is set to continue, not only as a photographer and writer, but also as a shooter. I look forward to each step of my trap shooting journey and I also intend to get to grips with a rifle. I have had numerous invitations to shoot during

this coming year; one of the most northerly invites is to shoot geese on Orkney. During the game fair season I hope to catch up with old friends and make some new ones over the forthcoming months. The first game fair date in my diary is the Deer Stalking Fair in Kelso; this will be the fair’s second year and they plan on building on the huge success of the first year. If you are a keen stalker this dedicated fair is highly recommended. If you are planning a trip over to Scotland to visit the fair or any others, do get in contact with me to say hello.

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From Margaret McStay

with photographs by Deirdre McCoy

Dog Show Reports Dessie Mackin’s Christmas Dog Show Saturday 22nd December Halls Mill Inn is a beautiful ‘old world’ pub which sits off the main road between Gilford and Banbridge. This was the venue for Dessie Mackin’s annual Christmas Dog show. Although there was not much Christmas cheer in the weather, the heavy rain and wind did not dampen the spirits of the good men and women of the canine world. And what a day of festivities that was with a large turnout and support for this event. From mid morning cars, vans, and trailers were arriving, all loaded up with their prized Lurchers, Terriers, and Whippets. People like Damien Kelly, Damien Kelly Junior, Owen Barnes and Alan Coyne all travelled from Dublin to the show. This day out was a welcome break from the trials and tribulations of Christmas shopping, and all the razzmatazz that goes with the festive season. Dessie’s Christmas show brings cheer in abundance and helps us leave our cares behind. Results: Champion Puppy Tracy Gill with Scarlett Champion Whippet Kirsty Fyffe and

Albert Titterington presents Dessie with a Barbour Tweed Shooting Suit for winning Supreme Champion at the 26th All Ireland Terrier, Whippet and Lurcher Championships at the Irish Game Fair Shanes Castle.

Ricky Mc Elwaine with Oliie Champion Lurcher Mickey Quinn with Lady Champion Terrier Damien Kelly with Sheldon Champion Strong Dog Tom Barry with Tyson Overall Show Champion of Champions Mickey Quinn with Lady Congratulations to Mickey, Lady is one lovely dog, and may she go on to win many more shows and game fairs and congratulations to all the other winners.

Lurcher Judge Glen Doherty with Mickey Quinn who won Champion Lurcher and overall Champion with Lady. 66

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Dessie always has surprise presentations up his sleeve on Christmas show day, and this year was no exception. The first on Dessie’s list was Field Sports Personality 2013. As I was the first recipient of this accolade in 2012, I had the privilege of relinquishing my crown in 2013 to a well deserved winner Mrs Janet Duke. Janet received a beautiful Christmas Hamper as her prize, so well done Janet. The second accolade went to myself for my contribution to country sports,

Whippet Judge Chontelle Mcmeekin with Overall Whippet Winner Kirsty Fyffe and Ricky McElwaine with Ollie.

shows and game fairs up and down the country in my write-ups, show advertisements, and generally helping shows and game fairs by providing show information on the Hunting Life, Facebook, and Irish Country Sports and Country Life Magazine. I received a very large bottle of Champagne and thanks to Dessie for that. The third accolade went to ‘Bluebell’ Deirdre Mc Coy for her beautiful photographs of our shows and game fairs during the year. Deidre, your show photographs gives all show goers such pleasure, seeing our photographs on screen with our winning prized canine friends. Deirdre is not only a good photographer, but also a very good friend and another well deserved bottle of Champagne went to the McCoy household. The biggest and final accolade of the day went to none other than Dessie Mackin himself. Dessie won the Overall Champion of Champions at the Irish Game and Country Fair, Shanes Castle 2013 with his Champion winning Terrier Soda. What a win that was! Part of Dessie’s prize was a beautiful Country Sports Barbour Shooting suit to the value of £400 and Albert Titterington, Director of the Great Game Fairs of Ireland and his wife Irene were on hand at Halls Mills Christmas show to make the presentation. Congratulations Dessie on your big win, and also thanks to Albert and Irene Titterington for joining in the festive cheer and making the presentation to Dessie.

Barry Hollands 32 Counties Raceday Sunday 29th December The rain was pouring down and the wind was icy cold as we arrived at Artigarvan for the 32 Counties Champion of Champions race day on Sunday 29th December. But the weather and the cold could not get in the way of a great day’s enjoyment and fresh air, after all the food and beverages over Christmas. There was a good crowd of Canine men and women in attendance, despite the adverse

weather conditions, with their winning Whippets and Lurchers strolling alongside their charges. The racing started at approximately 1.30pm. Some great and worthy winners at this race day. You could see the pride on John Humphries’ face, when his canine babies won the unders and overs - his beautiful dogs China and Rebel. This was a lovely end to a brilliant year for John and his winning dogs. Charlene Rafferty won the Whippets with her prize Whippet Lush. Charlene’s face lit up when the lovely Lush passed the winning post. Jed Donagh went home to Drogheda with

an armful of trophies, as did Stephen Dummigan and Mickey Quinn from Lurgan. What a showing and racing year these three men have had with their prized Canine friends! Congratulations to all the winners of the 32 Counties race day. And finally, a big thank you to Barry Holland and your two daughters, Joe Boggs, and the NILRC for a great days racing in terrible weather conditions. Barry’s mother, Mrs Holland was there on site, keeping everybody warm with her hot soup, tea and coffee. A great day’s racing was had by all, and I look forward to more of the same in 2014.

A Tribute To Collette Gannon 17/01/1973 – 20/11/2013 he people of Ballymartin and the wider community came to a standstill when this small community lost one of its most loved and popular ladies. Deep shock and sadness swept quickly in when the news broke of the untimely passing on Wednesday 20th November 2013 of their esteemed neighbour, mother, partner and friend Collette Gannon. Born on the 17th January 1973 in Brackney at the foot of Big Binnian on the Mournes to parents John and Roisin Gannon, Collette’s schooldays were spent at St Joseph’s Primary School Ballymartin and St Columban’s College, Kilkeel. Collette was one of the most loving, kind people that this community and further afield had the privilege of knowing. She always had a smile and time for a chat with everyone she came in contact with. Nothing was ever too much trouble, always putting others first and her caring and gentleness shone through her like a beacon of love. Along with her partner Kieran, and daughters Alex and Joanne, Collette’s other love was her dog shows and the canine world and with Kieran, Alex and Joanne by her side, they formed the now famous Stonemartin Dog Kennels. Collette was a very active lady: she was a member of Ballymartin Band, served on the committee of St.


The late Collette Gannon.

Joseph’s Primary School and was treasurer of the Mourne Lurcher and Terrier Club. Her contribution to country sports knew no bounds and Collette was one of the most selfless people we could have known and we have been enriched by knowing her. Collette was brought to her place of rest on Saturday 23rd November 2013 in nearby Ballymartin Churchyard. There was a very large crowd in attendance and if Ballymartin community had been a screenplay on that cold winters day, Collette would certainly have been its leading lady. A huge void has been left in the Young and Gannon household, where Collette will be sadly missed as the devoted partner of Kieran, and a loving mother to daughters Alex and Joanne. ‘Happy were the Precious years In the Canine world, we all spent together Lovely are the memories They will stay with us forever.’

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Terrier, Lurcher & Whippet Shows and Racing – all Champions qualify for the New Whippet, Lurcher, Terrier & Pup of the Year competition at the Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival Saturday 27th September. Date

Event Organisers



15th March Race Day Des Mackin /Tom Barry


Master McGrath at Shanes Castle

30th March Baltinglass Lurcher, Terrier & Whippet Show/Raceday

Baltinglass County Wicklow

Qualifiers for Five Nations Terrier/Lurcher Ch at Birr Castle and the Master McGrath at Shanes Castle. Also a Five Nations Whippet Ch qualifier at Shanes Castle.

12th April

N Greer The Field of Deams Gulladuff, Schooling Track Maghera, Co Derry


13th April

N Greer The Field of Deams Gulladuff, Schooling Track Maghera, Co Derry


27th April

The Sporting Whippet Club NI Dunsilly, Co Antrim

3rd May

Des Mackin

4th May

Rockview Harriers Annual Sevenhouses Hound, Lurcher and Working Coursing Ground Terrier Show Danesfort

10th May

The Mourne Show, show grounds, will be the venue Mourne, for the IWP/NEBR Weightpull Ballymartin and Bulldog show – Also Lurcher Racing both days


Master McGrath Qualifiers

11th May

Mourne Lurcher, Terrier and Whippet Show & Lurcher Racing.

Mourne, Ballymartin

Qualifiers for Five Nations Terrier/Lurcher Ch at Birr Castle and the Master McGrath at Shanes Castle. Also a Five Nations Whippet Ch qualifier at Shanes Castle and Digging Championships.

18th May

The Sporting Whippet Club NI

Dunsilly, Co Antrim

25th May

Breandan Colemans Show. Also on the day there will be a heavily contested digging Armagh competition with a prize Breandan is putting up himself.

25th May

Florencecourt Dog Show Ian Greer

Co Fermanagh

31st May

NI Countryside Festival

Moira, Co Down

1st June

Minerock Harriers Hunt Club Wexford (Matt Slevin)

Qualifiers for Five Nations Terrier/Lurcher Ch at Birr Castle. Also a Five Nations Whippet Ch qualifier at Shanes Castle

7th June

Fiona Devlin’s Show, all proceeds to Yellow Ribbon Charity

Qualifiers for Five Nations Terrier/Lurcher Ch at Birr Castle and the Master McGrath at Shanes Castle. Also a Five Nations Whippet Ch qualifier at Shanes Castle

15th June

Shannagh Working Terrier, Lurcher, and Whippet Dog Show – Paddy Gilmore


Qualifiers for Five Nations Terrier/Lurcher Ch at Birr Castle. Also a Five Nations Whippet Ch qualifier at Shanes Castle and the Master McGrath Racing Championships and Digging Championships.

22nd June

Sporting Whippet Club NI


Final qualifier for the Five Nations Whippet Championships at the Irish Game Fair Shanes Castle

This show will be qualifier for the Master McGrath. Over and Under 23" with a money prize for both. This show is a qualifier for the Five Nations for Terriers, Lurchers and Whippet with a money prize for best in show.

Terrier, Lurcher & Whippet Shows and Racing – all Champions qualify for the New Whippet, Lurcher, Terrier & Pup of the Year competition. Date 28th June

Event Organisers



Irish Game & Country fair 27th All Ireland Championships – organiser Kieran Young

Shanes Castle, Antrim

Master McGrath Final and the All Ireland Championship Racing Five nations Whippet Championship Final. All Ireland Championships Showing Championships. Qualifiers for the Five Nations Terrier & Lurcher Championships at Birr Castle.

29th June

Irish Game & Country fair 27th All Ireland Championships

Shanes Castle, Antrim

6th July

Man O War Dog Show


20th July

Sporting Whippet Club NI

Dunsilly, Co Antrim

20th July

The Westmeath Working Terrier Club Proceeds to IWTF

Moate Qualifiers for the Five Nations Terrier & Lurcher Co.Westmeath Championships at Birr Castle & Digging Kevin M,Pat Lynam Championships

27th July

Tom Barrys Show

Flapping Track, Feaghbridge, Coalisland

Qualifiers for the Five Nations Terrier & Lurcher Championships at Birr Castle

27th July

Kilkenny Foxhounds Hound, Terrier & Lurcher Show

The Kennels Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny

Qualifiers for the Five Nations Terrier & Lurcher Championships & digging championships at Birr Castle Fair

2nd Aug

Tullylish Working Terrier Club Tullylish Show

3rd Aug

The North West Terrier Lurcher and Whippet Club

Killynaght Rd, Artigarvan Strabane Co. Tyrone

10th Aug

Sporting Whippet Club NI

Dunsilly, Co Antrim

17th Aug

Barrontop Dog Show and Raceday Barrontop Fun Fair

Donemana Strabane Co Tyrone

23rd August Dessie Mackin

Dog Show only at Halls Mills Pub Lawrenctown

23rd Aug

Birr Castle Game Fair, Co Offaly

ROI Racing Championships organised by Roscrea Working Dog Club

24th August ROI Terrier, Whippet & Lurcher Championships & Five Nations Lurcher & Terrier Championships.

Birr Castle Game Fair,Co Offaly

14th Sept

The Sporting Whippet Club

NI, Dunsilly, Co Antrim

27th Sept

Lurcher of the Year Whippet of the Year Terrier of the Year & Working Pup of the Year Ballynahinch,

Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival, Montalto Estate, Co Down

Qualifiers for the Five Nations Terrier & Lurcher Championships at Birr Castle

This show will be the final Northern qualifier for the Five Nations Terrier/Lurcher Championships at Birr Castle on Sunday 24th August.

Final qualifier & Finals of Five Nations Terrier & Lurcher Championships

New Event from the Great Game Fairs of Ireland team. All Champions from all shows North & South qualify for this competition. Finals only no open show or racing this year.




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By Steven McGonigal

A fieldsports education I quietly undid the lock, slipped through the door and pulled it gently behind me. As the floorboards groaned beneath me, I walked carefully so as not to make too much noise. Little shafts of light pierced through here and there and I looked around quickly to find what I was after. I had to be quick: I daren't get caught now after getting so far. All I had to do was get what I wanted, get out and get away before anyone found me.

A photo of my father with a pike at the Pontoon Bridge in 2010.

As I searched around the familiar scent hung in the air and as it filled my nose it stirred my mind. Pipe tobacco mixed with waxed cotton, damp wellingtons and soil with a hint of freshly caught salmon on the finish. All the usual things sat in all the usual places. Shelves to my left and right were lined with old Golden Virginia tins, the insides of these lined with thick yellow sponge to protect the contents, the delicate bodies of very old 72

wooden Devon Minnows. I really liked these, I think the small torpedo shape, bright colours and painted eyes attracted my interest. Further along sat various other plastic hinged boxes which from the exterior looked drab and dull, but opening the same box would reveal a much starker contrast, with the bright orange tippets of Ally’s shrimps, striking yellows on Silver Wilkinsons, and the Teal on several Blue Charms. A Jock Scott sat among

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

them, with that mysterious little sprig of Jungle cock peering out from his left side. That was only the beginning; those were the big flies in big boxes. Hundreds more abounded in boxes the size of biscuit tins to the little chrome pocket sized cases that would easily slip into a pocket for a morning on the river, packed full of little black buzzers and nymphs. Then there were lures, cases and cases of them, many of which had

never even hit the water. Lined in their boxes were Toby spoons, Mepps and the famous Flying Cs in the various colours. These different lures in different types and colours, I was told worked better in different conditions, at least that was the justification for owning so many. In the corner sat several fishing rods, lines and hooks still attached. A large fold up landing net sat among the rods with water dripping from the mesh into a small puddle below, revealing that someone had made use of it, probably earlier that morning. In the other corner sat a large steel cupboard, which I had to open very carefully least I gave myself away and alerted someone to what I was up to. As I eased open the door, it creaked and groaned with age and wear and as the light spilled inside the contents appeared. Centre pin reels, split cane rods and spools of old lines among old leather cases and cloth slips. This was the vintage, ‘gran reserve’ collection. The reels, rods and lines looked like, if they could talk, they would tell great stories from days gone by. Looking at them you could almost reach out and touch some old hand on a bank somewhere, landing his fly ever so carefully on the water with that great relaxed concentration only a fly angler has. As I looked on the shelf on top of the cabinet, something just above my

Net pulling at the Point Beach in the 70s.

eye caught my attention, a short shaft of wood, with a large pirate looking hook on the end topped up with a wine bottle cork. A vicious looking article it was and I reached up, took it down and inspected with a cautious eye. I knew it as a gaff, and I knew the hook was covered because, not only was it a dangerous object to have in a shed frequented by young curious boys, but it wasn't ever used and was merely a showpiece in what had almost become an angling museum. I replaced it and looked towards the floor when the booty I was after caught my eye.

I had committed a serious crime as his worms were looked after more than anything

The WW2 DUKW was used for hauling fish to the shore.

There, a long flat tray covered with a damp hessian sack sat in the shade just to the side of the steel cupboard. I crouched down and peeled back the sack to reveal several inches of damp soil mixed with red brick dust. I put my hand into the middle and scooped a large handful of damp, gritty earth worms that snaked their way through my fingers. No ordinary worms were these. They were known as blackheads and were cut from a better cloth than the old lobworm or redhead worm. They were — and still are — the prized currency in my home district and the price to buy them from a digger increases year on year. That’s what I was in here for, and I had found them. This was my father’s shed, they were his worms and I was going fishing! What the reader won’t understand is that I had committed a serious crime. Being a fanatical salmon angler, his worms were looked after more than anything; they were kept in the best soil and brick dust to keep them tough. Not only that but they were fed sugar to fatten them and watered and checked daily. Digging a hundred or so worms is tough going, good spots are very hard to find and so a young boy coming along and filling a jam jar with them to ‘waste’ on the river was always frowned upon. Before leaving I worked my way through the tobacco tins, filling my

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


My father was also a fanatical salmon angler.

pockets with Devon Minnows, Toby Spoons and bait hooks to see me through the day on the bank. As quick as I was in the shed, I was back out. I hopped on my bike and peddled up the road to the river. I had visions on the way of returning home with a large shining silver salmon hanging by the tail from the handle bars. I imagined how proud I would be to show my Dad and how my crimes against his worms would be forgotten when he saw the fantastic fish I banked while he was at work. I parked up near the bridge, got my tackle ready and made the short walk to the bank through a very rough little field which always had rabbits in it, but is now a clean-cut sterile picnic area devoid of anything but rubbish in the summer. I sat down and carefully threaded on a large pilfered worm, bit 74

on some lead shot and cast my line into the water. As I watched the rod carefully for a bite, a sharp figure caught my eye in the distance on the far side of the bridge on a racing bike. Wearing a trade mark leather jacket and arched over the bike like a Tour De France competitor, it was local angler, shooting man and friend of my father’s, Vincent Kealy. He spotted me, and braked up sharp with a loud squeak as he smiled, jumped the fence and joined me on the bank. “Good wee spot, you have a good chance of a trout at least.” As he talked he reeled in my line and gave the worm a once over, before sitting down and casting it back in. “Has your father been getting any fish, it's been a few days since I saw him?” He then rhymed off the location, weight and story of every fish caught within five miles of

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

where we sat, and went on to tell me every hole, bend and spot along that same stretch of bank he had caught anything over the years. He then bid me farewell and waved as he went round the bend and out of sight. He talked to me as a boy the same way he talked with my father, I always remembered that Vincent was not only a very enthusiastic angler, but a brilliant one and loved nothing more than spending a day or an evening on the river and it’s only now that he has gone that I realise how privileged we all were to have shared his company on the bank over the years. Just like that old black stone bridge which has been replaced with an ugly modern affair created by some city slicker architect, Vincent is gone, but I smile and remember him stopping with me that day every time I cross it. What stood out most was that he talked to me as a boy the same way he talked with my father, I always remembered that. It was like we were likeminded because we were fishermen. It may have been that same summer, or more likely a year or two before. But another character who took me under his wing would set me on a path that would dictate the rest of my life. A lifelong friend of my father’s, Liam Mullan, is also a salmon angler, shooting man and someone who I consider as one of the best men I ever had the privilege to be involved with. Liam often called at our house when I was a child and I was always in awe of him. He owned rifles, shotguns and large military binoculars which could see for miles! I used to listen to his stories of pheasant shooting and salmon catching, thinking I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. Some time later my aunt moved in on the same road as him and I wasted no time in calling over for a visit. The first day was exhilarating; I stood on a chair and peered into an incubator, where pheasants were hatching out as I watched. “What do you do with them Liam”? I asked. “Rear them up, let them out and then shoot them in the

winter.” Brilliant, I thought. Later that day we drove out with his dogs to his shoot where the release pen was, had a look around and fed the older pheasants. We took the rifle and shot grey crows on the hillside, checked the snares and looked across to the Donegal hills with the massive binoculars; it was a huge day for a small boy obsessed with all things countryside. By now, I was very keen to visit my aunt as often as I could, but only so that I could take a visit down to Liam. I remember very well he owned a rather peculiar pigeon called Woody. The bird lived free in a small box at the rear of the house but was unbelievably tame and if you raised your hand and called him he would land either on you or beside you. I delighted in taking Woody down the road and back again every time I visited. One day, Liam took me fishing to a spot called The Plum and I firmly believe this was the day that sparked my lifelong interest in running dogs. Down in a small allotment type area at The Plum, a man called Hugh kept and trained a pair of greyhounds for Liam’s brother and still keeps a pair for him to this day. I had seen them before, but only from a distance as we passed him in the car now and again, as he walked them. This day however, I was in their company and stroked them as they ate raw meat from large aluminium bowls. Their shiny black coats, firm backs and long legs intrigued me. I remember thinking how fantastic they looked. What use was a Springer spaniel, these were real dogs. I quizzed Liam on the way home. “They’re only racing dogs” he said, “lurchers are much better, they can catch anything at night under a spotlight.” My mind was spinning all the way home, as I pondered these dogs Liam had told me of that could catch things at night. They sounded amazing; surely I would have to have one of my own. What good was a Spaniel, you had to shoot something before they got it and I was too small for a gun. I needed one

of these lurcher dogs for myself. I begged, pleaded, fought and cried with my parents so I could have a lurcher but they would not hear of it. A local greyhound trainer offered me a retired racing whippet and that too was banned. The closest I came was a Springer puppy called Duke and, as much as I liked him, he just wasn’t a lurcher. He didn’t look like one, move like one and least of all he could not catch anything at all! Sadly as I grew older I saw less and less of these childhood influences and some of them passed on. I only see Liam occasionally now but always enjoy it thoroughly when I do.

It was ten at night before we headed for home Last but not least is my father. A salmon angler, shooting enthusiast and thoroughbred countryman, who else better placed to give a young lad a lesson or two in rural matters. I spent many happy hours with my father on the riverbank as a child, and many more as I grew older duck flighting, pheasant shooting or a bit of rough shooting. I have been in his company during the banking of many salmon and trout and I used to get on his nerves badly when I threw stones in the river out of boredom after standing on the bank for ten hours. Such was my father’s enthusiasm for salmon fishing when I was a child, I sometimes used to avoid going. If we went for a half a day and he caught a fish, we were doomed because it was ten at night before we got home; one fish only encouraged him further … and then a second was tried. We fished in probably every river in Ireland, but his favourite was always the Moy in Ballina. I have been there with him many times and he has been so much that the local anglers and shop owners know him. I think his interest in salmon was sparked at a similar influential time in his life as was mine in running dogs. As a child, he rode his bicycle to the shore. At this time a great industry in salmon took place annually and many hundreds

were commercially netted from the shores near our home. My father hung about so long they gave him a job at ten or eleven years old and it was one he kept up each season until into his thirties until the industry faded away. It became for the men more a hobby than anything, and it was the craic of living for a few weeks in the fishing hut and spending time on the Lough they enjoyed most. I couldn’t have been more than six or seven the first time I tasted it for myself and I can understand now the enjoyment they had from it. Imagine an old black stone cottage with an open fire, half a dozen fishermen making toast and drinking tea and telling some great stories. Not only that, imagine the pride of a young boy on his fathers knee steering a WW2 DUKW landing craft deep into the Lough and helping to haul the fish to the shore. There was always something going on in our house and sometimes my friends must have found it quite peculiar. Countless times we woke early on a Saturday morning to find an ice covered salmon in the kitchen and my Dad long gone to work, the salmon no doubt banked during the small hours while we were fast asleep. It wouldn’t have been unusual to find a brace of hares hanging out the back all those years ago and my first memory of him is coming through the back door on a wild wet night with just that. All the things I do now go back to when I was a child and when I discovered these things, my passion for lurchers, ferrets, duck shooting, pheasant shooting, fishing and a love for the outdoors and countryside. Those people, my father, Liam, Vincent, Hugh and others I haven’t mentioned have been a great influence on me. I firmly believe that what I saw as a child, what I experienced and the men it was with, made a better person of me and kept me on the right path when a few others strayed off it. I owe a lot to them all, and someday I may get to repay the debt I owe them individually for my field sports education.

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


By Michael Drake

Art and Antiques Moving quickly through another sales year many are wondering what it will bring. Will it be better than last year or will it bring even stronger hammer prices. Green sprouts of economic recovery in Ireland and throughout the United Kingdom are welcome, but will they continue to grow and mature.Who knows? We can only keep living and buying and selling in hope. Ian Whyte, Managing Director of the prestigious Dublin-based WHYTE’S gave me his thoughts on the scene and his hopes for the months ahead: “We think that the improvement in prices achieved for Irish art in 2013 will continue, and, more importantly for auctioneers, that the improved prices will tempt owners to sell more in 2014,” he says. “The actual volume of good Irish paintings at auction is still only 35% of what was offered in 2007. If deposit interest rates remain below 5% — they are around 1% at best at present — art will still represent a better investment than cash in the bank, with the added bonus of the pleasure in owning it. The past year saw a resurgence of interest in Gerard Dillon and Dan O’Neill whose prices were well down on 2006-7 levels. We expect the demand for the ‘old Irish masters’ – Yeats, Orpen, Lavery and Osborne – as well as the great landscape painters – Henry, McKelvey, Craig and Wilks – to continue. Works by the more contemporary artists have not gained much in price in 2013 but that may

change in 2014 as savvy collectors begin to compete more for the likes of le Brocquy, O’Malley, Crozier and similar painters, whose works are grossly undervalued in comparison to the previous generation of artists. “This year sees the centenary of World War I – the Great War. We should see good interest in our specialised History, Literature and Collectibles sales as a result. There is hardly a family in Ireland which doesn’t have a relation that took part in that war. We have found a much renewed interest among those whose great grandfathers or great great grandfathers fought in Irish regiments in 1914-18 with a resultant increase in prices of medals awarded to Irish soldiers. Badges and uniforms of Irish regiments such as the Connaught Rangers, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, The Munster Fusiliers and The Leinster Regiment, are also much in demand. The anniversary publications, television programmes and special websites will further the interest and demand.” Whyte’s will hold a special free

John Skelton oil sold by Adams for €1600 76

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

An extensive Elkington silver plates service of Hanoverian rattail pattern (€1600 at Adams).

valuation day for World War I memorabilia in 2014 – details will be announced later. A specialised auction of World War I militaria is planned for the autumn. Other events in Whyte’s 2014 auction calendar include a dedicated oneowner Film Poster Collection sale and a Pop & Rock Memorabilia auction, both in the Spring.

WHYTES SALES RESULTS During the autumn WHYTES sold a Paul Henry, The Lake for €93,000 and a Sir John Lavery, The Lady Parmoor for €50,000. Earlier in the year another Paul Henry, Keel Village, Achill Island realised €49,000 while another sold for €42,000 and a Daniel O’Neill for €46,000. Other important lots over several sales, included: Walter Frederick Osborne, €38,000; Sir William Orpen, €34,000; Colin Middleton, €32,000; Mainie Jellett, €32,000; Roderic O’Conor, €30,000; William Broces, €29,000; Edwin Hayes, €28,000; Gerard Dillon, €25,000; William J Leech, €24,000; Aloysius C O’Kelly, €22,000; William Conor, €21,000; Charles Burton Barber, €19,500.

house ROSS’S, auctioneer Daniel Clarke says their first two online sales of the year had been buoyant: “We sold 75% of our paintings in one sale which had 600 lots and I think that was a fairly good result while in our jewellery on-line sale we sold about 60pc of the lots on offer. The prices for art have realigned in recent years and that has probably encouraged some people to come back into the market again and also brought in new ones as well. A change in the housing market would, of course, help things to improve.” An ebonised walnut side cabinet, late 19th century went for €1,250 (Adams).

There was strong interest too in collectables ,as was seen at the Pop and Rock sale last spring when an Elvis Presley ‘That’s all right mama,’ a unique acetate played and broadcast by Dewey Phillips in 1954, went at €65,000 while in the autumn a ‘Ploughman’ Northern Bank ten pounds notes sold for €14,000. A 1998 Final Good Friday Agreement paper signed by the participants in the talks was snapped up at €9,000, while a 1910 Ardagh Chalice Celtic revival replica in silver by Mappin & Webb, London, made €8,000. Other collectables: Elvis Presley Mathey-Tissot gift watch, owned and worn by the singer, €8,000 euros; 1948 Dunvilles Three Crowns Whiskey full bottles(6) €7,000 euros; 1833 Irish languauge manuscript by Peader O’ Longain, €6,000.

cabinet, late 19th century went for €1,250 followed by a Victorian credenza at €1,200 and a George III bookcase at €860. In their fine jewellery and watches sale in December ADAM’S had big prices with a ruby and diamond ring going at €40,000, a diamond single stone ring at €15,000 and a pair of Art Deco diamond and jade earnings at €10,000. A gentleman’s Golden ellipse wristwatch by Patek Phillipe, circa 1975 made €9,400 while another a Reverso wristwatch by Jaeger Le Coultre made €5,500. Golden ellipse wristwatch by Patek Phillipe, circa 1975 made €9,400 (Adams).

ADAMS ATTIC The ADAM’S ATTIC sale in Dublin at the end of January saw a John Skelton oil sell for €1600 while an extensive Elkington silver plates service of Hanoverian rattail pattern made a similar amount. An ebonised walnut side

Superb ruby and diamond ring sold by Adams for €40,000.

This pair of Art Deco diamond and jade earnings sold by Adams for €10,000.

UP NORTH At leading Northern Ireland auction

ROSS’S most recent Irish art sale saw a William Percy French, watercolour, Boglands, Connemara going for £6,000 followed by a Romeo Toogood oil at £4,400 and a William Conor at £4,200. Other Conor works made £3,300, £3,300 and £2,000 while a Graham Knuttel oil realised £2,500. A Charles McAuley, oil, Gathering Corn went at £2,00 while a Martin Mooney flower study, oil on board came under the hammer at £1,300. Among other lots were: Anne Primrose

A pair of mid 18th century Chelsea porcelain plates, c. 1755 (Addisons). Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Pair of Meissen Malabar musicians, 19th century (Addisons).

Jury, £1,300; Joseph W Carey, £1,100; Gladys Maccabe, £1,100; John McAtamney, £800; and Frank Egginton, £800. Oliver Gormley of Gormley Fine Art which have galleries in Omagh, Belfast, and Dublin says: “Prices are all down by about 40% over the past two years, so if you have a few pounds to spent now is a good time to buy: “Auctions are doing well on works of art priced between £200 and £700 for first time buyers who are the collectors of the future. In the gallery

the market is still good for good quality pieces of art. Artists realise only good work will sell. We also find now that around 70% of our business is internet related.”

OUTSIDE IRELAND Looking for some guidelines concerning the sales scene on the other side of the Irish Sea, I decided to contact leading North of England sales house, ADDISONS of Barnard Castle, Durham. Richard W. M Edwards, Senior Valuer (Left) A rare Worcester porcelain coffee can, c.1760, in the creeper print pattern (Addisons).

(Right) Chelsea porcelain ‘Hans Sloane’ botanical soup plate, c1755 (Addisons).


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and Auctioneer has been giving me his views on how things stand: “For us 2013 was a strong year for ‘vintage’ - fashion, textiles and furnishings from the 1950's70s. We had two specialist sales during the year in this area which did very well indeed and attracted wide interest via the net. Arts and Crafts furniture and decorative arts also remained a strong collecting interest and for the first time in many years we saw a slight improvement in prices for more traditional antique furniture and ceramics - particularly 18th century pieces. The market for 19th century furniture and decorative arts remained extremely weak but silver and gold did very well indeed during the first half of the year reflecting strong scrap prices in a weak economic climate. “Values for everything but specialist and high quality silver and gold slid badly towards the end of the year. Pictures are not unlike other areas with 20th century being the strongest area. Traditional 19th century watercolours are still at a nadir in value terms.The Chinese market, still fuelled by live internet bidding, continued strong. This year, we anticipate a slowing down of interest from Chinese bidders who definitely are becoming more discriminating in what they are bidding on. I also think that good quality 18th century European furniture, ceramics and glass will continue to gradually improve. I see no prospect of improvement in the traditional watercolours/oils market. We have been seeing good prices in recent months for reasonably rare/good quality European ceramics, again particularly 18th century and I anticipate that may continue.”

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DUCK DRI STILL GOING STRONG Back in 1989 a brave decision was taken which pitted the skill of local Leicestershire craftspeople against the might of better known brands. Duck Dri was born out of the passion and belief of Cedric Simmons that it was possible to produce a range of country clothing to keep field sportsmen and women warm and dry during their outdoor pursuits.

Duck Dri proprietor Cedric Simmons (right of picture) is a familiar figure at The Great Game Fairs of Ireland.

Today, still tucked away in the Leicestershire countryside is a gem of a factory where time honoured skills still produce quality products at affordable prices. Ibstock was once a busy industrialised town primarily based around coal mining and brick making. Bricks are still made but mainly by machines whilst the pit fell silent many years ago. Cedric Simmons still presides over production, ably assisted by Jayne and a small number of operatives and machinists. They produce jackets, gilets, waistcoats, trousers, breeks, gaiters, leggings and over trousers in breathable materials such as moleskin, loden, tweed and ventile plus others to ensure that whatever the weather you will stay ‘Duck Dri.’ Indeed, Duck Dri claims to be one the first UK manufacturer’s to introduce a breathable country sports jacket. This was back in 1995 and continues to be featured in the production of the range of jackets 80

currently on offer. No one can deny that this was an inspired development which has been adopted by many of the mainstream manufacturers supplying the UK market today. It was however originally produced in Ibstock. You cannot help but admire the

skills of the Duck Dri workforce as they measure, cut and sew a confusing array of materials into the finished item. Other manufacturing skills that were once common in this area originate from the textile trade based in around Hinckley and Leicester. These are still used today to produce a quality, UK made garment which will outlast many other well known brands. Customers are encouraged to visit the factory where there is always a range of clothing on display so that a good fit can be guaranteed. Indeed those of us with unusual size requirements can be accommodated with an individual measuring service available to those that call in to the Hall Street premises. Many customers are keen to recount stories about experiences with other brands such as a tweed suit costing well over £500.00 lasting only three outings before being reduced to threads by the odd bramble or two. The Duck Dri tweed suit, bought as a replacement, is now in its

Manufacturing skills - ‘proven outdoors - not in the lab!’

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Quality, cut and value for money with Duck Dri.

third season still going strong at a cost of just over £200.00. Cedric commented on the Duck Dri philosophy: “We try to cater for the genuine sportsman who needs a comfortable, durable garment at a sensible price. Yes, this includes shooters, fishermen, dog trainers, falconers, coursers and those that just love to be out in the countryside. It is possible to be presentable and comfortable without having to pay a lot of money and remember the Duck Dri motto - Proven Outdoors, Not In The Lab - which offers further peace of mind. This message is taken out across the land during the Game Fair Season as Duck Dri meets and greets its new and long standing customers at various

locations across the UK. Cedric comments again: “We have been seeing some of the same faces for years and they do introduce new customers to us which I suppose is the best recommendation we can get. Indeed some of our happiest memories have been our visits to Ireland which continue to be part of our Game Fair programme.” Duck Dri can look forward to the future as it continues to introduce new items into its range. The latest addition is a reinforced version of breathable leg wear designed to offer even more durability. When matched with an action backed jacket made in the same material you can be ‘Duck Dri in the most adverse weather conditions for under £200.00.


Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Frank Brophy recounts

A Close Encounter In Africa Can you imagine lunchtime in a motorway restaurant, sitting at a table overlooking a largely empty car park and filling station? The smiling waitress sets the plates down while the scorching African sun blazes unmercifully outside. Almost idyllic, except that the sole topic of conversation revolves around the distinct possibility of being car-jacked, on leaving the premises by an armed gang. The outcome for victims of this form of holdup is usually robbery and murder. No, it’s not part of the script for an action movie – unfortunately it was the real thing. This is exactly the situation I found myself in when driving across South Africa in 2010. In September of that year, after the annual hunt, I returned to Johannesburg along with the lads and my wife who had also accompanied us on the safari. The guys flew home while we stayed for a few nights with friends in Jo’burg, and then picked up a hired car to drive all the way to the Indian Ocean via Durban, to a resort roughly two hour’s further south of that city. A South African colleague residing in Ireland had said when he

heard the plan ‘careful now, lots of bad guys out that way.’ With experience gained over the decades from twentyeight hunting safaris, I was always acutely aware of the hidden dangers for tourists on the Dark Continent, so the warning didn’t go unheeded. My colleagues and I have had one or two near misses in our time, but nothing that we took too seriously. Robbery with violence or murder is an everyday

occurrence that usually merits a minor mention in news bulletins or newspaper columns. Taking precautions not to be a victim is a way of life! Before commencing the journey to the east coast our luggage was distributed between the boot and rearseat floor area of the rented car - the rifle case and ammunition took up quite an amount of space - both had to be locked out of sight. As usual I wore loose

Round table safari meeting with the Author seated third from the right. 82

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Afrikaner-style shorts and bush shirt, topped with a baseball cap advertising a gun-shop in Nylstroom. Individuals similarly dressed are deemed likely to be carrying a concealed personal protection weapon and are not bothered by troublemakers. I use this mode of dress for obvious reasons. The first leg of the scenic journey was uneventful and by lunchtime we were close to Harrismith, not quite the halfway point yet, and running low on fuel. Having hunted in nearby Sterkfontein National Park in the 1990s, I remembered that a decent motorway rest area lay ahead and decided to stop there for lunch. Driving into the service station, it was agreed that we would eat first, filling the petrol tank later because the large number of attendants at the pumps invariably have sight of luggage etc, so it is always better to wait until departure time to re-fuel the car. That decision may well have saved our lives. Leaving the almost deserted car park and mounting the restaurant steps, the only individual in sight was an African man walking towards us. Unfortunately, we were speaking at the time and I saw his head turn sharply as he passed; he appeared to be straining, perhaps to listen to our accents. Suspecting a possible problem, I waited until we reached the restaurant door, then

suddenly looked back and saw him watching us, while speaking on a mobile phone. This was not a good sign, but I didn’t want to broach the subject just yet. Selecting a window table from which the car could be kept under observation, the expected wait for further developments didn’t take long. Within five - ten minutes a white van with darkened windscreen and door windows drove in and parked very close to the car, too close, and no one got out which was ominous. At this point I reckoned that we were being targeted for a hold-up. On reflection it’s likely that the fellow who had picked up our accents was among the van’s occupants. Parking closely to our car indicated that they hadn’t realised that I had become suspicious. It also indicated that we were definitely the intended victims of robbery and possibly murder, although I refrained from mentioning the latter to my wife. My first thought was for the rifle in the car and how I could access it. On second thoughts that didn’t appear to be a good idea, not knowing what their firepower might be - and hadn’t I read somewhere that the number one rule of a gunfight is not to get into one in the first place. This problem required time to work out what course of action would save our skins, and that’s how we came to be in this

surreal situation, discussing our predicament over lunch in a restaurant. Even today I can’t recall what we had to eat! We immediately eliminated the idea of asking the staff for help or even phoning the Police – these were not viable options, so we were on our own. The only way to handle the problem was to outsmart the bad guys – and that was easier said than done. I knew that they would be armed, putting us at a colossal disadvantage. However, the proximity of the van to our car gave me an idea which we decided to try out, keeping fingers crossed that our luck would hold. On leaving the restaurant I walked rapidly to the car, sat into the driver’s seat, started the engine, engaged reverse gear and opened the passenger door which in turn prevented the van’s door being opened. My wife ran down the steps, around the back of the car and jumped into her seat whereupon I reversed smartly across the car park to the relative safety of the petrol pumps. That move had to be unexpected by the ungodly! Allowing the multitude of staff to fiddle with the wipers, windscreen, oil level etc used up more time while the car was being refuelled, giving me further time to think. Then I paid the attendant and told him to keep the change, hoping that his walking back to the cashier’s office

At the Indian Ocean. Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


would momentarily distract the van’s occupants who must have started their motor because the reversing lights were on. My car was an automatic, so with the engine restarted and in gear, I rammed my foot to the floor and took off across the car park like the proverbial scalded cat. The tactic worked and we literally flashed past the would-be hijackers at a speed that the van could never match or indeed overtake in the event of pursuit. Our troubles were over – or so we thought! Keeping the accelerator flat to the floor we raced down a slip road that would bring us out onto the motorway, hurtling around a bend into an area that was outside CCTV coverage. Ahead on the left, a grey car was stopped with all doors open and the occupants clearly waiting for us to come around the bend. This was the main hit team, the van and its occupants were probably only there to monitor our movements and eventually carry the booty from whatever lonely spot that we would have


been brought to. Our speed caught them by surprise. I recall noticing that the front passenger seat was unoccupied, and the driver who already had his feet on the ground immediately jumped up and ran to try and get in front of our car, followed by the two in the back. To brake would have been fatal; the missing front seat occupant was probably coming from our right to smash my side window, so if the driver managed to get in front we were doomed – all these thoughts flashed through my mind, probably in a split second – as the running driver reached for the bulge that I clearly saw under his flimsy shirt and knew full well it was a handgun. His other hand was waving frantically at us indicating that I should stop. We flashed through the diminishing space and without looking back exited the slip road. I drove like a maniac down the motorway for many miles until finally we felt safe enough to slow down and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not an unreasonable assumption

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

that the decision to refuel the car later rather than sooner, plus the rate of knots at which we left the petrol pumps, saved us. Knowing the ground and taking reasonable precautions did not give us immunity from the armed gangs that roam South Africa’s motorways – roads that tourists regularly use. Unfortunately no one in authority has yet seen fit to warn visitors of the danger, although later in Johannesburg, a senior Police Officer expressed surprised that we actually managed to get away. The experience was quite unsettling and our week by the Indian Ocean was uneasy even though we were staying in a secure area with high fences, guards etc. Even the beach was fenced off and patrolled. The drive back to Jo’burg was not pleasant either and eventually it came as a relief to hand back the car and fly home. That incident didn’t prevent us from returning to South Africa in subsequent years and hopefully in the future – but hiring a car and taking off on our own? Never again!

From Tom Fulton

Hunting Roundup

Elizabeth Oakes with some of the side saddle riders at Brittas, Co Meath.

AROUND THE MEETS Iveagh Foxhounds A dry, clear, even bright day greeted a twenty-one strong mounted field at the Iveagh Foxhounds’ meet hosted by joint master Bob Wilson at his home near Hillsborough, Co Down. Kennel huntsman Neil Keery brought forward a 13½ couple mixed pack for joint master and huntsman John Porter and I saw that this once Scarteen type pack has changed by about 100% with Modern English, Old English and some Welsh blood on view. Hounds put a brace afoot from the first draw on Wallace Clarke’s land and they settled on one pilot who took them right across Clarke’s, then Alistair McClory’s before coming onto our host’s lands. They then pushed across the land of the late Millar Bell, a noted general surgeon and very keen hunting enthusiast, picking up speed as they did so. This hunt continued into Roly Cunningham’s who, like his late father, was a joint master of the Co Down Staghounds. Roly’s sister, Anna McIlveen, also a former joint master of

the Staghounds, who lives locally and knows every blade of grass here, was among the car followers and was well able to keep everyone else among the car followers informed of our fox’s likely progress. From Roly Cunningham’s matters moved through Eric Hall’s and into Ronnie Abbott’s from where our fox went across Anna McIlveen’s and back towards the meet. Here hounds lost him in increasingly patchy scent allowing

everyone to return to the meet and further enjoy Bob Wilson’s generous hospitality.

Tara Harriers The now annual side-saddle meet in Co Meath was this year hosted by the Tara Harriers and took place at Brittas House, Nobber. Host Oinri Jackson welcomed some sixty side-saddle and the same number of “astride” riders with people from France, Sweden, Italy, the UK and beyond riding.

Imelda O’Donnell, MH Tara Harriers (centre) who was to the fore all day at the side saddle meet at Brittas. Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Tara joint master and huntsman Henry Smith had on a 12½ couple bitch pack (the Tara hunt only bitches) and was assisted by kennel huntsman and first whipper-in Sabine Dowdall and by Peter King. As well as Henry Smith the other joint masters George Briscoe in office, incredibly, since 1942, his daughter Lorraine McDowell, Harry Kellett, Henry Corbally and Imelda O’Donnell were all “on parade” with only George Briscoe not mounted. Imelda O’Donnell was central to the day’s events and her style belied the fact that she is a very recent convert to sidesaddle riding. The entire event included two sidesaddle meets, today’s meet was followed by the Tara Hunt Ball that night and a day’s hunting the next day in Galway with the Grallagh Harriers. Their joint master and huntsman David Burke and his sister Lorraine were among the car followers and taking very careful stock of events as was John Caddy, chairman of the Ballymacad Foxhounds, who will be responsible for staging the 2014 sidesaddle meet. All three were assimilating the logistics involved in staging this event. Having posed for photographs,

Martens de Possesse (r) and Hubert Coispel two French visitors showing their horn blowing skills at the side saddle meet at Brittas

seemingly interminably, Henry Smith led everyone away from the house to draw the woods. I was fascinated to hear that, on being confronted with the first, huge, fence the same swear word escaped so many lips irrespective of the nationality of the lips’ owners! A fast day’s hunting then ensued moving through the Orchard, the Kitchen Garden then the Plantation and Cherbourg Wood. Cassidy’s and Mead’s were also covered and they went as far as the main road and on to Rowntree’s and Kathleen Sheridan’s. After some liquid refreshments at the pub in Nobber, where the amazed locals

could scarcely take in the sight of the mounted field who, thirst slaked, moved on across Clarke’s and Condra’s then to Owenses where home was blown to enable everyone to prepare for the Hunt Ball. Many of those participating had never hunted in Ireland before and are to be applauded for acquitting themselves so well over some testing country. Such was the nature of the soft going that no injuries were sustained in any of the falls recorded. Without exception everyone seemed anxious to put next year’s side-saddle meet in their diary. Like them I can’t wait!

County Down Hounds

TF4 Three ladies from the Galway Blazers ready for ‘the off’ at Brittas for the side saddle meet (l-r) Amy McMahon, Grace Murphy and Maeve Carty. 86

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Boxing Day saw the County Down Hounds stage their traditional meet in Ballynahinch. Huntsman Steve Collins had on a 10½ couple mixed pack and was assisted by Mr Ross McCandless while a fifty-five strong mounted field was rather down on recent years but was no less keen for that. Having paraded the town Steve Collins drew country off the Crossgar Road and matters were immediately afoot to open the day with a fast run towards Raleagh. At Raleagh House, the home of Terry Steele who was in the mounted field, everyone paused for breath before Steve Collins drew behind the House and hounds pushed on towards Craigyargon and then Raleagh itself. In the very heavy going everyone who stayed aboard deserved great credit as Steve Collins’s hounds are not easy to stay with. At the end of this ultimately blank

day, which came as light started to fade, there were many broad smiles at having seen things through to the end. We only needed scent to make this a completely good day.

Louth Foxhounds The Louth Foxhounds’ meet at Tallanstown, just down from their Lisrenny kennels, on the last Saturday in December took place on a bright, sunny but cool day. Huntsman Alan Reilly had on a 14½ couple mixed pack with whippers-in Oisin Duffy, Chris Rodgers and professional Cahal Tuite to assist him while the fifty plus mounted field included joint masters Dr Ralph Hoey, Edmund Mahony, Gerry Boylan and Joe Callan.

John Savage and I had the supreme good fortune to be able to follow Michael McKeever, who hunted these hounds until 2006 having been with the Hunt since 1956. One of nature’s gentlemen Michael and two of his grandsons were among the car followers enabling us to keep up with events. The first draw, on Gerard Sweeney’s land, was blank so matters moved on to Black Thorns covert which produced our first pilot. He gave a hunt to Springhill over some soft and watery going. This good hunt ended with hounds losing their fox in patchy scent. Alan Reilly then drew Dornan’s just off the main N2 Dublin to Londonderry Road and then moved on to Kevin Lynch’s. Here, a second fox gave a hunt, in continuing patchy scent, into Yew

Tree’s, over Nicholstown Road and on towards Wild Goose Lodge crossing the road ahead of us before going unsighted to us and being lost in now poor scenting conditions. The next draw, at Bothwell’s, was followed by one at McCartney’s before home was blown, in fading light, to leave the depleted field with a good hack back to the meet.

North Down Foxhounds A wet New Year’s reduced the North Down Foxhounds’ mounted field at their meet at the Old Inn Crawfordsburn to thirty, though it did not seem to reduce the number of well wishers there to see them off. Hotelier Danny Rice, his sons and staff, put on an excellent hunt breakfast and a stirrup cup before huntsman Tom Haddock took a 15½ couple mixed pack through the village, assisted by whippers-in Charlie McPoland, Barry Jones and Stephen Weston. Joint masters Raymond Mitchell and Lesley Webb carefully briefed everyone about the wet and very soft going before the off. A series of draws across David Jackson’s and McCann’s, then down as far as Johnston’s, proved blank so Tom Haddock moved on to Henderson’s then Hughes’s. He fared no better here, with wind and rain proving seemingly insurmountable barriers. Ian McFarland and then also his brother Alan had no one at home and the day finished at John Ritchie’s with no one at home there either. The Hunt and the police then rejoined forces to get everyone back across the main Bangor to Belfast Road to the meet where Danny Rice had an excellent stew awaiting everyone. Seldom has it been so welcome!

Tynan and Armagh Hunt

East Down Foxhounds Huntsman Declan Feeney with his son Conor at their opening meeting at Ballynoe, Downpatrick.

A meet of the Tynan and Armagh Hunt is usually a convivial affair and the meet hosted by whipper-in Andy Philips and his wife Denise, at their home near Richhill, was even more convivial than usual with having fun being the order of the day.

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Once everyone had left Denise Philips’s kitchen joint master Stephen Watson presented a cheque for £400 to Marian Nugent, of Craigavon Area Hospital, for use in its special baby unit. This sum had been collected at the children’s meet in Richhill, on New Year’s Day and was gratefully received by Mrs Nugent. The formalities over, huntsman Keith McCall took a 12½ couple mixed pack of mainly Old English Hounds, assisted by whippers-in Andy Philips and Philip Singleton, to the first draw at McVitties’s in Mullaghbane. A mounted field of thirty-two and five children on lead reins were under field master John Smart and included the three joint masters, Brian Dougan, Stephen Watson and Wilson Faloon. Everyone watched as hounds drew blank here then tensed visibly as they drew the host’s orchard and put a fox afoot. This presaged a fast, circular hunt which involved the field in some fast riding to keep up. Keith McCall now has some hounds of his own breeding to hunt and he has injected some pace into the pack. Hounds pushed their fox as far as Mullnasillagh where he eventually ended this good hunt by going to ground in Stevenson’s, after seeming to cover this entire townland. At Hutchinson’s, hounds put a second fox afoot which ran through the property then across Jenkinson’s Bog and into Robinson’s. From there he doubled back into Jenkinson’s where he, too, went to ground after a fast figure of eight hunt. The old railway at Hamilton’s produced our third fox which crossed into McCall’s then ran through Pillow’s and out onto Altaturk Road where he was hallooed by your correspondent at Brown’s coach business. This good sized fox turned there and ran back across the road to eventually go to ground in Lowry’s. Keith McCall then drew Nicholl’s where he put a fox afoot in the farmyard and he took them across Moffet’s then McClure’s and Carson’s. He then crossed into Jackson’s before running back through McClure’s and Pillow’s. 88

Here he was lost, while still very hard pressed by 1½ couple of hounds in rapidly deteriorating scent near Knockmaraney Orange Hall. Home was blown at Jackson’s in still good light and we put Denise Philips’s hospitality to the test back at the meet. Here it must be said that everyone seemed to bring something edible or drinkable to the table at this family friendly Hunt. This was my ninth visit to a Hunt this season and it seemed to be the best scenting day among those visits and it was also a day mercifully free of rain.

Around the puppy shows James Armstrong MFH welcomed a large crowd, on a lovely sunny day, to the East Down Foxhounds’ kennels, at Seaforde, where judges Roddy Bailey from Co Wexford and Townley Angel, from the Louth Foxhounds, had three couple of doghounds and four couple of bitches from two litters to consider. Huntsman Declan Feeney and whipper-in Ian Donoghue had put in a lot of work to make the day go well and the judges played their part before giving James Armstrong the following decisions to announce. Doghounds 1. Malton Middleton Gunner 07 Marigold 06 2. Malvern Sibling of Malton 3. Marshall Sibling of Malton Bitches 1. Sago Bailey 10 Stable 05 2. Salary Sibling of Sago 3. Marion Sibling of Malton Not only has the East Down Foxhounds gained a new professional whipper-in but James Armstrong has been joined in the mastership by local businessman Brian McConville, whose first public appearance in his new role this was.

Heard it on the grapevine Tom Haddock is returning to his native Wales, after six seasons as huntsman of the North Down Foxhounds, having been appointed joint master and huntsman of the Herefordshire based Clifton-on-Teme Foxhounds.

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Death of Andy Hamilton MH Andy Hamilton, in his second spell in the mastership of the Mid Antrim Hunt, has died after a long and heroic battle with cancer. Having been diagnosed in February 2007 Andy’s courage in facing this awful disease became legendary. A busy farmer, consummate horseman and passionate hunting enthusiast Andy met his illness with, in the nicest possible way, a sheer bloody minded determination that the illness would interfere as little as possible with that busy life. His involvement with horses spanned breeding, breaking, schooling, showing, point to point riding and training, team chasing, working hunter classes and, of course, hunting. Having been master of this, his local, Hunt from 2003-2006 Andy returned to the mastership a few years ago. He was, by then, under constant and draining treatment, but this did not lessen his energy, commitment or effectiveness. Andy’s wife Judith and their sons Joe and Bob, of whom Andy was so proud, supported him every step of the way but always under his watchful and knowledgeable eye. They produced horses which were then sold on to the great benefit of the many buyers at home or in Britain. As for his contribution to hunting this was massive whether it was erecting fences, involvement with the point to point, fund raising or giving meets – he hosted his last meet exactly one week before he died. Andy only lived for fifty-two years but, just as horses produced by him had a very wide based amount of experience at a young age, so too did he achieve so much in that tragically curtailed life. Described by Hunt Treasurer Patsy MacCarthy –Morrogh as “a courageous, helpful and generous man” Andy Hamilton is already very much missed and he will not be forgotten. Every sympathy is extended to Judith, their two boys Joe, who is now to Andy’s great pride whipping-in to the Hunt and Bob, as well as to Andy’s parents and sister in their very sad and untimely loss.



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By Hugh Brady

The Irish Working Setter The words of Palmerstown, The Blacksmith, Portown Romeo, Slievebawn Minnie and Garry of Burtown were names that echoed from the walls of the sitting room as a child. The sounds were evocative, interesting and pleasant to pronounce. They always provided a resonance for me. Long summer evenings when the light began to dim and the west facing sitting room tinged blood red evoke stories of great dogs. Perhaps it is the western sunset that provokes the love of the Irish setters as the gundog of choice across the Shannon, where the breed still thrives. Many of the ancient skills and crafts that had survived eternal generations are disappearing. Our sense of wonder and curiosity has been replaced with a diminishing sense of concentration fed by whimsical gratification through more efficient technologies and the frenetic pace of life. The arts of turf cutting by hand, thatching and spinning, that in many ways, helped define Irish heritage has survived only in pockets. The Irish Heritage Council has supported culturally important activities through its grants system. The Irish language, whose practical use as the native tongue has vastly reduced in the last century, has survived through incentives for Gaelscoils, the curriculum on the education system and even a state supported television channel. Gaelic games and in particular the ancient sport of hurling has flourished and the Gaelic Athletic Association receives generous support from the exchequer. But what of the Irish working

setter? Readers of Irish Countrysports and Country Life will be familiar with the work of pointers and setters. However when explaining this sport to the uninitiated it seems a rather fanciful idea. It sounds far fetched when explaining that a dog runs exceptionally fast over uneven moorland often in mountainous terrain covering distances of up to 300 metres each side of a handler. The dog, whilst seemingly free, is running in straight lines passing the handler and is under control turning on a whistle and abruptly dropping to command at great distance despite the dog’s momentum of pace. The dog can maintain this speed and intensity for up to twenty or thirty minutes in often very warm autumnal weather. Then, imagine this dog stopping abruptly, statue-like, when he has located a single bird by smell in long heather up to thirty metres away. The breeze is minimal. His frozen countenance contrasts to the former frenetic gallop. The dog with high head, takes air scent, walks in on

command and has the ability to pinpoint precisely the bird’s location disregarding all of the former trails left by previous movements of the bird. On command, the dog flushes the bird in the air but does not try to catch the bird and drops to the bird’s flight. The last act is hard to reconcile with the “freedom and abandon” of the search earlier in the performance. This performance is akin to a magic or sorcery that still captures the imagination of those today in this fast paced world. In Ireland, there has not been much emphasis on this cultural tradition and thus it remains in many ways a hidden world. We have indigenous setting dogs in Ireland called Irish setters- the split between Irish red and white setters and Irish setters occurred over a century ago. While the Irish Draft horse and the Connemara pony have deservedly received funding to ensure its relevance and survival however to date, the working Irish setter has been relatively

Irish setters were developed originally mainly as grouse dogs for the soft moors in Ireland. They have proved to be versatile on all types of game.


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ignored. A similar promotion of Irish setters could take the form of patronage of breeding and training of these dogs. While the sport of field trials and rough shooting keeps the working strains alive there is a huge personal sacrifice to those involved in terms of costs and time commitment. Because of this, the ability to attract younger people is more difficult. In Ireland, we are blessed with having some of the most skilled trainers in the long history of the sport. They are pioneers often making huge personal sacrifices to support their particular breed. The time and devotion required to compete at the top level is daunting. Not alone does the dog to have the innate ability but also the fitness levels required. With moorland in most of the country disappearing through cultivation, facilities to train these wide ranging dogs are becoming increasingly rare. There is a rationale to encourage the survival of the working strains as no more than the Irish Wolfhound- once these lines disappear, they are difficult to reclaim. With the increasing popularity of dual purpose gundogs in Ireland, the setter is not as popular as it once was with the shooting fraternity. However as setters are natural retrievers, the development of working tests to demonstrate this ability could encourage the increased use of setters as gundogs. Throughout the history of the Irish setters in Ireland, the breed has always been patronised by a number of large kennels. Today there are probably two kennels that produce over three litters of working setters per year. Perhaps support for breeders to encourage maintenance of the bloodlines of these dogs. To establish cultural significance, there must be history and tradition of the breed in Ireland. In the Public Records Office of Dublin documents show dog training was practised in Ireland as far back as 1698. A setting “dogg” belonging to the seventeenth century appears in the Public Record Office at the Four Courts in Dublin.

One of the passages is as follows, “it being represented unto us that one Michael Flynn of New Road, Ormond Gate, Dublin has a setting dog on the same for use of His Grace the Duke of Ormond and we therefore hereby direct and require the chief ranger or master of the game, the under keeper and all officers and other persons whom it may concern to permit the said Michael Flynn to keep, carry and teach the dogg without any hindrance or molestation. Given May 1698.” A little earlier a contract signed X by John Harris that he would “sufficiently

mayntayne and keepe a spanill bitch named Quaid this day delivered by said Henry Herbert and I will before the said first day of March next, fully and effectually train up and teach the said bitch to sitt partridges, pheasants and other game as well and exactly as the best sitting dogges usually sett the same.” The setter was of considerable value both in Ireland and Great Britain. It is said that John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was the first that broke a setting dog to the net in 1555. In the above contract the spaniel is called a

Painting of Int. FTCh Remkilens T-Ebba retrieving a pheasant. In most parts of Europe, the Irish setters are dual purpose and field trials test both pointing and retrieving. Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


A field trial in Limerick in 1923.

setter. This was a time of transition for spaniels; a time between hawking and the practise of shooting birds on the wing. The shooting of birds on the wing only came into practise in the latter half of the 18th century; before that the game was shot on the ground. Setter training has altered therefore since 1750. Before this time the setter was used to locate game for the gun to get a pot shot but when shooting flying birds was the practise, the setter had to

follow the running birds as well so as to slowly bring the gun within shot. The setter had to travel a lot of ground to find the scattered game. In the 18th century the red spaniel really improved. For over a 100 years Irishmen had nothing to interfere with their sporting pursuits. From the period of William III to the rising of 1798 rural Ireland was said to provide the best sport in the civilised world and whether rich or poor the inhabitants they

Bronze statue of Int. Ballydavid Airforce by Siobhan Bulfin (1/9). 92

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enjoyed fervently their country pursuits. Pedigrees of dogs were rarely kept before the advent of shows so consequently pedigrees before the Rising are difficult to find. Mr. Arthur French boasted a fine brace of setters in 1793. He was the father of the first Lord de Freyne of the celebrated French Park strain. In a letter written much later in 1879 it speaks of the strain through many generations of the family. “The 2nd Lord de Freyne

prided himself on their wonderful steadiness and good looks. There was no white on any of them excepting on the breast.” Another celebrated early strain of red setters was in Kings County (now county Offaly) called the O’Connor setters. In 1779 O’Connor was one of the first Irishmen to rent a grouse moor in Scotland. These setters were “red with a touch of white”. This strain was taken up by the La Touches of Harristown in the county of Kildare. These setters were described as “not being very big and of a rich, dark red colour with well-feathered tarsus and perhaps rather light of bone” Percy La Touche in his letter sets out to describe the predominant sire of the contemporary breed for Irish Settersthe celebrated Palmerstown. He was “too coarse and heavy a dog.” Palmerstown’s head was preserved for many years in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. The legendary English setter man Mr. Laverack said that “as

far as his researches and observations went the La Touches of Harristown possessed the Irish setter breed in its greatest purity.” These bloodlines still coarse through the working setters of today. Colonel J.K. Millner in his book “The Irish Setter: Its History and Training.” written in 1924, said he had often tried to find out which the red and whites or the reds were the older breed. The oldest breeders of that time said that while the two breeds were distinct in their time, they all agreed in the early days the reds (as they are today) are inclined to throw pups with white on the face, chest and feet. Colonel Millner deduced that while breeds were distinct they were sometimes crossed or the original breed was red and white setters. By selective breeding the reds became fixed over time. This made eminent sense as we know that the setter evolved from the spaniel and that white predominated the colour of the early spaniels. The retrieval instinct that

pertains in most Irish setters also points in this direction. The Irish Setter club, one of the oldest clubs in Ireland was formed in 1882 and ran field trials earlier than this in Cloghran in county Tipperary. The Irish setter, the national gun dog of Ireland, has stamina in all weathers, hunts continuously covering a great deal of ground when there is a scarcity of game. Its fiery personality suits the Irish psyche as the setter has been crafted here. The promoters of these dogs exist now as they have done for centuries shaping and improving the breed. A major idiosyncrasy of the sport is that dog’s names are remembered while their handlers and trainers are usually not. You could mention such names as Garryowen, Ballymac Eagle, Red Revolution of Fallows, Slievebawn Minnie, Knockmore Red Molly and Rustic Minstrel which are so legendary to the breed but the ultimate sacrifice is that their breeders and trainers are not always remembered as clearly.

FTCH Shimnavale Excalibur at stud Winner of 5 trials and member of winning UK team at Chatsworth and Irish CLA team in 2013.

Hips: 3 & 3 • Elbows: 0 Clear eye certificate • PRA, CNM and EIC clear For further information contact Richard on 07715 039 956 or or visit Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


and Irish Countrysports and Country Life sponsor The Northern Ireland Gundog of Year competition organised by the Northern Ireland Gundog Field & Show Society The NIGF&SS organised their annual Northern Ireland Gundog of the Year; NI Gundog Puppy of the Year; and NI Veteran Gundog of the Year at Oakfield Community Development

Centre, Carrickfergus on Saturday 25th January 2014. The Event was sponsored by Feedwell Animal Feeds and the Irish Country Sports and Country Life magazine, which sponsored

Galway Crystal for winner and runner up in each category. The Judge for the event was Ms Irene Glen (Withome). Photos by Alec Douglas.


1. McKiernan, Mr BUSHBANE CELTIC TUNE b. 8.7.12 Br.Exh Sire: Harsett Snowstorm at Bushbane Dam: Bushbane Celtic Spirit (English Setter) 2. Moran Messrs, SHINEHILL SUMMER JAZZ d. 30.8.13 Br. Keene Sire: GbShCh Zampanzar Say it Again 94

Dam: Shinehill Summer Sonnet (Golden Retriever) 3. McLarnon Mrs, GWENDARIFF PADDY POWER GLENAVNA d. 1.3.13. Br. Stewart-Ritchie Sire: ShCh IrShCh NorthamberJust Cause for Glenavna JW Dam: ShCh IrShCh

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Gwenda riff Fizzy PopJW (Irish Setter) 4. Hough Mrs, Miss, ALAYGLOW OLABI b. 20.2.13 Br. Galloway/Anderson Sire: Isara Kurzhaar Quick Lerner at Merganser Dam: IrShCh Alayglow Soma ShCM (German Shorthaired Pointer)


1. McKelvey Mrs, IrShCh EDENAVEYS HOLLY'S PRIDE b. 1.3.05 Br.Exh Sire: Lurgavon Connor Dam: Edenaveys Shannon Belle (Irish Setter)

2. Loughlin Mr, ShCh WALDHEIM CYNAN d. 12.11.05 Br.Exh Sire: Ch Waldheim Morien Dam: Waldheim Gwyn Adargi (Welsh Sp Sp) 3. Hanvey Mr/McAllister Ms.

IrShCh IntCh TASARLA SHOW SHOWER AT DREAMRIVER d. 23.1.07 Br. Watton Sire: Paiadr Yuletide Present for Erikachen Dam: Paluaz Fancy Woman at Tasarla (NSDTR)


1. Filksov Mrs Ir DK INT SH CH ABINVALE TRAGUARDO D Br Archibalds 16.03.08 Sire: ShCh Shandanell Talk O'The Town at Ipcress Dam: Gunhills Blue Secret at Abinvale (Ret Golden) 2. Mc Kiernan Mr, ShCh IntCh IRShCh RICHECCA REACH FOR

THESKYE D. 10.04.05 Br. Kelly Sire: ShCh Upperwood Summer Escapade Dam: ShCh Richecca Bedazzled (English Setter) 3. McLarnon Mrs, GLENAVNA JOURNEY SOUTH JW d. 28.1.09 Br.Exh Sire: ShCh Caskeys Concept at Aoibheanne JW Dam: ShCh Kerry fair

United with Northamber (Irish Setter) 4. Brennan Ms, IrShCh ASQUANNE GINNIFER AT KERRIJOY (cwlO) B. 26.11.07 Br. Webster Sire: GbShCH Lochranza For Your Eyes Only Dam: GBShCh Asquanne Gizanne JW (Cocker Spaniel)

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


From Billy Lewis

Country Chat A ‘grave’ encounter is remarkable never mind the dog with mascara and the time a neighbour set fire to the gorse while sitting in it says Billy. Another year has passed and we are up and off again. It would seem that these days, the gap is ever widening for those that are sitting comfortably and those that are not. Vehicle breakdown services sent me a letter at the start of last year for, would you Adam and Eve it, a five pound increase! I told them that they have only two options, either to keep it as it is, or take their services elsewhere; they opted to keep it as it was. When I was still at school, the older generation kept telling me that I didn’t know how lucky I was, today, most of the lucky ones are the older generation. Mark Twain once remarked along the lines that, when he was fifteen, he always thought that his parents knew nothing, but when he reached twenty he was amazed at how much they had picked up in the last five years. Maybe the aforementioned services should have looked at my date of birth more closely. One morning when I was walking my dogs up the back road from the house, I stopped the church warden who was passing at the time, to discuss a burial plot for the Lewis family. At my next visit to the church, he was kind enough to point out a selected spot that may be suitable, under the branches of a huge oak tree. It was no more than two trees away from the very spot where I once wrote in this magazine I had a successful day’s pigeon shooting with my cousin. That was over two decades ago and, such is life I never pursued the matter any further, until December last year. At a time when the majority of people would be rejoicing of life and birth, Billy being Billy, decided once again to chase up the church warden, and discuss the aftermath of death. The church warden from the past is 96

The three pointers on a find during the July grouse counts.

sadly no longer with us, for the two of us could have talked for hours on country matters. But the plot was never paid for and, as in most aspects of life, the church being no different, no cash, no ash. So, with cap in hand and within a week to Christmas, I decided to pay a visit to the new church warden who, at the time I arrived, was stretched out in front of a roaring fire.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

When out and about checking the pheasant hoppers the next day, I got a phone call: “Billy it’s Malcolm, are you in the area, I am up at the church now?” Ironically at the same time, I could actually see the church from the hopper I was standing beside. Five minutes later I was up at the little parish church, which sits nestled amongst the trees on the hill. “I will

show you where I think it is,” said Malcolm. I followed behind him with my fingers crossed. We went around the left hand side of the church to the northern side and then passing the graves of neighbours and friends, he went straight over to the same wee spot I was shown over twenty years ago, under the protection of that majestic king of trees, the oak. Now that’s what I call a real strange coincidence. A young friend use to rebuke me, whenever I said, that I can’t wait until ‘such and such’ a day. “You shouldn’t wish your life away,” he would always say. He was forever the joker though and was very artistic to boot. He once dressed his father’s red setter dog up in a blouse and neck scarf, mini skirt and two furry bootees, completing the picture with mascara and lipstick. I swear it was the funniest sight ever, bearing in mind, it was long before the idea ever caught on as ‘regular dog fashion.’ But his real work of art - and again, long before DustyBin came to the fore (Billy you are showing your age here!) was the lifelike appearance of the family litter bin, smiling face, two wee arms with the sleeves rolled up leading from the handles, jacket, scarf etc, all painted on. He put one of those little microphone transmitters, that was all the rage in those days, inside the bin, the lead running a short distance back to the kitchen window, dad watching on from the upstairs window. Any poor sod unfortunate enough to be passing at the time, would be subjected to a lot of squealing and squawking from what appeared to be coming from the little figure made of tin. Hilarious! His Dad had his moments as well of course. I remember being told that something furry was inside our pheasant pen and I went tearing in with guns blazing, believing it to be a fox, but unknown to me, both Dad and brother-in-law, both of them well into their fifties, had tied a dead rat by the tail to the top of the pen gate, the rat resting on the top ledge of the framework and, because the pen gate

open outwards, I was hit in the face as I tore into the pen. Even my frightened screams couldn’t outdo their roars of laughter. Getting bored, Dad set fire to the gorse bushes surrounding him On another occasion, as we stood around our small flight pond in the fading light of day, Dad got bored and set the gorse bushes alight that concealed him. Dear only knows what the duck must have made of it, the pond lit up like Gatwick airport. Unfortunately both father and son are no longer with us, but it is more than probable the pair are causing mayhem with the team upstairs.

Billy and Lawrence at the Glennoo Shoot.

I had an interesting 2013/14 season, starting with the usual Scottish visits, grouse counting in July and grouse shooting in September. I even went back in October with two friends, who were there to shoot grouse over their own dogs, setters and German pointers. An odd little trip for me, in as much that I only went over to watch, walking behind each of them in turn, without my dogs or my gun. Although I did play guide for one of them on one such moor that I would have been more familiar with, having shot over it for several years. The keeper took one of the duo with him, while I did my best to entertain the other, pointing out the more ‘fruitful spots’. Back in November, LB and myself brought a little business to our own local talent, Tom Woods of the ‘Glennoo shoot’ taking two days walked-up, staying at the Corrick Inn just up the road, rather than driving home on the first day. LB

is still singing the praises of Tom, myself, the game, the Inn, in fact, just about everyone who played a part. We went back on the 23rd of December, for one day only, just to get a more Christmasy feeling, staying at the Corrick again that night and LB wanted a Christmassy drink. Throughout the season I walked the hedges, sometimes with the pointers, other times with the cockers, with club outings falling somewhere in between. Dog of the season - nay, sports star of the year, has got to go to Tia, the Hungarian Vizsla. She got a star many times, not only from me, but also by others including Mr TW himself. Heidi the three-year-old German pointer, got the wooden spoon last year as usual. She is fully trained, stopping and dropping, taking directions on land and in water and yes, she even excelled during grouse counts and grouse shooting. The problem is, she is forever torturing the two wee cockers, the two youngsters have now started to get annoyed with her. When they were all let out of the kennels, Heidi would automatically grab one of the cockers by the ear and continue in whatever direction she was running in. The unfortunate wee runt at the receiving end had learnt to adjust her direction and her speed in order to keep her ear intact. She wasn’t hurting them, for believe you me if she did, they themselves would let her know. No, she was just being her usual boisterous self. The two little cockers have now started to stand up for themselves and with hackles raised they join forces and fight back. Heidi being Heidi just sidesteps them and tries to annoy them from a different angle. But the ‘cratur’ has a good temperament, she is ‘over-friendly’ in fact. But if anything goes missing, Heidi’s to blame, broken water bucket, strewn bedding - Heidi, chewed or destroyed - Heidi. But times have changed, lifestyles, like our personalities, change too and regrettably one has to part company and move on. A good friend had now

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


gone to pastures new. The two of us travelled to Scotland many times, and many a night she looked after my dogs whilst I rested in a hotel bar. She was best described as a stylish lady, although she required high maintenance and was starting to show her age, but I was starting to spend more time with the other one. Even as I write this, I am still having withdrawal symptoms and still a trifle sad at having to let her go, but I know she is away to a very good home. Yes, the poor old Landrover Discovery and I have parted company; her number plate told you not only my date of birth, but hers as well, incredible, only because it was unintentional. However, she can’t hold a candle to the suitability, flexibility and lifeline of the Landrover Defender, and I am, if nothing else, a pragmatic soul, so sadly the Discovery had to go. And, re-enforcing my opening paragraph on the fortunes of the elderly, a couple in their seventies bought it!

His hand was caught in a vice-like grip And finally: handshakes. Now there are weak handshakes, medium ones and the friendly strong ones which, quite frankly, are dropping into the rarity category. Then there are the five-star hand-pumping jobbies normally supported by the other hand, should the receiver lose his hand in the process, a type of handshake usually reserved for American Presidents, etc., surrounded by a posse of journalists and cameras. Now I would never claim to be in the latter, but truly, there is nothing more annoying than someone offering you three fingers on the end of a limp hand. A gamekeeper I know, who keepered on a Scottish grouse moor, would have the most powerful handshake I have ever encountered. I once caught my hand in the old type gin trap, and believe you me, the screaming really does follow after a thirty second pause, his hand shake was similar. He grabs your

Gerard McAleer

Casting Instructor & Guide

I have been f ishing the rivers of the Foyle system for almost 40 years. In this time I have gained a fair knowledge of the rivers Mourne, Finn, Derg, and Strule.  Fully qualified fly casting instructor, holding advanced professional game angling instructor certificate (APGAI) Also a qualified guide and hold level 3 Irish angling skills certificate (IASC) and a member of the Scott Mackenzie pro-team 

Tel: 07785 958680 Email: Also on Gerard McAleera 98

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

hand, but it isn’t a gin trap going off, his works more like a vice. “Good morning Billy, how are you?” Slowly the vice-like handshake starts to register, ten-seconds later, your mouth drops open and you’re standing on one foot. We were accustomed to taking childish delight in introducing newcomers to him, whilst at the same time studying their facial expression, for by the time the keeper had finished saying good morning and how are you, they were practically on their knees. I remember once at a filling station taking it upon myself and without invitation to introduce myself to a work colleague’s brother, who at the time was sitting in a pick-up truck. Wishing to install a good impression, I was not found wanting when it came to giving him a good hearty ‘you will remember me’ handshake. Strewth, I can still hear him screaming yet, for he had cut his middle finger and had it in plaster!

The Great Game Fairs of Ireland 2014 gear up for an even more exciting year Following a year when the GREAT GAME FAIRS of IRELAND demonstrated conclusively that they are Ireland’s premier game and country fairs, and arguably also Ireland’s most exciting family events, we are delighted to announce our 2014 dates and to confirm that with many new attractions planned for both fairs – they will be bigger and better than ever. AND we will be organising a brand new end of season extravaganza - a twin locus Country Sports, Country living and Fine Food event in Ballynahinch town centre and the beautiful Montalto Estate on the 27th & 28th September.

In 2013 the Ballywalter Game Fair was seamlessly combined with the Irish Game Fair at Shanes Castle to deliver probably Ireland’s largest and best attended game fair ever. This year on the 28th & 29th June it is planned to extend the combined event further with a host of new attractions, competitions and displays. After the success of Shanes Castle, it was on to Birr and once again a record number of stands and huge crowds filled what is probably the prettiest Game Fair site in Ireland. In 2014 the spectacular setting of the Birr Castle Demesne will also play host to a greatly enhanced fair on the 23rd and 24th August. There are four key themes to each fair – country sports, country living, living history and fine food. This year all these facets will be extended and enhanced to provide truly spectacular visitor experiences

for the whole family and in fact anyone who lives, works or plays in the Irish countryside. For visitors from outside Ireland we have top competitions , with prizes unrivalled in Ireland and equivalent to the best in the UK, special ferry and accommodation rates, the opportunity to enjoy a short break in beautiful countryside and a very friendly welcome ou host areas. Starting the Irish Game Fair season with the fair at Shanes Castle on the 28th & 29th June Trading was good last year and already exhibitor bookings are flooding in, including many new stands for our tented village of trade stands with everything one would need for stylish country living. There are many new stands and attractions planned for the Fine Food Festival ; huge enhancements of the country sports competitions and truly spectacular living history displays.

Hunting, shooting , gundogs and fishing are always placed centre stage at the Great Game Fairs of Ireland and in 2014 all facets are enhanced including an enhanced ‘country sports in action’ arena with all sorts of action from long netting to ferret racing. The Angling section will see the greatest change with an ambitious Northern Ireland Angling Show to be launched as a ‘show within a show’ to coincide with us launching the Irish Game Angler as a ‘magazine within a magazine’ within our Irish Countrysports and Country Life magazine. Negotiations are under way with a major sponsor to deliver the largest ever angling presence at any Game or Country Fair in Ireland including some really interesting angling activities for children. Shanes Castle has always hosted the largest and most varied canine event in Ireland including superb

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


arena displays and personalities; real international gundog events with great prizes; a group pedigree dog show ; dog agility show & demos; horse and hounds; and the 27th all Ireland Terrier, Whippet and Lurcher championships ( racing and showing). In addition to the prestige of the All Ireland championships a huge number of heats are being staged throughout Ireland and UK for The Master Mc Grath Challenge to find the fastest lurcher in Ireland and the UK in the final at Shanes and for the new Five Nations Whippet Championship also to be staged at Shanes Castle. The other Five Nations Terrier and Lurcher Championship finals will be staged at Birr Castle. The Great Game Fairs of Ireland team have a reputation for bringing Irish living history to life and Shanes Castle will see a number of Irish legends featured and a large number of spectacular static displays in the living history village

including the return of Grunal Moneta , coin maker to the British Museum, and fantastic action packed displays including medieval jousting by the evocatively named ‘Knights of the Damned ‘ and a Viking landing in the bay of the lough at the castle including a reenactment of the race to the shore to be ‘King of Ulster’ which gave rise to the legend of the ‘Red Hand of the O’Neills ‘ and the ‘Red Hand of Ulster’. Plans are also being put in place to bring similarly spectacular displays, demonstrations , exhibits and competitions to the fair at Birr Castle on the 23rd & 24th August, before the team’s focus moves back North to the end of season event in Ballynahinch - the Ballynahinch Harvest & Country living Festival on the 27th & 28th September. Country Comes to Town with the Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival This festival really will have a

The Vikings are coming to Shanes Castle 100

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

‘Country comes to Town’ theme with the old Pork and Potato Market in the town brought to life with a country market, music , horse drawn vehicles and farm animals and a spectacular re-enactment of the ‘Battle of Ballynahinch. ’ At the same time a new , rather unique and very stylish country fair will take place in the magnificent surroundings of Montalto Estate. Once again it will provide the sort of entertainment that the Great Game Fairs of Ireland are famed for including an exciting main arena programme with medieval mayhem, falconry , re- enactments ; country sports and traditional farming displays including TV shepherdess Katy Cropper handling sheepdogs on horseback. In addition some exciting ‘year end championships’ will be staged for gundogs and terrier & lurchers, and some great clay pigeon and angling competitions and demonstrations will be mounted.

Montalto Estate will host the stylish ‘end of season’ country living event.

Quite uniquely the trade stand village is largely indoor with good use being made of the estates barns, stable yard, walled garden and its super Carriage rooms hospitality suites . The village will feature top quality shooting, hunting and fishing products including a

in March when the websites; and m will go live. Full details of all three events will be published in our Summer and Autumn magazines.




country clothing fashion show; a fine food village in the stable yard and quite uniquely a fine food emphasis throughout including in the public catering areas – the highlight here will be a medieval buffet experience in the dining hall. All three events will be launched


THE GREAT GAME FAIRS OF IRELAND TEAM Tackle dealers, tackle manufacturers and anglers are invited to join with the GREAT GAME FAIRS of IRELAND team in delivering what will be Ireland’s best attended angling show



will be the most read Irish angling publication ever as it is published within Ireland’s most read hunting, shooting or fishing magazine


See: and



Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


By Julian Schmechel

The Gatekeeper This disturbing tale recounting a chilling brush with the supernatural, was related to me by a level headed countryman long familiar with nocturnal sights and sounds. He is a friend of many years standing, and a man not given to flights of fancy or the embroidering of the truth. Surrounded on all sides by rich grazing land, the 100 acre bog formed a maze of reed beds, quivering sphagnum, and peaty shallow pools. This low lying freshwater marsh had an enviable reputation for attracting migrating duck, and had even provided wildfowl for the table of a great manor house which once stood close by. Of this former grand edifice only a dry moat and a pair of enormous sandstone gateposts remained; for time, Cromwell, and the elements, had reduced the house to little more than broken rubble. Something other than the merely physical lingered around this ruin however, for both it, and the bog it overshadowed, shared a reputation for being ‘Unquiet’ places. A handful of summer visitors might occasionally venture to the site of the old manor, but few local people would tarry there, even in daylight. Despite the fact that it attracted most of the county’s wintering duck, the bog was shot over by surprisingly few people. Without doubt it was a lonely place, where treacherous mires formed a trap for the foolish and the unwary; but it was more than a simple fear of the earthly which kept locals from its watery acres. Farmers, who grazed cattle on the bog during spring, spoke of the sense of unease which the place gave them, and were careful never to linger long after dusk. The men who with swishing scythes, cut bundles of the tall white reed for thatching, told of feeling ‘watched’ by unseen eyes as they worked amongst the whispering reed beds; the urge to glance over their shoulders being never far away. Not all local people shared this fear however, for although he had dwelt in the nearby village all his life, my friend Brian had little time for rural superstitions, or 102

Over the ensuing forty minutes, duck seemed to pour from the sky.

belief in ghosts, Banshee’s, and ‘The Little People.’ In addition, he was quick to point out that we lived in the age of computers, internet connection, and space travel, and poured scorn on village ignorance. He would shoot duck on the 100 acre bog and restless spirits be damned! In late autumn, rain bearing westerly winds brought their customary deluge,

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transforming the bog into a shallow, irregular sheet of water. Duck, driven to milder climes by freezing weather in the Baltic, streamed into this transient lake at dusk, seeking food and shelter; the noise created by hundreds of feeding mallard, teal, and widgeon, drifting far across the surrounding countryside. Sharp eyed countryman that he was, Brian noticed the packs of duck

Wings set against the tempest and paddles down.

spiralling down into the bog at twilight, and made his plans. He knew that the optimum time to flight duck into this great freshwater marsh, was when the November moon was full, and the floodwaters shone like a sheet of hammered pewter. So it was that on a late November afternoon, when a gale tore at the bare roadside ash trees, Brian made his way down across the fields by the old ruined manor house, toward the 100 acre bog. Clad in waders and waxed jacket, and with a weather worn game bag slung over his shoulder, he strode out with dog at heel, and his old AYA 12 bore nestled easily in the crook of his right arm. Giving matters supernatural not a second’s thought, he entered a muddy track way leading down between the ruin’s two huge sandstone gateposts, and out onto the bog. Wading into the flood, Brian headed directly towards a clump of stunted willows. This gnarled knot of trees he had noticed by earlier reconnaissance, and felt sure they would provide a perfect natural hide. Having reached his chosen position, the stoical fowler set about fashioning his makeshift blind, quickly trimming any willow branches which might interfere with either his vision, or his swing when taking a shot at settling duck. Boss the black Labrador was positioned on a dry tussock, in readiness for a busy evening ahead. Satisfied with his impromptu pruning, Brian spoke a few gentle words to his dog, before slipping a couple of cartridges into the chambers of the open 12 bore. With a full moon already rising behind a ceiling of white cloud, and the gale showing no sign of abating, conditions were

virtually perfect for duck flighting. Mallard plummeted, wings set against the tempest, paddles down Closing the old AYA with its familiar ‘Clunk’, Brian trained his vision on the horizon, and awaited the arrival of his unsuspecting quarry. For the first time since entering the bog the fowler considered its sinister reputation, and mused on how, oddly, it had actually worked in his favour. Less courageous souls were indoors this evening, leaving him with the entire marsh to himself. Clearly the old superstitions had their uses! With a sound like tearing canvas, a string of 15 mallard plummeted in before the willow clump; wings set against the tempest and paddles down in readiness for settling on the flood. Swiftly mounting his gun, Brian swung onto the leading drake, and firing, saw it crumple lifeless to his shot. In panic, the rest of the duck burst like a star shell, and flaring away on open wings offered the most testing of shots. Selecting a fleeing drake from the maelstrom, Brian swung well through and fired; the stricken bird arcing down like a clenched fist to strike the water with a resounding ‘smack.’ Within moments the fine brace of mallard were tucked away in the fowler’s game bag, as Boss the black Labrador made easy work of the retrieves. Over the ensuing forty minutes, duck seemed to pour from the sky, as Brian found himself experiencing the flight of a lifetime. Teal by the dozen roared in before the willow clump, as did whistling widgeon and more mallard than he dared count. Empty cartridge cases soon littered the floor of the hide, as steadily, Brian’s game bag grew heavy. Time and again Boss surged forward through the peaty flood waters, until with a full moon high in the heavens, the happy fowler had as many duck as he could carry, and decided it was time to head for home. Unloading the old AYA, Brian collected the empty cartridge cases which lay around his feet, then shouldering the groaning game bag, waded back through the shallows with

Boss following in his wake. The torch which the fowler had brought to light his homeward journey he found obsolete, for the full moon was now so bright that Brian could see as though it were daylight. At last back on dry land, the contented wildfowler called Boss to heel, and setting out upon the muddy track, trudged homeward in the direction of the ruined manor. Labouring under the heavy load of waterfowl, Brian noticed for the first time that the gale had dropped to little more than a light breeze. As he did so, he raised his eyes to the moonlit horizon, and with a start, came to a sudden, jarring, halt. There, no more than 50 yards before him, and bathed in brilliant moonlight, stood the huge sandstone gateposts through which he must pass.The disturbing realisation which had brought Brian to such an abrupt halt, however, was that where once there had been only two gateposts.... there were now three! The third object however, alarmingly, seemed to have a distinctly human form Distinctly startled, the fowler stared at the featureless silhouettes rising up before him, and blinked. Was this visual conundrum merely an illusion caused by tired eyes and moon cast shadows? Suddenly the breeze died away entirely, rendering the scene one of utter stillness. Unashamedly baffled, Brain noticed that two of the gate posts stood as they always had, at a height of about eight feet. The third object however, positioned almost exactly at their centre, was approximately his own height, and alarmingly, seemed to have a distinctly human, if ragged, form. Completely absorbed by the enigma before him, the bemused fowler had failed to notice that Boss was standing close by. Suddenly, and much against character, the normally placid Labrador began to emit a low and threatening growl. Following the dog’s gaze, Brian noticed that the animal was staring fixedly at the dark shape barring their way. The fowler spoke a few words of reassurance to his dog, but this made little difference, as already the hackles

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had risen on the animal’s back, and the dog’s bared teeth flashed white in the moonlight. If Brian was not already alarmed by the unfolding scene, he could have been forgiven for being a little unnerved by what happened next. With Boss’s rising growl filling his ears, the wildfowler watched in amazement, as the silhouette with human form began to move. Slowly, and quite deliberately, the ragged figure began shambling towards the right hand sandstone gatepost, whereupon it disappeared behind the weathered pillar. At this Brian had had enough. Convinced that some of the village youths were playing on the bog’s eerie reputation, and had decided to have a little sport at his expense, he marched up to the concealing gatepost, fully intending to give whichever lad was hiding behind it, the rollicking of his young life! Arriving at the enormous stone pillar, the irate fowler lent his empty gun against its face, and with a string of oaths and arms outstretched, lunged behind the weather worn obelisk. If Brian had expected to grab a village lad in Halloween costume by the scruff of the neck, he was to be disappointed. To his astonishment his flailing hands merely grasped thin air, as thoroughly bewildered, his well chosen curses dried upon his tongue. Stunned, the fowler whirled around, expecting to see a figure fleeing across the surrounding moon lit field. Not even a hare could have escaped unseen on such a night, and yet, but for his frightened dog, Brian was entirely alone. With cold fear now rising within him, the shaken wildfowler dashed across to the second gatepost, still hoping to find a village joker hiding there. Nothing! Taking up his gun once more, Brian endeavoured to make sense of what was happening. A further search of the area produced nothing to explain how the watching figure could have disappeared, and in addition, not a single footprint marked the ground between the stone pillars. If this was a practical joke, it was a damn good one! Thoroughly scared, 104

Brian called Boss over to his side; the growling dog now trembling from nose to tail; its eyes transfixed upon the ancient gateway. Could the unearthly stories told about the bog and its ruined manor house actually be true? Was there some resentful supernatural presence bound to the place; and did it watch those foolish enough to trespass there? Slowly and steadily both dog and fowler backed along the rutted track; the man not daring to take his eyes off the gateway, for fear of what might follow. Imagine then Brian’s rising sense of horror, as before him, a ragged, shambling figure, clearly not of this world, crept out from behind the right hand gate post. With all thoughts of practical jokes long gone, the terrified fowler let out a cry, and turning, fled across the field in the direction of the village; his heavy game bag being dropped in a ditch, as both he and Boss crashed through a blackthorn hedge, as though it were made of cobwebs.

Scratched, bleeding, and gasping for breath, Brian stumbled into the lane, and ran from whatever ancient evil pursued him. He dared not even look back, so great was his sense of dread. Boss too fled along the moonlit road, and neither he nor his master slowed their pace, until both were safe behind a bolted cottage door. Upon reading this tale, the sceptical will say that Brian merely related a tall story; dozens of which may be heard in any country pub. Certainly such tales are told, but if this is merely a fabrication, the unbeliever might ask themselves why, to this day, Brian refuses ever to set foot on the 100 acre bog again. They may also, if they wish, care to view his faded game bag lying overgrown and unclaimed, in the ditch where it was dropped. Perhaps the brave or disbelieving might even care to flight duck on the bog, for they would certainly be assured of having the place to themselves. Well.....almost.

The ragged figure began shambling towards the right hand sandstone gatepost.

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AJ’s Angst Frank opinion on the issues facing the Irish country sports scene


lease don’t think the column has gone completely ‘soft focus’ as I have a large number of congratulatory messages within it. We have always said the editorial focus of this magazine is to give praise where it is deserved and constructive criticism where it is thought to be due!

The Gathering ‘Awards’ Congratulations to my colleagues in the team for helping us play our part in Failte’s Gathering tourism initiative. We were delighted to receive official thanks for the part we played in this initiative with both our Great Game Fairs of Ireland at Birr Castle and Shanes Castle by way of a personally signed certificate by the Irish President Michael D. Higgins. What was particularly pleasing was that ICAB the Irish Campaign Against Bloodsports campaigned vigorously to have our fairs removed from the Gathering promotion because we had hunting and terriers and lurchers within our fairs. As we have made it clear we have been at the forefront of promoting and defending all legal country sports for over 35 years and we will not be diverted from this by the actions of small minority groups.

Speaking of small minority groups? As part of our concern about the slow progress and the lack of consultation by BASCNI over the firearms legislation we publicly asked BASCNI through the columns of this magazine how many members BASC had in NI – result a deafening silence! When we asked the same question on the BASCNI FACEBOOK page – we found we were blocked from posting on it! Now BASCNI appear to have taken it upon themselves to negotiate on behalf of the 60,000 firearms certificate holders in Northern Ireland and they have done this apparently without any real consultation with NI’s FAC holders. and perhaps more seriously clearly without having the confidence to declare their membership and their mandate for negotiating. With the deafening silence from BASCNI about BASC’s

membership numbers in NI, I went to BASC’s Head of Membership with the same request – this time I had a response but one that stated BASC do not disclose membership within the regions. NARGC, FISSTA and CAI all openly declare their membership in Ireland – one has got to ask why BASC will not? That is unless the BASC membership in NI as a percentage of FAC holders is at such a low level that they cannot credibly claim to be ‘the Voice of Shooting’ in Northern Ireland!

Mixed Messages? Leaving aside the matter of how many members BASC has in NI, how well are BASCNI representing us in the FAC negotiations? I had a look at the submission BASCNI led to the Justice Committee at the Assembly. I was rather surprised that the BASCNI Director led off with the less than impressive statement: “Although the main focus of our presentation will be on the four main issues, as we see them, including licensing fees, the banded system and young shooters, we will not have time to cover all the various aspects. However, we will try to squeeze it all in as best we can. We have scribbled down a lot of notes today — we were, obviously, very interested to hear what the police had to say. Please bear with us as we filter our way through our notes.” And it appeared that the rather rambling presentation was so lacking in clarity and focus that the Vice Chairman of the Committee didn’t quite appear to grasp whether they were FOR or AGAINST full cost recovery pricing of the FAC. Mr McCartney apparently trying to get the discussion back on track said: “We moved from talking about the cost of a licence to accountability. I understand your point that there should be a proper forum where all these things can be aired. You are not opposed to full cost recovery; it is more that you are saying that there should be no change in the fee until you have the right instrument in place and can say that there is best practice.” Instead of putting Mr McCartney and the rest of the committee straight about how the majority of FAC holders see this: Mr Robinson from the Gun Trade Guild stated “Full cost recovery has to be linked to best practice. No one sitting in this room would pay for a service that they are not getting.” This, and what he was subsequently reported as saying in his ‘New year message to the Gun Trade’ when he intimated that he believed we would have to accept full cost recovery i.e Real Cost Recovery is and has been Government Policy for a considerable number of years. It is not within our gift to get rid of this policy, what we can and are doing is challenging how these fees are calculated…’ would indicate that he has Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


apparently accepted the concept of the cost of the FAC rising substantially through the application of some sort of ‘Real Cost Recovery.' AND Mr Mayne made the rather odd statement that was at best ambivalent: “I would not say that we are not opposed to full cost recovery.” I should have thought the answers that should have been given were ones that the whole committee should have understood and taken away with them - that the FAC holders of NI are IMPLACABLY OPPOSED TO FULL COST RECOVERY PRICING OF THEIR FAC! I leave readers of the magazine with the link to the whole report to weigh up for themselves whether the BASCNI led delegation adequately represented the interests of the FAC holders of NI with logic and clarity in this presentation.

OUR ADVICE to the negotiating teams on the FAC legislation 1. Plan your presentations to get simple, cogent messages across relevant on key issues. It appears that two of ‘our negotiators’ appear to like the sound of their own voices – they should remember that good communication involves getting across simple messages that are understood fully by their audience. To progress a resolution you must separate the negotiations on FAC Holder and Firearms Dealers issues. BASCNI and CAI should address the three issues potentially affecting FAC holders without the distraction of someone representing the trade being involved and bringing in trade issues to the negotiations on personal FAC issues. Putting oneself in the position of being a member of the assembly committee listening to a whole range of presentations can anyone honestly think that our representatives got their message across well? 2. BASC and CAI should support the two trade organisations forming a common front to deal specifically with the Trade Issues. 3. The Minister and PSNI support a YOUNG Shots age of 12 yo. We agree with this and when we put out the challenge of who would wish to shoot in line with or beat or pick up for 10 yo kids with guns ( the BASCMI preferred age limit) or perhaps go rough shooting even woodcock shooting with 10 yo we did not have a one single take up and literally hundreds of people saying it was madness. OUR ADVICE ACCEPT and BANK the 12 yo age limit and get this part of the negotiations out of the way. 4. From our discussions it appears there is fairly wide spread support for the banded system – this too should be finalised and got out of the way in the negotiations. 5. This leaves the thorny question of a rise in cost of the FAC. There should be TOTAL UNEQUIVOCAL REJECTION of the concept of FULL or REAL COST RECOVERY. If the PSNI will grant a 10 year license and possibly a relaxation of shotgun holdings (like the UK) then a modest increase could be negotiated. THIS SHOULD BE THE FOCUS of VIRTUALLY ALL FUTURE NEGOTIATIONS and could and should be wrapped up quickly. 106

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A new magazine... We were genuinely sorry to hear of the demise of the Irish Angler magazine as we worked harmoniously with David Dinsmore and Michael Shanks for many years , each of us delivering the best quality magazines to our sector of the market. However we felt that the Irish game angling community needed a quality magazine to promote their interests and so the team have launched the IRISH GAME ANGLER as a ‘magazine within a magazine’ within Ireland’s most read publication Irish Countrysports and Country Life. I thank our production, design and editorial team and our contributors for making such a great start within this magazine and taking a focused Irish angling message to the largest ever readership.

Terriers & Lurchers My congratulations to Margaret McStay on taking the initiative to develop a calendar of terrier, whippet and lurcher events so as to try to avoid show clashes. I have been producing a Gundog Calendar for several years and while there are always good reasons for date changes by and large we sort these out amicably as country sports people should. My congratulations to Kieran Young and his team for taking over the All Ireland Terrier, Whippet and Lurcher Championships at Shanes Castle, including launching a new Five Nations Whippet Championships at the Fair and also new Terrier, Whippet, Lurcher and Working Pup of the Year competitions at our new event at Ballynahinch. Since I first visited Kieran’s extremely well run Mourne Show I have used him ‘behind the scenes’ as an advisor on all matters terrier, lurcher and whippet. We are all delighted that he has stepped up to run our events in Northern Ireland. And finally on the working dog front I am delighted to hear of the IWTF presentation in Northern Ireland. I know the guys involved have been working hard behind the scenes on a number of initiatives to help protect and defend their sport. And I know they are now keen to share these with members and non members and to progress the work of the organisation on a number of fronts. They have our support in their endeavours.

New Chairman CAI... Our congratulations to John Clarke on assuming the chair of CAI and we wish him well for his term in office. I also personally congratulate him on fielding some searching and difficult questions with aplomb in his interview published elsewhere in the magazine. I rarely if ever interfere with Paul’s editorship of the magazine which is probably why, although we are both strong minded individuals, we have not had a single row since he took over the editorial chair. However Paul has always been a great supporter of formerly BFSS and CAI and when I heard he was interviewing John I couldn’t resist suggesting that he raise a ‘hobby horse’ of mine that of democracy within the local organisations! John has an impressive ‘track record’ both in business and country sports and with his strategic planning ability and Lyall’s undoubted energy and work ethic, I join with Paul in wishing the combination well in taking CAI forward.


ANGLING ‘CATCH AND RELEASE ONLY’ POLICY AND NETTING BAN ANNOUNCED DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced that from 1st March 2014 new legislation will be in place which will introduce mandatory catch and release for salmon and sea trout angling and also a ban of salmon and sea trout netting across the DCAL jurisdiction. Making the announcement she said that international scientists have confirmed that wild Atlantic salmon are dying at sea in significant numbers. Bushmills Salmon Station shows a decline in salmon returning to the River Bush from around 30% prior to 1997 to less than 5% today. There is also scientific evidence that salmon fishing off the North Coast is catching fish from areas protected under the EC Habitats Directive. Minister Ní Chuilín said: “It has become clear that continuing to authorise such exploitation is unsustainable and would be inconsistent with the Department’s obligations under the EC Habitats Directive, and with our commitments to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation, which could lead to infraction fines being imposed by the EC. “This means that from 1st March 2014 all salmon and sea trout caught by anglers must be returned to the water. This will apply to all waters within the DCAL jurisdiction with the exception of Lough Melvin, Co Fermanagh, which has demonstrated a sustainable surplus of salmon. On Lough Melvin, anglers can take and keep two salmon or sea trout during the season. For all waters, anglers must use single or double barbless hooks while fishing for salmon and sea trout and worm fishing is prohibited until the 1st July.” In commercial fishing, salmon and sea trout netting will be banned in coastal waters and on Lough Neagh. However, legislation will allow anyone who has held a netting licence in anyone of the last three years to have first preference for a new licence should netting resume.

Questions have been raised about the inclusion of sea trout in catch and release measures and the prohibition on salmon netting. AFBI’s analysis is that there is insufficient data available to allow the exploitation of sea trout across the DCAL jurisdiction and the Minister said that her advised position was therefore to apply a precautionary approach to sea trout management based on international data until local information has been collected and assessed over a longer time period. Minister Ní Chuilín said: “I encourage all anglers to take responsibility for their actions on the river banks - officials will be engaging with local angling clubs to promote best practice in catch and release. Promotional material and an educational DVD will also be available to enhance the message. The Minister also urged anglers to help her Department establish robust data sets of

salmon and sea trout stocks. “This means that while anglers can no longer retain the fish, they must still record any salmon or sea trout caught and returned to the water. This will aid the scientific assessment of such stocks and will help determine when rivers might re-open for the retention of salmon or sea trout by anglers. To help with this, the game fishing licence will now include a form for anglers to record salmon and sea trout catch and release details for return to the Department,” she added. In introducing this new legislation, Minister Ní Chuilín considered views expressed by various stakeholders and believed that the new regulations are appropriate, equitable, enforceable and essential to conserving and protecting wild salmon and sea trout stocks in the future. For more information on the new legislation, please telephone 0300 200 7860 or visit

Lower Bann Fishing: still going strong The Honourable The Irish Society is a 400 year old charity that owns and manages the game and coarse fishing in the 38 miles of the Lower Bann and neighbouring rivers. On offer to anglers heading for the North Coast is premium salmon and trout fishing on private and non-private beats, together with competition-standard coarse fishing, all at a variety of prices to suit every taste. We have now been operating full 'catch & release' for salmon for the past two years, and therefore are more experienced in handling 108

this than many other fisheries which are only now having to face up to reality in that DCAL Inland Fisheries have brought in regulations to conserve salmon stocks. We fully support this precautionary approach, coupled with measures to close coastal net fisheries. Our own bailiffing and environmental protection efforts remain in place; our team of private water bailiffs patrols the river day and daily for the good of everyone, and all our angling income is presently reinvested into protecting and managing the fisheries.

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Carnroe saw over 350 salmon taken and safely released alive in 2013 and we hope for many more successful days fishing this year. We are content that DCAL have seen fit to retain the use of non-injurious fishing methods such as prawn and shrimp, while sensibly banishing the Treble Hooks and placing restrictions on worm fishing. Prices remain unchanged from last season, for the third year in a row. Edward Montgomery Secretary, The Honourable The Irish Society

From Michael Martin, Six Mile Water Trust

(Photo: Bill Armstrong)


The legendary Dollaghan, icon of the Northern Ireland fishing scene seems to be attracting a lot of attention of late and rightly so. Generations of anglers have pursued this highly prized game fish, it has helped sustain a commercial fishery and it has undoubtedly helped to feed generations of families who lived around Lough Neagh. The name comes from the Gaelic ‘Dulagh’ which means swift running, which would certainly apply to this fish which surges up its natal rivers to spawn at the end of the season. I have in my possession a little publication from many years ago entitled ‘Angling in Ulster Waters,’ which gives reference to the Dollaghan and some of the subspecies: ‘the word Dollaghan itself covers several different types, including the Pollan trout, Boddagh and Black Boddagh, all of which are Lough Neagh trout.’ It continues, ‘the Pollan trout are the first to ascend the rivers, making their appearance early in August, if the water is high enough, and they run from 5 to 7lb. They are shapely fish with small heads and derive their name from their silvery appearance, which resembles that of the Pollan. The next are the Boddagh which start to run late in 110

August or early in September, and they come up to 16lb. They are short, deep, humpbacked fish and are much darker in colour than the Pollan trout, their colour being much the same as ordinary brown trout. The Black Boddagh is the last to run and is the heaviest of the lot. It has very large fins and is, like the ordinary Boddagh, a very deep and short fish, the depth in this case running the whole length of the body to the vent, and there being no hump on the back. As its name implies, it is a very dark fish, though not black, and is the best fighter of the lot. It invariably runs downstream when struck, and an angler hooking one of 10lb. or so, will experience a thrill only equalled by the playing of a fresh run

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salmon.’ A shooting acquaintance tells me that his father was once an operator on the netting station at the mouth of the River Maine at Shanes Castle, Antrim, and that the distinct types of Dollaghan were identifiable to the nets-men; incidentally the word Boddagh may emanate from Buddagh or Breddach which translate to ‘big fat fellow.’ Other references mention the Ferox, Gillaroo and ‘Salmon Trout’ which is said to have the appearance of a sea trout. One thing is for sure, in the vast 400sq. kilometres of Lough Neagh there is plenty of room for genetic variation and perhaps it would be more surprising if various sub species did not develop.

Dollaghan from Six Mile Water caught in the dead of night by Bobby Bryans was caught on the Fox Fly.

The little book also mentions that the best Dollaghan rivers were the Ballinderry, Moyola, Maine and Blackwater, strangely no mention of the Six Mile Water or Upper Bann, although I suppose they may have been more renowned for quality trout fishing many years ago. At Coagh bridge on the Ballinderry, an engraving of a large fish on top of the wall bears testament to its importance as a Dollaghan fishery and there are even specific flies tied purely for the species such as the Ballinderry

Black, tied by Tommy Hanna from Moneymore.

Decline of the Dollaghan There is no date on my Angling in Ulster Waters book, but it does mention that a rod licence cost all of 10 shillings, so I think we can assume that it’s not a recent edition! However, at the time this publication went to print I think we can assume that there would have been an abundance of trout and Dollaghan in the Lough and the rivers; it’s hard to

Practical work done by anglers benefits the environment as well as the fishery.

imagine how things might have been before our beautiful streams were dredged, super effective insecticides devastated our aquatic invertebrate populations, industrial farming production poured industrial quantities of slurry and fertilisers onto the fields and waterways and before every little burn and spawning tributary was dug out and culverted in the name of progress! Add to this, every marsh and bog was drained, so now rain flushes straight down the water course causing flooding, erosion and damage downstream. The newly developing factories added a load of chemical pollution just to top it all off and government decided to suspend fishery protection patrols on Lough Neagh, so illegal fishing became rampant. In the space of a few decades the trout and Dollaghan population crashed and no one except the anglers seemed to care! Our favourite game fish was on the ropes and thankfully DCAL Fisheries, the EEC Water Framework Directive and angling interests have managed to take steps to halt the decline.

The winds of change In recent years, a number of initiatives have appeared, some following on from the Water Framework Directive and others simply developing from better understanding of fisheries management. The Directive encourages an improvement in water quality and organisations such as the Freshwater Task Force have published documents such as ‘From Source To Sea’ as a guideline on how to better manage our waterways. NIEA is taking steps to counter pollution and improve the condition of our rivers and lakes. Other organisations such as The River Restoration Centre have developed river enhancement to a science through practical experience, rather than the ‘hit or miss’ affair that it once was. The Wild Trout Trust has also refined salmonid management and habitat enhancement to a fine art so government agencies and angling clubs now have excellent reference sources to develop their fisheries.

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Members of the Antrim & District Angling Association electro fishing a tributary for brood stock to restock the river after a fish kill.

Appliance of Science An exciting development has been the studies currently being undertaken on Lough Neagh by an eminent scientist Paulo Prodohl, Kevin Keenan and Warren Campbell of Queens University and University College Cork. These studies carry on from studies carried out by Ferguson and Crozier way back in 1986, but this time we have the benefit modern technology and science which allows a much better study of population genetics and includes the use of microsatellite markers and other cutting edge technology. One of the intriguing features of the Dollaghan trout is the great difference in appearance and, whilst we know that the environment in which a fish lives can have an effect on its colouration, sandy habitats producing silvery fish, weedy habitats producing darker fish etc, we don’t the extent of this or if it can have an effect on the physiological development but the research which is being undertaken at present will throw light on genetic stock identification, local adaptation detection, stock management and conservation genetics of local trout populations.

A Holistic Approach One thing that is becoming increasingly apparent is that there is no one particular cause of the demise of the Dollaghan trout. For a major change we need to look at the catchment as a whole and put in place a wide ranging strategy which would encompass all aspects of the environment from habitat, juvenile 112

recruitment, water quality, commercial exploitation, conservation measures. Angling clubs can work with DCAL Fisheries or the Wild Trout Trust to help create habitat for development and spawning to ensure good juvenile recruitment; NIEA can help with pollution issues; DCAL Fisheries are doing a fantastic job policing illegal netting stations on the Lough itself. The scientists are helping develop a picture of stock dynamics, genetic identity and mapping, they can give us the hard facts that would form an effective management plan. Angling Conservation measures have a place in this especially as Dollaghan spawn on multiple occasions; if they are released to spawn for several years not only are they contributing a huge recruitment to the system but they can also achieve remarkable weights whilst in the Lough with its profusion of shrimp, hoglice, midge and coarse fish fry. Bobby Bryans and Stevie Munn are Dollaghan fishing enthusiasts on the Six Mile Water and have lead the way for catch and release techniques for several years and now just about everybody releases their fish as the appreciate the increasing number of fish and increasing sizes: every year they catch double fish and Bobby’s record is over 20lb!

The Ultimate Goal Fundamentally we know that Lough Neagh is a vast larder for fish; if we can

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optimise juvenile recruitment into the Lough from the rivers, manage the stock in the Lough carefully, then there will be an abundance of fish for anglers and development of sustainable angling tourism and there will an abundance of fish for those commercial fishermen whose families have made a living from Lough Neagh for generations, especially in these days of a collapsed eel fishery. If we can manage our habitats carefully all kinds of wildlife will benefit, our communities will benefit from better leisure and recreation facilities and economically through sustainable tourism and commercial fishery and our lives will be enriched by having an environment and countryside of which we can be justifiably proud, everyone’s a winner but it will take a political determination to support this reform; support for the scientists, support for DCAL Fisheries, NIEA and the angling organisations and River Trusts who have the vision to realise this ambition. This is a fantastic opportunity to make a huge difference, it has already started, the Dollaghan runs of 2013 were the biggest seen in years so now is the time to make changes, check for pollution, improve the habitat, form a River Trust, start conservation measures, attend Catchment Stakeholder Meetings and get involved in the management of your river, it’s your fishing, wildlife, countryside, heritage. Manage it wisely! 2355 Here’s hoping : as the light dies a solitary angler tries for a magical Dollaghan Photography by Bill Armstrong Water sampling is an essential tool to understanding the current state of the water.

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Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life



at Mount Falcon Estate by Emma Cowan


ocated between Foxford and Ballina, in North County Mayo Mount Falcon is a really rather unique 19th century dwelling. Designed by the most fashionable architect in the British Isles at the time, James Fuller, it was commissioned by Utred Knox in 1871 to woo a lady. When it was completed, it was the most fashionable house in Ireland â&#x20AC;&#x201C; indeed, it is the only example in Ireland of a private house designed by Fuller, whose name also sits with Kylemore Abbey, parts of Ashford Castle and Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park. In 1932 the house was bought by Major John and Constance Aldridge (founding member of the famous Blue Book) and under their ownership Mount Falcon became one of Irelandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s SUHPLHUVKRRWLQJDQGĂ&#x20AC;VKLQJKRXVHV The current owners, including the Maloney family, have lovingly renovated and refurbished the original house, as well as adding on a new H[WHQVLRQ 0RXQW )DOFRQ QRZ ERDVWV 32 bedrooms, including two private suites, as well as all the comforts you would expect from a grand country house, with drawing rooms, dining in the old kitchens and, of course, the %RDWKROH %DU 7KH KRXVH RIIHUV XWWHU luxury and comfort in a style that is in keeping with its distinguished KHULWDJHDQGWUDGLWLRQRIKRVSLWDOLW\ That, however, is just where the VWRU\EHJLQV What is magical about Mount Falcon LVWKDWLWLVWKHGHĂ&#x20AC;QLWLYHJHWDZD\ZLWK VRPHWKLQJ IRU HYHU\RQH 2I FRXUVH there is the style and comfort of the KRXVHDQGWKHĂ&#x20AC;QHGLQLQJLQWKH$$ Rosette Kitchen Restaurant, but there is also an exclusive Elemis Spa offering

The bedroom in the Wallpool Suite

a range of treatments that makes \RXU ERG\ UHOD[ MXVW UHDGLQJ WKH OLVW Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m told the spa experience leaves guests totally pampered, soothed and relaxed and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d certainly like to try it for myself! Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d be equally keen to take to the beautifully designed swimming SRRO


the stretch that provides an average DQQXDO URG FDWFK RI  Ă&#x20AC;VK SHU season? Mount Falconâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s double bank stretch is just above the tide, offering WUXO\VXSHUEĂ&#x20AC;VKLQJDQGWKHEHDWVDUH exclusive to the guests at the hotel, so WKHUHLVQRIHDURIRYHUFURZGLQJ 7KHUH DUH RWKHU IDQWDVWLF Ă&#x20AC;VKLQJ opportunities available at Mount )DOFRQLQDGGLWLRQWR7KH0R\:LWKLQ an hourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s drive there are several SUROLĂ&#x20AC;F VSDWH ULYHU Ă&#x20AC;VKHULHV DQG DOVR /DNHV ZKHUH \RX FDQ FDVW D Ă \ IRU spring Salmon, summer Salmon RU *ULOVH 7KHQ RI FRXUVH WKHUH DUH WKH *UHDW :HVWHUQ /DNHV MXVWLĂ&#x20AC;DEO\ famous for the quality of their Wild %URZQ 7URXW Ă&#x20AC;VKLQJ ZLWKLQ HDV\ UHDFK :LWK VR PXFK Ă&#x20AC;VKLQJ ERWK RQ site and in the area, Mount Falcon has GHYHORSHG Ă&#x20AC;VKLQJ KROLGD\ SDFNDJHV WKDWWHPSWHYHQDQRYLFHĂ&#x20AC;VKHUOLNHPH and must surely be irresistible to the GHGLFDWHGĂ \Ă&#x20AC;VKHUPDQ

Go outdoors and there is so much more to explore! The Estate boasts a two-mile stretch of the famous River 0R\ ,UHODQG¡V PRVW SUROLĂ&#x20AC;F ZLOG Atlantic salmon river, as well as its own, spring fed rainbow trout stocked ODNH )RU WKH VKRRWLQJ HQWKXVLDVW there is a clay shooting ground next to The Moy, with four automatic traps providing overhead, going away and FURVVLQJWDUJHWV7KHOD\RXWLVVXLWDEOH for both novice and experienced shots and it is even possible to set the system XSWRSURYLGHDUDQGRPĂ XVKRIRU ELUGV What really sets Mount Falcon apart FABULOUS FISHING LV WKH Ă&#x20AC;VKLQJ RQ RIIHU $ WZRPLOH â&#x20AC;&#x153;The three Rivers Fly Fishing Package private stretch of the Moy - what could is a new concept developed to give EHEHWWHUWKDQĂ \Ă&#x20AC;VKLQJIRUVDOPRQRQ WKHĂ \DQJOHUDXQLTXHRSSRUWXQLW\WR

The swimming pool

The Kitchen Restaurant Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014




3UHWW\Á\ Shane Maloney, Sales Manager at Mount Falcon and one of the Estate’s owners, has some local lore and advice on WKHEHVWÁLHVIRUWKHWKUHHULYHUVSDFNDJH







Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Philippe Farineauâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s




1. Finely slice the onion and garlic and dice the smoked streaky bacon 2. Slowly sweat the onion and smoked bacon with a dash of butter for about Ă&#x20AC;YHPLQXWHV 3. Then add the stock, bay leaf, white wine and butter. Cook for about 12-15 minutes 4. 'UDLQWRUHPRYHWKHH[FHVVOLTXLGDQGEOHQGWKHRQLRQWRPDNHDVPRRWK purĂŠe


CARAMELISED PEACH Make a caramel with the sugar and putter and add the peach, peeled and TXDUWHUHG

PLATE THE DISH 6. Sear the scallops in a hot pan, add in a pinch of butter and deglaze with a GURSRIZKLWHEDOVDPLFYLQHJDU 7. Pan fry the slices of black pudding on both sides 8. Set the scallops on the creamy cabbage, the black pudding on top of the smooth onion puree and the caramelised peach around. You can garnish ZLWKVRPHHGLEOHVXPPHUĂ RZHUVOLNHURFNHWĂ RZHUVQDVWXUWLXPVRUERUDJH Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


From Simon Cooper

Why do we fly fish? I suspect like me, you know in your heart of hearts that fly fishing is possibly the most inefficient way to catch fish as yet devised by man. If we had to capture fish to survive, the fly fishermen amongst us would be the thinnest and hungriest of the population. But we persist and indeed it’s a profession I choose to make my living. So in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of F. M. Halford’s death – the man who can be said to have invented modern-day dry-fly fishing – I sometimes feel compelled to ask, what draws us back to the river time and again when the odds are so stacked against us? Halford was a driven man, some might say obsessive. He was a wealthy industrialist who, at the height of the Victorian era, had the time and the means to pursue his beliefs in an era when downstream wet-fly was the standard in fly fishing. Nymph fishing was as yet a twinkle in the eye of G. E. M. Skues, its invention still 25 or more years in the future. Halford set his bar very high. Not for him random or blind casting. His belief was that a true fly fisherman should first find a surface feeding fish. Then, through observation or deduction, they should identify the fly on which that fish was feeding and tie an accurate imitation of that fly to the line. Then, and only then, should the angler take up position and make a cast. Halford’s perfect day would be to spot four rising fish feeding on a different fly each time and catch all four with his first cast. 118

F M Halford

In the context of a time when fly tackle was rudimentary – silk lines, greenheart rods, cat gut leaders and spade hooks – this economy of effort makes a certain amount of sense.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Goodness knows even with all our hitech modern kit it is easy enough to lose a fish and exasperating to re-tackle after a snagged back cast snaps off your fly, so one can only guess how long it took in Victorian times. That said, angling was a far more leisurely affair. For many of us a day on the river is a snatched treat, shoehorned into busy lives and often subject to complex family negotiations, but no such matters troubled Halford. He took a cottage on the banks of the River Test in Hampshire for the season and decamped to his beloved Oakley Stream at Mottisfont Abbey for months at a time. There he honed his dry-fly creed on a chalkstream where fish like to rise to the surface fly like no other. I know that plenty of people will take me to task for crediting Halford for ‘inventing’ dry-fly fishing. It is true that before the birth of Christ the


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Halford’s Hut on the Oakley Stream of the River Test at Mottisfont Abbey.

The River Test.

River Test brown trout taking a sedge.


Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Macedonians were doing something similar, and angling literature from the sixteenth century onwards, including Izaak’s Walton’s The Compleat Angler, makes reference to floating flies. There were also contemporaries of Halford’s who were pursuing the same line of thought. But what Halford did with two books published in 1886 and 1889 was codify dry-fly fishing, drawing together ancient and modern strands of thought and practice to make sense of a style of fly fishing with which most anglers were unfamiliar. Halford’s second book, Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice, elevated him to superstar status in the fishing world. He became a brand before the concept of branding was really invented, with rods, reels and all manner of other angling paraphernalia carrying his endorsement. At his thatched hut on the Oakley Stream he daily welcomed visitors who came from far and wide to pay homage to a man who revolutionised the sport. But Halford succeeded in establishing the popularity of dryfly fishing for two reasons: when the conditions are right it can be mighty effective and it is exciting. And on the chalkstreams where he put his theories into practice it has become one of the most exhilarating ways of catching fish. There are few other places in the world where you can survey a ginclear river that is barely knee deep and spot half a dozen fish or more holding on the current all within the distance of one easy cast. Approached with care these brown trout are not skittish – they have confidently chosen their lies so they may eye up the food that is carried down towards them at their leisure. You, like the fish, watch the progress of the insects on the water. Maybe a Hawthorn in blustery April. A huge Danica Mayfly during Duffer’s Fortnight. A pretty

Blue-winged Olive on a tranquil summer’s evening or a clumsy Sedge in September. Whatever the month chalkstream trout are choosy because they can afford to be. There is more food in these rivers than you can shake a stick at and therein lies the skill of the dry-fly fisherman. Luring these trout demands a perfect imitation, presented in the correct way, at precisely the right moment. Put that way it sounds like an impossible task but what Halford did was to open the door to the possibility of success, describing new patterns and techniques which have been gradually improved in the hundred years since his death. Man-made materials for tying, precision hooks, factory tapered leaders and even Polaroid sunglasses are just some of the many advantages we have over the anglers of his day, but the same basic principles apply. Locate. Identify. Cast. And when it all comes together there is that sublime moment when you know you have made all the right choices. The fly lands on the water, drifts towards the fish and in that split second between the fish seeing the fly and rising to the surface to take it you may revel in both anticipation and success. So the next time you tie on a dry fly offer up a small moment to thank Frederick Halford; we owe him a mighty debt. Simon Cooper is the founder and managing director of Fishing Breaks, Britain’s leading chalkstream letting agency. His debut book Life of a Chalkstream is published by HarperCollins in May 2014.

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From Stevie Munn

My Angling Year 2

013 was a exceedingly interesting year to say the least. As many of you may know, I work in the fly fishing industry and have done for many years after leaving Belfast’s shipyard Harland & Wolff in my mid twenties. ‘Fly fishing pro’ sounds like an amazing job and it is also my hobby but, like many jobs, it has its highs and lows and it’s not an easy way to make a living, believe me. I am basically an individual that tries to get by as a result of working in the angling sector to pay the bills. But, maybe even more importantly, it’s to help pay for my addiction which, of course, is fly fishing. Occasionally I have been extremely lucky,

My game fishing season normally starts in March in Northern Ireland, unless I am in another part of the world hosting a fishing trip or writing an article for some publication to promote a venue. This has happened a lot in the past and I have been fortunate to see and fish in a number of stunning locations around the globe, but these are stories for another article. Next came the highly publicised annual Spring Glasgow Angling Centre fishing weekend in March, where I was to work for Hardy Greys demonstrating with their rods, selling their products, judging the casting competition and giving some fly casting tuition. This was a really enjoyable event which brought together many professional anglers and people in the trade from many parts of the world. They also do valuable work with some of the local children getting them off the streets and into fishing - something that is close to my heart. When I returned from Scotland, I was able to get some fishing in at last, though March is normally pretty slow. I 122

though I must admit at times it can be very difficult when there are slow periods between events or work but, that said, I am sometimes invited to teach fly casting or to go fish and write about magnificent places, where I also meet wonderful like minded people. I must say it is never dull and a substantial part of my job is now teaching fly casting, so I meet new people all the time. At the moment I am mostly self employed; I say mostly as I do receive work from event organisers and companies in the trade like Hardy Greys, as I am a member of their Pro Team and also Partridge of Redditch as I am one of their Pro Fly Dressers.

spent some time on trout streams and small stillwaters and got my first days fishing on the big loughs. I fished Sheelin and Ennell with my good friend Gerry Taggert and landed a few trout, despite the very low temperature. That said, if you get a few mild days in March it can be worth going out as the trout are hungry. I also had my first day’s guiding on my local river the Six Mile Water. My client was a doctor who was happy fishing for small wild river trout in challenging conditions. We had snow for a lot of March so it was very hard, but we managed a few trout. It was a hard month for me with only four or five days work, mostly because of the appalling weather. That brings me to April, for me always a better month with a lot more fishing on rivers and loughs. I spent a great weekend as normal at Renvyle House Hotel, in the wild splendour of Connemara on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel is located on 150 acres which include a private lake which is full of brown trout and this is where we hold the Hardy & Greys Fly

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Fishing Academy weekend with professional instruction given by myself, Tom (Doc) Sullivan, Jackie Coyne and World Cup winner Mike Keady, with help from our wonderful boatmen Jackie Child, Johnny Flaherty and Mike Coyne. This is a marvellous place and, if you have never been, I highly recommend it as the food is second to none and the service is first class, run by Ronnie and his excellent staff. Renvyle is a place steeped in history which first opened as a country house in 1883. This year the Hardy & Greys Fly-Fishing Academy weekend is on 28th and 29th March 2014 and I hope to see you there. You can find more details about this event on the Renvyle House Hotel website. It is amazing value to stay in such a fine place for a weekend and fish with us and an event I always look forward to.

Trout mopping up the Mayfly Now into May and the weather was kinder. Like many other anglers, my thoughts start turning to Ireland’s great Loughs and for me and numerous

Norway and the Trysil river a spectacular setting, Stevie is now hosting trips to the trout angers paradise, here he brings a greying to hand.

Using a drift boat like the one I used on the Trysil River is a great way to reach inaccessible fish.

others this means drifting in a large wild spectacular place from a boat, while casting and searching for fabulous wild brown trout. We all have our favourite Loughs and many are legendary, like wonderful Mask, Corrib, Arrow or Derg; let’s face it, in reality we have too many fine loughs to mention and I hope I will get a chance to fish some more of these this year. Lough Sheelin, is one I have fished many years and fish often for a day or two but I also spend a week or at least five days in the good company of the Mallusk Angling Society Club, on beautiful Lough Sheelin, which in the last few years is making a comeback. We were hoping to hit good conditions and with luck the Mayfly with trout mopping them up. We were a tad early for the Mayfly, but it was up and most of us managed some great trout. We also spent time in Watty’s Rock (those of you that know Finea will now know I’m talking about the bar which is always welcoming at this time). Yes, to me and several other fly fishers, May and June in Ireland can be simply

heaven of Earth, as there is something truly fantastic being on one of these great sheets of water casting a fly from a boat; the pleasure and excitement you get when a heavily spotted trout rises from the depths and takes the fly, turns down and you feel him pulling on the line giving the angler that instant adrenaline rush is truly one of the best feelings a flyfisher can have. I spent a lot more time on rivers and Loughs in June. My local river, the Six Mile Water in Co. Antrim, where I learnt to fish as a boy with my father George, started to fish well and I had some very nice river trout, in fact the best in many years on the dry fly, one of my favourite ways to fish. For more info on this river please take a look at the web site . My work also picked up and I gave quite a few casting lessons and on top of that I attended The British Fly Fair in Stoke, where I gave fly dressing demonstrations for Partridge of Redditch on their stand. This year they have moved the dates into February and if you are in England it’s well worth a

visit. I also worked at the Irish Game Fair the last weekend of June at Shanes Castle in Co. Antrim. At this great fair I am the angling director and help run the fly casting competition with the help of APAGI Ireland and also do a few casting demonstrations along with my good friend and well known lady angler Glenda Powell. This is Northern Ireland’s biggest game fair and it’s a pleasure to be part of it, but unfortunately it clashed last year with the Fly fair in Killyleagh Co. Down but this year the dates don’t clash so you will be able to attend both. In July I travelled to fish in Norway with a good friend and a truly talented guide, Mr Espen Andre Eilertsen, fishing with him on the majestic Trysil River, on which Espen’s company ‘The Call Of The Wild’ works. I was to experience some walking and wading in this great part of the world and, interestingly, some drift boat fishing. The Trysil is a big river and reminded me a lot of some I had fished in Canada. The Trysil where I was is now the only place you can try drift boat fly

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


fishing in Europe. I had experienced this type of fishing once before in Finland many years ago, although I must admit never in such a grand river with stunning surroundings.

Drift boats and the next tail, the next flat beckon Sometimes, when we are fishing, we get so wrapped up in what we are doing at the time that we forget to look around us and take in the views and think how lucky we are as anglers to be in the wilds doing something we love. I think we all need to sit down and look around us at times even if it is on our local river or lake, fly fishing is about so much more than catching fish, for it is about the experience of all that surrounds you and everything that transpires in that environment. OK, I hear some off you say Munn is off again, but I really do think that is one of the great things about our passion. I must add if you have never fished from drift boats it is a wonderful experience which allows you to fly fish with ease. There is something undeniably special about floating a river. Your perspective changes as you slip quietly downstream and, if you have a guide like Espen, you glide easily from place to place, anticipating the next riffle, the next flat, the next tail out, hoping for that take. After a while, you realise that you have left the rushing onslaught of daily life behind and in its place there is only the river and the wild brown trout and, in this case, a fish that Ireland never got the lovely grayling. Espen and I are now hosting trips to this wonderful place, so if you are interested email me for details. When I returned from Norway I had one of the biggest events and demonstrations of my life, as I was to work at the CLA Game Fair in England for Hardy. I have worked at it many times in the past and always enjoyed this.The CLA is hailed as the ‘world’s biggest country sports and outdoor pursuits event’ and it is truly enormous with 150000 people attending. In 2013, I was asked to give three 30 minute fly 124

Holding a nice brownie which took a bibio at Rynvyle House, Connemara.

Lovely River Trout from the Six Mile Water taken on the dry fly.

This Grayling came nicely to hand after putting up quite a fight by using the current to its advantage.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

A Dollaghan taken as the light fell fast.

And back he goes.

casting demonstrations in the main angling arena in front of the grandstand, casting in front of one of the biggest crowds of my life. There were other fly casters on the bill, all of them my good friends, including Scott McKenzie, Hywel Morgan, Michael Evans and from the Hardyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pro team, Ian Gordon, Howard Croson and me. I must say I was nervous but it went very well and I have been asked to repeat this again this year. So those was the highs of July. August was a very slow month, a few casting lessons booked but nothing major and no events for me, so I spent most of it fishing my local river casting to rising trout with caddis patterns and having great fun landing a few nice ones. I also fished my local stillwater

which is run by the excellent Mallusk Angling Society and I also started chasing one of my favourite fish, the Lough Neagh Dollaghan trout. They had been migrating into the river for a while, but I was trying not to fish for them and concentrating on the river trout with the dry fly, as I knew once I started to fish for them I would become addicted and have time for nothing much else, until my next job came along. But eventually I started targeting them and it was one of the best seasons for these great fish that I have had for maybe 15 years or more and this trend carried on to the end of October as I landed well over 200 of these magnificent fish and in September I landed my personal best Dollaghan ever, a fish that we estimated around

13lb. I say estimated as I practice catch and release and they were all returned the river unharmed.

Norway again In September I continued to fish the Lough Neagh rivers and I had two events. The first involved traveling back to Norway to give casting programmes and a fly casting workshops, as I had been booked by a fly fishing club based outside Oslo and I spent an enjoyable five days there teaching a great bunch of quite experienced anglers, though there was no fishing to be done as it was all teaching and the casting was done on football pitches. The second event was back to Scotland for the second Glasgow Angling Centre fishing

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


weekend, similar to the one I had worked at in the spring, where again I was working for Hardy Greys and demonstrating. The following month, I fished the local river and also spent a lot off my time working on organising The Irish Fly Fair which I run in Galway. When I started this I took a huge risk but I wanted to give anglers the best fly fishing show in the country. We hold it in the lavish Galway Bay Hotel and it is now into its fifth year. This is now one of the biggest fly fishing only events held in Europe and, working on it right though the year, it takes up a lot of my

time. It was a fantastic success and many exhibitors have already booked for next year. We had record numbers of visitors from all over the world at the show over the two days. The feedback from visitors, exhibitors, fly casters and our 55 fly dressers has been exceptionally positive. Business was brisk for the exhibitors, with reports of good spending by the angling public. Attractions included, top fly dressers from all over the world, fly casting demonstrations by well-known angling celebrities, angling talks by experts in their field and the youth fly tying competition. Plans are already afoot for

Some information about the author. Stevie Munn works full time in the angling sector as a guide, writer and qualified game angling instructor and is a member of the Hardy Greys Pro Team and the Regal and Partridge Pro Teams. He has appeared in many angling books, DVDs and angling shows all over the world, giving casting and tying demonstrations. While he has fished many places in the world, he grew up fishing on rivers and

this year’s event and the dates are the 15th and 16th of November so why not put that in your diary. Well, that’s a round up of my year and I would like to thank a few people whom I could not do without: my sister Elaine Munn, Gerry Taggert, Jim Lees and all the fly fair team (there is just to many to mention but you know who you are and I love you all), also the Fly Fair sponsors Partridge, Veniard and Emerger. Albert Titterington, Hardy Greys and lastly my beautiful wife Jenette who stands by me, I could not continue doing what I love without her support.

loughs of Ireland where he often guides. He runs teaching courses in fly fishing and hosts groups fishing worldwide. He is also served a long time on the Six Mile Water Club Committee and the Lough Neagh Dollaghan Trust and is a life Member of The Wild Trout Trust. You can contact him via email or get more info at

Night fishing can take its toll as you can tell on Stevie’s face but the rewards can be great and here he holds his biggest Dollaghan before slipping her back to the river. 126

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life


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From Lawrence Finney

A PASSION FOR TYING Lawrence Finney is an advanced professional fly dressing instructor, has been an angler for over thirty years and has carried out fly dressing demonstration across the UK, Europe and the United States. His flies have astounded the game angling world especially in Montana where record numbers of fish were caught on his now well known woven flies. 2011 saw one of his new patterns used on Lough Currane breaking the record for the heaviest sea trout. The patterns Lawrence has developed over the years have been used on all the major Irish loughs and rivers for all species of game fish and have done equally well in the UK. His flies have been used by some of the best well known anglers and celebrities in Europe such as Charles Jardine, Hywell Morgan and Mike Harding. We asked Lawrence to say how it all began: My passion for fly dressing began many years ago when I lived in Long Eaton a small market town in Nottinghamshire, at the tender age of 15 I would often get out onto the rivers around the area such as the Erewash, Derwent and the Trent. It was when I was fishing the Derwent with my old tank Ariel rod for course fish that I first saw the art of fly fishing, down stream from me was an elderly gentleman fly fishing and the amazement of seeing him hooking into a grayling, transformed my passion for fishing, with his well dressed appearance and fishing creel slung over his shoulder he looked the epitome of the angling gent and with the ease of his cast and connecting with a fish I thought ‘that is for me.’ Some months later I was taken to a local fishing shop by a friend of mine just on the outskirts of Long Eaton and when we entered the place I thought this was not much of a place. It was not so much a shop but more like a large garage with bits and bobs all over the place. Then after half an hour walking around I realised that this was an Aladdin’s cave of wonderful tackle and fly tying materials, the owner who was sitting in a chair with open toe sandals gave out a growl. “What you looking 128

for?” this was my first encounter with a man who I grew to admire for many a year, Stevie Parton. Over the months I would save up enough money to purchase the odd bit of fly tying material from Stevie and he was always happy enough to pass on tips to help me create what I thought were master pieces but in reality just clumps of materials wrapped around a hook. Then one day things changed the better for me, It would be around 1966 or 67 that I was introduced to two people who had a passion for fly dressing Wendy and Ray Gibson, two lovely people who were only too willing to encourage a youngster to take up the art of fly dressing Over the years I would see them at Foremark Reservoir and at some of the clubs tying amazing creations and Wendy’s ease of teaching and demonstrating at the same time inspired me greatly and I still look forward to meeting them and talking about the good old days. My work eventually took me to Northern Ireland where I fell in love with not only the rivers and Loughs but also that close knit group called the fly fisher, I can honestly say that I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the best people through fly fishing and increased my desire to tie flies. Meeting the likes of Ted Malone and Peter O’Reilly further inspired me

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

to study the art of fly dressing and after 30 years of meeting these two gentlemen I still get great pleasure meeting up with them for a cup of tea and a catching up on events, and even now when I meet up with Peter we still chuckle about the day he and Arthur Greenwood took me and my good friend Stevie Munn for our advanced fly dressing exam. How things have changed in the past 40 years since taking up fly dressing: technology has advanced not only our equipment, but also the vast array of materials available to create amazing patterns, which also introduces new techniques to this art. My passion is tying traditional Irish fly patterns and hope to pass on this knowledge of these patterns through my classes that I regularly hold in my studio. At the same time, I like to incorporate new materials to traditional patterns, as I believe that if these were available years ago, the likes of Michael Rogan would have certainly used them. During the close of the season 2013 I was introduced to a material called pseudo hackle and although sceptical at first, I soon found that this material was amazing and could be incorporated into many a patterns such as Olives, Diawal Bachs and one pattern I not only love to tie, but I believe to have been one of

the biggest contributions to Lough fishing ,The Dabbler created by my friend Donald McLearn. This material, which looks like ribbon, is available in many colours and is so easy to use that I use it when introducing new students to fly tying due to the ease of applying it to a

pattern. Field tests of these flies were carried out last year on rivers lakes and loughs. On Lough Sheelin it worked amazing well and so I decided to make a range of patterns for trout, sea trout and salmon, resulting in friends as far away as Montana and Argentina requesting flies tied with this

material. Below are just a few of the flies created using this material and believe me it really works as others can verify. So why not give it a try you will have hours of fun with it as I certainly do. For more information visit

The Mallard and Claret The Mallard and Claret Hook - size 10 wet Thread - brown 8/0 Tail - flo yellow tippet Body - claret pseudo hackle Hackle - claret hen Cloak and wing - natural bronze mallard Head - picric jungle cock

The Blue Dabbler The Blue Dabbler Hook - size 10 wet Thread - brown 8/0 Tail - claret cock pheasant Body - blue pseudo hackle Wing and hackle - natural bronze mallard Head - picric jungle cock

The Golden Olive The Golden Olive Hook - size 10 wet Tail - flo yellow tippet Body - golden olive pseudo hackle Hackle - golden olive hen Wing and cloak - natural bronze mallard Head - picric jungle cock

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


By Mark Tierney

‘No Salmon Nets’ — putting fish first The NSN group (No Salmon Nets) is made up from anglers and conservationists. We met for the first time in August 2011 and, with the numbers swelling at each meeting afterwards, we decided upon an action plan. We evolved into a pressure group and bombarded MLAs and the DCAL offices until we were well known in a short space of time; the Ulster Angling Federation, FASTA and FISSTA all got on board. We also received much help from the press who were happy to publish articles which assisted us in piling on the pressure. While we were told changes would take years and we put our heads down and got on with the work. We aimed for 2,000 names on our petition and got around 5,000! We asked for the angling public to send letters and DCAL were overwhelmed with mail. To our surprise, things started to happen quickly, so quickly that we were almost caught unawares and we had to make quick decisions and call meetings at short notice.This was probably the first time ever that anglers have had a proper say in how our rivers are run and we knew as amateurs at this campaign that we had to put a professional touch to our work. The members of the NSN committee are from 7 or 8 counties throughout the country and from all backgrounds, all religions and differing opinions, who have worked together as a team to try and do something positive for the future generations of anglers. We have given freely of our time since then and have built great friendships that will stand the test of time. We received a lot of help from a lot of quarters and we extend special thanks to Albert Titterington and the Great Game Fairs of Ireland team for the help we received.

Raising awareness We utilised Facebook in a way never

used before by other organisations and it was a massive success. We had support from all corners of the world and we have been advising other groups since and have had a big part to play in the running of other groups that we like to call our ‘sister groups,’ like the NSFAS (No Salmon Farms At Sea) and the Lough Neagh Dollaghan Trust. At one time we had over 150,000 hits on our Facebook page in one week. We also created our own range of clothing which has been very popular with the public. This was all part of our plan to raise awareness of the campaign and it all came together perfectly.

Possession of a dead salmon or sea trout — illegal Our take on the whole consultation and resulting legislation is this: Yes, there are some grey areas, but the important thing is that it will be illegal to be in possession of a dead salmon or sea trout from the 2014 season onwards.

The Great Game Fairs of Ireland were delighted to support the NSN campaign and to award the group one of their Country Sports Lifetime Commitment Awards. 130

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That single sentence we believe supersedes all others. Yes, some will still fish with trebles and worms for salmon and sea trout and some will kill, but that is their personal choice and they now know what the risks are and that DCAL officers will be pursuing convictions in instances like that. We believe anglers have achieved something here that can never be taken from us. The NSN has always strived to be open and straight with everyone and have been careful to leave the politics to the politicians. We have been very fortunate that all of the politicians we have met and worked with have been happy to deal with the issue at face value and not try to score political points with it. A few MLAs from separate parties went far above and beyond the call of duty and we are indebted to them for that. We made a special presentation to two particular MLAs who were instrumental in where we are today and, as a result, we now have the NSN’ Shrimp Fly, the Olly's Gold and the Silver Swanny.’All the flies were tested and are proven catchers. The Olly’s Gold was named after Oliver McMullan MLA and the Silver Swanny was named after Robin Swann MLA. Our motivation was always clear and that was to put fish first in that we put the fish and their welfare before everything else. We knew we had to think things through before making any moves and with our diverse committee,

it seemed to work well. The signs were brilliant in 2012, which was the first year the nets ceased, but 2013 didn't seem as good and we hope it is not too little too late and that things will steadily improve in the coming years. Either way, this has been a victory for firstly our salmon and sea trout and secondly, the angling community.

Facts for the future All major salmon rivers in the DCAL catchment will have counters and conservation limits by 2018 and these will be used to generate management targets. Those targets will need to be 15% over the conservation limit for what is known as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;harvest able abundanceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and an end to catch and release. The figures for a possibility of a return to commercial fishing will be 25% over the conservation limits on the rivers as a whole before they can continue their operations. Rod anglers have never seen themselves as a major part of the problem of declining salmon and sea trout numbers. However, we now find ourselves to be a major part of the solution to that decline. In general anglers and angling clubs have always happily gone about their work in silence and with an unstoppable determination. These are the unsung heroes who never seek or receive the recognition they deserve. To those who are opposed to the new

regulations, the other option is a cessation of angling and closures of rivers as has happened in southern rivers. At the NSN, we believe that is the worst thing that could happen to our rivers. We have poachers who will give testimony that their biggest deterrent was not bailiffs but rod anglers. Anglers now need to unite in times of hardship and ensure our clubs survive and indeed flourish. We need to educate the future keepers of our waterways and pray that that is enough to ensure the future generations will enjoy what we have enjoyed.

Seizing the initiative DCAL has given assurances that it will also support private water bailiffs where needed in training and in court prosecutions and will assist in all areas that extra support is needed. We need to take them up on that and take responsibility for our waterways that have provided us with so much pleasure since our childhood days and hope that our kids enjoy the same by pulling them from their games consoles and mobile phones and introduce them to the world and sport of fishing. The benefits of our sport are obvious. Introducing fishing to our kids will ensure our sport has a brighter future and those kids will be much healthier at a time when obesity and anti social behaviour seems to be rife. The majority of anglers enjoy getting away from it all and being one

NSN members present a token of specially designed NSN Shrimp Fly and the Ollyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Gold Shrimp Fly to Oliver McMullan MLA and the NSN Shrimp Fly and the Silver Swanny to Robin Swann MLA in appreciation of their efforts over the recent salmon conservation regulations. (L-R) Oliver McMullan (SF MLA), Paddy Keenan (APGAI Ireland and fly creator) Paul Smith, Robin Swann (UUP MLA), Willy Darragh, Tony Ferris and Mark Tierney.

Tshirt Get the message and wear the T-shirt - the NSN range of clothing proved very popular with the public

with our surroundings. Catching and eating fish has never been our motivation. This is why this sport is called fishing and not catching.

Urge anglers to embrace catch and release NSN would call on everyone to embrace catch and release for a few years and see where that brings us and hope that it brings us back to rivers with abundances of wild migratory fish. In the scale of things, a few years is not much of a sacrifice and we will hopefully be able to enjoy the rewards of those years. While the future is brighter today than it was three years ago for our salmon, there are still a great many factors that add to the decline. Sea lice infestation, wholesale taking of food from their feeding grounds to create unsustainable feeds, Hydro schemes, man made obstacles on migratory routes, poaching and general habitat degradation are some of the major issues that are ongoing. The fight continues and this is just one of the small advances we are making. What the future holds for the NSN is unclear and will be decided in the coming weeks. We do have options aplenty. Speaking personally, I have met people I would never have met in normal circumstances and, on the whole, I have enjoyed the experience of having chaired this group for a time and learning an awful lot. The NSN formula is one that works and others can only hope to emulate our success.

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


From Johnny Woodlock

Looking Forward It’s Spring and at this time of year most of us are looking forward to the challenges of another year of enjoyable angling. Do you set targets for yourself? Are you going to try new methods or target new species? Gear has to be prepared and sorted. Spring is a good time to reflect on last year, learn from mistakes, and get your gear ready. How did you get on last year? Did you catch a lot? What did you do with your catches? Last year, for the first time in many years, I did very little boat angling due to mechanical trouble with Damian’s boat. Normally we would be out targeting tope and ray offshore, but last year we simply did not get out. However, I had a few trips to Cork trying to get my first bass. I tried flyfishing for Pike and saw a lovely fish caught, but all in all I caught very few fish last year. Will this put me off trying again this year. Of course not. Every trip I went on last year was a learning experience. Damian and I did try new waters around the “copper coastline” in East Cork and went out to try for Shark out of Yaughal. Due to the warm weather the shark arrived early and came in great numbers to our shores last year. Damian and I had a great day out with a local boatman and caught and released several blue shark up to

about ninety pounds; we also got lots of information about local marks where we could possibly catch a Bass. Hopefully we will get a chance to try this area again this year. On sharks, many showed up in the Irish Sea, a mako shark was caught off northern Wales and a thresher shark was photographed in the same area. Porbeagles are caught every year off Wales when the sea temperature is suitable. Next year, we hope to spend a couple of days targeting shark on this side of the Irish Sea; perhaps they are there but nobody targets them. I also invested in an angling kayak, which I am looking forward to trying. I have had great success in the past trolling with small lures for sea trout, pollack and mackerel from a small boat with the outboard, just pottering along at idle. It will be a new type of fishing for

me. If the whitebait and mackerel hit the shores again like we saw in Cork last year I might even get a chance to use my cast net again. After seeing these in use in several distant lands, I invested in a small one a number of years ago and practised in my garden before trying it when the mackerel came in and was thrilled when I got a dozen in my first throw. However I quickly realised that, while it is not easy, it can be very effective, so having caught what I wanted I had to stop. I cannot understand why some people have to keep on catching fish after they have what they can use. I have heard that cast nets can be effective for mullet but have not tried it. Maybe this year. Now here’s something I have seen with many people who do not take part in fieldsports: they simply cannot

Cuban small fry. 132

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Another of the Cuban fish - this one is a cowfish.

understand how you can have a good day and not catch anything. Shooting is just the same. It is beyond them how you can have a great day’s shooting and not fire a shot, to them this is a total contradiction. At this stage of proceedings my wife does not expect me to return home with a salmon every time I go fishing for them, but for many years she considered me mad to pay to go fishing year after year without catching a fish. She knows better now. At this time of the year, before you can actually get out to have a go at the fish, planning is part of the experience. I am quite sure that those who shoot pheasants feel the same in the run up to the season. Last year I admit to making a tactical mistake: after two years of poor summer weather I took the family off to Cuba and hoped to get a bit of fishing in while there, but unfortunately it has changed a lot since I was here before some twenty years ago. A day game fishing offshore proving to be way out of my pocket, my son and I contented ourselves with fishing from the marina with a few shrimp baits, catching a variety of beautiful tropical fish. All small, but a nice way to spend an afternoon or two. Of course we discovered that the weather had been glorious here while we were away. As a holiday destination I could not recommend it enough, where else can you hire a real ’56 Chevvy Bel-Air as a taxi for the day, but be warned that

tourism is now its main revenue earner and prices to go angling reflect that, but it has lots to offer an angler. Anyway this year I intend to stay closer to home and hope that we get another nice summer as we have sport in Ireland that compares to anywhere in the world. There are still many species I have not even for tried yet. And I still have to catch my first bass. (I have a feeling that this is the year Johnny. Editor). Having the kayak means that, hopefully, I can get out for a session whenever the weather is at all suitable. I know a few tope marks which are not far from the shore, but I’d love to bring the kayak offshore with a larger boat and transfer to it when the blue sharks show up in the rubby dubby trail. I imagine a ‘Nantucket sleigh-ride’ would be an interesting experience. The larger

boat could provide safety and to my knowledge you cannot brew up a cup of tea on a kayak. Call these ideas, hopes, plans or dreams, but on a dark, windy and wet day in early spring we can only look forward to the new season and warmer days when we can get out with a rod in hand. I know that there are many hardy souls who fish all year around, I have done it myself in the past but at heart I`m a softy who prefers not to get cold if I can avoid it. Whether we catch or not, it will be fun and I wish you all a great time be it on a riverbank, lakeside or on the sea. Stay safe and remember a buoyancy aid / lifejacket looks cool so teach your kids that. We lost too many anglers from the rocks last year. Just one is one too many.

Whitebait - and certainly one of the Editors’s favourites as a ‘starter’. Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


By George Barron

BOOKS OF THE LOUGHS My own journey through a lifetime spent fishing and fly tying has always been greatly influenced and driven by all things Irish. Simple traditional angling knowledge gleaned during three decades drifting Ireland’s Great Western loughs and the many memorable nights spent enjoying the craic and the porter in front of real Connemara peat fires left their indelible mark. But as the early spring days begin to stretch and the opening day to another fishing season draws rapidly closer, one’s mind and body often needs a wee bit more than a spot of the black stuff to stir the senses and set the mood ahead of the new season. It is said that anglers are born to their vocation, and while pre-season inspiration for some may come with the sight of the first swallow or the call of the first cuckoo, traditionally for me at least, it reassuringly arrives most years in the form of a well-thumbed book in the comfort of my favourite armchair. Much like the quality of its vast and numerous waters and the great trout to be caught in them, definitive Irish fishing books seem to possess all the necessary ingredients to instruct, guide and awaken the mind where personal angling experience is incomplete. Fishing is about so much more than just throwing a line to catch a fish. Undoubtedly, the great storytelling writers did catch plenty of fish but they also had that wonderful gift or ability to capture the reader’s imagination when sharing the extensive knowledge and experience they possessed. Perhaps nobody has been able to illustrate this better than Justice T. C. Kingsmill Moore, the

A Man May Fish 134

author of the classic ‘A Man May Fish,’ first published in 1960; a book that every angler should and must read. The author was a judge, sitting in the highest courts in the land. After fifty years drifting the great Irish waters he was persuaded by his wife to write about his fishing thoughts and exploits. His book illuminates Ireland and covers everything in his fishing life from his simple and successful philosophy to his creation of a range of flies incorporating traditional Irish flair, colour and translucency called ‘Bumbles.’ In his written portraits of the Corrib boatman Jamesie, he creates a living person full of warmth and affection, yet as rugged and intriguing as the Connemara landscape. Another, perhaps slightly lighter, read about a life spent fishing, albeit a much shorter life, which truly captures the simple pleasure and the all consuming passion to escape with a rod in your hand, is ‘Reading the Water’ by Darryl Grimason, a journalist and broadcaster and native of County Armagh. This book, covering all the angling disciplines, will be read and enjoyed by anglers and non-anglers alike. It’s an uncomplicated book overflowing with enthusiasm, personal memories and a love of all things wet. At the time of publishing, 2005, the

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

author’s love affair and highly descriptive chapters about his own ‘man and boy’ fishing adventures were infectious and left you wanting more. A sequel covering the last eight years would be welcomed by all country book lovers. Historically, regional fly tying styles and fly dressings, developed and cultured by generations of fisherman to successfully catch trout, all possessed distinctive characteristics that were peculiar to their country or region of origin. Boatmen such as Kingsmill Moore's ‘Jamesie’ have dispensed piscatorial wisdom to the angling world for generations, helping to create Ireland’s unmatchable fishing heritage. Rough, calloused hands and fingers, borne through years spent pulling oars, have done little to dampen the artistic genius of these fishing legends or hindered their ability to utilise fur and feather within imitative fly dressings. This very traditional approach to fly tying is the most visually exciting and creative in all the four home nations and has produced fly patterns which are both universally recognised and used. E. J. Malone’s ‘Irish Trout and Salmon Flies’ is rightly regarded as the Irish fly tyer’s essential reference dictionary. First published in 1984, (first editions are eagerly sought by collectors), it contains over 800 traditional and modern (at time of printing) Irish fly dressings and their


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history. It also contains a wealth of information on fly dressing materials, including a comprehensive guide to the dyeing methods used to obtain the subtle colours and hues much desired by traditional tyers in Ireland.

Tying Flies in the Irish Style

The quality and popularity of this book created a great revival in traditional fly tying both sides of the Irish Sea that it came as no great surprise when Ted Malone’s next book ‘Tying Flies in the Irish Style’ hit the bookshops in 2000 and quickly required a second printing. Interestingly, backing up the tying instruction and illustrations, Ted’s new book also contains fifty pages of selected letters exchanged between the prolific English author and angler G. E. M. Skues and another Irish angling icon, Tommy Hanna from Moneymore, Co Derry. ‘Fly fishing in Ireland’ by Thomas J. Hanna, is my personal all-time favourite angling book. The simple prose reads like the man himself is having a conversation with you, inviting debate, but don’t be fooled, hidden away within the text are gems of fishing information and ground breaking fly tying techniques plus the how and where of acquiring tradition 136

contemporary books that cover most materials which paved the way for modern styles of fishing both sides of much present-day practise. Angling books, particularly fly tying the pond are ‘Trout from a Boat’ by Dennis Moss, an Englishman now books have undoubtedly been the great resident in Co Galway and ‘A Passion success story during the last few for Trout’ by Mick O’Farrell, an decades as much enhanced printing Irishman now resident in England. Both quality and sharper and simpler digital photography techniques have these books comprehensively cover all aspects of present day fishing in Ireland created and driven demand for a and provide a wealth of Anglo-Irish more coffee table, reference style know-how, while at times questioning type of book. Peter O’Reilly’s some of the traditional approaches to ‘Flies of Ireland’ perhaps set the catching wild Irish trout and salmon on trend during the nineties while Irish waters. much more recently, Co Cavan Time waits for no one, not even born International angler, Patsy Deery’s excellent ‘Irish Mayflies: anglers in their pursuit of wild Irish trout and salmon. Lough ecology and A fly fishers Guide’ arrived on water quality are constantly being the book shelves in 2007. subjected to environmental changes that Angling in Ireland is are not always beneficial to man or fish. synonymous with mayfly fishing, and in his compilation, New feeding habits and changing Patsy has provided a wealth of genetic make-up are forcing trout and mayfly dressings submitted by salmon to adapt and survive or accept a fate similar to the dinosaur. Whatever famous and highly regarded the outcome, angling writers will, as Irish anglers throughout the always, endeavour to understand, length and breadth of monitor and imitate the means and Ireland, in a well-presented, ways to catch them and endorse it albeit niche style, reference book. through the written word. During the boom years when the The author of this article, George Celtic Tiger was Barron is a king, many Irish renowned anglers crossed International angler the Irish Sea to and fly tyer. He sample the very demonstrates different traditional Celtic fly challenge of tying techniques at all catching the major Shows in rainbow trout Ireland and the UK. on the major He writes regular Still-waters features on fishing and in Scotland, fly tying for numerous England and angling magazines. Wales. New Born in Scotland but he techniques is now resident in Wales, were for whom he has learned by competed in International these fishing matches since 1987 to adventurers Irish Mayflies A fly-fishers guide. present. Currently Chairman of that Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling subsequently proved very successful Association, he was President of the back home on the wild waters of International Fly Fishing Association in Ireland, such as nymph and buzzer 2013. His first love is fishing the great fishing and the current flavour of the Western Irish Loughs. month, the dry fly technique. Two

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Original Oils and Prints by one of Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading Angling Artists.

David Miller Art Why not treat yourself or your partner to one of Davidâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s distinctive Limited Edition sea trout, salmon or brown trout prints or commission a painting for that special occasion. You can contact David on: 01994 453545 or e-mail:

NEW SEASON – NEW FIGHTS FOR 2014 The newly elected National Executive Council wish you and your club members a very prosperous and successful 2014 season. At our recent AGM in Athlone, we reviewed the past season in which we lobbied very hard for the majority of our clubs to keep their rivers open despite it becoming more difficult to conserve the stocks of our wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout. It is important for all clubs and members to register with FISSTA early so that your club insurance is in place prior to the season commencing. Forms available on FISSTA have had their busiest year to date lobbying our political friends and Government to ensure the survival of our wild Atlantic salmon and seatrout despite the impending threats.

PLANS TO INCREASE FISH FARMING The power of the aquaculture industry no longer outweighs the angling tourism and leisure industry despite Minister Coveney’s plans to continue to impose ten new mega fish farms off the west coast commencing with the Galway Bay/Inis Oirr application which will infest and wipe out our salmon as it is directly in the migratory paths of our smolts on their way to the feeding grounds of the north

Atlantic. The message is clear from our point of view – the government must choose between sustainable clean angling tourism jobs or the present type of fin fish farming that pollutes to produce, thus damaging the marine environment for all other users. Last year’s campaign in which we staged over 20 public awareness events and lobbying presentations, which we believe were instrumental in the Minister delaying as yet his decision to award his Dept via BIM the first license. Should this happen, we have put the Government on

notice that we will continue to fight by every legal means possible. It is vital that this campaign succeeds as the consequences are a wipe out of our wild salmon stocks and angling.

PLANS TO INTRODUCE NEW ANGLING ROD LICENCE A new rod license charge or angling contribution for all anglers/species was proposed and presented by the CEO of the Inland Fisheries Ireland at the last National Inland Fisheries Forum meeting on 25th November 2013. This proposal was opposed by sister federation TAFI and FISSTA on the grounds that IFI did not submit a plan on how such revenue would be reinvested in our fisheries. Following intense lobbying, the Minister on 8th December 2013 informed us at a meeting in Lucan Spa Hotel that he was withdrawing the proposal and discussions are ongoing with a view to giving salmon anglers a break by substantially reducing the cost of our salmon and seatrout rod licence for 2015, as a recent TDI study valued our angling at over €750m to the Irish economy.


An over abundance of fresh water in our rivers is perfect for spawning. 138

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Once again there is no increase on what is the best and improved insurance cover we can find which further protects your club and officers. So, while registering your club is the most important task to undertake in the year, it is also important that you examine our policy

which contains a Personal Liability cover (at no extra charge again this year) that further protects your members against claims from non members who may or may not be insured while walking your riverbank. (See details on quality of cover on

STRONGER DEMANDS FROM CLUBS To improve our service to your club we must therefore try to increase our income in various ways during 2014 to provide a more professional service. We will depend, as always, on the established clubs to carry the fledgling clubs as our stocks still face serious threats with 90 of the 150 rivers still to fully reopen. We continue to maintain a strong professional presence at national and international level with the issues especially at NASCO (where FISSTA lead the NGO’s Group by delivering the opening statement) FACE and EU level. It is your support that will determine our success on issues such as sealice, stocks and scientific advice for 2014 onwards. I wish all our members a prosperous and successful 2014.

CHAIRMAN’S ADDRESS BY PAUL LAWTON I welcome and thank all delegates attending our AGM in Athlone today. Last year’s AGM in Galway heard how we were facing the greatest threat to our wild fish. To date the insane mega-farm plan from Minister Coveney to increase tenfold the farmed fish cage production starting with the Galway Bay application has yet to be sanctioned. Thanks to all our efforts in our intensive campaign of 20 public awareness events throughout the year which has changed the minds of many and we hope Minister Coveney as well. What we agree and plan at this AGM will result in the withdrawal of not just the Galway Bay application from BIM but also the 9 others hanging over our heads. It is now 24 months since I was elected Chairman and at that time we were hopeful that we could see some small improvements to the stocks of our wild Atlantic salmon and seatrout. Sadly, our main objective in the return to abundance of the wild stocks is still very far off. However, we must strive to attain that abundance of salmon and none of us must be complacent in expecting nature alone to deliver this goal. We are working very hard with all our clubs to get Inland Fisheries Ireland to protect, manage and conserve our sensitive stocks. After yet another season of very poor patrol and policing activity I am saddened to report that we got very poor value for our money. Last year at our AGM, Minister Fergus O’Dowd TD stated “I know we share common interests for the future of the Inland Fisheries Sector and I hope my cooperation with FISSTA will herald a new era for us all to prosper. I appreciate the key role FISSTA play in the newly formed National Inland Fisheries

The infamous Athlone November 25th 14 meeting of National Inland Fisheries Forum where anglers learned of the new charges. Forum which we all depend on to deliver an Many clubs have sought clarification on improved angling product.” Sadly, neither our FISSTA policy on the new angling NIFF nor any other body have improved the contribution as proposed and supported by angling or fish stocks and today is your most other federations except FISSTA and opportunity to discuss why we are facing yet TAFT. It is regrettable that such a division has another year of inaction. been yet again been introduced with those supporting the new angling contribution which will not add value only cost to the anglers. OBITURARY We are writing to all clubs with the Brian Marshall following text: Like our salmon, the sad news came to us I write to clarify in my answer to the recent in our Federation via the North Atlantic and Iceland that Brian had lost his fight following Facebook exchange in which I thanked TAFI his short illness. Anglers who treasure the for posting the Mallow and Blackwater Atlantic wild salmon owe Brian Marshall from Salmon Anglers letter on my timeline and for the Wessex Rivers Trust in England an bringing their views to the notice of FISSTA. enormous debt of gratitude. That is especially The rumour of a new rod license has been true for all salmon conservationists and doing the rounds for some time amid denials from Inland Fisheries Ireland. However, the anglers in Ireland and indeed Europe. The Central Fisheries Board had facilitated very first official confirmation we received the administration of netting and had even from the any state authority was on the 25th encouraged the netting of salmon from Irish November 2013 in Athlone. The occasion SAC rivers despite the serious damage this did was a meeting of the National Inland Fisheries Forum chaired by Derek Davis in which the to angling tourism Along with North Atlantic Salmon Fund Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries (NASF) we all worked hard to end the Irish Ireland, presented a twenty minute powerpoint driftnet fisheries but it was Brian who refused outlining their intention to impose a state to accept that all we could do was to urge the angling contribution on all anglers in what we Irish Government to take the action needed to interpreted to be a new rod license as it was to preserve Ireland’s salmon resource. The replace our present salmon one at what we salmon stock of the river he loved most, the understood to be a reduced rate for our Hampshire Avon, was struggling to survive members. A debate ensued with no quarter and he could see that there was a desperately given on either side before the meeting need to protect every one of the few native concluded in confused controversy, with their Avon salmon that survived. The Irish drift nets clear message being delivered for us to relay were killing far too many of them and with back to our clubs. The detailed presentation raked up embers Brian’s life of commercial experience, he was of past divisions and proved that nothing was prepared to challenge the statist culture and learned with the same organisations with think outside the box. (Limited space does not permit us to interests other than angling, welcoming the publish the full obituary published by FISSTA: proposal in order to cultivate favour to get more state aid. Following an intense and a very Editor) united lobbying front from both FISSTA and TAFI this state angling contribution proposal NEWLY ELECTED EXECUTIVE was withdrawn by IFI at a specially convened COUNCIL 2014 meeting on 8th December in Lucan Spa Hotel For full details please visit acting under instruction from Minister of State Fergus O'Dowd TD. This impasse is now removed and discussions are ongoing on the drafting of the new fisheries legislation FISSTA CLARIFY POLICY ON NEW without any further reference to a state angling ANGLING CHARGES contribution. The FISSTA submission of last Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


June and updated this month, to IFI, DCENR and the Minister repeats our long established policy of protest against a Rod license imposed on us by legislation. But our members, unfairly and under protest as always, must buy a rod license to fish or we would be breaking the law. We have campaigned for many years for the state to scrap this inequitable and anti competitive license to allow us compete with license free Scotland for to encourage an increase in tourism revenue. Instead, and at a time when state management should have protected our sector to flourish as the driftnets came off, we were heavily and disgracefully penalised as many rivers closed on the advice of science. The cost of our rod license trebled over a 4 year period to 2007 to €120 thus losing over 70% of our salmonid members to non license angling waters. To this day, many our clubs are just surviving from kind donations and hard fundraising work to pay for private and state waters to fish every year. In many cases, our clubs are financing work plans to open closed rivers or keep rivers open. Our federation is the only one campaigning publicly against the major threats of pollution, salmon farms, commercial netting in estuaries etc; but above all, we continue our legal and political campaigning to protect our angling rights to waters we have fished for generations. We expect IFI and the state to protect our wild Atlantic salmon and sport which is valued overall at €755m to our economy and supporting over 10,000 jobs. Sadly, we find ourselves alone in our campaigns to survive and no additional number of state rod licenses sold will change the present policy that is firmly wiping out the sport that we hold dear. With over 90 of our 153 rivers still closed to taking a salmon or seatrout for the pot, our fisheries are bleeding to death and require urgent management action. So, we do need this new legislation to protect and develop angling and we value the support of our angling clubs who endorsed our policies on

24th November 2013 at our last AGM and every AGM to date. We communicate with and speak for all our clubs on the future of our sport and stocks. We do not charge a capitation charge as we withdrew from state funded Angling Council of Ireland some years back and we take no money from them or any other state body that may again try to silence or influence us against serving the angler on their water. At international level, FISSTA punch well above our weight and were honoured to be voted to present the NASCO NGO statement to the nineteen salmon countries in attendance at the 30th Nasco conference last June. Fissta organised over 20 public awareness events last year against Minister Coveney’s ten mega salmon farm plan and have the support of North Atlantic Salmon Fund Chairman, Mr. Orri Vigfusson who we invited here to lead our Galway city public demo last March. That is why we will continue to campaign against bad fisheries planning and mismanagement wherever we find it and we ask all clubs with salmon and sea trout in them to register with FISSTA for 2014. In Donegal, both Federations support the local DGAF campaign against IFI policy in the taking of our waters such as Gweebarra River and the legal challenge is ongoing to the Supreme Court at present. We will continue to update your club on any outcome from our negotiations with the Minister on the new legislation which we hope will be concluded very soon.

Minister Coveney Must Retreat Now It is a testament to all who have supported the campaign against fish farming that to date Minister Coveney has held off on his decision to grant or reject the first of ten applications starting with the one in Galway Bay that his semi state body BIM has applied for last October 2012 which triggered a litany of protest demonstrations and public awareness

Like many anglers nationwide, FISSTA President Josie Egan has lobbied Taoiseach Kenny at every event in Mayo. 140

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

events that has made the Minister hold off on his decision to date. Over fourteen months ago at Christmas 2012, following a FISSTA organised protest outside Minister Coveney’s office in Carrigaline, County Cork, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD was thinking out loud in Dail Eireann and without being asked any question on the ten mega fish farming plan in Galway Bay he stated: “We must have a debate and an understanding that the level of production and fish required, based on the extraordinary growth in the world's population and therefore the requirement for food across the spectrum, is an issue central to the fishing negotiations. An application lodged for a major fish farm development off the Aran Islands in Deputy Grealish's constituency is being heavily objected to, with another possibly to follow off the west coast. These matters need to be considered rationally. The figure projected for growth in jobs onshore is 500 and this would make an enormous impact to coastal communities. This is an issue that needs to be debated here, by the planning authorities and by those dealing with environmental regulations.” - TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY TD IN DAIL EIRANN 19.12.12 TO DATE THERE HAS BEEN NO DEBATE – NOT EVEN A JOINT OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE INVESTIGATION OR DISCUSSION BECAUSE THE APPLICATION IS IN A DECISION MAKING PROCESS FOR MINISTER COVENEY TO DECIDE. So, Minister Coveney does not want to hear of any debate lest the whole idea be held up to scrutiny for all to expose. These coming weeks will signal some very significant decisions on the future of our wild fish should the Minister decide to issue a license to put salmon cages in Galway Bay. There is no doubt that the defining moment is now as the magnitude of the 150,000 tons project means that it is a choice between the jewel that is Galway Bay for tourism or face a future where fish farm pollution and tourism job losses will wipe out all the hope and dreams of future generations who may never see or experience the joys of our wild salmonid fishery resource. To date there are over 250 organisations registering their support for FISSTA’s campaign to rid ourselves from the damage that is sealice and finfish farming? It is now over two and a half years since Minister Simon Coveney TD announced what we all know is his ten mega salmon farm plan that was to increase the Irish production from ten thousand tons to match Scottish targets of over three hundred thousand tons. The first of the ten mega fish farm applications came form BIM with a 1,300 page Environmental Impact Statement for the Galway Bay confirming their intention to produce 15,000 tons of farmed salmon which outlined the many

estimated that the major escape in Bantry Bay will have a devastating impact on the wildlife and spawning salmon already in rivers. With climate change driving much more adverse weather conditions for salmon farming, it is estimated that even greater waves than the record 77ft one recorded on buoy M4 recently will not augur well for offshore sites in future. VI. Damage to island community sustainability. The Joint OIreachtas Sub Committee on Fisheries launched their report on 14th January on Inis Oirr where the Oireachtas members witnessed at first hand the opposition to the fish farming application in Galway Bay. Minister Coveney can learn from Minister Pat Rabbite’s pylon problem and listen to the back bench LABOUR TDs who listened to their voters. How can the most successful Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine squander his hard earned reputation on a small fin fish farming sector that never delivered a sustainable job, nor never will. It is time for Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD to persuade Minister Coveney (like he persuaded Minister Pat Rabbite) to withdraw the application now before it is too late.

Marine artist Kenneth King is a great salmon supporter who has a new book published on his life and work. Coveney plan to locate over 7,000 ugly advantages and not one disadvantage to the salmon farm cages will degrade the view project. The fact that the application was to the and impede the generation of business Minister who must have a conversation with revenue. himself to decide on whether to grant or reject the application highlights the need for marine IV.Damage to Agri-food Sector. Agri-food and fisheries is Ireland’s largest indigenous environmental accountability as absolutely industry, a sector with long historic none exists at present. provenance and one which, today, There are many factors to be taken into collectively employs some 150,000 people consideration in the granting of the first of ten with an annual output of over €24 billion, licenses which concern the people of Galway and a significant weighting of activity in and the west coast at present. They are as rural and coastal communities. The recent follows and in no order of importance: Listeria scare in farmed smoked salmon I. Damage to jobs. For over thirty years the where exported batches had to be recalled salmon farming industry has employed no under the instruction of the state authorities more than 150 (if we take away the is a very urgent reminder of how sensitive Group meet in Galway to halt shellfish sector) leaving a trail of disease this industry is to danger from low expansion plans of B.I.M. and environmental contamination in our standards. waters that seriously impacted on our wild A joint meeting of angling and habitat and in particular wild shellfish and V. Damage to Marine Environment. As we environmental groups from all over Ireland go to print the news of a major storm met in the Menlo Park Hotel, Galway on our wild Atlantic salmon and seatrout. The damage to finfish farm cages all along the Sunday 26th January to discuss a national impact on angling tourism 10,000 west coast is that costs to repair equipment strategy to defeat plans to expand open salmon SUSTAINABLE jobs can be estimated at and replenish stocks are mounting. It is cages along the western seaboard. Delegates over many thousands due to the devastation of our wild salmonid rivers as 90 of our 150 are still on life support according to the latest Inland Fisheries Ireland scientific report. II. Sustainability. The major salmon farming company in Ireland based in Donegal is a good example to explore how feasible the present business is in Ireland as they lost €2.3m. in the last quarter of 2013 according to their report filed in compliance with Oslo stock exchange. In fact, last year their exceptional losses were €6.6m. This very poor performance will continue unless their critical mass target of 300,000 tons is achieved, but they must realise by now that Ireland’s marine coastline will never support a fraction of this target tonnage due to “Pancreatic disease, the high occurrence jelly fish and AGD or Amoebic Gill Disease” as acknowledged in their last financial report. III.Damage to Tourism Sector. Angling tourism is valued at over €755m per annum to our economy supporting over `10,000 jobs, which despite misinformed blogs Over 250 groups along the wild atlantic way that have registered support and from the fish farm sector are being stood activated to oppose the ten fish farm plan. Speakers at the meeting included over by consultants TDI. The Wild Atlantic (front L/R) Tommy Casserly, NARA and Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, Billy Way being developed by Failte Ireland Smyth, FISSTA and Chair of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, Alan Molloy, claim that the project has the potential to NFSAS; (rear L/R) Brian Curran, Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages, Noel Carr, deliver an extra €1billion along the 1,553 FISSTA Secretary, Seamus Sheridan, Green Party, Kieran O’Shea, Save Bantry Bay miles of coastline where BIM and Minister and Fergus Glynn, Galway Bay Protection Association. Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


heard that B.I.M. is actively engaged in the preparation of further Environmental Impact Statements for nine other salmon farming sites in Galway, (2) Inishturk in Mayo and Goal in Donegal. It is believed that the capacity of these installations will be up to 14.4m salmon each, fully automated with few employed. Serious damage is expected to occur to the livelihood of inshore fishermen as the use of pesticides to kill diseases and parasites from such huge intensive numbers of farmed salmon, will kill small lobsters, crab and shrimp. Anglers and tourist interests expressed grave concerns that their sectors also would be decimated and major job losses and loss of income would occur as all salmon rivers within a 30k radius of cages would have their young salmon returning to sea, eaten alive by lice from salmon installations. This has already happened to sea trout in Connemara, Donegal and Kerry, locations where salmon are caged in the marine. Delegates questioned why the fin fish aquaculture sector, which has the Irish Farmers Association support and backing, is permitted to operate without controls. There was anger that on land, no farmer was permitted to pollute waterways with waste and pesticides yet the marine was being degraded by the activities of the salmon farming industry. Plans will now be put in place to increase public awareness of the folly of salmon cages in the marine at the expense of existing inshore fishing, angling and tourism jobs.

FISSTA CHALLENGES SINN FEIN TO STICK TO THEIR POLICY FISSTA has challenged Donegal Deputy Padraig Mac Lochlainn TD who stated that a change of culture is needed in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to secure up to 150 jobs at Marine Harvest in the Fanad peninsula, and increase employment into the future. He’s raised the issue with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, following a meeting with management of the company and went on local Highland radio to explain his frustration with groups like FISSTA impeding such developments. Deputy Mac Lochlainn said that at present, the aquaculture licencing process is notoriously drawn out with no deadline for decisions, and this impacts on the ability of companies like Marine Harvest to plan effectively for the future and avail of new markets. He says that needs to change as a matter of urgency. When FISSTA challenged Deputy Mac Lochlainn he refused to budge stating that he would agree to differ with us and has not engaged or answered our questions since November. All we ask is for him to clarify why Galway Sinn Fein support and campaign on the policy below as agreed at their SF conference or Ardfheis while he makes it up as 142

he goes along to appease the multi national global company in his own constituency. We print the policy statement below for the benefit of reminding Deputy Mac Lochlainn and Deputy Martin Ferris TD.

SINN FÉIN COME OUT AGAINST SALMON FARM PROPOSALS Sinn Féin policy statement: Agreed by the Ard Chomhairle 27/4/13: Sinn Féin recognises the necessity to develop the maritime industries around Irish coasts and the important role BIM and other semi state bodies should play in that.Sinn Féin recognise the need to create employment in sustainable aquaculture and related industries and that BIM should focus on this as a mechanism to help maintain coastal communities Sinn Féin understand the need to create employment in the fish processing industry throughout the country by ensuring that the fishermen and fish farmers can provide the fish necessary to develop the industry. Sinn Féin recognises the valid concerns of the communities around the Aran islands and Galway bay in relation to the development of a deep sea organic fish farm near Inis Oírr. These relate to the potential displacement of employment in the angling and tourism industries which may well outweigh the jobs potential of the proposed development. They also relate to the potential for ecological problems, disease issues and escapees. Sinn Féin acknowledges the concerns of Inland Fisheries Ireland and that it is unacceptable that a project of this scale should proceed with two state agencies in disagreement over the potential dangers involved. Sinn Féin recognises the onus on the Minister to err on the side of precaution under EU legislation when presented with evidence from a competent body such as Inland Fisheries Ireland, who are unhappy with the Environmental Impact statement that has been prepared in relation to the project. Sinn Féin believe that the Minister should put a halt to the project at this stage, as to continue would almost certainly lead to prolonged legal challenges which could involve two or more State agencies and industry stakeholders which could cost the taxpayer a lot of money and result in the project being blocked by the European Union. Sinn Féin also believe that such a project should not be allowed to proceed with very staunch opposition from local stakeholders and communities who have genuine concerns in relation to the economic, social and ecological impacts of such a project. We call on the Minister to engage with BIM, local stakeholders and industry representatives to develop new alternative plans to create the level of employment and production capacity needed to maintain a thriving fishing and processing industry along the Irish coastline.

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Sinn Féin calls on the Minister to take on board our party’s proposals in this area, including: • A call for real reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to favour a greater share of fish caught in Irish waters for the Irish fleet • Reinstating the cod fishery of the north-west coast • The restoration of the bass quota to the Irish fleet • The full consultation and engagement with local coastal communities on any potential fish farm developments • Country of Origin labeling for all Irish fish produce

WORLD RENOWNED SCIENTIST ADVISES THE IRISH GOVERNMENT Dr Daniel Pauly is the principal investigator at the Sea Around Us Project, which studies the impact of the world's fisheries on marine ecosystems. He’s based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He was in Ireland for the annual conference of the Pew Fellows, which is taking place in Malahide recently to attend a Pew conference, where over a 100 of the world's leading marine scientists gathered to discuss the state of the world's oceans. He joined RTE’s Derek Mooney and Ken Whelan (former Director of Aquaculture at the Irish Marine Institute) in studio to explain the state of the seas and fish stocks and left us with some very good advice for everyone to pursue. Daniel Pauly’s speciality is ‘Fisheries on a global basis’ where he studies systems and gives an insight from data on fish catch statisticss from UN databases. “Certainly the science is there to make accurate decisions. I am one of the few scientists that does not say that we need to know more (or we need a new research contract) – We know lots already to decide for ourselves what kind of world we want to have for our children eg full of animals and wildlife other than us - we can decide that. If we want a world full of us and nothing else including wildlife – we can decide that too. The science is there to guide us and our leaders, either way. “Aquaculture covers a range of activities some good and some bad and it is the big one that will affect marine life. Aquaculture can also be the farming of mussels and shellfish which is sustainable. Raising carnivores like salmon is not going to solve your food problem. ~Salmon farming is like raising Bambi to feed lions and then killing the lions for food. Or like constructing Ferraris to solve the traffic problem.” We sent Minister Simon Coveney TD the recording to ensure he asked his advisers about this statement from the GURU of world fisheries. So when An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD states at an international food conference his ambition for Irish food he must remember we must never gamble with our high quality by including the inferior with our superior.”

The Honourable The Irish Society Lower Bann Fishing: still going strong The Honourable The Irish Society is a charity that owns and manages the game and coarse fishing in the 38 miles of the Lower Bann and neighbouring rivers. We offer premium salmon and trout fishing on private and non-private beats, together with competition-standard coarse fishing, all at a variety of prices to suit every taste. Our team of private water bailiffs patrols the river daily for the good of

everyone, and all our angling income is reinvested into protecting and managing the fisheries. Carnroe saw over 350 salmon taken and safely released alive in 2013, despite difficult weather conditions. Lower Bann private salmon angling beats with availability for season and day rods are: Carnroe (pictured), Culiff Rock, Movanagher and Portna. Register your interest with us NOW before syndicates are fully formed for the season. Game and Coarse permits from as little as £10 per day are available for other parts of the Lower Bann, including the beautiful Estuary. Day rods are also available on the following rivers: Agivey, Macosquin, Ballymoney, Clady, Moyola, Roe, Faughan, Ballinderry, Dennett, Derg Salmon angling on the Lower Bann opens from 5th May, and will be ‘Catch & Release’ only, in order to help preserve fish stocks. Fly, Spinning (no trebles, and barbless hooks only), prawn and shrimp methods all permitted . Prices remain unchanged from last season, for the 3rd year in a row. Book online at Follow us on Facebook: for the Bann Fisheries page, look under Edward Montgomery.

Visit our live river camera: For more information contact: or on 028 7034 4796 By post: 54 Castleroe Road, Coleraine, Co Londonderry BT51 3RL Or visit our comprehensive website at:

Newport House Co. Mayo

00 353 (0) 98 41222

Stockists of: Loop Mackenzie Zpey Shakespeare Aleka Airflo FutureFly Foxy Tails Funky Fly Tying Caledonia Fly Company Abu Garcia The Mall • 13 Frances Street • Newtownards • Co. Down • BT23 7DW Call Mike: 07544 308098 E: •

Private Salmon and Sea Trout fishing (fly only) on the Newport River (8 miles – both banks) and Lough Beltra. This historic Georgian House situated in parkland and overlooking the Newport River offers elegance and comfort, a cuisine based on fresh produce and a comprehensive wine cellar.

Fisheries Development Funds Inland Fisheries Ireland operates and administers a number of funds which support the development of the inland fisheries resource. These funds may be accessed by individuals, clubs, fishery owners, and others subject to the conditions of the various fund schemes. The first scheme to be opened to contributors was the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Salmon Conservation Fundâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; which is generated from the sale of salmon angling and commercial fishing licences. This fund represents a major contribution by licence holders to wild salmon conservation. The revenue generated from the Salmon Conservation Fund is reinvested to promote the recovery of our salmon stocks and habitats taking into account project feasibility, funding availability and value for money considerations. A broad range of works are continuously undertaken on selected rivers annually. Fish passage improvement works are undertaken by removal of barriers, modification of weirs, and construction of fish passes to provide ease of access and avoid delays in the free movement of fish whilst reinstating natural fish habitat and the free movement of fish such as those undertaken on the Avonmore River at Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow.

Spawning enhancement works are undertaken by raking of existing gravel, cleaning of existing substrates and the addition of new gravel to provide adequate spawning grounds for salmon such as those undertaken on the River Liffey at Newbridge Co. Kildare. In-stream structures such as holding pools are created to cater for increased numbers of salmonids at both juvenile and adult stages. Stone vortex weirs are created along with rubble mats inserted to provide hydraulic diversity to the river, by scouring a number of holding pools and upgrading these pools to ensure the normal flow of water to maintain the pools such as those in the Ollitrim River at Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Random boulders are inserted into pools to provide additional protection for juvenile salmon. River bank protection works are

The River Maigue before work began. 144

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

undertaken using rock armour and log revetment to stabilise the river bank, preventing further bank erosion and in some instances narrow the river channel. River bank erosion may cause widening of the river, reducing the water levels at certain sites. This in turn can impede the passage of fish up and down river. River bank erosion will almost certainly carry silt taken from the river bank, down river which deposit and clog salmon spawning beds. Salmon must have an adequate supply of loose gravel to create a redd which will be the nest for salmon eggs. An example of this is on the Lowerymore River, a tributary of the Eske River at Barnesmore, Co. Donegal. Fencing of river banks is undertaken to protect the river bank from encroaching livestock, as well as restrict livestock access to the river and in particular to salmon spawning beds. Styles are inserted to ensure angler access and suitable cattle drinkers are also provided as required. An example of these works were undertaken by the Kilbride Anglers on the Blackwater Channel at Kells, Co Meath. Riparian zone improvement works are undertaken by debrushing trees and vegetation to facilitate sunlight penetration to the river bed which will encourage the growth of suitable vegetation. This vegetation provides a suitable habitat for invertebrates which are the food source for juvenile salmon such as those undertaken on the River Sneem, Sneem, Co Kerry.

Salmon Counters are installed to provide statistical analysis of fish stocks and provide a more accurate count of fish passing to spawning grounds. The ultimate long term goal is to assist scientists and fishery managers in making future decisions regarding the fishery such as at Dunkellin River, Co. Galway. During 2013 the Midland Fisheries Fund was piloted and is created from the sale of permits in the Midland Fisheries Group Permit Area. This has funded 9 projects during 2013 and has a slightly broader project profile which includes angling access and angling product development. The Co-op Funds, created from the funds remitted to IFI on the dissolution of the Trout and Coarse Fisheries Development Societies, is now available to conserve, develop and promote trout and coarse fisheries. The individual funds, which are of varying amounts, will be available to applicants in the old Regional Fisheries Boards areas.

A different environment entirely on the Maique.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has recognised the key role angling clubs, fishery owners and other organisations play in the area of fisheries development and angling tourism. It has identified the empowerment of its stakeholders as a key objective and has

designed its programmes to ensure that stakeholders are facilitated and partnered to assist in the strategic development of fisheries and angling developments. For full details and application forms for all of the schemes go to

Countrysports and Country Life Spring 2014


Angling Expo Ireland 2014 posts success The Anglo Expo Ireland staged by Mara Media in the National Exhibition Centre in Dublin reported increased crowds and good tackle sales. The team from the Great Game Fairs of Ireland and Irish Countrysports and Country Life magazine were there to promote their new Irish Game Angler magazine and the new Northern Ireland Angling Show.

Hywel Morgan and daughters drew the crowds with their casting demonstrations.

Mara Media MD Hugh Bonner took time out to sample some of the cookery demo delicacies.

Stevie Munn admiring some Joe Stitt, Arthur Greenwood and Peter O’Reilly Irish Game Fair Angling Director Stevie of the proofs of the new Irish Munn giving some casting demos. demonstrating some APGAI Fly tying expertise. Game Angler magazine.

The Team from DCAL were promoting the Department’s Hugh Bonner & Grace Mc Dermott - happy Mara Media team waters in NI. at the end of two successful days.

Following the success of the Dublin Angling event the next large angling event is the NORTHERN IRELAND ANGLING SHOW taking place as a ‘show within a show’ at the IRISH GAME FAIR, Shanes Castle, on the 28th & 29th June. Full details will be announced soon. 146

Spring 2014 Countrysports and Country Life

Irish Country Sports and Country Life Spring 2014  

The Spring 2014 edition of Irish Country Sports and Country Life Magazine

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