Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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

"Gallant Tipps" Open Formal Season at Fethard

power.tipps.huntsman gavin shortenHuntsman Gavin Shorten, foxhounds, staff, and field of nearly 80 move off through the north gate of the ancient town wall to the first draw.   / Catherine Power photo

A day with the Tipperary Foxhounds is always special, but when that day happens to be the Opening Meet in Fethard, it rises to a completely different dimension. Recognised by all as the World Horse Capital, Fethard is a very special place, indeed. It hosts the Fethard Horse Museum in the Old Town Hall, a must for all horse enthusiasts. Not to forget as well that Coolmore Stud is just a stone’s throw from town.

And so it was we found ourselves on bank holiday Monday, in the small park between the Clashawley River and the historic town wall, first built in 1375 and among the best preserved of any in these islands. A portion of the town wall also serves as the back wall of the famed McCarthy’s hotel, that establishment providing hot port and other suitable hunting refreshments served up by the proprietor, Vincent (Jasper) Murphy. Mr. Murphy also doubles as the town undertaker. He is the fifth generation of his family since Richard McCarthy opened in 1852.

North Kerry Harriers at Glin Castle

north kerry castle.powerAnnual meeting of the North Kerry Harriers at Glin Castle /  Catherine Power photo

It has become something of a Christmas tradition for Catherine and me to visit the North Kerry Harriers at their invitation meet at Glin Castle in those days between Christmas and the New Year. This season the day fell on Sunday, December 29, 2019, and the keen, hard working hunt secretary, Shannon O’Mahony, was in overdrive. My computer and phone were in danger of collapse such was the volume of texts, emails, and What’s Apps describing the glory of Glin Castle and especially a sidesaddle day the hunt had organised.

The South Tyrone Foxhounds at Brackaville

mullins.South Tyrone Foxhounds at BrackavilleThe South Tyrone Foxhounds Joint-Masters Stephen Hutchinson, Andy Oliver, and Tony Weir; huntsman Ryan Carvill; and whippers-in Paddy Considine and Paul Kinane at The Four Corners Inn in Brackaville / Noel Mullins photo

“Don’t open the back door of the horse box,” shouted honorary whipper-in Paul Kinane as I met him on the M1 Motorway heading north to Belfast. “There is a hound of Lord Waterford’s in there, and if he gets out we will be chasing him all over North County Dublin and miss the South Tyrone Foxhounds meet at Brackaville.”

As it transpired it was not a meet to miss as they had the best hunt of the season so far. Paul was bringing the hound up to Ryan Carvill, huntsman of the South Tyrone. Lord Waterford’s hound never made a sound, knowing that he was in good company with two tacked up hunters sharing the accommodation.

Foxhunting on the English-Scottish Border

border.college valleyCollege Valley in North Northumberland

Although I had hunted in England, my education was incomplete according to my friends Matthew Mackay-Smith and Cliff and Laura Hunt. I had never hunted with the English and Scottish Fell packs. To remedy that void in my experience they convinced me to join them on their annual pilgrimage to the Border Country. There I discovered another mode of hunting altogether, and I shall be forever grateful to them, for it was not to be missed.

As an ordinary member of the field, how does your dream hunt unfold? In mine, there’s no Field Master. I jog right up to the huntsman’s side where I can be in close touch with the pack. And if I get ahead of him when hounds are running, he smiles and says, “Go on!” It happens there is such a place, and you don’t have to dream (or die) to get there.