Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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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.

Whipper-in Turns Traffic Cop

hugh robertson.cropHugh Robertson, honorary whipper-in at Eglinton and Caledon Hounds, is also a former amateur steeplechase rider.

“Land's sakes," says Hugh in his burred Scottish accent, "there I was quietly enjoying a quick puff on my favourite cigarillo, when it all started."

Hugh Robertson is an honorary whipper-in with the Eglinton and Caledon Hounds (ON). Hugh knows the country and had already taken up his post on the ridge. It was early in the season and hounds were drawing the swamp in the valley at the south end of Galten Farms country in Caledon. So far the day had been quiet, providing the opportunity for Hugh to enjoy the overly-warm but beautiful September day.

Grallagh Harriers at Meadow Court Hotel, Galway

The Grallagh Harriers master and huntsman David Burke at the Meadow Court meetThe Grallagh Harriers Master and huntsman David Burke and field move off from the meet at the Meadow Court Hotel near Loughrea. / Noel Mullins photo

The Grallagh Harriers hunt much the same country as the Galway Blazers. The meet was at Meadow Court Hotel in Co. Galway, near my hometown of Loughrea. It brought back many happy memories so close as it is to St. Clerins, the former home of film director John Huston who wrote the screen play and/or directed such classic films as The Maltese Falcon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Asphalt Jungle, African Queen, and Moby Dick. The list goes on. He won the Oscar twice and directed his father Walter and his daughter Anjelica to Oscar-winning roles as well.

John Huston was MFH of the Galway Blazers in the 1960s. It was nothing unusual to see his house guests following the hunt by car―Hollywood film stars like Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Orson Wells, playwright Jean Paul Sartre, or Paul Newman who bought a Connemara Pony from Lady Anne Hemphill.