There are nine breeds of dog that are native to Ireland: four terriers, three gun dogs and two hounds. Here are the stories of each of those breeds, with a wonderfully Irish flavour.
Irish Wolfhounds stalked ancient Celtic mythology, while Kerry Beagles were among the victims of the Land War in the 1880s. Charles Stewart Parnell insisted that his Red Setter stay with him when he was on his deathbed. World War One saw hundreds of Irish Terriers serve in the trenches, and Michael Collins wanted to make the Kerry Blue the national dog of Ireland. The Glen of Imaal Terrier was deliberately bred to have a genetic defect, while the Irish Water Spaniel was reputed to be descended from the dobhar-chú – a Celtic spirit.
Six of Ireland’s native breeds of dog are now considered vulnerable to extinction, but they are an integral part of our cultural narrative, our social fabric, and our happiness.
David Blake Knox has worked as a TV producer and executive for RTÉ in Dublin, the BBC in London and HBO in New York. He established Blueprint Pictures, an independent production company, in 2002, which specialises in arts and entertainment series. He is the author of Hitler’s Irish Slaves, which tells the story of thirty-two Irish merchant seamen who were held in a Nazi slave labour camp, and Ireland and the Eurovision. David lives in Dublin.
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Date of Publication: 07/09/2018