Irish Wolfhound History

The Ballykelly Kennels

Sheelagh Seale was born in Ireland in 1908 but spent most of her earliest years in England and in India, and then mainly in England. She was first listed as a member of The Irish Wolfhound Club in the 1935-6-7 Year Book. Her first wolfhound came from the Coolafin kennels. She was Avoca of Coolafin, by Bioultach of Coolafin ex Sile Deirin of Coolafin, whelped June 27th, 1934 and transferred from Phyllis Gardner to Miss Seale in July 1935.

 avoca of coolafin
 Avoca of Coolafin

At this time Sheelagh lived in Lower Willingdon, near Eastbourne and close to Wannock Glen; a great area for exercising Irish wolfhounds:

 Wannock Glen
 Wannock Glen - - 47197" by Andrew Huggett. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons

In November, 1936 she took on Silvagh Tim, bred by Mrs. E.M. Fitz-Gibbon by Balanser of Chalvington ex Joyful Juno, wh. June 23rd, 1936, later renamed Silvagh Tim of Ballykelly.

 Silvagh Tim
 Silvagh Tim of Ballykelly

Sheelagh Seale was one of the founder members of the Irish Wolfhound Society. The Society had a number of trophies which were to be given annually but the winners nearly all came from a photographic competition rather than at a show. Sheelagh's Avoca of Coolafin won the An Mac-Tire Silver Wolf for the most typical bitch hound in 1937 and Silvagh Tim of Ballykelly won the Silver Wolfhound Trophy for the most typical dog hound in 1938, which was when the Society folded.

March, 1938 saw the first Ballykelly litter, by Silvagh Tim ex Avoca of Coolafin. Alanna and Allula of Ballykelly were out of this litter:

 Alanna of Ballykelly Allula of Ballykelly 
 Alanna of Ballykelly Allula of Ballykelly

In August, 1938 was registered the transfer of Chulainn Clonfert, a bitch by Ch. Rippingdon Dan of Southwick ex Gay Lady of Ennisfarne, from her breeder Mrs. Hartland-Rowe to Sheelagh Seale, and in February 1939 another bitch, Killanny of Ouborough was transferred from Mr. J.V. Rank to Miss Seale. Killanny was actually born August 15th, 1937, by Fonab of Ouborough ex Barley Sugar.

 Chulainn Clonfert
 Chulainn Clonfert

Nothing else happened in 1939, apart - of course - from war being declared, until December 6th, when the second Ballykelly litter was born, by Silvagh Tim ex Killanny of Ouborough. Sheelagh Seale moved several times to different parts of Sussex before finally going to Newton Abbot, South Devon some time around August, 1940 in order to escape the worst ravages of war.

August 12th, 1940 saw the next Silvagh Tim/Killanny of Ouborough litter born, registered in January 1941. Then nothing until 1943 with a litter by Chulainn Columbus ex Antara of Ballykelly (Antara being from the first home-bred litter), from which came Macushla of Ballykelly.

 Macushla of Ballykelly
 Macushla of Ballykelly
from the Chulainn Columbus x Antara of Ballykelly litter

Then another long gap until September 12th, 1944 and a litter by McCrea of Ballykelly (one of the 1943 litter) ex Eona of Raikeshill. Eona of Raikeshill was bred by Mrs. W. Knox, by Luath of Coolafin ex Loree of Raikeshill, wh. April 26th, 1939 but not registered with the Kennel Club until July 1940 and not officially transferred to Sheelagh Seale but remaining listed as being owned by Mrs. Knox.

Also in 1944 came Artel Clonard, a dog bred by Mrs. E.M. Fitz-Gibbon, by Clonboy of Ouborough ex Artel Felclarion, whelped November 26th, 1943. His name was changed to Artel Ballykelly Sandy, and he was the first big winner for the Ballykelly kennel, gaining his championship in 1949. He won the Graham Shield (the oldest of the Irish Wolfhound Club Trophies and given to the Best of Breed at the Club Championship Show) in 1948 and 1949. In all he won six Challenge Certificates.

 Artel Ballykelly Sandy
 Artel Ballykelly Sandy

October, 1945 saw the registration of another litter by McCrea of Ballykelly ex Eona of Raikeshill, wh. July 29th, 1945. Then nothing for almost a year, when Cassidy of Boroughbury was transferred in August 1946 by Mrs. James to Sheelagh Seale. Cassidy was by Mulligan of Boroughbury ex Tara of Ouborough, wh. April 15th, 1946.

 Sandy and Cassidy
 Sheelagh Seale with Artel Ballykelly Sandy and Cassidy of Boroughbury

In October, 1946 Mrs. W. Seymour Walker transferred Timber Wolf of Ouborough to Sheelagh Seale, and in December, 1946 Miss E. Lithgow transferred Kirkheaton Mulligan and Kirkhampton Shaun to her. Then in February, 1947 Mrs. C. Ford transferred Pegeen of Enfelcarne and Rory of Enfelcarne to her. By 1946 Deerhounds had been added to the Ballykelly kennels.

 group of hounds
 Sheelagh Seale with group of hounds

In 1946 Artel Ballykelly Sandy won the Reserve CC at Blackpool and at Oxford won three 1sts and was Best Wolfhound.

 Sandy at Blackpool
 Artel Ballykelly Sandy at Blackpool
 Artel Ballykelly Sandy

At Wembley Star Show, 1946, Sandy won the cup given by Mrs. Nagle for the Best Hound not having won a Challenge Certificate. McCrea of Ballykelly (by Chulainn Colombus ex Artara of Ballykelly) won a 1st at Wembley.

 McCrea of Ballykelly
 McCrea of Ballykelly

Sheelagh Seale then moved to Collon, Co. Louth, Eire and Artel Ballykelly Sandy became an International Champion.

 Artel Ballykelly Sandy
 Int. Ch. Artel Ballykelly Sandy

In February, 1949 Mrs. E.F. James transferred Boroughbury Bridget to Sheelagh Seale, and in March 1949 Boroughbury Casino of Spean. In September, 1949 another homebred litter was registered, Artel Ballykelly Sandy ex Shanganagh of Ballykelly, wh. June 19th, 1949. In November, 1950 two litters were registered, both by Ch. Artel Ballykelly Sandy - one whelped August 10th out of Cashel of Boroughbury, and the other whelped August 25th out of Bridget of Boroughbury. On December 10th, 1950 Boroughbuy Casino of Spean had a litter by Sean of Corfechase. Casino had had a good year, winning two CCs and two reserve CCs and going Best of Breed at Crufts, at which show Sheelagh Seale won both CCs

 Boroughbury Bridget  Boroughbury Casino of Spean
 Boroughbury Bridget Boroughbury Casino of Spean
 and below with her five week old son Brannigan of Ballykelly  became an Irish Champion
 Bridget with puppy and Sheelagh  Boroughbury Casino of Spean

March 14th, 1951 Patricia of Boroughbury had a litter by Sean of Corfechase, bred by Sheelagh Seale, and Patricia was transferred to her by Mrs. Wager in June of that year. April 5th, 1951 Bridget of Boroughbury had another litter, this time by Sean of Corfechase, and this was repeated later that year, to be whelped on November 16th. (Bridget was listed in the K.C. records as both Boroughbury Bridget and Bridget of Boroughbury). April 16th, 1953 Patricia had a litter by Brannigan of Ballykelly. Brannigan was from the August 25th, 1950 litter.

 Kevin of Ballykelly
 Kevin of Ballykelly with his owner Norman Evans of the London Irish Rifles
Kevin was from the Ch. Artel Ballykelly Sandy/Cashel of Boroughbury litter of August 10th, 1950
and was the mascot for the London Irish Rifles
(many thanks to Vintage DogADay for permission to use this photograph)
 Group of three
 In front: Boroughbury Casino of Spean, at back: Int. Ch. Artel Ballykelly Sandy, on right: Casey of Ballykelly

1952 was quiet and not many shows were attended but Molony of Ballykelly attained his Irish Championship. Sheelagh Seale bought in from Miss N.I. Nichols a puppy from a litter by Ch. Kerryman of Boroughbury ex Ch. Regan of Bradfield.

 Sheelagh Seale with group of hounds
 l to r: Murphy of Ballykelly, Irish Ch. Molony of Ballykelly, Casey of Ballykelly and Cassidy of Boroughbury

In 1953 Boreen of Ballykelly won the Green Star and Best of Breed at the Irish Kennel Club Show, and the Challenge Certificate at Belfast ch. show. Branigan of Ballykelly won the Green Star and Best of Breed at Cork and Limerick Shows, and the Green Star at Bray. And on June 6th, 1953 Sheelagh Seale was pictured in the Irish Times newspaper:-

 Irish Times
 Group of three
 l to r: Irish Ch. Molony of Ballykelly, Casey of Ballykelly, and Cassidy of Boroughbury

1954 was a busy year with a litter on March 19th by Tarrabeen Merlin ex Cashel of Ballykelly; then a litter on September 28th by Brannigan of Ballykelly ex Patricia of Boroughbury, and one on September 29th, by Molony of Ballykelly ex Boreen of Ballykelly (litter sister to Brannigan). Molony was from the June 19th, 1949 litter. Then on November 28th was a repeat of the Merlin/Cashel litter.
It was a good year at the shows, as Boreen of Ballykelly won the Green Star and Best of Breed at the St. Patrick's Show, the Green Star at the An Tostal show, and the CC at Belfast. Brannigan won three Green Stars and Molony won the Green Star at Wexford Show.

 Boreen and Brannigan  Boreen and Malony
 Boreen and Brannigan of Ballykelly Ir.  Ch. Boreen of Ballykelly and Ir. Ch. Molony of Ballykelly
The puppy is Ballykelly Molly Murphy, aged five weeks

By 1952 Sheelagh Seale had moved to Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, Eire and by 1953 another move took place to The Mill, Woodenbridge, Co. Wicklow, and then to Ballinapark, Avoca, Co. Wicklow, in 1955, which lasted until 1968.

 Ballinapark farmland with house behind trees
© Paul Leonard

In 1955 there was one litter on August 15th, by Brannigan of Ballykelly ex Cashel of Ballykelly, then two on October 22nd, both by Ir. Ch. Molony of Ballykelly - one out of Ir. Ch. Boreen of Ballykelly, and one out of Antostal of Ballykelly. Antostal was by Brannigan ex Patricia of Boroughbury, wh. April 16th, 1953. At the shows, Ch. Brannigan won the Green Star and Best of Breed at the Irish Kennel Club Show. At Monkstown he also won the Green Star but was beaten for Best of Breed by his daughter - Antostal of Ballykelly. At Bray, Brannigan and Boreen both won the Green Stars with Brannigan taking Best of Breed. Brannigan also won the Green Star and Best of Breed at Limerick. At Belfast, Flannigan of Ballykelly, at only 11 months' old, won the CC and Best of Breed. Flannigan was by Ch. Molony ex Ch. Boreen, and owned by Miss Kerr Donnan.

 Sheelagh Seale with Boreen
Sheelagh Seale with Ir. Ch. Boreen of Ballykelly

In 1956 there was just one litter registered - on July 8th, by Casey of Ballykelly out of Antostal of Ballykelly. Sheelagh Seale won both CCs at Belfast, with Ir.Chs. Brannigan and Boreen of Ballykelly, with Brannigan taking Best of Breed.

In the mid-1950s Sheelagh and her hounds appeared in an article in the magazine U.S. Camera, which can be seen here.

In the latter 1950s there were very few wolfhounds being registered in the U.K and the Ballykelly litters were being registered with the Irish Kennel Club but only some then being registered with the English Kennel Club. In 1957 there was only one Ballykelly litter registered in England, wh. February 11th and a repeat of the Molony/Antostal breeding. Sheelagh also registered Diarmuid of Dunamaise, which was from a litter by Ir. Ch. Brannigan of Ballykelly ex Brenda of Ballygran, wh. March 17th, 1957 and bred by Mrs. J. Tyrrell. He went on to become an Irish Champion and a major influence at stud.

 Diarmuid of Dunamaise Diarmuid and Irish Harp 
 Diarmuid of Dunamaise Diarmuid with an Irish Harp

In 1957 Ballykelly Tessagh (by Casey of Ballykelly ex Antostal of Ballykelly, wh. July 8th, 1956) did very well at the shows as a puppy, winning twelve 1sts, two Green Stars and one Best of Breed, and Boreen of Ballykelly won her third CC at Belfast, thus becoming an Int. Ch. Unfortunately Ir. Ch. Brannigan of Ballykelly suffered a serious accident from which he didn't recover.

In 1958 there was a litter on April 11th by Cavan of Ballygran ex Falcarragh of Ballykelly; on April 22nd by Fergus of Ballykelly ex Casbah of Ballykelly; on July 8th by Cavan of Ballygran ex Kingsholme Sunshine; on November 2nd by Cavan of Ballygran ex Falcarragh of Ballykelly. Cavan of Ballygran was bred Mrs. R. Harper, by Molony of Ballykelly ex Gail of Boroughbury, wh. December 6th, 1954 and registered by Sheelagh Seale in November, 1958.

 Off for a ride
 McGilligan of Ballykelly and Sheelagh Seale off for a ride

There were a lot of wins again in 1958, with McGilligan of Ballykelly at a year old winning the Green Star and Best of Breed at the St. Patrick's Day show. His dam, Ch. Antostal of Ballykelly won the bitch Green Star. Then, at the Combined K.C. Championship Show, McGilligan again won the Green Star and Best of Breed but also won the Hound Group. His half-sister Tessagh of Ballykelly won the bitch Green Star. The Green Star wins for this pair were repeated twice more, with McGilligan going Best of Breed at one show and Tessagh at the other. Tessagh again won the Green Star at Dundalk and at Belfast she won the CC. At Limerick, Ballykelly Molly Murphy came out to win the Green Star. At Birmingham National McGilligan won the CC and Best of Breed under Mrs. Nagle and Molly Murphy won the Reserve Bitch CC. McGilligan was from the Ir.Ch. Molony of Ballykelly/Antostal of Ballykelly litter wh. February 11th, 1957. Molly Murphy was from the same litter.

 McGilligan of Ballykelly
 McGilligan of Ballykelly

January 2nd, 1959 a litter by McGilligan of Ballykelly ex Kingsholme Sunshine; June 20th a litter by Cavan of Ballygran ex Falcarragh of Ballykelly; and on July 14th a repeat of the McGilligan/Sunshine breeding. October 4th a litter by McGilligan ex Kingsholme Jet and December 11th one by Diarmuid of Dunamaise ex Casbah of Ballykelly.

 Kevin of Ballykelly
 Kevin of Ballykelly, mascot of the London Irish Rifles, with his owner Norman Evans
(this picture appeared in a 1959 Ballykelly advertisement)

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October 27th, 2015