After The 1939-45 War

At the end of the 1939-45 war, the Irish wolfhound in Britain was in difficult circumstances. Breeding had been strongly curtailed during the war - for example, in 1940 there was 1 registration in January, 15 in February (7 from one litter, 5 from another litter, and the other 3 single registrations), 8 in March (all from one litter), 1 in April, 2 in July, and 8 in November (all from one litter). In 1941 there were 3 registrations in January, and 1 in March, May, July, September and November. In 1945 there were 6 registrations in March (4 from one litter and 2 single registrations), 1 in April and June, and 6 (all from one litter) in December. This continued for some years after the war, because, of course, there were still major food shortages. Apart from this, almost all hounds were either by Clonboy of Ouborough or his sons or grandsons or out of his daughters or granddaughters and sometimes both.

Miss Esther Croucher, of the Rippingdon kennels and at that time Secretary of the Irish Wolfhound Club, wrote of this period:

"When in a few years' time we start to look round and compare the pedigrees of various hounds, the following facts will be bound to stand out clearly.

The half-a-dozen largest and most influential kennels which hung on despite all difficulties, just saved the breed here. One of these was the then unknown newly-formed kennel of Mrs. James of Peterborough in Northamptonshire. She started with stock from Mr. J.V. Rank's well-known kennel of Ouborough and I guess was not above picking up every crumb of advice which came her way! Luckily she managed to glean the best, and she appeared at the close of the war as one of the leading breeders! Nearly every present day winner, in fact nearly every hound shown, has some connection with her famous stud dog, Clonboy of Ouborough. Now it is difficult to get away from his breeding, and Boroughbury is well known in the breed.

Mrs. Nagle, though her kennel was, of course, very much reduced in numbers, carried on in the South and used Mrs. Homes' stud, Brown Bruce, for several bitches. The loss of her Champion Sulhamstead Fella came as rather a blow to the breed. I shall never forget her distress at his sudden illness when she rang me up in the small hours of the night, having failed to be able to get any veterinary surgeon to come to the hound's assistance. Probably her call to me would not have been heard but for the fact that I was standing by to take out the Mobile Canteen to give relief to bombed people, it being my turn of duty for this job.

In the West near Bristol, Miss N. Nichols carried on with her Bradfields and managed to get one of her bitches mated to Clonboy of Ouborough. She worked in the casualty department of the Bristol Hospital through the war. Mrs. Hartland-Rowe dispersed her famous kennel of Chulainns and now only has a few Cairn Terriers. What a difference! Mr. J.V. Rank carried on in one of the most badly bombed districts, and I believe he sent one or two hounds over to Ireland for safety and dispersal.

Miss Seale, after several moves to various parts of Sussex, went to Devonshire and there bred one or two litters. There I visited her in 1944 with my Rippingdon Rathanna, who visited her Artel Ballykelly Sandy, alas without result.

Mrs. Fitz-Gibbon, in spite of evacuations, etc., bred a good litter by Clonboy of Ouborough ex her Artel Felclarion, who was a daughter of Ch. Sulhamstead Fella ex a daughter of Miss Kearns' Ch. Rippingdon Dan of Southwick. This litter produced two stud dogs in Artel Clontarf and Artel Ballykelly Sandy and the bitch Ouborough Briar of Boroughbury.

Mrs. Walder's (Miss Ansell) Pentavalons died out one by one and as she was also in a rather dangerous district did not do any breeding to replace. She is now restarting with a nice bitch in Sulhamstead Cleo from Mrs. Nagle. This bitch is by Brown Bruce ex Sulhamstead Cassandra. Lady Gardner's Knightellingtons have also gone, and she now only has some Saluki hounds.

Of my own kennel, when I tried to restart, my bitches refused to breed, except for the elderly Cadox Salute who had come to me as a refugee. Of her litter of five I succeeded in rearing only one bitch puppy, by Artel Clonboy and still have her.

Mrs. Stephens, who had Rippingdon Wendy, kept her the whole time, even through the bombing and destruction of their Birmingham home. She eventually died of old age, and by sheer coincidence, when answering a house-to-let advertisement, she found one in Sussex one of the conditions of which was taking over some Irish Wolfhounds with the house. Hence her exhibiting Develin Music at recent shows. She also acquired Artel Felclarion on breeding terms from Mrs. Fitz-Gibbon, but had bad luck with the puppies through a distemper outbreak.

Unfortunately these breeders had all the time to compete against a flood of very inferior stock from a certain kennel, which continued to breed regardless of whether sufficient suitable food and rearing conditions were available.

This indiscriminate breeding led to the disappointment and disillusions of quite a number of would-be owners and enthusiasts in the breed, who found the only thing was to start again with fresh stock, which they found great difficulty in obtaining.

As regards food! Of course the horse slaughterers which also deal in old cows, etc. are the main source of everyone's meat supply, and at times this is very uncertain, varying with the number of deaths and casualties in the horse and cattle world. Sometimes we go several days without, and have to make a dash when the welcome news goes around that "something" has come in.Also sometimes one arrives to find it all gone, if not able to go at once. Petrol for this is a problem. Regarding biscuits, those of us who received supplies in bulk of several hundredweight at a time, still receive a fair amount, but newcomers are experiencing difficulties and can get only a few pounds at a time. So you see catering for this breed is no sinecure, but it can be, and is, done one way or another and hounds need never be actually hungry, though it may not be the kind of food they enjoy or eat willingly.

Several breeders during the war volunteered to work in Army Canteens, and thus were able to collect buckets of leavings for their animals, who seemed to enjoy the mixed collection of oddments. I know mine did! One breeder collected leavings from a fried fish restaurant.

The year 1947 saw the first shows which provided classes specially for the breed, and the first championship show was held in April, in London, in conjunction with several other breeds. The first open show which was held, of course, in conjunction with a lot of other breeds, was unbenched and the floor of the hall was covered with a carpet of tarpaulin, which made some of the hounds nervous walking on it to show their true action. I judged here and found it extremely difficult under the circumstances to pick my winners. Mrs. Nagle and Mrs. James and Mrs. Shields were the chief winning owners.

Mrs. Walder judged at the first Championship show for the breed and performed her task extremely well. Then came Blackpool and Wembley and several small open shows. The year finished up with the L.K.A. where Mrs. Hudson judged. As this is the most recent event, it will probably be of greatest interest. It was also the first Club Show since 1939.

Eighteen hounds were entered. The Club Specials and Challenge Certificates were as follows:- Dog Challenge Certificate - Miss Nicholds Shaun of Bradfield, with Reserve to Miss Seale's Artel Ballykelly Sandy. Bitch Challenge Certificate to Mr. J.V.Rank's Ouborough Briar of Boroughbury, and Reserve to Mrs. Nagle's Sulhamstead Cassandra. The Brace went to Mrs. James' brace. Miss Nichol's Shaun of Bradfield took the Graham Shield, the Ch. Clodagh Cup and the Height Cup. Mr. Rank's Ouborough Briar of Boroughbury took the Irish Guards Shield and the same owner's Ouborough McCarthy of Boroughbury was awarded the Stud Dog Cup. Mrs. Nagle's Sulhamstead Cassandra won the Brood Bitch Cup and her Sulhamstead Monty took the Type Cup for dogs, while his litter sister Sulhamstead Mary took the Type Cup for bitches. The Halcyon Cup was unable to be awarded. Altogether the show was most enjoyable and one felt back in the past again for a few hours."


Note: Challenge Certificates are the wins that count toward championship status in the U.K. Three Challenge Certificates have to be won under different judges in order to become a champion. The Graham Shield is the trophy given for Best in Show at the Irish Wolfhound Club championship show, and the Irish Guards Shield that given to the Reserve BIS. The Ch. Clodagh Cup is for the hound with best head, eyes, and expression. The Type Cups for the best dog and best bitch under two years of age on the day of the show. The Halcyon Cup is given for Best Puppy in Show.

It should also be noted that Sulhamstead Cassandra was eight years old in 1947, so winning the Reserve CC was pretty good going.


Because of the parlous state of the breed in the U.K., Miss F. Jeannette McGregor of Kennel Kihone in the United States offered the Irish Wolfhound Club a hound. Miss Croucher went to America to make the choice of which hound to have and she chose Rory of Kihone, a yearling male, born March 31st, 1951. According to Mrs. Nagle, he was chosen because of his suitability to mate with English bitches and Miss Croucher went for quality, conformation and soundness. Rory arrived in England on the Mauretania which sailed from New York on May 29th, 1952 and, when he came out of quarantine in early December went to the Sanctuary kennels of Margaret Harrison and May Atfield. His name was later changed to Sanctuary Rory of Kihone and he made a huge impact on the breed. He was not a complete outcross, as he goes back to Chulainn Casey of Kihone, a descendant of Sulhamstead Conncara. My apologies for the poor quality of some of the pictures.

Sanctuary Rory of Kihone

Born March 31st, 1951
Bred by Miss F. Jeannette McGregor and
presented to the Irish Wolfhound Club in June, 1952
Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents

Taddeus of Kihone

Ch. Killary of Ambleside Padraic of Summerhill
Teanhra of Ambleside
Ch. Laith of Kihone Ambleside Meac Casey of Kihone
Ch. Baine of Kihone

Chalet Cam

Ch. Killary of Ambleside Padraic of Summerhill
Teanhra of Ambleside
Cragwood Brenda II Cragwood Bard
Tralee of Killybracken

I do not have many pictures of the hounds in Rory's pedigree:

Ambleside Finn of Erinn   Ch. Killary of Ambleside
 Ambleside Finn of Erinn with owner,
Alma J. Starbuck
 Ch. Killarry of Ambleside
(Finn's grandson & Rory's grandsire on both sides)
Ch. Laith of Kihone Ch. Chalet Cam
Ch. Laith of Kihone (in front)
(Rory's granddam)
Ch. Chalet Cam
(Rory's dam)
Rory of Kihone Margaret Harrison with Rory of Kihone
Ch.Sanctuary Rory of Kihone Margaret Harrison with Rory

Things were not that much better for the breed in the United States; following the Depression and with only a small reserve stock, registrations dropped markedly from a high of over 90 in 1930 to only a score or so during and immediately after the war. So it was perhaps especially generous of Miss McGregor to give the English Club a hound. He certainly made his mark on the breed here, especially where Mrs. Nagle was concerned. Rory to Sulhamstead Felcara produced Ch. Fellus, Ch. Freda, and Fellad (who went to Sanctuary and was the sire of their famous Ch. Sanctuary Brave Knight), and Felrose (who went to Mrs. Van Brunt in America, where she became a champion). To Sulhamstead Mesa he produced Chs. Manna and Melba. Fellus was the sire of Ch. Sulhamstead Max and of the famous American champion and stud, Matador. Mated to Kilfenora of Ouborough, Rory produced Sanctuary Sonnet of Eaglescrag (dam of Brave Knight) and Song of Eaglescrag (dam of Ch. Moira of Eaglescrag). Rory won the Stud Dog Cup at the Club championship show four years in succession, a record at that time.


A second male hound made the journey from America to England a few years after Rory. This was a hound that had taken the American show ring by storm, winning his championship in 27 consecutive days, in the month of September, 1951, and mostly by winning Hound Groups. He was sent by his owner, Mrs. Frances Van Brunt to the Misses Harrison and Atfield of the Sanctuary kennels in May, 1955 at the age of six years. The picture below is of Barney winning the Hound Group at the Westbury Kennel Association all-breed show on September 30th, 1951:

Cragwood Barney O'Shea of Riverlawn

Born March 12th, 1949
Male, gray with black points
Bred by Mrs. Norwood B. Smith, Owned by Mrs. Frances Van Brunt
Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents

Cragwood Gaelic Harp

Cragwood Hogan Cragwood Bard
Dark Kathleen of Rathbunwood
Cragwood Denagh Cragwood Bard
Ch. Sulhamstead Fara of Cragwood

Ch. Barn Hill Gilda

Ch. Gillagain of Ambleside Ambleside Failinis of Kihone
Cheevra of Ambleside
Ch. Barn Hill Hilda Padraic of Summerhill
Ch. Trailmoor Lady Colleen

Note that Barney has Cragwood Bard and Padraic of Summerhill in common with Rory, and Chulainn Casey of Kihone was the sire of Ambleside Failinis of Kihone. I have pictures of Barney's sire and dam:

Cragwood Gaelic Harp Barn Hill Gilda
Cragwood Gaelic Harp Ch. Barn Hill Gilda

Barney won several more Hound Groups and was BIS at the Irish Wolfhound Club of America Specialty show in 1952 and 1953.

Ch. Cragwood Barney O'Shea of Riverlawn 1953 Specialty
Ch. Cragwood Barney O'Shea of Riverlawn
winning BoB at the 1952 Specialty
Ch. Cragwood Barney O'Shea of Riverlawn
winning BoB at the 1953 Specialty

He was the sire of Ch. Sulhamstead Sedlestan Rebel (who was the sire of Sulhamstead Merman, Crufts 1960 BIS). To Rippingdon Rhapsody he produced Chs. Rippingdon Brackenbury Topnote and Rippingdon Brackenbury Rhythm. And to Ch. Kathleeen of Bradfield he produced CC winning Finoola of Arraghglen and Ch. Urla of Arraghglen. Sadly, he died after only a short time in England.

Mrs. Nagle (Sulhamstead) felt that the progeny of these two American-bred hounds blended well together and this was where their influence really became apparent, although Rory sons to Rory daughters also produced well. For example, Ch. Sulhamstead Melba (Rory's daughter) to Ch. Sulhamstead Sedlestan Rebel (Barney's son) produced Chs. Sulhamstead Merman and Sulhamstead Mystic. Ch. Sulhamstead Fellus (Rory's son) to Mystic produced the famous sire Ch. Sulhamstead Max, while Fellus to Melba produced Chs. Sulhamstead Marco and Mafra and the amazing Am.Ch. Sulhamstead Matador, who went to Killybracken kennels and won just about everything there was to win. Sulhamstead Fellad (Rory's son) to Sanctuary Sonnet of Eaglescrag (Rory's daughter) produced Ch. Sanctuary Brave Knight.

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Updated 8/28/2015