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Country Life Magazine - A visit to Kidnal House
and the Irish Wolfhounds, December 28th 1901
(By Cumming Macdona)


SITUATED right in the centre of the Cheshire hunting country, within easy access of all the meets of four packs of hounds, in the prettiest part of the " Vale," is Kidnal House, close to Malpas Station. Here is the home of the far-famed Cheevra, the most prolific and profitable of all Irish wolfhound bitches. It is a fact well known in the doggy kingdom that within the last few years this mother of a race of canine giants, now nine years old, has had seven litters, containing fifty-two pups, all told, of which she has reared forty-six, including two such champions as Sportella and the Marquis of Donegal, both bred by that most excellent judge and owner of Irish wolfhounds, Mrs Arthur Gerard, who rivals her husband in her keenness of appreciation of the characteristics of this grand race of dogs, that owes so much of its present state of perfection to the great and constant care bestowed upon its development by these two enthusiasts, who both have learnt their lesson from the great master of the breed, Captain Graham, to whom is all the glory of having restored, resuscitated, and almost re-created the ancient Irish wolfhound. It is only those who have made the attempt to restore a lost breed, or apparently lost breed, that know what such an attempt means. The many journeys to and fro, the buoyant hopes so often found to be delusive, the missing links so perplexing to find in the long pedigree otherwise perfect, the tantalising taunts to be put up with from envious competitors, all combine to make the task a thankless one; but brave people in this, as in other efforts in life, ar.. not so easily thwarted, for in dog breeding, and in the improvement of the breeds of dogs, great patience, and judgment and skill are of vital importance. The motto holds good in this, as in all other great achievements, "Obstacles are meant to he overcome, and not overcome us." Captain Graham has proved himself a veteran hero in the strife, and has lived to reap the reward of his tact, judgment, industry, and perseverance in bringing the Irish wolfhound to the high standard of excellence which it has now attained.

Sheila Of Kidnal Photo Sheila Of Kidnal
Wanda Of Kindal Photo Wanda Of Kidnal

The Rev. Edmund Hogan has thrown a glamour of poetic and historical romance round this noble and ancient breed of dog that makes his book, " The Irish Wolfhound," almost an epic poem carried down from barbaric days, when Quint us Aurelius, the great Roman consul, in the year 391, boasts of the seven Irish wolfhounds that had been sent to Rome from Ireland, then the "Isle of Saints," to fight with wild beasts from Central Africa, and other dark places of the earth, to amuse brutal gatherings in the arena of the Colosseum. It seems a noteworthy fact that several of our King Edwards were great dog fanciers, and more particularly of this far-famed Iiish wolfhound breed. There are many instances of Irish wolfhounds being sent over from Ireland to the kennels of King Edward I. Edward III. had about a score imported from Ireland into England in the days of old, when the quarantine was not so strictly enforced as now. It goes without saying that our King Edward VII. has been all his lifetitne a dog-lover, and owner and breeder of many strains of sporting and non-sporting dogs, and that our beloved Queen, if she has not a wolfhound of Irish breed at piesent at Sandringham, has in her Borzois several magnificent Russian wolfhounds of great size and symmetry, only to be eclipsed in these qualities by the matchless Irish wolfhounds of the present day, for all are unanimous in the opinion that never has there been seen such a magnificent collection of Irish wolfhounds as has lately been gathered together at the Crystal Palace Dog Show. It would not be a matter of great surprise if before long our King would add to his beautiful kennels some splendid specimens of this singularly patriotic breed, indigenous to our soil, and identified with our Army, for it has recently been decided by the Irish Wolfhound Club to offer one of the finest of this noble race to our recently-formed Irish Guards, to be the "dog of the regiment," as the goat is the pet of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the bear and the tiger of other fighting regiments in England and India.

BIiddy of Kidnal Photo Cheevra Of Kidnal
Cheevra,of Kidnal Photo Biddy Of Kidnal
Lupas Of Kidnal Photo Lupas Of Kidnal

The Irish wolfhound. has "come to stay," the Borzoi, the great Dane, and the staghound, must, for all time to come, take a back seat to him, as in the days of glory in ancient history he held the pre-eminence with the great monarchs of the past. In Dublin, the capital of the cradle of his race, he is to be seen at Carlisle Bridge, crouched at the feet of Daniel O'Connell, alongside his beloved Irish harp, seemingly ready to spring to listen to the old warlike strains echoed from a far-o" time, when "the harp that once through Tara's Hall" sounded in unison with noble deeds done by valiant heroes of a glorious past.

Other great breeders of the Irish wolfhound, to whom Captain Graham and all the sporting world are greatly indebted, are Sir John Power of Kilfane, and the late Mr. Baker of Ballytoban Castle. Mr. Hogan, in his interesting work on this wonderful dog, quotes from very old documents: "They are shaggy-coated, of enormous size, and wondrous speed." "In 1571, they were bigger of bone and limb than a colt." In 1595, a Spanish poet writes: "An Irish greyhound of beauteous build, baycoloured, dark striped from head to haunch." They are described as "very able to overcome wolves and staffs in rleetness, fighting, and power, an animal which, by his majesty—great size—the marvellous variegation of his colour, and proportion of his limbs, is so valuable as to be a gift to an Emperor."

Our illustrations represent Cheevra, by Garryowen out of Raheen ; a distinguished daughter of Cheevra is Biddy of Kidnal House, a dark brindle bitch by Champion Brian II., who has recently taken two firsts, one second, and three specials at the late Crystal Palace Dog Show, the largest and best ever yet held. Sheila of Kidnal, a huge wheaten-coloured bitch of abnormal size, own litter sister to Biddy; she has taken first at various shows, and generally distinguished herself. Wanda of Kidnal, the third of these "three graces," is also a litter sister of the two former. She is of wheaten colour, and has taken, amongst other prizes, the Northern Irish Wolfhound Club Challenge Cup for bitches. Rajah of Kidnal, a brindle dog out of Cheevra, by Mr. Cripps's Champion O'Leary. He is not yet fully grown, although of enormous size for a young dog only seventeen months old; he has taken four firsts and five specials, also now holds the Northern Irish Wolfhound Club Challenge Cup for dogs. Lupus of Kidnal, own litter brother to Rajah, well represents the supporters of the Duke of Westminster's family coat of arms.

There are in the kennels at Kidnal Copyright House several promising puppies by Champion O'Leary, the pick of the hunch, perhaps, being a 1 i g h tcoloured, shaggycoated whelp of great bone and substance, showing every indication of future size and .symmetry, in Brvan, owned by Miss Constance Cavzer, of Gartmore, N.B.

Rajah of Kidnal Photo Rajah Of Kidnal

Almost equally good, perhaps, are two most promising young pups about six months old, being Bryan MacDonagh, also owned by Miss Constance Cayzer, and Robert Emmett, belonging to Miss Rose Macdonald of Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A. If these grand young dogs grow up to their present indication they will add fresh laurels to the Kidnal House kennels.
Cumming Macdona.1901.

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