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HIBERNIA VENATICA 




THE MARCHIONESS OF WATERFORD 



HIBERNIA VENATICA 



BY 

M. O'CONNOR MORRIS 

AUTHOR OF "TRIVIATA; OR, CROSSROAD CHRONICLES OF PASSAGES 
IN IRISH HUNTING HISTORY " 



WITH PHOTOGRAPHS. 



LONDON 

CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY 
1878 



TO LIEUT.-COLONEL 

H.R.H. THE DUKE OF CONNAUGHT 

re3ptfuIlD Sctttcatr 
(BY PERMISSION) 

THESE EPISODES OF THE FOX DRAMA 

AND THE DRAMATIS PERSONS AS PERFORMED ON 

THE IRISH HUNTING STAGE DURING THE SEASON OF 1876-77, 

IN WHICH H.R.H. TOOK MANY PARTS 

AS PATRON, LEADER, FOLLOWER, AND OCCASIONALLY 

AS "WALKING GENTLEMAN." 



2061173 



PREFACE. 



THE indulgence of the public to my last record of a 
season's sport in Ireland, emboldens me to offer a second 
series of my letters to The Field, just as they appeared in 
that journal, without revision or alteration. 

I have styled the volume " Hibernia Venatica," hoping 
thereby to place my country in a more pleasant and 
popular aspect than it could command as Hibernia Politica, 
Hibernia Paccata, or Hibernia Polemica. 

The Greek, in the story, appealed from Philip drunk 
to Philip sober. The writer would follow the example of 
the outspoken Macedonian, and appeal from a community 
inflamed with the alcohol of sensational politics, frenzied 
by the phantasms of social rapine, and rabid with the 
virus of fanaticism to a people united and harmonious in 
maintaining the chivalrous pastime of hunting, proud of 
the prestige of their county packs, jealous of their repu- 
tation, and, as in the case of the great body of the 
occupiers of the soil, submitting cheerfully to some dis- 
comfort and actual loss in furtherance of the common 



viii PREFACE. 

sport. For 'tis no small praise, though only justice to 
the farmers of Ireland, to record that even in the dark 
years of famine and pestilence, fox-hunting, which hung 
on their approval, was never discontinued in that fearful 
cycle, and that when class feuds and antipathies were at 
their highest level, hunting, though never the pastime of 
the majority, ever held the even tenor of its way, un- 
molested, and practically, if negatively, encouraged. 

Most countries can boast the present luxuries of high 
civilization, beautiful scenery, the pathos and tenderness 
of past associations, the treasuries of art, or the resources 
of spirit-stirring sport within their borders. Ireland, not 
altogether poor in the former categories, is eminently rich 
in the last desideratum, which marks out this beautiful 
isle of emerald sheen, thrown up like a terrestrial anaday- 
omene as a waif from the seething Atlantic, to be a special 
paradise for hunters, a very Arcady of pursuit, from the 
golden vale of Limerick to the almost boundless grasseries 
of Meath the royal. 

Switzerland, with its concordant discord of nature, is 
said to be the playground of Europe. Paris and Rome, 
Venice and Florence, will ever swarm with curious visitors 
so long as art is worshipped and history is enshrined in 
men's thoughts and memories ; Scotland is yearly affected 
by migrant gunners, with prudent appreciation ; while the 
salmonidae annually turn Norway's rivers and fiords into 
very tides of Pactolus. 

Ireland where St. Patrick took up his parable from the 
wayside weed, the shamrock alternately a bovine Bceotia, 



PREFACE. ix 

like Basan, or a green Goshen for sheep and shepherds, 
offers hunting capabilities in its damp muggy climate, in 
its verdant vesture, and in its comparatively scanty rural 
population, such as no country in Europe, or, I believe, in 
the world, can parallel. 

Modern civilization, which has banished the booming 
bittern and nearly exiled the screeching snipe, through the 
Deanston fabrics, and opened out the surface by four main 
trunk lines of rail, has hitherto proved, not, as in other 
lands, antagonistic, but most ancillary to the royal sport. 
Pursuit is thus made possible to the many, and scent and 
going are actually improved. 

That a social revolution has been advancing like a 
spring tide in Ireland, must have been evident to all 
observers of the country during the past generation. 

"A stranger fills the Stuarts' throne " 

is true of many an ancestral park, hall, or castle, and 
many a settler in America, Brazil, or Africa. " Delicta 
majorum immeritus luit ; " such delicta having been too 
lavish an hospitality, too reckless a profusion, too careless 
a reckoning with unjust factors and stewards of the Gospel 
type. 

The hunting-field bears strong confirmation of this 
proposition. A few years ago, comparatively speaking, 
the squirearchy and their friends were the main elements 
at every meet ; now they only leaven the masses of 
soldiers, professionals, " box for the season " folk, English 
visitors, Scotch farmers, horse copers, horse trainers, and 



x PREFACE. 

railway people. Three packs, of the highest fame and 
oldest traditions, are now presided over by " strangers ; " 
natural aptitude and a coincidence of favouring circum- 
stances having raised them to this exalted position in the 
county hierarchy ; nor have any of the advense, so far as 
I can gather, failed to justify their election to the venatic 
presidency. 

These circumstances, which some regret, but which, for 
my own part, I think of the very best augury for the future 
of the island, all show that Ireland is being very largely 
exploited as a hunting centre, just as her salmon fisheries 
have drawn thither multitudes rich in purse and full of 
leisure. 

At this moment some four or five packs of hounds 
await each their "coming man," and will, I venture to 
predict, be none the worse managed if entrusted respec- 
tively to a stranger who has been entered in a good 
school, and whose zeal for hunting has led him away 
from home 



" Spurn vain delights and live laborious days ; " 

whose ambition will be in showing and enjoying the sport 
he shows, untrammelled by local or hereditary prejudice, 
but judging men and things about him from that truest 
standpoint his own unbiassed judgment and observation. 
As for nervous qualms, arising from the perusal of the rare 
land-begotten crimes, let no intending sport-quester in 
Ireland give the subject an anxious thought. No hunting 
man that I ever heard of was molested in Ireland. Like 



PREFACE. xi 

the richly dight but unprotected lady in Moore's song, the 
hunting stranger will find lots of friends and protectors 
wherever he goes. 

" For though they are handy at pistol or stick, 
A sportsman they'll welcome and treat like a brick." 

The importance of hunting to Ireland may be estimated 
by some of the following considerations : 

Absenteeism is allowed to be one of the sore plagues 
and ulcers of the island. Here is a certain balm and pro- 
phylactic. 

Capital is still a huge desideratum. Hunting brings 
capital, not vast, perhaps, but considerable. 

Nay, more, does it not hurl away absurd and ignorant 
prejudices of race and creed, and raise men to a common 
platform of good fellowship and good sportsmanship ? 
" The man who this day sheds his blood with me, shall be 
my brother," said the great Plantagenet. Is not the com- 
munity of peril and the sympathy of excitement a stronger 
cement than half the nostrums of political patchers and 
political pullers down, levellers up and levellers down ? 

There are drawbacks, 'tis true, to my ideal hunting- 
grounds wire barricades gates and hedges so thickly that 
one or two districts are shunned by straight riders as is a 
harbour full of torpedoes by wary captains. In the days 
when Irish patriots harangued in the College Green forum, 
a great orator is reported to have said, " Every bush con- 
ceals a knave, eager for prey and flooded with iniquity " 
alluding to three illustrious Irishmen of the day. In the 



xii PREFACE, 

country I allude to many a bush does conceal a wire strand. 
Traps in other districts have improved the good old fox- 
hood of the country away, and the modern substitute is 
a poor creature, of much inferior type and prowess. While 
a few large-acred men prefer the pheasant of the minority, 
to the fox, the joy of the majority. 

These things have been ; these things will be ; but 
all this notwithstanding, Ireland is an unrivalled hunting- 
field ! 

The old lady of tradition felt a thrill of historic 
rapture at the very sound of Mesopotamia. Meath is a 
modern Mesopotamia. The Tigris and Euphrates water 
no fairer vales than the Liffey and the Boyne. The Suir 
is more to us now than the effete though immortal streams 
of Simois and Scamander. 



CONTENTS. 



i. 

PAGE 

Rehearsals Harriers and hare-hunting Their popularity in Ireland 
The Duke of Connaught in the field Cubs and cubbing Gaps in 
the hunting circle A visit to Ashbourne I 

II. 

Lever du rideau in Meath Kells^Headfort Fast thing from Shaucarn 
Bellinter and its beauties Summerhill Wilkinstown Swains- 
town Carton, etc. ....... 8 

III. 

Opening day with "the Wards "With the Louth hounds The Flat 

House West Meath, etc. ...... 22 

IV. 

Kildare's opening day Pageant at Johnstown inn and village Aliens- 
town Lord Darnley Scariff Bridge Cork and Lord Fermoy 
Galway and Mr. Burton Persse Maynooth Mr. H. Stubber and 
Colonel Chaplin . . . . . -34 

V. 

Stag-hunting in excelsis! Bective House and its Host and Hosts 
Curraghmore Sport Summerhill and its Snows Scurry from 
Ballycaghan Victims . . . . . -49 



xiv CONTENTS. 

VI. 

PAGE 

Races and Rain Punchestown Gorse Ward run Galway Blazers 

Meath West and East Sir D. Roche . . . .64 

VII. 

Hunting bravery Belgard Kickers and Kickees Sir D. Roche 

The Fairy House Somerville scenery Kilkenny sport Shiner . 80 

VIII. 

Mr. Chapman and the run from Cullen's Gorse Abbotstown Cork 

and Limerick Kilteel and "Snow- Storm" . . .100 



A bishop in parlibus Stag-hunting Mr. Dundas on "Gazalier" 

Bellinter harriers Blue collars Beltrasna Gorse Limerick hounds 117 



Traps and Trappers West Meath Kilbrew Mr. Reeves' oyster beds - 

and harriers The Marquis of Ormonde Straffan Bridge . . 134 

XL 

Stony Batter and mud batter Poor-house Gorse run Rathbeggan stag- 
chase Garradice United Cork, etc., etc. .... 148 

XII 

Maynooth Cullen's Gorse Christmastide The Mount Neil run Mr. 

French's death Trim "London" . . . .162 

XIII. 

Trim Trimlestown and Lord Langford Cryhelp Westmeath Water 

jumping Kilkenny Kildare, etc. . . . . .178 

XIV. 

Courtown company Corbalton chase Punchestown programme Dan- 

gan Bridge Sam Reynell's death Mr. Burton Persse . . 196 



CONTENTS. xv 

XV. 

PAGE 

Ballinglough burst Culmullen chase The Black Bull The Grange . 213 

XVI. 
Rathcoole rendezvous Fine run from Johnstown Kennedy Baytown . 230 

XVII. 

The fox in ambush " The Ward n at the eighth mile-stone Snow and 

Storm Drumcree Brannoxtown Pageant at Abbotstown . . 245 

XVIII. 

Abbotstown levee Mr. Archdale's fate " Snow-Storm" Kilkenny and 

Queen's County sport Philpotstown and Rathmore Westmeath . 259 



Dancing and Dublin Bellavilla run Venison and venerie Duhallow 

sport ......... 278 

XX. 

Larracor Fine evening run from Pratt's Gorse "Laragh" Kill near 

Killakee A field squandered ..... 295 

XXI. 

" The Hatchet " Beltrasna burst Swainstown Carlow and Kilkenny 

Maynooth ........ 315 

XXII. 

Maynooth and its multitudes* Bective beatitudes Mr. Murphy Long 

run from Dunmurry Dunboyne and the Ward hounds . . 33 

XXIII. 

Woodlands lawn, meet at Kilrue Bellinter harriers Dunshaughlin 

Reisk Gorse Mr. Preston's stables and pack Louth . . 348 

XXIV. 

Trim and Trimlestown Mullingar meet Bellavilla Bill Ryan The 

dancing 6th ........ 367 



vi CONTENTS. 

XXV. 

PAGE 

Observation and observations Somerville Fifteen mile stag-hunt 
Captain Candy and Culmullen The Ladies Churchill Wexford 
Galway Kildare sport . . . . . .384 

XXVI. 

Last scenes Rath Gate Corballis Gorse Kildare Red-coat races 

Carlow ditto ..... ... 400 

XXVII. 
Partings and meetings Rahinstown Hunt ball at Naas Skreen Hill 414 

XXVIII. 
Louth sport Bloomsbury pageant Huge meet Navan races, etc. . 425 



Brittas and Jackson's Gorse Meath Red-coat races Knox and Kathleen 

H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught ..... 430 

XXX. 

The Finish ........ 440 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 



Leporum 



Secreta cubilia lustrat ! : 
" So ho ! so ho ! says the bold Marco ! 



Rehearsals Harriers and hare-hunting Their popularity in Ireland The 
Duke of Connaught in the field Cubs and cubbing Gaps in the hunting 
circle A visit to Ashbourne. 

THE hiatus between the close of the grouse and partridge cam- 
paign and the commencement of fox-hunting has been pleasantly 
filled up in Ireland by cub-hunting rehearsals, and much harrying 
of the timid hare. The latter sport is certainly far more generally 
popular if attendance and numbers be any test than the pro- 
cess by which young foxes are indoctrinated early into the sweet 
uses of adversity, and taught how to pluck the flower Safety out 
of the nettle Danger. Why this should be so does not exactly 
appear at a glance. Perhaps the early and intempestive hours, 
which keen cub-hunting masters have been always obliged to adopt 
in the month of September and early October, have something to 
do with the very thin ranks of their followers; perhaps the secrecy 
which is maintained about these matutinal forays may partially 
account for the fact, or an over-high ideal standard of the class 

B 



2 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

of horse which a fox-hunter should ride, when compared with the 
modester qualifications for a harrier hunter. Certain it is that the 
autumnal fields which accompany hare-hounds are almost plethoric 
in their dimensions, embracing individuals of most of the large 
studs who will soon be engaged in the more arduous and ambitious 
pastime; while farmers apparently reckless of the fact that the 
gyrations of a hare in a narrow compass, when followed by a long 
cortege all out expressly for jumping and schooling purposes, is 
infinitely harder on crops and fences than the rapider whirlwind of 
a fox chase swell the currant-jelly ranks to a most respectable 
host. So far as hunting has gone, the hare men have had much 
the best of it, for the bouquet de lievre has been a more titillating 
stimulant to hounds than cubs, or even old foxes, have proved in 
this almost scentless season; and a few very animating chases have 
been enjoyed by some harrier packs already notably by the 
Mallow, the Kildare, and the Newbridge hare hounds. The two 
latter, indeed, have proved a most valuable adjunct to the large 
camp at the Curragh and the cavalry regiment at Newbridge, 
training half the regimental horses and giving their owners a few 
capital gallops. As a matter of title, I believe I am correct in 
stating that the Kildare pack claim the greater part of the Curragh 
as their prescriptive arena; both packs, however, drive hares over 
the vast plain from the surrounding border lands; and game is so 
scarce, I hear, on the Curragh that the two packs meditating an 
odorous assault on the single hare of the grassy common might 
remind one of the two kings of Brentford distilling the sweetness 
of a single rose. His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught 
began his hunting experience in Ireland with Mr. Maxwell's har- 
riers on Friday last in that beautiful reach of grass land around 
Kilbride which the Meath and Ward Union hounds have made a 
household word among hunting men. A fashionable and hard- 
riding assemblage drafted from the Dublin garrison, and the Ward 
Union men, mustered on the occasion; but the legend of the day 
might be " great cry and little wool," for fur proved extremely 



HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 3 

scarce in the county we crossed, and the merry little muggers were 
very vociferous over the single short-running specimen that turned 
out for their delectation. If, however, there was little of pursuit, 
there was plenty of jumping, and the obstacles were of a kind that 
taxed the energy and capability of a good hunter, and not a few 
succumbed to the width of the ditches and breadth and height of 
the banks. The Duke of Connaught was admirably mounted on 
a long and low son of The Lawyer's one of those exceptional 
sort of horses who catch the judge's eye at once in the prize ring, 
and are equally efficient and at home in the biggest countries. A 
pleasant half-hour among the good things at Priestown, the resi- 
dence of a famous one-armed horseman and supporter of all sport, 
wound up a bad day's hunting; but if his Royal Highness, who 
has only just returned from the Calpe hunt with its rock-to-rock 
springing, witnessed a poor specimen of Irish hares and their 
hunting (a pastime which Blome, a writer of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, declares to be full of subtlety, and possessing divers delights 
and varieties which other chases do not afford), he was gladdened 
with the prospect of a grassy arena such as few portions of her 
Majesty's dominions can equal or surpass. 

There is a general consensus of opinion among all masters of 
fox-hounds as to the absolute necessity not to say expediency 
of rattling the young foxhood of their territories about, if only to 
teach them the legitimate art of self-defence, besides the value of 
the early quiet practice to the young entry. In England cubbing 
is a regular institution, occupying a large portion of the quarter 
preceding the regular campaign, and the number of cubs immo- 
lated during this period seems to Irish ideas almost a wanton and 
excessive sacrifice. Certain it is that no county in Ireland could 
withstand the drain which the excessive keenness of many English 
huntsmen make in the fox supply for the season. The Marquis 
of Waterford is almost the single M.F.H. in Ireland who carries 
out the English programme in its entirety buying cub-hunters 
specially for the purpose, and producing by November a list of 



4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

masks and faces which is far ahead of any of his brethren of the 
craft. But it must not be forgotten that the Curraghmore hounds 
have special advantages in the magnificent "chase" afforded by 
the home woods and pastures, and the bearing and discipline of 
this fine pack show in the season the benefit of these early lessons 
in woodland lore. Most Irish masters have to contend with an 
almost entire absence of forest privilege ; for any traveller through- 
out the island must be impressed at once with the generally tree- 
less and hedgerowless aspect of the landscape as he surveyed it 
from railway carriage or coach. "Csedunt arbores qui alteri sseculo 
prosint" was the motto of our forbears, in lieu of the "serit" of the 
poet, and square miles of unshaded greenery make one imagine 
that in some past generation a legion of arboricidal Gladstones 
had been suddenly let loose over the land, with orders to leave no 
sylvan or leafy thing standing. This want of woodland has, per- 
haps, something to say to the staider system of cub-hunting which 
obtains generally throughout Ireland shorter in extent and infe- 
rior in result to the English practice. Thus, with the single 
exception of Mr. Mervyn Pratt's woods at Cabra, where the packs 
of two counties take their pleasure alternately, I know nothing at 
all comparable to the hunting facilities which the Lower Woods 
afford to the Badminton kennels the Northampton forests to 
their packs. The burden from most counties has borne a most 
monotonous iteration game abundant, but scent at zero. In 
Kildare, which is a very artificial country, the supply of foxes bodes 
well for the ensuing campaign. There have been a few sharp 
gallops, but want of scent has been the rule. Mr. Hamilton 
Stubber explored the Queen's County with the same happy re suits; 
while in Kilkenny foxes turn up whenever they are wanted, and 
the average has been something over one killed each morning. 
Lord Huntingdon and Mr. Trench find the Ormorid and King's 
County territories well stocked, and so do the United Hunt, the 
Muskerry, the Duhallow, and the Limerick hunts. In Western 
Meath Mr. Montague Chapman has been very busy, and I heard 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 5 

of a cub killed at Galston Park last week, who really showed 
fine sport. In Louth Mr. Filgate has had to fight the same uphill 
battle against low scent in covert till the i2th of this month, when 
things improved at Hilltown, and a brace of cubs were killed 
there, and another brace run to ground. In Lord Gormanstown, 
who died very recently full of years and honours, this county loses 
a very staunch supporter of fox-hunting in theory and practice; but 
in this family it may well be said 

" Uno avulso non deficit alter 

Aureus. " 

Fox-hunting begins in Louth on the 24th inst. The obituary 
list of the past week has been swelled by the name of George 
Putland, who was a thorough patron of sport in all shapes terra 
marique potens. In him the Bray draghounds lose their enter- 
prising master, and the Brighton of Ireland misses a pioneer in 
all sporting adventure. 

In royal Meath much of the cubbing is done in that remote 
and picturesque corner, where Cavan, Westmeath, and Longford 
have planted their marches, and Lough Shelin forms a reservoir 
for all these counties a rough country enough, but admirably 
suited for the purpose, even if somewhat hard on horses. There 
was such a fine stock of foxes left last season in Meath, that, 
even supposing Lucina had not been propitious to the gravid 
vixens, no apprehension of blankness in any quarter need be 
entertained. The reason for choosing the hillier and wilder 
districts for making young hounds must be obvious to any one 
who has ever driven through this bovine country, where the 
bullocks are as those of Basan, and where unaided nature alone 
turns out horned stock in a condition to be envied by the most 
patient and expert of stall feeders in the Sister Isle. I know 
nothing more striking to an eye fond of pastoral scenery than a 
Hidden transition from the more highly-cultivated but less blessed 
fields of England to the grassy pastures of midland Meath, what 



6 HIBERN1A VENA TIC A. 

time the partridges are being sorely exercised by drivers and 
gunners in ambush. There is a sappiness and a richness of 
colour in the lush green grass which no other land can rival, 
and every tree and thorn-bush acknowledges the fertility of soil 
and mildness of climate which makes almost every wide pasture 
field, with its well-bred, well-fed herd of ruminant cattle, a better 
study for a Cuyp or Claude than even the best bits of Normandy 
or Picardy. I have not heard that scent has been more pro- 
pitious to Meath than to other parts of the Green Isle, which, 
for the first time this year in the memory of its old inhabitants, 
realized Virgil's description of a parched land unwatered by art 
or nature 

" Cum exustus ager morientibus sestuat arvis," 

or that any very striking passages occurred in their cub-hunting 
period ; but the forthcoming season is spoken of as likely to be 
exceptionally brilliant, so far as large fields are concerned, and 
an influx of distinguished visitors. Royal names are even 
coupled with royal Meath's and kingly Kildare's hunting grounds ; 
but, be that as it may, no descendant of the Stuarts can forget 
that a special and spontaneous loyalty awaits him in the hearts 
of Ireland's genuine sons and daughters. 

On the 1 8th inst. the Ward Union Hunt were announced in 
a very influential oracle of Irish sporting matters, and with much 
flourish and circumstance, as about to begin their annual stag 
chases ; and, in order to mislead still further, the point of ren- 
dezvous was fixed at the kennels of Ashbourne, where, at a solid 
and substantial dejeuner d la fourchette, the Ward Union committee 
usually meet their country friends and supporters, as well as the 
garrison of Dublin, and, it may be, the hunting section of the 
vice-regal staff, with that miscellaneous aggregation of men and 
women to whom the panorama of a stag hunt and the certainty 
of meeting many friends and acquaintances is quite attraction 
enough to draw them from a circumference of ten or fifteen 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 7 

miles. The morning was glorious; the afternoon was almost 
continuously wet. So it did not add to one's equanimity to find 
at the usual trysting time, or it may be half an hour later, that 
one formed a unit in a small body of poissons d'Avril, who had 
been credulously drawn to Ashbourne's precincts by the same 
baits flesh pots and sport. The printer, it seems or his in- 
spirer had shoved on the hand of time by a week. Hinc ilia 
lachryma ! Hence these dripping garments ! But if the fiat had 
not gone forth that "this day a stag must run" (or die), the 
kennels, stables, and deer park were well worth a passing glance, 
with everything about them as taut and ship-shape as in an old- 
time seventy-four; the kennels in their wholesome sweetness 
showing that "the nitrous air and purifying breeze" were im- 
portant factors in Charlie Brindley's system, while the presiding 
genius of the place was looking as hale, hearty, and vigorous as 
if the classic bard of " The Chase " had drawn his ideal portrait 
from him 

" The huntsman ever gay, robust, and bold, 
Defies the noxious vapours, and confides 
In this delightful exercise to raise 
His drooping head and cheer his heart with joy." 

It is certainly provoking to ride a long distance for sport and 
see none ; but, on the other hand, the ditches looked on either 
side of the road chokefull of grass, weeds, and other constituents 
of ''blindness," and this Ward country is quite difficult enough 
to cross in midwinter without the presence of any extraneous 
impediments. No doubt the disappointment was salutary. 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 



II. 



Tally-ho ! Gone away ! 



Lever du rideau in Meath Kells Headfort Fast thing from Shaucarn 
Bellinter and its beauties Summerhill Wilkinstown Swainstown 
Carton, etc. 

MANY will be familiar with Charles Lamb's naive rejoinder to the 
chief clerk or head of department at the India House, when he 
was summoned before that impersonation of ruffled official majesty. 
"Mr. Lamb, why do you come so habitually late to your office? 
I must have some explanation, sir." "Tis true," stutteringly 
answered Elia, " 'tis quite true that I do come very late, but pray 
recollect how very early I go away." Now the Meath hounds are 
the very antithesis to Charles Lamb's systematic curtailment of 
the hurry due to red tape and departmental ukase. They begin 
earlier than any pack I wot of in Ireland, and they leave off later. 
Their precision at the trysting place on the correct card during 
the season is often considered over-strained by the tardy and 
unpunctual, and so long as it is possible to draw on during the 
brief illumination of a winter's day, so long will Mr. Waller comply 
with any reasonable request to try so-and-so run the hounds 
through that coppice or furze-brake even where many a master 
would think he had done more than enough to gratify an ordinary 
appetite for sport in his field. In fact, the fox family in Meath 
have a very uneasy time of it, once the cubs have shown signs of 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 9 

being able to travel afield; and the description one Irish landlord 
in London gave of another's retainers, namely, that Mr. Threestars' 
tenantry were the most harried and harassed set of men he knew 
of (meaning thereby their familiarity with distresses, processes, 
and evictions, and such like engines of the oppressor), is very 
apposite, I think, to foxhood in Meath. On the other hand, 
during the close season, these interesting felons have "the tenderest 
care lavished on their wants and caprices. Bulletins are sent 
about respecting the health and habits of Mrs. Vixen and her 
thievish brood. They take "young lamb" before any of our 
sybarites; presents of game in fur and feather, black game in the 
shape of crows, woodpigeons, and many other minor delicacies of 
the season, find their way to the earth or hollow tree the family 
are known to haunt; forays on hen roosts, felonies of pheasants 
all these things are not only condoned, but acquiesced in, as the 
ebullitions of a wild, high-couraged race; while some noble sports- 
men have, I hear, with a view to improve their physique and to 
initiate them early into training, supplied the young esurients and 
their mammas and papas with Spratt's dog biscuits, by a due 
course of which food it may be supposed, theoretically, they 
would be put on a level with their pursuers so far as condition 
went, while their wily instincts would be so much weight in their 
favour in the great handicap 'twixt fox and hound. Whether the 
uew style of feeding works the desired result is a problem awaiting 
solution; but I feel sure that if a turtle soup and still champagne 
regimen was a specific for turning the ordinary vulp into an extra- 
ordinary, straight-running, long-winded, bold tod, the remedy 
would not be long wanting in certain quarters. Fortunately, a rat, 
a newt, a frog, a beetle, or a mouse rank higher in the fox menu 
than the veriest nectar or ambrosia of our cellars and larders. 

The hunting of foxes in Meath ceased to be an Eleusinian 
mystery to which the hierophants and the initiated (practically the 
few who had "the office," as the argot goes) alone were admitted, 
on Thursday, the igth inst. I believe I am correct in stating that, 



io HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

in accordance with the time-honoured traditions of the country 
and its hunting archives (inflexible generally as were the laws 
of those old oriental hunters, the Medes and Persians), the pre- 
vious Tuesday would have witnessed the lever du rideau on royal 
Meath's fox-hunting drama, but that many of the principal sup- 
porters of the hunt and owners of coverts were engaged in synodical 
functions in Dublin of the gravest moment in fact, electing 
Lord Plunket Bishop of Meath (Ardbraccan, his palace, is close 
to the county kennels, and its wide episcopal lands and woods are 
much run through and over in the season). The scene of the 
opening day is, I believe, equally fixed by custom or tradition, or 
both, at Headfort, the spacious park of the marquis of the same 
title, which graces with its well-wooded undulations and natural 
lake (formed by the river Blackwater, now in full spate) part of the 
line of hills on which stands the interesting old town of Kells, 
whose history is so intimately interwoven with the fluctuations and 
vicissitudes of Ireland's fortunes. The antiquarian would fain 
wander by the Aryan round tower, or by St. ColumkilPs ivy- 
mantled hermitage pausing at the Celtic cross, whose ornamen- 
tation and symbolism speak of a lettered and artistic past. The 
hunter of foxes must hurry past many interesting signs and tokens 
of a great past and comfortable present in Kells. In ten minutes 
more, if his Jarvey will give the mare her head, he will be within 
the cyclopean walls of Headfort Park, trying to find his mount in 
the tumult of horses and horsemen, and the sauve qui peut, devil 
take the hindmost, of the mimic fray; for a fox has been found in 
the home woods already, and a very large and brilliant cortege, 
strongly picked out with pink, is galloping up and down the rides, 
while Bishop and Colton are cracking their whips, and the sylvan 
sounds so long unfamiliar to the ear are filling space once more. 
A ring past the stately house, and then we emerge in a rather 
north-easterly direction towards open country, when, just as the 
many-coloured pack, racing over brilliantly green turf, were begin- 
ning to show us their form and pace so soon as scent (almost dead 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. . n 

in the woodlands) served them a bit, our fox got into an impreg- 
nable bank. A second fox had, it would appear, started parallel 
to him, and him we chivied, with no very positive result either, 
through the woods, and into some burrow or other near the rail- 
way; and now, during these pauses, we can take some stock of our 
ensemble and their surroundings. 

Homer made, said, or sung a catalogue of the transports used 
in his famous war, but your scribe cannot undertake any enume- 
ration of the sportsmen and sportswomen who flashed through the 
russet-tinted woods or lingered on the verdant lawns. Enough if 
we can glance at a few of the more conspicuous of the melee. The 
executive deserve the pride of place. Mr. Waller has evidently 
summered well, and so has his handsome workmanlike bay horse, 
whom I recognized as a friend of last year. Goodall, the new 
huntsman, is on a very neat grey of good lineage, but certainly to 
the eye not equal to his weight, save when horses can go on top 
of the ground, not through it. He looks the huntsman all over 
(as indeed he is bound to be, if birth and breeding avail aught), 
and his pack, full of lusty condition and bright as stars in a green 
firmament, look as if they had reached even a higher level than 
last year. Bishop, the first whip, was on a tidy-looking dappled 
grey; T. Colton, the new whip (from the Duke of Grafton and 
George Beers), was on a wiry bay all good men and efficient, as 
we hear on all sides. Of the fair forms en amazone, Miss Waller 
was charmingly mounted on a well-known Kildare horse; so were 
Miss Tisdal and Miss Kellett, and the Misses Reynell. "Cadet," 
who carried Mrs. Garnett, is a celebrity beyond hunting fields; 
Lady Chapman's ponies were extremely neat. Big men must 
have big horses big somewhere, though not necessarily leggy, 
or even tall. Mr. Sam Reynell was riding a stalwart bay of a 
good stamp; the Hon. Harry Bourke's Phenomenon looked capa- 
ble of doing as great things as he did last year; the Hon. C. 
Bourke was on a capital flea-bitten grey; Mr. Mervyn Pratt rode 
a fine hunter; the Marquis of Headfort rode two of his high-class 



i 2 HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 

hunters through the day; the Hon. Captain Maxwell was admirably 
mounted on a chestnut mare; Captain Trotter's bay looked as if it 
could carry a heavier man than its owner (a harder 'twere not easy 
to pick); Mr. Kearsley's grey was a very nice high-caste animal; 
Mr. Dyas was on a rare weight-carrying stamp, of a light bay 
colour; Mr. Naper, of Loughcrew, always rides nice horses; Mr. 
Johnstone's colt by The Colonel looked full of promise; while 
Messrs. Rothwell, Rowley, Mortemer, Hopkins, RatclirTe, Sweet- 
man, Walker, Montgomery, Chapman, Froome looked very hap- 
pily carried; and Master Wilson Patten (the youngest entry, I 
fancy) looked at home on a neat black pony. Half an hour suc- 
ceeded in doing hunter's justice to the good things which Lord 
Headfort's hospitality provided, and while in the dining room the 
topic of conversation was the hunting convocation to which Lord 
Waterford had bidden so many hunting celebrities, and the high- 
class sport he had shown them notably two very good runs, the 
first from Lord Bessborough's coverts, and the second from the 
Castletown woods. 

Presently we are by the side of a gorse which rejoices in the 
name of Williamstown (Mr. Stawell Garnett's care, I believe), 
and are gladdened by an almost instantaneous find and "gone 
away ! " Popping over a low stone wall, we sweep past Dilmount, 
when again sport is marred in a most promising stage by defective 
earth-stopping. Trains in this part of the world wait only for 
" the captain," so we bade a reluctant farewell to the pack en 
route to Kingsfort, which, I believe, did not hold to-day. " O 
dura venatoribus terga" must be the motto of this Meath line, 
for an exchange from the saddle to a first-class carriage is hardly 
a gain in comfort or even softness. I hear this line is very liberal 
to hunters, and this fact, if true, must cover a multitude of im- 
perfections and short-comings in charges and accommodation. 
A dripping day is succeeded by an evening downpour, and the 
lower country seems partially in flood, every brook having over- 
flowed its banks. Thus far into the bowels of the earth (I mean 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 13 

copy) had your scribe penetrated, when he received an account, 
written in hot haste and with none of the intoxication of delight 
yet evaporated, of the glorious finale of Meath's opening day 
which, miserable slave and bondsman to a niggardly company 
that only runs two trains per diem, he was denied the joy of 
witnessing, even if his testimony had been only that of a witness 
placed by force of circumstances at a respectful distance. The 
daylight was just beginning to wane, when a fox posted out of 
Shancarn, made his point straight for the hill of Mullagh, nearly 
seven miles distant, where the hounds had to be whipped off, 
owing to the supervening darkness. Scent, I hear, was superb, 
pace something short of flying ; and this express rate of travelling, 
plus a big brook, weeded out the field, barring four Goodall, 
whose riding was simply "Goodallish" (pardon the expression, 
but the Correggiosity of Correggio tempted me), the Hon. Harry 
Bourke, and Messrs. Trotter and Kearsley. Of those proximi 
longo intervallo I can give no account, and I tell you the tale as 
'twas told to me. From all I hear, Goodall has already won 
golden opinions in royal Meath. Friday introduced me to about 
the smartest pack of bitches, small foxhounds, about a dozen of 
the best-stamped weight carriers, nearly all greys, to be seen 
in Ireland, and such kennel and stable arrangements and ap- 
pliances as an amateur of hounds and horses and all their 
paraphernalia rarely has an opportunity of witnessing. I allude 
to Mr. J. J. Preston's private pack of harriers, with which he 
hunts his " lordship " of Tara and the neighbourhood of his own 
beautiful park of Bellinter, on the Banks of the Boyne. The 
whole thing is so perfect of its kind, and so much good taste 
and judgment has been exercised in planning and completing 
every detail and minutia, that a description of the pack and its 
entourage would require at least a column to do it common 
justice. The kennels and hounds are under the presidency of 
John Suter, well known to many who do their pursuing of foxes 
in the Campagna, and to others in Herefordshire; while a 



i 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

groom who can show such a stud of high-charactered high-class 
hunters not the least partaking of the recognized cobby, short, 
strong, stuffy, quality-lacking harrier type in the acme of au- 
tumnal condition, is to be much congratulated. Scent has not 
been very favourable to this pack so far, but they have killed 
a fair quota of hares already well-nigh a score and had a 
rattling burst with an outlying fox, whom they sent to ground, 
thus giving him a preliminary breather for his more regular 
antagonists, the Meath fox-hounds. 

I should have added, for the information of sportsmen on 
your side of the Channel, that the squire of Bellinter was some 
few lustrums ago the proprietor of Brunette, perhaps the most 
successful steeplechase mare of this century ; although several of 
the larger prizes and palms of cross-country contests did not fall 
to her share, I think she was his highest trump card in a very 
strong hand. 

On Saturday Summerhill, visited by the Meath hounds, was 
the magnet to draw forth fox-hunters from downy pillows, late 
lounging breakfasts, and all other devices for killing the arch 
enemy, whom methinks 'twere wiser policy in us ephemeral 
mortals to propitiate by good service and sensible enjoyment of 
the short or long lease of lives he gives us. Summerhill, Lord 
Langford's fine park and mansion, is not only easily accessible to 
its own county, but it invites pilgrims from afar say from West- 
meath and Dublin by its comparative proximity to several 
stations, such as Maynooth, Leixlip, Kilcock, Enfield, and, on 
another line, Dunboyne, a place where many hunting men find 
it convenient to keep their horses for the season, the boxes and 
provender and the situation all inviting thereto. 

It was my fortune to hack along the road from the latter town 
to the meeting point some dozen miles, or near it, of English 
measurement and to pass through a most peerless expanse of 
pasture land, where a bit of plough is as rare as a black swan 
out of Australia. To the left, at about two miles' distance, are 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 15 

the woodlands of Carton, the Duke of Leinster's residence ; then 
Colistown, point of departure of many a good fox, is passed, 
and so is the Hatchet, a very favourite meet of this pack. 
Then, once the chapel of Kilmore is passed, for miles the eye 
rests on hardly a single homestead, hamlet, or building of man 
in which a beaten fox would endeavour to baffle his bloodthirsty 
foes. Presently the park wall and trees of our destination come 
in view. Carriages flash past, and groups of horsemen, all bent 
towards the same goal, join us. The meet is at the Northern 
Lodge Gate, which opens upon a rather neat village, and by 
n a,m. it is clear that, in addition to the usual Meath field, 
there will be a considerable influx of visitors, for the advenes are 
seen cantering down the avenue, past the house, and from their 
direction the majority of them may be guessed to hail from 
Kildare. In a few moments more the dog pack are busy in 
that extensive belt of plantation which shuts out the view of 
the park wall from the house of Summerhill, and before they 
find let us glance at the rather extensive lawn party. Among 
the non-Meath men are Lord Cloncurry, the Hon. Major Lawless, 
Mr. Percy La Touche, two Mr. Blackers, Mr. Sherrard, Captain 
and Mrs. Davis, Mr. F. Rynd, Mr. George Brook, Captain Frank 
Cole, with many others. Grey was decidedly the colour of the 
day I mean only in horseflesh for Snowstorm and Grey 
Plover have certainly taken rank among the highest hunting 
celebrities by their recent performances, not only in the hunting 
field, but in hunt and farmers' races. The roll-call of Meath 
would take too long to write at length; suffice it to say it em- 
braced a small host of good men and good horses the latter, 
young and old, made, half made, and some with their hunting 
troubles before them, like the young bears. Mr. Murphy was 
riding Sapling, a smart bay horse, who has shown a bit of 
galloping form already, while among the young ones a bay by 
Blood Royal ridden by a welter pursuer, Mr. Rafferty 
moved well, and looked like a promising hunter ; while Captain 



!6 HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 

Tuthill seemed nicely mounted on a young chestnut of good 
stamp, and Mr. C. Hamilton was on a Carlo Maratti horse, 
who seemed a good performer indeed. 

But the hounds are now in full chorus, and are rattling a 
fox merrily and musically through the woods, while we emerge 
at the eastern lodge gate, and presently somebody views a red 
rover racing away towards Pratt's Gorse a charming line, and 
likely to lead to a good run. Is he the hunted one ? We tarry 
for a few moments on the road in expectation, but not a hound 
forsakes the old quarry ; so we get into the park again to find 
the pack have slipped away in a northerly direction, and after 
a ride of a few minutes we get a view of the country intervening 
between the park wall of Summerhill and a point short of 
Dangan Castle literally peopled by pursuers of all shades and 
colours, who are not with the hounds, and don't quite know 
where they have gone to. Some are incoherently slipping up 
lanes, some are perched on banks just about to leap down, 
others are quietly and patiently resigning themselves to their 
fate of being thrown out in good and numerous company. But 
a minute or two solved the problem. The hounds had checked 
by a clump of trees, and thence, after a cast or two, took on 
a cold line to the Bullring Gorse, part of which appeared to me 
cut down ; thence over some stiffish fences, and a couple of large 
but safe doubles, in a sort of semicircle, back by the Bullring. 

The next stage was a visit to Rahinstown gorse, when three 
foxes were on foot. Scent was not much better than in the earlier 
hours, and the six-mile point that a Rahinstown fox made recently 
was not to be repeated, as the driving power was wanting; so some 
ringing was all that ensued, and that not very fast or furious 
Major E. Lawless showing us that neither his horses nor himself 
have lost their straight-going propensities, one drop which he 
negotiated being a perfect caution to unstrung nerves in men or 
defective shoulders or forelegs in horses. 

Meanwhile Mr. Maxwell's harriers were discoursing most excel- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 17 

lent music in that pastoral district to the west of Dunboyne, to a 
very distinguished circle of admirers, among whom was his Royal 
Highness the Duke of Connaught, Captain Fitzgerald his equerry, 
and a cloud of light and heavy horsemen, attracted by the fine 
day, the inviting country, the certainty of finding plenty of furry 
game, and the prospect of a pleasant ride ; nor were they disap- 
pointed. The first hare, found near the trysting place, "Sterling" 
(good name for man, horse, or hound), ran very straight and fast 
for some twenty odd minutes, and was rolled over in the Moor of 
Meath, to the great delight of Mr. Betagh who, in Mr. Maxwell's 
absence, held the horn of office Mr. Leonard Morrogh, of the 
Ward Union Hunt, Captain and Mr. Butler, of Priestown, and 
other notables in the hunting world, who know what a quick thing 
is with stag, fox, or hare. One used to hear a good deal of the 
qualifications for "the man for Galway," among which were a 
good trigger-finger, a quick eye, a firm seat and good hands and 
nerve on horseback. As Duke of Connaught, his Royal Highness 
is certainly by virtue of his title " the man for Galway"; but, titles 
apart, and rank apart, the Prince certainly proved himself, by 
universal consent, the man for the Dublin country. His straight 
brld riding was on every tongue. Some inaugural function in 
Dublin claimed his presence, and prevented the royal cortege from 
witnessing the remainder of the afternoon's sport, which was very 
good and satisfying. I forgot just now, in writing about Summer- 
hill, to say that this park has already done good service to the 
Meath Hunt, and that among the best things of their cubbing 
season was a good run from here, and another from Mr. Fowler's 
covert of Rahinstown. 

On Monday this pack met at Wilkinstown station, not many 
miles from the kennels. The day was bright and gaudy, with 
a touch of winter in it when the sun was not asserting his supre- 
macy. Scent ranged fairly good, considering all things, or the 
hounds could never have given the satisfactory account they did 
of a very twisting, home-staying, dodging lot of foxes whom they 

c 



. T 8 H1BERNIA VENA TIC A. 

encountered to-day, who tried every device foxhood is capable 
of running the fences and ditches, through sheepholes, over 
foiled ground, and so on; but the pack gave them no chance, 
following every turn and twist, working like harriers, and, 
by the most exemplary patience and perseverance, enabled 
Goodall to handle a brace of cubs and to run a third to 
ground. It was quite a hound day, and the lovers of hunting had 
a rare treat. 

Tuesday among Meath men was a day of great expectations, 
which were only partially realized. In the first place, the congre- 
gating point, Swainstown, Kilmessan, is in the heart of a magnifi- 
cent pastoral country. It is known to be fox-haunted to an almost 
embarrassing degree; and Kilcarty Gorse is nearly synonymous 
with, and implied in, the trysting place equivalent to long odds 
on a good gallop. Add to all this that Rumour had busily propa- 
gated the report that his Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught 
was about to pay his maiden visit to Meath's broad pastures, a 
report which the fathering wish no doubt assisted in spreading. 
Another fine and rather brilliant day; and it will be easily under- 
stood that a very numerous and fashionable assemblage was seen 
mustering on the lawn of the Kilmessan parsonage, and other 
pleasant rendezvous in the neighbourhood of Swainstown House, 
between 10.30 and n a.m. There are parsons and parsons! 
Some are monkish fanatics; others are engrossed by the detail and 
minutiae, the black letter, the symbolism, the externals, be they 
pompous or lowly, of their caste. Too much unleavened learning 
exalts some above ordinary mortal fellowship; too little prompts 
others to rush in where angels fear to tread. But commend me 
to the parson who is not a whit the less a churchman or divine, 
or a shining light to his circle, because he can enter into, and enjoy 
in moderation, the amusements of his fellow-men : who may not 
hunt himself, though he knows all about it, but can greet with a 
hearty, kind welcome pursuers who come in his way. It seemed 
natural and de regie for most of the habitues of this hunt to turn 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 19 

into Kilmessan Glebe. The hounds and staff knew their way 
there, and somehow most hunters naturally turned in at the lodge 
gate. The keen air made many who, like myself, had ridden 
more than half a score of miles to the meet, pretty hungry, and 
the esurient were not sent empty away. But the Duke (just now 
there is only one in Ireland) was not at breakfast, and it soon 
transpired that he was not to be seen in these latitudes to-day. 
So Kilmessan village, that had pranked itself out in extra bravery 
in honour of the occasion (the show of Galway red cloaks was 
worthy of the poppy fields of India), was forced to content itself 
with the cortege of the hunt, minus its own particular bright star of 
loyal expectation ! 

Swainstown, Mr. Preston's park, did not hold to-day as it did 
on the occasion of my last visit, so we trotted on to Kilcarty 
Gorse, and the find there was so quick that those who loitered 
to coffee-house, or exchange their hacks for hunters, had to gallop 
very fast to make up lee way. The fox broke handsomely in a 
north-westerly direction, giving the field a large, safe double for 
their initial fence. He then inclined to the right, running very 
fast over some large grass fields, till a short check let up the 
tail men. Then the line took us to a road by Cortestown (Mr. 
Wilkinson's neat residence), and from that point the hounds 
hunted him, with very catchy scent, for about a mile and a half, 
till we came to the Trim branch of the Meath line, which our fox 
probably ran, and here we left him, the Boyne not being far off. 
There was plenty of fencing in the line we had travelled, and 
lots of leisure to look at our neighbours and the performances, 
meritorious or otherwise, of their hunters. I saw a hard welter 
weight get a very phenomenal sort of fall at a big up-bank, the horse 
slipping up against one of the hounds, whom, however, he did not 
seriously injure. A projecting bough of a tree hurled another 
man, who was riding a very neat ci-devant chaser, out of his saddle. 
Old Ironmould who, if I recollect right, once made Marie Stuart 
gallop her best at a finish was jumping as if to the manner and 



20 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

the country born; while a very neat thoroughbred grey, belonging, 
I think, to Mr. Turbitt, of Dublin (a winner too), was fencing in 
beautiful style. Mr. S. Garnett's Roscommon Grey, a new pur- 
chase, showed very well in the field to-day a master of weight, 
with great jumping power; and so did a very hunting-like horse of 
the same colour ridden by Miss Coleridge, of which I heard a very 
high character. Mr. Brown was carried by a most masterful- 
looking chestnut. Mr. Dunn is always seemingly well-mounted, 
and the Hon. Captain Rowley's chestnut and Mr. Stewart's big 
brown mare were good samples of their classes. But we have now 
crossed the Meath line, and are in that beautifully green valley 
bisected by the metals, the gentle acclivities of which are crowned 
by Killeen and Dunsany Castles on one side, by Warrenstown and 
Batterjohn on the opposite. A straight point-to-point fox chase 
in such a wilderness of parks and demesnes is at this time of the 
year not to be calculated on, but en revanche there was a fine show 
of game, and from the road it was a perfect treat to view the 
many-coloured packs streaming over the pastures between the 
woodlands. One tod I saw killed; another run to ground. Of 
the sequel in the afternoon I cannot speak with confidence. 

The Kildare hounds spent their fore and afternoon of this date 
in the Duke of Leinster's extensive woods at Carton, but without 
much sport or good result. 

The Ward Union hounds really met to-day at Ashbourne. Of 
the feasting, carousing, hard riding, and sociality which a beauti- 
ful day and pleasant surroundings encouraged, I must speak in a 
future letter, having exceeded my limit. 

P.S. The opening meet of the Ward Union hounds on the 25th 
was a most unequivocal success, judged by any test you please 
the size of the field, the vast gallery of critics and spectators, or 
the quality of the sport, of which I can only send you a precis just 
now, reserving details for another occasion. About 2.30 p.m., an 
untried red stag was enlarged in the lands of Beltrasna, not very 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 2.1 

far from Ashbourne, and he was running in the direction of Kil- 
brick, when a colley dog headed him, and thus spoilt a very 
promising gallop ; for the stag, mindful of the deer-park and his 
companions, turned back towards the place of his enlargement, 
and after giving us a sharp mile or more in view, was secured 
close by Fleenstown. A second red hind fared better than her 
predecessor, for she led her pursuers a rare dance "by Kilrue, 
Balfestown, the Fairy House raceourse, towards Caulstoun, and so 
on into darkness and temporary liberty. There was tremendous 
grief, and two valuable hunters succumbed to the pace, distance, 
and recurring obstacles. 

The opening scenes of fox-hunting in Louth were equally bril- 
liant and successful. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



III. 



" Make me feel the wild pulsation I have often felt before, 
When my horse went on before me, and my hack was at the door." 



Opening day with "the Wards" With the Louth hounds The Flat House- 
West Meath, etc. 

THOSE readers of The Field who followed " Triviator's " records 
of the fleeting chase in Ireland last season will recollect that the 
Ward Union opening meet was like that of the witches on the 
blasted heath in thunder, lightning, and in rain. The two 
former may be poetic licenses; the latter was a most prosaic 
force, of such huge antagonistic power that it quite vetoed all 
chance of hunting in safety or comfort in these flooded tracts ; 
so that a hunting council convened at Ashbourne (aye, even 
credite posteri, after much solid and fluid refreshment had been 
snugly concealed and stowed away about the persons of these 
same friends in council) decided that hunting the stag must be 
postponed that day. So we returned, well fed, indeed, and well 
cared for in every way, but minus the object of our visit to 
Ashbourne. For three subsequent days, if my memory serves 
me, did the Hyades, the Pleiades, and all the patrons and 
patronesses of the watery element who had ever been translated 
to the galaxy above by the pantheistic Ovid, fight in their courses 
against stag-hunting. A week ago, and it seemed odds on a 
recurrence of a similar rainy experience. The brimming rivers 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 23 

were flooding their callow lands everywhere, and there appeared 
no pause or intermission of the downpour. Since Saturday, 
however, the weather has worn quite another aspect. Sat prata 
biberunt was the edict, and the refreshed pastures of Meath and 
Dublin never shone in a richer lustre of green ; nature, in the 
perfect hush and lull which succeeded the fierce rain tempests, 
never wore a lovelier aspect. The air was balmy, and the poet's 
or poetaster's couplet, 

" If thou wouldst see green Erin aright, 
View it in autumn's mellow light ; " 

was never better realised by tourists and visitors to our many 
points of interest and natural beauty. The corn has been almost 
universally carried, the hay ricked long ago. The fine week 
came most opportunely for the potato harvest, as that critical 
and delicate tuber for which no national substitute has ever 
been discovered has shown some symptoms of premature decay 
already, and it is of vital importance that the many thousands 
of tons now being dug and pitted through the length and breadth 
of the land, should be put together as dry and safely as possible. 
Sat prata biberunt! Nationally and insularly, we may be very 
thankful for our harvest prospects and realities. The pants is 
tolerably safe and abundant ; the circenses begin everywhere. 

" Uprise ye, then, my merry, merry men, 
This is our opening day. " 

Scant need is there to din the refrain into Dublin ears, as 
the opening of the kennel and deer-park doors at Ashbourne 
for the season is a very great function in that sporting metropolis, 
and politics and polemics are temporarily absorbed in its en- 
grossing vortex. Coaches, civil and military, are converging 
towards the northern road, well freighted with hunting men and 
women. Led horses have preceded them by an hour, while 
on-lookers have had an opportunity of contrasting the neat, well- 
bred, well-fed, well-groomed, lumberless hunter of the century 



2 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

with that gaudy equine monstrosity of the worst Flemish type 
which victorious William bestrides in " College Green," remind- 
ing me far more of a Roman imperator than of a hard-fighting 
Dutch prince. 

"On horseback Nero mounted, crown 'd with bays," 

occurs to me as I pass this curious caperer in mid air. The 
road to the kennels is as dreary, monotonous a stretch as even 
Northern Germany can produce (which is handicapping it un- 
commonly high), and the ten long Irish miles seem to par- 
take somewhat of the German standard. Ashbourne itself 
I speak it with all respect to its constituted authorities is as 
" one-horse, tin-pot a city," to use the Yankee idiom, as need be 
desired ; but the huntsman's establishment (Charles Brindley's), 
which combines more or less club-house, reception rooms, private 
residence, deer-park, kennels, and stables, is to the hunting eye 
the redeeming and interesting feature of the village. With many 
who entered long ago to stag peradventure when soldiering in 
Ireland, or aiding the republic by their counsel and statecraft 
(by republic I mean the public weal, for we are monarchical of 
the monarchical here) but whose lives are no longer cast in such 
pleasant hunting scenes as Dublin presents, 

" Memory will stoop to trace 
The parlour splendours of that festive place 
The whitewash'd wall, the neatly sanded floor, 
The varnish'd clock that stood behind the door. " 

This is not exactly a photograph; but few, I ween, will forget 
the solid comforts and civilities they have met at Ashbourne and 
its well-ordered interior. To-day it was really en ftte. A fore- 
noon so still, warm, and beautiful, that a thunder shower seemed 
the only thing to fear, had tempted an enormous section of 
Dublin to make a day of it with the staghounds, and thither 
they flocked in hundreds, if not thousands, in cars, carriages, 
and a medley of wheels not unworthy of Epsom Downs ; the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 25 

distance from either metropolis not being wholly dissimilar. Here 
is the " Sans Souci " drag, enormously loaded a most workman- 
like affair, and as effective as ornamental, for it is seemingly 
ubiquitous ; three or four regimental coaches follow or lead it. 
Here are a train or two of polo carts drawn by miniature hunters ; 
a capital tandem of well-broken horses follows; then a perfect 
procession of "side" cars, and a few buggies, gigs, carts, etc., 
among whom Mr. Allen, the well-known V.S., drives decidedly 
the smartest stepper in a very neat blue roan mare. The Garrison 
sends a small squadron, recruited chiefly from the Inniskillings 
and 3rd Dragoon Guards, the latter regiment still in mourning 
for that promising young officer, Lieutenant Lees, who was recently 
killed in the Phoenix Park by his horse falling over timber. Captain 
Kearney, Messrs. Trotter, Kearsley, etc., represent Meath well 
and truly in good mounts. Dublin has, of course, turned out 
in force, and the Ward Union men (proper) show a few very 
nice- hunters in their division none, however, better or truer 
shaped than a dark brown stalliony sort of hunter that carried 
Mr. Leonard Morrogh, for, I fancy, the first time this season. But 
the play is about to begin. 

Let us leave the lively array of driving people, and turn up the 
Binding lane. Now jump a small bank and ditch, and you will 
find yourself among wide grassy fields, a unit in a very large body 
of riders, for the most part very hard; but we cannot pause to 
survey them now. The watches tell us that the red stag (not a 
notorions public performer) has had his full law. Charlie Brind- 
ley and his son, gorgeous in new unstained pinks (as erst her 
Majesty's mail guards on May-day), are laying on the dappled 
pack, and their music, as the bouquet de cerf catches their spreading 
nostrils, tells us, with all the force of dog eloquence, that every 
second must now be utilised. The stag has treated the field 
kindly; for the first three or four impediments are small water 
jumps nothing to the trained hunter, though even to them objec- 
tions are made by sundry recalcitrant over-fresh or nervous steeds; 



26 HIBERN1A VENA TIC A. 

but one ditch, about the fourth or fifth, causes grief in the array, 
and a grey horse seems to require the aid of a crowd to extract 
him out of a gripe. A loose horse or two now prance about 
in much delight, as if they knew by instinct that men in tops and 
leather are but poor runners. The line seems to lead on towards 
Priestown and Kilbride. Presently, however, our stag turns sharp 
back (a colley dog has done this), and for about a mile or two is 
hunted in view over a beautiful bit of country, till at Fleenstown 
he is secured, more or less uninjured. The day was very trying 
to condition. I think the deer felt it, and so did all hounds and 
horses who were not in tiptop order, as the atmosphere was almost 
unseasonably warm and balmy, and of wind there was none. 
Flasks are now emptied. Those who can draw upon large studs 
get on second horses (one envies Captain O'Neal, who can send 
home Jonah, and mount another perhaps as perfect), and away 
pricks a much diminished procession to hunt a second deer while 
the day still vouchsafes an hour's more light. She proved equal 
to her reputation of last year, did this red hind, Lady Domville ; 
for, enlarged by Killegland, with only a minute's start, she simply 
ran her foes out of time and out of light, and secured her liberty 
for the present at least. Mr. Trotter lost a valuable hunter in this 
run, and Mr. Allan M'Donough was equally unfortunate. The 
line by Caulstoun, the Fairy House, etc., was superb ; the going 
very good. 

It is the fashion to complain of the want of feathered game in 
Ireland, and the complaint has much truth in it, as those know 
full well who have toiled weary leagues and jumped ditches 
innumerable, and have not met ten head of such game all day 
long in their peregrinations, and these too wild to give the gunner 
a chance. Where there is real preservation game accumulates in 
Ireland; witness this fact, that in four days five guns shot 135 
brace of partridges ten days ago at Creggs, in Galway, on grass 
farms for the most part, and not entering a single turnip field in 
their travels ! Every foxhunter knows that the magpie is a certain 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 27 

rtncontre on his way to a meet, sometimes in pairs, sometimes 
in flocks. If superstitious, he may make auguries from their flight 
and numbers; but these birds are of comparatively recent introduc- 
tion into Ireland, and the way they increase and multiply is mar- 
vellous. Superstition hedges them round with a sort of reverence ; 
so, as a rule, they are not trapped or shot, or minished in any 
way, and they indulge their nice, taste in game eggs to the utter 
ruin of the game supply of the island. 

The Louth hounds press hard on their neighbours of Meath in 
their zeal and forwardness in the fox campaign, for they began 
their regular season on the 24th inst., at Castle Bellingham; and 
if the Latin proverb about a good beginning or, in fact, a begin- 
ning at all be apposite to hunting, these hounds have already 
grasped success for the year forthcoming. Just as they were draw- 
ing for their first fox, "the animal" emerged from a hedgerow with 
his head turned for Dromina, the pack on good terms with him ; 
thence he made his way to Dromisken, turned to the right, and 
got to ground at Sea Bank, on the fringe of the Channel a very 
sharp burst of twelve minutes. The next move was to Braggans- 
town, which, as usual, literally swarmed with foxes, and it was a 
piece of rare luck that there was no division, but that the pack 
unanimously settled to one, who rang back by Drumcashel, then 
made for Baron and Derrycarna to Corballis, where he crossed the 
river, gained Irishtown and Gadderstown Gorse, but, unable to 
stay there, made a supreme effort to reach Ardee House covert, 
in which effort he broke down, and was rolled over by the Red 
House Gate, after a chase of ih. i5min., of which the greater 
part was capital for riders all a most meritorious performance 
of the pack. Few opening chapters in hunting chronicles will 
contain a brighter record than this, from the Land's End to the 
last point of Caledonian hunting enterprise (and it does require 
enterprise to organise fox-hunting in such uninviting soil and sur- 
roundings). Apropos of the advantages that hunting men and 
hunting horses enjoy in Ireland, let me record the somewhat preg- 



28 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

nant fact that in rather more than a week's hunting I can only 
recollect having crossed two minute plough patches one cropped 
with potatoes, the other with turnips. Think of this, ye heavy 
pursuers who toil painfully through hock-deep plough aye, in the 
heart of the Shires till it requires the courage and resolution of a 
Murat or Osbaldeston to put your hunter at yon stiff post-and- 
rails, with six to four on a fall, scramble, or what the Yankees call a 
"declension," Anglic^ a refusal. There is some difference between 
going on the top of the ground and through it. Horses know it, 
hunting men know it, valets know it; last, but not least, your 
cheque-book knows it, especially in the post-Christmas months. 

On Friday the hunting programme for those living near the 
metropolis consisted of a meet with Mr. Maxwell's harriers at 
Queenstown, and for early risers the Meath hounds at Philpots- 
town. I can myself only testify to an exceptionally pleasant bye 
afternoon with Mr. George Brooke's i8in. and i9in. harriers, 
models of symmetry, who utterly astonished me by their capacity 
for driving at great pace, and their ability to compass the very 
large barriers which divide pasture farms anywhere near Dublin. 
Mr. Maxwell's harriers had, I hear, only a moderate fifteen minutes, 
which was rather a strong contrast to their last appearance in pub- 
lic; but the Meath hounds had so satisfactory and satisfying a day 
that the pack went back to kennel somewhere about two o'clock 
p.m. the best evidence in the world that all the actors in the fox 
drama, (the victims alone excepted) were thoroughly pleased with 
the performance. They met at Philpotstown, and, finding at once 
there, rattled their fox towards Rathmore for about thirty minutes, 
when he crawled into some outbuildings, and, as the pack do not 
crave blood, he was not persecuted to the death. The second 
draw was Meadstown, from whence they drove a fox handsomely 
into the open towards Philpotstown, and rolled him over in about 
half an hour thirty-five minutes actually, if one must be accurate. 

On Saturday the Ward Union meeting point was Kilrue, and 
his Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, with a large party, 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 29 

attended the trysting place. The day, warm and still, bordered 
on fogdom, and I have no doubt the same combinations of ex- 
halations which made a haze here would have created a dense 
" London particular " on the banks of Father Thames. A trot of 
a mile or so brought the cortege to the wide grass lands of Bally- 
hack, where a very slight undulation gives an extensive view 
over the surrounding pastures. Here a red hind, known as 
Lady Langford from, I think, the fine gallop she gave last 
year to that nobleman's park was enlarged, when she went 
away tolerably straight, then inclined a bit to the left, and 
wended her way by Ratoath village, leaving Sutherland to the 
left, and with Garrison Hill for her beacon and landmark in 
front. Scent was anything but good, and though the hounds 
hunted steadily and well, they had no driving energy to-day ; 
so Milady of Langford whether headed or not on her track I 
cannot aver presently retraced her course to Ratoath, passed 
by Mr. Corballis's house, and pointed towards the Fairy House, 
with its skeleton array of stands, which loomed very large in 
their emptiness. Whether a very long, dragging, unexciting 
chase if chase it can be fairly called ended in a capture or 
not, I cannot say, seeing I joined the homeward-bound fleet. 
There was a great deal of big jumping, and one or two "main 
drains," almost wide enough for a steam launch, were crossed 
by a select few. The Duke of Connaught seemed to revel in 
big jumping, and was admirably carried by his dark brown 
hunter, who, if not already named, might be appropriately called 
" Chancellor," as this son of The Lawyer has already attained 
the highest eminence among the sons of law and lawyers. 

On Monday the Ward Union Hunt rendezvoused at the 
Flat House, not very far from Dunboyne, and, consequently, 
about a dozen of English miles from Dublin. The Flat House 
is not so called because it crowns a hilly country, on the lucus 
a non principle; its nomenclature is perfectly apposite to the 
locality, which is a sort of pasture field, only unfortunately for 



3 o HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 

many a pasture field with a large number of natural and 
artificial subdivisions, in which it is quite possible for man and 
horse to lie perdu for ever so long, unless the rescuer be at 
hand. The very levelness of the country involves several feet 
of extra depth in the ditches to carry off the superficial water, 
not to speak of the necessary strength and size of fences in 
all countries depastured by bullocks. The meet was not a large 
one by any means, or comparable to Saturday's ; but a glance 
at men and horses told at once that riding was the ruling motive 
of the day and hour, not coffee-housing, pic-nicking, or the 
various causes and impulses which swell a meet of fox-hounds 
in a favourite neighbourhood. Several of the horses had per- 
formed in public ; several would probably do so again next 
spring and summer; while the field contained not a few gentle- 
men jocks whose names are not unfamiliar in chasing circles here 
and on the far side of the Channel. 

A mile or two brought us to the starting point, and in the 
first field it was quite evident, whatever be the proper term for 
the odora vis of deer, that rose call it by any name you please 
was shedding a perfume most enjoyable and titillating to the 
nostrils of the big dog pack, who travelled along most merrily 
and musically. The first two or three fences were nice open 
rhenes, which, however, let in a quota of the field. At first 
the line seemed to incline to the left of Porterstown ; but 
those who, like myself and a few more, rode wide here, 
were presently wholly out of it, as the deer's course was 
under the old Fairy House Cottage, and thence round towards 
Ratoath, where pursuit ended in capture. A fresh deer was 
enlarged about a couple of hundred yards to the left of the 
Fairy House Grand Stand, with the brook of the same name 
immediately in front. It struck me that the quarry had been 
handicapped rather rigidly as to time; at any rate, for a couple 
of miles the pace was most enlivening and the fencing, though 
very sound and fair for a horse that threw his heart over well to 



HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 31 

the far side, was certainly of wider proportions than one often 
meets in any hunting country. Grief did abound, certainly, 
though I do not think there was a single bad accident ; but the 
line leads us on through Harborstown, across a bye-road, into 
which there was some grief, and so on across the metals towards 
Baytown Park, where I must leave them still running. A red 
coat and a grey jacket got a strong lead after jumping the first 
fence ; and, as their hunters crossed the large obstacles in their 
path without pause, dwell, or turn, they were not likely to be 
deprived of their pride of place, and certainly were not so far as 
my vision carried me. 

To return to Meath and its hunting annals. I must hark 
back to an unnoticed but very good day last Thursday, when Drews- 
town supplied them with a capital straight-going fox, who ran by 
Kilskyre, then, heading for the right, made Clonabraney Mr. 
Wade's fine park where, owing to the severe illness of the owner, 
the hounds were stopped. The second fox emerged from Sylvan 
Park, ran by Balrath, and was killed in a pond near the town of 
Kells, after some beautiful hunting. 

Friday, the 27th, I have already alluded to; but I have not 
recorded that the grief was in proportion to the brilliancy of the 
sport, for which a river and a huge double on the way to Meads- 
town are mainly responsible, as I am informed. Goodall, Mr. 
Trotter, and an English visitor, Mr. Stratford, were first in the run 
all through, I hear, the latter riding Mr. Montgomery's well-known 
chestnut. 

On Saturday they met at Crossdrum, and had a very enjoyable 
thirty-two minutes from Beltrasna, killing in the open between 
Armagh and Sallymount. From the bog covert of the latter place 
they had a long hunting run of one hour and forty minutes to 
ground. 

Louth continues as it began. On the 26th Mr. Filgate was at 
Townley Hall, and killed an old dog fox there after an hour's 
woodland hunting. He then rattled the foxes at Mellifont and 



32 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Macey's Glen, marking one of the latter to ground. On the 28th 
they were at the Mills of Louth ; found at Drumgowra Gorse, 
rattled their fox over Tully, Feraghs, and the river, on through 
Knockhably, where they killed, after a capital seventeen minutes. 
Another was then marked to ground, and, after one hour and fifty- 
five minutes, a very ringing fox from Knockhably Gorse was 
broken up. 

The meeting of the Kildare hounds at Johnstown Inn for the 
first time this season on Tuesday, the 3ist ult, was a very fine 
piece of hunting pageantry ; and, taking numbers, scenery, and 
accessories into account, it is probably almost unrivalled in the 
three kingdoms certainly nothing in Ireland can approach it. 
The day was lovely in the extreme, though hardly suggestive of 
strong scent. The loyal hope of meeting his Royal Highness the 
Duke of Connaught, who is on a visit to the Duke of Leinster at 
Carton just now, no doubt added a certain proportion of fair faces 
in fair frames to the cortege; but this attraction apart, given a 
moderately inviting forenoon, you may bet six to four any day on 
an immense gathering in the High-street of Johnstown on the 
opening festa of Kildare foxhunting. Drives and rides through 
miles of park, glimpses of the hunted fox every now and then, 
a little jumping in and out of roads what conditions could be 
more perfect for the enormous gallery of on-lookers ? Kerdiffstown 
and Palmerstown appeared full of foxes ; from Bishopscourt Stick 
Covert some three at least were expelled. The former were well 
rattled through their familiar fields and plantations ; of the latter, 
one was forced out of his native haunts into the neighbouring 
woods of Palmerstown, but an accident prevented my learning his 
fate. I forgot to chronicle a nice cubbing run which this pack 
had ten days ago from the Hill of Allen Gorse to the Curragh. 
The Newbridge harriers found an outlier the same afternoon, and 
had a wonderfully straight gallop with him. 

P.S. The 3ist of October a day to be much remembered 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 33 

by Irish foxhood was also the opening day in Western Meath, 
when game proved abundant, and the woods round Lake Belvi- 
dere echoed hound music for hours. In Meath the day was 
memorable for a hunting run from Walsh's Gorse, which nearly 
gave Goodall his quietus wire and blindness are our natural and 
unnatural enemies at this season; and a second pursuit of an 
hour and a quarter from Slater's Gorse, of which the first thirty- 
five minutes could hardly be surpassed for pace. In Lismullen 
(Sir J. Dillon's park) some five foxes turned up, but the conclusion 
was unequal to its first impetus. The Ward Union hounds 
hunted a brace of deer near the Black Bull on the ist, but neither 
proved very good. 



34 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



IV. 

' The cry is Still they come ! ' 



Kildare's opening day Pageant at Johnstown inn and village Allenstown 
Lord Darnley Scariff Bridge Cork and Lord Fermoy Galway and 
Mr. Burton Persse Maynooth Mr. H. Slubber and Colonel Chaplin. 

"Suoni la Tromba intrepido ! " No longer let the merry hunter's 
horn far over the wooded hills be borne j let his clarion now peal 
forth through broad woodland, over dale and vale, coppice and 
gorse, for the revolving months have brought us to the threshold of 
November's calends. The sun, say the astronomers, is about to 
enter the sign of Sagittarius, and we are about to enter on the war 
path and don the war paint once more. What says the poet? 

" Integer vitae, scelerisque purus, 
Non eget Mauri jaculis neque arcu, 
Nee venenatis gravida sagittis, 
Fusee, pharetrS. ; " 

which, freely translated, may run somehow thus : 

" The man of pure and blameless life, 
He need not arm, like Moor, for strife, 
Nor seek the darts with poison rife." 

Thank Heaven, we may leave battles to the Turkish hordes, and 
shed the blood of Scio's vine (preferring, of course, Bordeaux, save 
in poetry), grateful indeed that our battles are but the mimic 
forays of our chivalry on the invaders of our hen roosts that our 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 35 

great games are but war's image : a preparation 'tis true, if we are 
to harken to Pliny, for fiercer contests, if such be our fate; for, says 
that wise ancient, those who were designed for great captains were 
first taught to contest with the swiftest wild beasts in speed, with 
the boldest in strength, with the most cunning in craft and 
subtlety. " Cedant arma toga" Let partridge and grouse pack in 
peace; let pheasant rustle and challenge in woods and hedgerows 
unharmed ; be motley now our only wear. Let us fall back on 
pristine custom and costume in casing our lower and middle man 
in the skins of wild beasts. But let them be well tanned and 
white as the driven snow, and let our livery be the national red; 
for the analogy of war's image must be complete, the properties 
en rtgle. And here I am reminded of a happy repartee made to 
the late Viceroy of India, the Earl of Mayo, by one of his tenants 
or tenants' sons, who, in the fanaticism of hunting enthusiasm, had 
walked or trotted over from a distant part of Meath to see the 
opening meet of the Kildare hounds, when his lordship presided 
over their destinies, and the kennels were at Palmerstown. "Why, 
Mick," said his lordship, when he had learned that the sight of the 
hounds was the sole motive for a journey of nearly fifty English 
miles, "you must be mad." "Ah! well, well, me lord; shure, 
if we were all out-and-out sane, there'd be little fox-hunting going!" 
How witty ! How wise ! How epigrammatic ! But, laying aside 
generalities and ana, however apposite, we may now remark, in 
the terse language of Mr. Pigg, " that the tambourine is a rowling " 
all over Ireland that the campaign has been opened everywhere. 
Let us hope that foxes have, for their own sakes, been duly har- 
ried; that masters have explored their wide demesnes, and, like 
the youth in Comus, 

" Know each lane and every alley green, 
Dingle and bushy dell of this wild wood, 
And every bosky bourne from side to side," 

in every part of their dominions ; that the same cordial kindliness 
cements all classes concerned in the fox drama, as it has been 



3 6 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

wont in this our beautiful island; and that fox-hunting may be 
regarded as a great national institution, instead of a vexatious 
"coruk" imposed by one set of men on another. 

In Ireland though very dramatic in action, thought, and 
speech we are not generally theatrically mad, like our friends in 
France, when a premier representation must be seen coute qui 
coute. We reserve such fervour for the opening scenes of the fox 
drama. Witness Johnstown inn and Johnstown village on the 3ist 
of October ! I suppose the levee of a popular viceroy in Ireland 
and the Castle pageant is the finest parade of Ireland's aristoi in 
Church and State to be witnessed; but what is that to the levee 
and drawing-room combined in the ante-chamber, so to speak, of 
Monsieur Renard? What can upholstery do to rival the poly- 
chrome setting of the glorious woods, with the blending tints of 
ruddy beech, red gold chestnut, yellow larch, and sycamore, 
contrasted by the varying greens of ivy, holly, yew, and sombre- 
hued pines, and the cold shimmer of aspen and willow, all lit up 
into splendour by an unclouded sun? From 10.30 carriages of 
all sorts and shapes were pouring into the village from Naas on 
one side and Dublin on the other. These were the main portals, 
but there were side entrances likewise. By eleven o'clock the 
main street was so full that the then arriving coachmen had to 
content themselves with outside gallery places. All space near 
the cynosure -the hounds and staff was taken up; indeed, it was 
no easy thing for a horseman on the quietest and handiest of 
hacks to thread his way through the densely packed array and 
exchange greetings in the market place with old friends and com- 
panions, drawn together, it may be, from the four corners of the 
world "known to moderns" by the magic and magnetism of fox- 
hunting. Place aux dames, and les grande dames of course. The 
Marchioness of Drogheda never misses an opening meet of these 
hounds, save for grave reasons, neither does the Hon. Mrs. Forbes. 
Here are the Lady Annettee La Touche and party, the Ladies 
Fitzgerald, and the Hon. Mrs. Barton on the most charming of 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 37 

grey chargers, Mrs. Moore, of Killashee, Mrs. Adare, Mrs. Lang- 
rishe, Mrs. Kennedy, Miss Kilbee, Miss O'Hanlon, on a beautiful 
chestnut mare, and hosts more. 

The Upper House was well represented by Lords Cloncurry, 
Drogheda, Clanmorris, &c.; the staff by General Seymour and 
Captain Lee; the household by Colonel Forster on Greek Fire. 
The yth Dragoon Guards sent a coach-load under charge of 
Major Wheble, and there are some very smart-looking hunters 
in the regiment, evidently. The Inniskillings were in strong 
force ; so I am sure would have been the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 
but that some grave military necessity interfered (I hope no 
sinister veering of the war vane). Horse Artillery from New- 
bridge, led by Mr. Knox, on a chaser of course, and with a new 
sort of leather saddle cloth or nummer his own invention, I 
think, which contained such necessary appliances as a spare shoe, 
&c., very neat and workmanlike. The 4th sent Colonel Bray and 
some Arabs, of which I should like to have Captain R. Upton's 
opinion. The 75th sent Captain Beresford and others. Of 
the Ashantee campaign we are reminded by the Hon. Major 
Wood and the Hon. Captain Scott. Sir James Power, Bart, 
brought a drag-load from Dublin, and so, I think, did Mr. 
O'Reilly. The Ward Union men were very strongly represented, 
with Mr. Leonard Morrogh, as usual, beautifully mounted. In 
fact, I believe there were actually seven coaches all loaded, at the 
meet. The larger country houses near the scene, such as Straffan 
and Killashee, had evidently tested their power of expansion to 
the utmost limits. Roseboro, the Hon. Charles Bourke's bijou 
hunting box near the village, was bright with scarlet riders (if not 
runners). Masters and ex-masters jostled against each other in 
the crowd, which, if mainly insular, was composed of elements 
from all parts of the island. Verily, if Mr. Edmund Mansfield 
had been taking a theatrical benefit, he could not have craved a 
more bumper-like house. The exchequer must have made huge 
progress to-day (nearly 300 half-crowns were paid in); and, if 



3 8 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Kildare and her fixtures grow so deeply into the popular heart, I 
shall not be surprised to see a party of Cook's excursionists sent 
over under that gallant commander and Corvphoeus to "do" 
Ireland in ten days, including a fox hunt in Kildare with property 
horses chartered from a circus (cobbler's wax and courage, be it 
Dutch or native, to be found by the excursionist himself). 

But while we are taking a rapid survey of the dramatis persona; 
while we are rejoicing in seeing such veteran sportsmen as Mr. 
Horace Rochfort, Captain Wakefield, Sir James Higginson, and 
others on their favourite hunters in their favourite hunting grounds, 
we cannot shut our eyes to the gaps that the mighty hunter Time 
has made in our wonted array. The Squire of Castletown, whose 
cheery cordial manner ever won the hearts of his associates, 
whether as master or acting master of the Christchurch Drag, in the 
Senate, in the tumult of a beaten and demoralised army (Lee's), 
or at the covert side near home, has gone from us to return no 
more. Mr. A. Love, whose broad back made so capital a beacon 
for men less well mounted or less capable, is unable to ride this 
season, owing to severe illness. Mr. W. Lynch, who was oftener 
seen in western and eastern Meath than in Kildare, died recently, 
to the grief of all good sportsmen. The strong Indian current 
tempts others away; among them Lord Kilmaine, so often seen in 
the van of Kildare pursuit. I forget whether it is the centripetal 
or centrifugal force which draws inwards (my scientific education 
having been neglected, and "Joyce's Dialogues" not being within 
reach) ; but if one force sent away some wonted sportsmen to more 
ambitious hunting fields, another proved even stronger in drawing 
men to the programme which Kildare and her caterers had pro- 
vided for the day and the season. Sir Erasmus Borrowes, who has 
been an absentee for some time, was at the tryst, mounted on a 
fine lengthy bay horse, that, if my memory deceives me not, is a 
half brother of Caramel, who was bred within a field or two of the 
day's draw. Captain St. Leger Moore, forsaking his wonted pastimes 
of tent-pegging, lemon slicing, and all those Indian feats of horse- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 39 

manship for which his regiment is so celebrated, has returned for 
a season in Kildare, though few would have appeared after such a 
shaking and marking fall as he sustained yesterday: His brother, 
Mr. Stephen Moore, is also in the field ; but time and space would 
fail me, were I to attempt anything like a catalogue raisonne of 
even half the sportsmen and sportswomen out, and will only add 
two names, as they represent men well known in wider circles 
than Kildare Mr. Allan M'Donough, who was among the most 
successful gentleman riders of his day, and Mr. Thomas Beasley, 
who certainly enjoys that distinction at present, so far as Irish 
courses are concerned. But the vast aggregation has been stirred 
into motion by the mot d'ordre passed on to Will Freeman and 
his acolytes. History is repeating itself, and we are cantering over 
the turf of Kerdiffstown Park, while innumerable wheels are grind- 
ing the front of the avenue. Presently, the house passed, we are 
drawn up in a sort of space in a large grass pasture, separated 
from the good gorse to our left front by only a few hundred yards. 
As usual, there are some false starts. At last the " gone away ! " is 
a reality; the fox has started in the direction of Tipper, and in five 
minutes we are confronted by a very large bank and brook, too 
large for ordinary men and ordinary hunters. The hard riders 
pause. " Tommy, make room for your uncle," would perhaps have 
been heard if the scene were nearer Cockneydom; and I'm quite 
sure the adjured would have accommodated their relatives. At 
last a weaker spot two weaker spots, appear; fifty pairs of hind 
shoes are in the air nearly simultaneously. A Ward Union man 
was, I think, the first over; and soon after him was a well-known 
welter weight on a grey, whose good judgment was often invoked 
in selecting hunters for the Empress of Austria; in a field or two 
a loose horse was no novelty; but just as things were getting a bit 
animating our fox turned sharp back to Kerdiffstown, treated us 
to one final very large jump off a bank into water (for it was too 
broad to cover), and then succeeded a couple of hours of covert 
hunting through Kerdiffstown and Palmerstown Parks, varying 



4 o :HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

with the scenting power of the day never very high. This over, 
we trotted on through Kill village to Bishopscourt, where the Earl 
of Clonmell an absentee to-day has made a new stick covert to 
do duty till his gorse, recently cut down, attains its full growth. 
The field, posted at very respectful distance from the drawing 
party, presently see two young foxes racing away through the park, 
their heads pointed for Oughterard Hill; while others have seen 
an old fox stealing off towards Johnstown Kennedy. The hounds 
were put on to the young ones, and, after some driving round the 
skirting plantations, one was forced out towards Baron Rath, raced 
across the wide galloping fields which separate Bishopscourt from 
Palmerstown, and, after some time, immolated, for the huntsman 
must have a mask, pads, and brush on his opening day; and with 
this closes the history of the acta of the Kildare hounds on the 
3ist of October; memorable, not for any very high-class sport, but 
for the largest and most brilliant meet which has perhaps ever been 
seen in Ireland a good augury for the coming season. 

Turning to Meath and its pack, last Thursday witnessed a 
much smaller assemblage and array opposite the substantial old 
mansion of Allenstown, the residence of Mr. N. Waller, the 
popular master of these hounds whence many generations of 
Wallers have gone forth to do'good service to Queen and country, 
in Church and State, and where hounds and horses have always 
filled stables and kennels, be the quarry of the time and fashion 
hare, stag, or fox. There is quite a sea of verdure all round, 
for the grass land is of Meath's richest quality (letting for 6 
an acre) ; and old trees, well furnished and of goodly girth and 
proportions, tell their tale of long, peaceful, and undisturbed 
proprietorship. The early risers had seen the whole landscape 
white with rime, but by 1 1 a.m. of the clock all signs of Jack 
Frost's handiwork had vanished. A warm sun had done his 
spiriting quickly and well; the air was still and calm, and 
if the accepted theories about scent did not bespeak us very 
lively pursuit, the day in itself was enjoyable in the extreme, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 41 

everything looking its very best; and, if the year was evi- 
dently dying, it was fading in extreme beauty, with all the iris 
hues of the dying dolphin reflected around. Time forbids an 
enumeration of the rank, fashion, and beauty whom the day's 
loveliness and the pleasantly inviting scenery had drawn 
from even distant homes, but among the ladies in front of 
the hall door were Lady Headfort and the Ladies Taylor, 
Mrs. Garnet and Miss Howard, Miss Waller, Miss Tisdale, Mrs. 
Mortimer, Mrs. Dunville and party ; while among the men were 
Mr. Ratcliffe, the oldest member of the hunt (his age is pa- 
triarchal, his appearance the reverse), and Master Wilson-Patten, 
probably the youngest follower of the pack. Captain Roden was 
here too, from whom, I believe, Lord Wolverton purchased his 
famous musicians. 

After trying some woods near the house in vain, we moved 
to the hill of Faughan, a grassy knoll, whose wooded top is, 
bisected by a very wide grassy ride. It is a hill only, or rather a 
hillock, but as the one-eyed man is great and king-like among 
the blind, so this hill surveys no less than thirteen counties, so 
level and low-lying are the surrounding grassy plains. I tell 
the tale as 'twas told to me, for a kind of haze prevented any^ 
thing like an extensive view to-day. A gorse covert lies at its 
base, and from it a fox emerged at once. For some distance 
the bitches could hardly own their quarry, though he was close 
before them, but presently came a crash of melody, and then, 
heads up, sterns down, they raced down the acclivity, and fairly 
drove him past Allenstown House, by the Laurel Woods, on 
past Charlesfort Park (here the hounds divided for a short time 
on a fresh fox) to Moyagher, when he turned back through 
Charlesfort, made some loops and rings between this place and 
the Kells Railway, scent being very low at times. He was then 
taken past Faughan Hill to Martry, and in the very act of 
jumping out of an old cemetery there, he was pulled down in 
the surrounding ditch, after a pursuit of zhrs. imin., of which 



42 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

the first part was at express pace. We next visited an osier bed 
by the banks of the Blackwater (Mr. Barnewell's covert, I be- 
lieve), and from the parallel road we saw the pack run their fox 
for about a mile, and turn him up handsomely near Bloomsbury. 

Rathmore was the bonne bouche of the day, much longed 
for by the hard-riding division, who, headed by Captain Trotter 
on a wonderfully clever grey from Limerick, had been showing 
us to demonstration that a right line is the shortest way of 
connecting two points, no matter whether timber, rhene, or 
frowning bank intervene, and thither we trotted off incontinent, 
as the day and light were already on the wane. It is a very 
strong gorse, surrounded by plantations and flanked by a ruined 
tower and a ruined church of much architectural beauty, which 
are both full of interesting memorials and traditions of the Cruise 
and Plunket family, once lords of the soil. For the last two 
centuries or more the broad lands round the big Rath have 
been owned by the Earls of Darnley, whose present representa- 
tive has done as much for fox-hunting in Meath as any single 
proprietor throughout its wide extent. A quick find resulted 
from the throwing of the pack in, three or four foxes on foot, 
and some trouble in making one break bounds. At last he 
leaves his stronghold, head set for Allenstown ; but, frightened by 
road people near the village chapel, he hies back to the gorse, and 
is again extruded. Again we are galloping towards Allenstown 
merrily (some three or four miles distant) when a flock of sheep 
spoilt scent, and though the line was recovered it was too late 
to hunt. 

Copious rain fell during the night, and was falling fast as 
we drove westwards to Scariff Bridge, the fixture for these hounds 
on the following day, and some ten or twelve miles distant 
from yesterday's theatre of events. Scariff Bridge is near nothing 
particular, being an old-fashioned bridge over the river Boyne. 
The country round is flat, poor, and uninteresting, the fences 
look like many falls, and on several sides are bits of that bete 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 43 

tooir of Irish hunting bog. A large field was not expected, 
but, the downpour notwithstanding, there was a very fair muster 
of hunting men and one solitary hunting woman to the fore. 
The array included the lord of the manor, Lord Darnley, 
mounted on a clever-looking, capable, bay horse; the master, 
Mr. Waller, Colonel Fraser, V.C., Lord Langford, and the Hon. 
Captain Rowley, both on very high-class hunters, a grey and 
brown ; the Earl of Howth, on a lengthy son of Eidolon, and 
grandson of the Flying Dutchman; Mr. Sam Reynell, Messrs. 
Trotter, Kearsley, Kearney, Montgomery, Dunville, Cuppage, 
Purdon, Handley, Alley, etc. Much Wood, which for two miles 
or so slopes down to the Boyne, was our first try. It held a 
fox, whom we bustled about, but could do nothing with. The 
next, after trotting through a village called Ballivor, was a wild 
gorse heath flanked by bog, which, I heard, was called Corney 
Cavan, or some such name, and which an old native seemed 
much astonished at my never having seen before, as if the climax 
of life was to see this fox haunt (see Naples and die !). It held 
not to-day; but, after jumping a big bog drain, which furnished 
"stain" for a saddle or two, we found a real good fox in one 
of the Elm Grove plantations, who ran by the edge of the gorse 
proper without a moment's dwell, broke through some planta- 
tions, and, after taking us over some rather swampy lands not 
without checks, he led us by the Earl's Mills into Much Wood, 
where, having sixteen or seventeen miles to ride home, I left 
him. I hear Mr. Brown, the owner of Elm Grove, is one of 
the staunchest preservers of foxes in his district, and that he 
has given the hunt a covert or two. His hospitality to hungry 
hunting men has become proverbial, and such "proverbial phi- 
losophy " in a hunting country finds more votaries than Tupper's. 
Meanwhile, the United Hunt in Cork have not been idle. 
Their opening day was on the 3oth of October, and a brilliantly- 
mounted assembly did it honour, including Lord Fermoy, on his 
well-known hunter Balyroberts. Dundellerick was the meeting- 



44 .HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

place, and a fox was unfortunately chopped in covert here. 
Bolton's, the next draw, furnished a number of foxes, of which 
one was killed after a very enjoyable ring of four miles or so. 
Harry Saunders, the new huntsman (vice Mason), seems liked 
generally, and altogether the horizon of hunting here is flushed 
with the rosiest tints. Rumour some time ago assigned the 
future mastership of this fine pack to a popular heavy-weight, 
whose lines are cast in a northern province, but I don't know 
if there were any foundation for the on dit. 

Was it not Byron who talked about the feebleness of words 
to express the might, the majesty of loveliness? If he found 
it hard, how impossible to the polloi I Those who would see 
a hunting field in its might and majesty, faithfully limned, let 
them look at Osborne's picture of the Ward Union Hunt. I 
never saw anything more life-like than many of the figures which 
it contains, more perfection of truth in the various attitudes. 
Some may think that one or two of the leading men should 
have been more en evidence; but that is entirely a matter of taste 
and arrangement, and perhaps not wholly within the painter's 
province. As a work of art, and a faithful study of a popular 
subject, the picture will be sure to please generally. 

The Gal way hounds met on the 3ist ult., at Monivea Castle, 
which is the usual scene for the opening day, partly, I fancy, 
out of compliment to Mr. R. French, its proprietor, who has 
ever been one of the staunchest of Mr. Burton Persse's sup- 
porters in good times as in evil days, and partly because the 
picturesque old mansion, with its fine surrounding woodlands, 
always full of foxes, is a pleasant and fairly central rendezvous 
for the large field generally assembled at such an important crisis 
in the Galway annuary. Much rattling of these woods was 
followed by a capital thirty-eight minutes, with only two checks, 
as my informant told me. The hounds were reported to me 
as in the most blooming condition; and indeed it would be a 
phenomenon to find them otherwise, as they are kennelled at 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 45 

Moyode Castle, and under Mr. Persse's eye of unceasing 
vigilance. 

Returning to Kildare and its pack. On Thursday they had 
rather an uneventful day, though the show of foxes was decidedly 
good. One they sent to ground from Sheriffs' Hill, after a 
short half circle, and another from Tinoran Hill gave them a 
circuitous chase, of which ten minutes only were good. 

On Saturday, the 4th inst, they met in the historic town of 
Maynooth, whose secular arid ecclesiastical story finds abundant- 
testimony and confirmation in the ivy-mantled ruins, which, pre- 
served with reverend care, link past and present better than do 
most villages of the same kind in Ireland. Time and space 
warn us to turn a deaf ear to the sermons in stones, which the 
grand old Geraldine keep would inspire. The meet was a very 
large one, for the railway authorities had issued a special train 
for the occasion, and half Dublin garrison its hunting half, at 
least was in the field to-day, the Inniskillings, I think, pre- 
ponderating. His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught was 
a guest of his grace of Leinster, at Carton ; so it seemed to have 
been a foregone conclusion that he would attend the meet, and 
so indeed he did. Ponder this fact, Whalley, Newdegate, and 
Co., to whom Maynooth is as the irritating red cloth of the 
" chulos " to the bull of Andalusia. This fact, and a gloriously 
warm day, swelled the congregation to almost abnormal limits; 
Dublin, Meath, and Kildare sending their beauty and chivalry 
to the assembly. A beautiful sight it was as the cavalcade 
wound its way along the new avenue towards Carton, the bright 
sun lighting up the mass of vividly red coats (every second pink 
seemed brand new), and adding new lustre to Propert's and 
Hoby's handiwork. Lord Maurice Fitzgerald and his sisters 
represented their ducal house; the Marquis and ^Marchioness 
of Ormonde had come from their proud castle on the banks 
of the Nore; Lady Powerscourt had come from her Wicklow 
home with Lady Chesham and the Hon. Miss Cavendish; the 



46 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Hon. Mrs. Barton's most perfect grey charger was there, and 
so were Mrs. Davis's black hunter and Mrs. Adare's bay cob, 
that I saw performing admirably over a large country by-and-by. 

But the big pack are working through Moygaddy Wood, when 
a young hound or two makes a stampede to a false start. 
Cullen's gorse is next visited. Here the find was instantaneous, 
the fox slipping off just as the hounds entered his territory. 
Ardrass seems his point, but no doubt the thronged roads 
before him made him very careful and dubious about his route. 
The second fence is a nasty thick fir tree, stuck high in a gap 
and surrounded by bushes. Over this Lord Langford shows 
us the way on his Solon horse ; but few follow his example, 
preferring a fence lower down. After crossing a bye road, the 
line led on towards Castletown, but the fox had been headed, 
I fancy, several times and forced to twist about, so we left him, 
after some casting around. I heard he succeeded in making 
Killadoon stronghold. Lara and Taghadoe, next visited, held 
nothing, so on we trotted to Courtown, where Captain and Mrs. 
Davis were dispensing hospitalities to a large number, while a 
few, sticking to the pack rather than the flesh-pots, saw them find 
a fox in the woods opposite the house, and, after some bustling, 
force him across a road into a fine area of grass land in the direction 
of Straffan. A large section of the field were on the road, so their 
start was admirable. Those who had to find their way through the 
skirting plantation and over a brace of fences lost some minutes, 
and theirs was consequently a stern chase and a very fast gallop. 
Here we tail men find ourselves in a field or two charging a 
wide and very blind ditch ; a herd of bullocks takes possession 
of the spot ; a heavy welter chooses a less desirable spot higher 
up, and comes down, so does a follower. But the chase is 
speeding onwards very fast grass to gallop over and big fences 
to gallop across or fall into ; a big canal-like drain partially 
interrupts this pleasant progress, and as we near the little wood 
of Taghadoe, scent begins to chill manifestly. His Royal High- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 47 

ness was admirably carried, and so was his equerry, Captain 
Fitzgerald, in spite of a fall. Their brother rifleman, too, Lord 
Clanmorris, was charmingly carried for a while on a son of 
Thomastown, a half or whole brother of Abdallah's. The fox 
was finally marked to ground at Taghadoe, when, I think, most 
pursuers turned homewards. 

On the same warm, still, beautiful Saturday, scent was most 
propitious to the Bellinter harriers, who turned up a brace of 
hares in the open, after a couple of most animated pursuits 
thirty and thirty-five minutes respectively. The Ward Union 
hounds, too, had a very fast thing from the enlarging point, 
not far from the eighth milestone on the northern road, by 
Fleenstown, Kilrue, and past Dunboyne; one horse, I hear, 
was killed. On the following Monday they were equally fortunate 
with a fallow deer, who ran over a most charming line, by 
Vesington to Moyglare a very fast forty-five minutes. The 
first quarry, a red one, ran very disappointingly short. 

Harking back to Meath, I have just learnt that Mr. Brown, 
of Elm Grove, not only fed the hungry on that miserable Friday 
can there be an oyster bank so far inland? but provided 
the material for another good hunting run, which was inter- 
rupted near Kildalkey village by darkness. On Saturday they 
were at Loughcrew, where Mr. Naper manages to keep a very 
fine head of game for his friends, and for his foxes too. The 
latter abounded, but no scent wherewithal to drive them. From 
Drumlerry Gorse they had a series of good hunting rings till 
light waned. On Monday they had a lawn meet at Bellinter, 
a lovely scene and well attended, Lord Suffield being among 
the visitors. I can only speak of the forenoon, when a sharp 
old fox slipped the field by crossing the turbid Boyne and 
gaining the shelter of Bective, when Goodall stopped the pack, 
as the riders, hard, soft, and middling, had not come up yet. 
A second fox, found in the Home Woods, was, I think, fast 
being run into as I cantered off, hoping to catch the Ward 



48 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Union hounds on my route homewards, but losing their good 
gallop by a few minutes. 

In Western Meath Mr. Montague Chapman had, on the 3rd, 
a very fast gallop from Killynon, by Dysart, to ground at Moore- 
town, and a good hunting run from Clonlost to Reynella, when 
darkness stopped proceedings ; the Hon. Mrs. Malone's chestnut 
going in the old form. In Louth, on the 3ist, Mr. Filgate 
sent a fox from Charleville to Drumcar, on a good line, in twenty 
minutes. A new fox took them on to the woods of Barmeath ; 
i hr. 20 min. in all. A third fox came on the same line, and 
occupied them for another hour, when he was given up, as scent 
in covert was utterly wanting, and the day wound up by drawing 
all the good coverts round Rokeby Hall blank. 

On the 3rd, finding at Hilltown, they ran their fox for ten 
minutes, and killed ; their second, after a long ring, was forced 
over Bellewstown racecourse to the Carnes, where the earths 
had been opened up, and no one, like Oliver Twist, " asked for 
more." 

I hear very good accounts of the sport the " Queen's Bays " 
harriers are showing. On Thursday last they met on the lands 
of Mr. Fennell, of hospitable fame, and had a capital straight 
gallop by Tubbrick and Ballybrophy, killing their hare, and a 
second from Garryroan to Kilrue Wood. 

Au reste, Mr. Hamilton Stubber, in the Queen's County, was 
very successful on his opening day, the 3oth ult., so far as 
regards the show of foxes ; and so was Colonel Chaplin in 
Kilkenny, whos.e pack running hard up to Kilcreen, was stopped 
only by the severe illness of Mr. Smithwick, a staunch supporter 
in his day (for, alas ! it is, I hear, over) of fox-hunting. Lord 
Huntingdon has had two or three very good things, I hear, 
of late, notably a capital forty minutes from Limerick Hill ; 
while the Kildare hounds had some ringing from Dunmurry on 
the 6th inst. 




THE MARCHIONESS OF ORMONDE 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 49 



V. 

1 And so but half a score did see 
As good a run as well could be. " 



Stag-hunting in excehis ! Bective House and its Host and Hosts Curragh- 
more Sport Summerhill and its Snows Scurry from Ballycaghan 
Victims. 

WHAT a blessed consummation it would be if grooms could be 
taught to " throw physic to the dogs," and not ram it down 
hunters' throats ! These ideas have been suggested by the un- 
timely fate of a friend's hunter, whose " stud " (groom) fancied 
nothing was so good for hunters as the old three-course system : 
three balls, an alterative, and diruetic gallops, sweats, etc., to 
follow. He had probably a stock of old aloes balls by him, 
which perhaps never were made up of pure drugs ; one of these 
proved fatal, bringing on internal inflammation. We have wisely 
banished lancets and fleams from our saddle-room cupboards 
(though they too have their uses occasionally, but very rarely) ; 
it were well if masters could eliminate the indiscriminate use or 
abuse of aloes, nitre, resin, antimony, arsenic, and such like 
abominations. In Jamaica, in the slavery days, there was on 
every large estate an hospital, known as the " Hot House," for 
the serfs when ill or maimed. A "white" doctor presided or 
inspected; but "the working man" was generally an old negro 
who had been more or less brought up to the therapeutic art as a 



5 o HIBERNIA VENA TIC A, 

dispenser or hospital orderly, and fancied himself not a little in 
consequence. " Well, Cudjoe," said the overseer one day, going 
his rounds on horseback, "how did you treat Quashie B., who 
was sent in last night very sick ? " " Why, massa," said the 
nigger, "I just gave him a spuke and a spurge (an emetic and 
drastic) and ordered his coffin ! " Does not a stable parallel occur 
to not a few horse owners in their experience ? 

In my last week's notes I left the Meath hounds very busy 
with a young fox in the home woods at Bellinter. How he 
escaped, I know not, but he actually did manage, I hear, to 
run the gauntlet successfully and emerge into the open, and lead 
his pursuers a very fair burst of eight or ten minutes up towards 
Tara Hill, where he got to ground. Lismullen and Dowdstown 
produced little but ringing foxes and patient hunting, which is 
never lost on the pack, though it may stir the bile of the more 
ardent and impetuous sportsmen out. 

I see one of your correspondents in England emphasises the 
fact that, while good men and true are occasionally seen joining 
in the pursuit of the stag, they do so apologetically as it were, and 
under protest. Such a state of things exists not in Ireland at 
any rate, in the province of Leinster and, while the legitimate 
sport flourishes amain, the illegitimate or semi-artificial pursuit can 
boast its votaries and constant attendants among many whom it 
would be rank heresy to call anything but good sportsmen, 
passed masters in all the canons and cabala of woodcraft and 
venerie. Indeed, the only apology heard is that horses and men 
are not equal to the task of following the muckle beast in his 
rapid excursions over peerless lines of strongly divided pastures, 
for rarely do the deer of Ashbourne affect the roads for any 
length of time ; and as for the hyper-sensitiveness which affects 
extreme disgust at the common finale of a deer-hunt, depend on't, 
these critics are but rarely placed, save by accident, in such a 
painful position as to be riding for a mile or two alongside of a 
thoroughly beaten stag or hind, with the clamorous pack all 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 51 

round it, snatching and snapping away at their quarry. To say 
that there is none of the excitement of finding your game, with all 
the accessories of gorse or woodland that you are robbed of 
the tumultuous throbbing when you see a fine fox stealing away 
over a magnificent line, and the chequered pursuit that succeeds 
that science and quasi divination are not called into play and 
that finally fox-hounds carrying a good head get over the ground 
faster than most stag packs is simply stating well-known facts, 
and pointing out the differentia of fox-hunting. On the other 
hand, say the stag-hunters, think of what Milton calls the " sober 
certainty of waking bliss," which a good five miles in the Ward 
Union " country amounts to in not a few breasts, and weigh it 
against the many bad days, and middling days, and good days 
over unrideable lines, which all fox-hunters experience in every 
season. Think of the planning and arrangements necessary, the 
distances to be traversed, the railway journeyings at a pace which 
a fox-hound on a good scenting day would spurn. Think of your 
horses out of your stable, not from morn till dewy eve, but till 
hours late enough for a fashionable dinner party. Above all, 
recollect, you who run amuck at stag-hunting and calf-hunters, that 
Meynell was actually master of the Royal Buck-hounds from 1770 
to 1772. 

With these prefatory remarks, let me state that your scribe 
formed a unit in a group of some forty or fifty well-mounted men 
from Dublin and Bray, the Garrison, Meath, etc., as they trotted 
on from the meeting-point of the Ward Union hounds at Kilrew, 
on Wednesday, the 8th inst., for a mile or so, till our leader 
or fugleman jumped a small fence off a by-road, and in a minute 
more we could see the gaily coloured pack straining away and 
streaming away over the wide pasture fields of Mullinam, like 
greyhounds just slipped. The day was raw and cold, as if snow 
were suspended in the air, but the scent was breast-high, as on 
that famous day which made Billesdon Coplow a household word 
on hunting lips. A biggish brook and bank intervene, but stops 



52 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

nobody apparently, and so we gallop on pleasantly till we reach 
the Ratoath road, which is a very bad exchange for the springy 
turf we have been stretching over just now. Half a mile, however, 
sees us jumping a bank into a wavy sort of field under the old 
Fairy House cottage, and following the gyrations of our red deer 
in the direction of Porterstown. Brooks or rhenes now intervene 
occasionally, and plump into one of them goes one of Heath's 
best-mounted and heaviest weights; but there are friendly arms 
on the bank, so man and horse emerge all right. The line now 
assumes the shape of the letter S doubled, as our deer races past 
the Ballymore garden wall some three or four red-coats well in 
the van of pursuit (black preponderate in this hunt in the pro- 
portion of ten to one); a great number now availing themselves 
of a friendly lane leading into Ratoath. Here, some thought, the 
fun was over ; it was really only beginning, though up to this 
point much country had been traversed, and very fast. Lara, who 
had been running in view for more than a mile, now caught his 
second wind, and, sweeping by the Fair Green, led the pack a 
third figure of the letter S, passing Lagore, Culm Hill, and Reesk, 
and then bending to the well-known Sutherland brook, strided 
over it and another less famous " water privilege," making his 
way to Killegland, and then, presently brushing past (though not 
near) the deer-park of Ashbourne, held on through Donnymore 
and Greenogue to New Barn, where he had taken refuge in an 
out-building. Among the few up at the finish were Messrs. 
Trotter, Morrogh, W. Butler, Kearney, M'Cullagh, with the 
Brindleys. The run, a magnificent one, is variously timed as 
one hour twenty-five minutes and one hour twenty-eight minutes. 
Few better things, if any, have been ridden this season anywhere. 
In Louth Mr. Filgate had a capital day on the 6th, though the 
beginning was of evil augury a fox chopped in a small gorse 
with a trap on his leg. The second draw was Footstown, whence 
a fox took them into Meath by Rathbrane over a fine line, eventu- 
ally getting to ground near Carrickmagow ; twenty-seven minutes, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 53 

done at a good pace. Drakestown produced only a ringer, who 
was not persevered with ; but Skedog, which was one of their best 
starting-points last year, proved a better chance, as a fox broke 
from it at once, skirting Shanliss, Harlestone, and Newtown 
Chapel, crossing Cranagh and gaining the covert at Mooretown, 
and thence on to Taaffe's Gorse, whence he was pushed out dead 
beat, and presently rolled over. Time, forty minutes, of which 
thirty was done at great pace, unrelieved by a single check, as the 
string of beaten horses testified. 

The'Bellinter harriers met a sad contretemps on Tuesday last. 
As they were running a hare over the metals in the Trim country, 
a train swooped down on them, proving fatal to three, I believe. 
They had a capital hour and a quarter after the accident, and were 
stopped by darkness. 

The Kildare hounds met on the following Tuesday, at Kilcullen 
Bridge. A very large field assembled in their honour. Kinnea 
Wood, an offshoot of Castle Martin, was first tried, and a ringing 
fox from it was killed on the edge of the Curragh. A second was 
turned up after a short pursuit from the Cemetery Gorse, while a 
third was hunted from Martinstown Gorse, over Carrick Hill, by 
Halverstown, to Colverstown, where he got to ground ; forty-five 
minutes in all, with a few good bits in it. 

On Wednesday the Meath pack were at Carlanstown. They 
had a capital thirty-eight minutes from Farrenalcock, and hunted 
patiently and well some rather ringing foxes from Rathmano and 
Shancarn, till darkness interfered. 

On Thursday, the gth inst, the Meath hounds met at Bective 
House, which for the last season or two has been tenanted by 
Lieut. -Col. Fraser, V.C. There is not a great deal of strong 
covert in the plantations and screens about, but it is so well pre- 
served, and is so surrounded by foxes in the adjacent woodlands 
of Bellinter, Dowdstown, and Ardsallagh, that the chances of 
finding a fox on the premises are more than even. Those who 
have travelled by the Meath line to Navan cannot fail to re- 



54 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

collect the whitely gleaming house, with fringing woodlands and 
grounds sloping down to the very banks of the Boyne, which they 
view at so apparently short a distance from the metals. This is 
Bective, and, like the Liffey, the sinuous Boyne has apparently 
tempted a large number of the landocracy to settle on its banks 
and make parks and pleasaunces for themselves and their 
posterity. I should have used the past tense, for I suppose 
not a few generations have lapsed since the fine-girthed timber 
and extensive woods of Bellinter were first planted. At any 
rate, for some two or three miles the Boyne water which here- 
abouts is of nearly the same width and volume as the Thames 
at Nuneham (though weedy and foul as the Cam used to be) 
is beautifully illustrated by gentlemen's places and parks, the chief 
of which are Bellinter, Bective, Ardsallagh, Dowdstown, and Boyne 
Hill. The early aspect of the morning was cheerless to a degree ; 
white rime overspread everything, while in the distant east the hills 
were glistening with newly fallen snow that is to say, when you 
could get a glimpse of them through the snow-dust which was 
falling every now and then in spray. This is our first vision 
of grim winter and its realities, and the contrast of the trees still 
loaded with leaf and the white earth was curious and strange. 
By eleven a.m. a radiant sun had dispelled much of these gloomy 
portents, though there were bits of the road in the shade where 
the ice bade defiance to the thermal influence. 

The meet a new one was evidently most popular, for 
seldom does a rendezvous miles from town or village present 
a gayer or more animated aspect than did Bective House and its 
lawn in the forenoon, and the ladies ulstered and sabled, and 
the ladies in habits, did it special honour. I cannot now stop to 
dwell on the smartness of not a few of the equipages, the neatness 
of the ladies' horses, or the array of horsemen and second horse- 
men (the latter in unusual numbers) who figured on the scene. 
Let me turn to the hounds. In Bective they owned a fox, who 
had apparently chosen a very good line of open country for his 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 55 

excursion; but probably these landaus and waggonettes and stylish 
pairs of horses had awakened him to his danger, and given him 
ten minutes' or a quarter of an hour's start. At any rate, Goodall 
did not persevere with him, so we went on to one of Mr. French's 
plantations at Ardsallagh, whence three foxes emerged in a clus- 
ter. The hounds settled to one, and him we escorted or followed 
into Bective over the railway for hunt him we certainly did not, 
scent being of the lowest order. Another Ardsallagh fox took an 
opposite direction by the river, but we could not do anything with 
him either. From this point the hounds were trotted on to 
Churchtown, whence a grand old fox broke handsomely, and led 
his enemies over as fine a line of country as need be desired; but 
scent had not quickened in the afternoon, and the pace was not 
rapid by any means. His course lay by Philpotstown, Tulgard, 
Mr. Jones's farm, and so on to Meadstown, where, it is said, foxes 
were changed; be that as it may, a hunted one, if not the hunted 
one, was put to ground very soon after. Those who had long 
distances to ride home were pelted at intervals by snow, sleet, 
and rain principally the latter, I think. To show how general 
good scent is on certain days, I may mention that on the red- 
letter Wednesday (last) of the Ward Union hounds, the Allenstown 
harriers Mr. Purdon's had an extraordinary run after an out- 
lying fox; scent most serving. I think I noticed in my last the 
opening day of the Kilkenny hounds; their second (Nov. i) far 
eclipsed it. Ballyhale was the meeting point, which is fairly 
handy for the Curraghmore hunt, and as a natural consequence 
the Marquis of Waterford and party were at the trysting-place, or 
rather at Killeen, the first draw. From it broke an old fox, who 
made apparently for Carricktriss, but was headed at the cross 
roads of Lismatige, and turned to the right over the Waterford 
and Kilkenny railway, whose gates being fastened, the hounds 
gained considerably. Onward the line led past Castlegannon, 
through Crowbally, then southwards as if for Knockbrack, but, 
after crossing a hill or two and some heavy bottom lands, the fox 



5 6 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

gained the open earths at Tory Hill. One hour at good pace had 
told its tale on horses; so, when the question was put by Colonel 
Chaplin as to a second draw, no one held up his hand. From 
Windgap Gorse on the 8th, this pack had a capital ring, which the 
Marquises of Waterford and Ormonde, Lord A. Butler, Sir J. 
Langrishe, Colonel Chaplin, Messrs. Briscoe, Lalor, and others saw 
well. The hounds, I hear, reflect the greatest credit on John 
Tidd, their huntsman, both for handiness and condition. In 
Limerick, Sir David Roche had a capital hounds' day on his open- 
ing assembly. On the yth his hard-riding field had their innings 
in a thirty minutes' scurry at express pace from Lisduan, the 
bitches sending their fox to ground, and their field homewards so 
satisfied that the master was not asked for another draw. 

Lord Doneraile's hounds have been doing good work both in 
woodland and open so far, and of cubs and foxes they have scored 
eight brace. 

A testimonial is being got up for Mr. Henry Briscoe, the late 
master of the Kilkenny hounds of the Curraghmore pack before 
that. Few have done more for fox-hunting than Mr. Briscoe. 
Perhaps it may be to his tact, savoir faire, and genial nature that 
Kilkenny owes her present status in the hunting world the 
entente cordiale among her pursuers of all classes and professions. 
Duke, the very popular Curraghmore huntsman, served his appren- 
ticeship with Mr. Briscoe, and his lessons were not thrown away. 
John Tidd also learnt woodcraft under the same master, and 
learnt it well. 

The question is often asked, "Where can I find stabling for 
ten or a dozen hunters out of Dublin?" If the metropolitan or 
home circuit be your aim (and this will include much of Meath, 
Kildare, and the entire Ward Union country), Dunboyne, Ratoath, 
and Dunshaughlin offer great facilities to the hunting man. In 
the latter village Mr. S. Kelly has just put up ten boxes, and I 
hear on good authority that the confiding stranger will not suffer 
in Mr. Kelly's hands, and that horses will be thoroughly well 
done at no exorbitant tariff. 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 57 

There is a rumour afloat that Mr. Edmund Mansfield intends 
at the close of the season to resign the mastership of the Kildare 
hounds, which in his hands has proved an unequivocal success. 
It is to be hoped that it is merely a rumour resting on no solid 
foundation. 

November loth introduced us to as wintry a prospect as even 
that debatable land, the Herzegovina, could furnish. The wind 
was easterly and cuttingly cold, and, as one looked in that direc- 
tion, lo ! the eastern rampart of our island rose one huge white 
barrier, unbroken by a single bit of dark or lively colouring. A 
white rime overspread the fields, but that, of course, we had hopes 
of seeing disappear in an hour or two; but there was no disguising 
the fact that every sign and token admonished us that it was 
freezing very hard at ten o'clock a.m. How it fared with other 
pursuers I cannot tell; but my ten miles to the meet was over a 
road which presented the appearance of a newly made rink the 
snow and rain which had fallen during the night having been 
frozen to a solid consistency. It was, however, very thin, and in a 
short time barring a mauvais pas or two horses got accustomed 
to it, and crunched through the mass as if used to that sort of 
going half their lives. Summerhill, the meeting-point of the Meath 
hounds, reached by a side gate in the park wall, the question was, 
Where are the hounds ? for it was past eleven o'clock, and the 
rustics I had interrogated seemed to think they had not come at 
all a conclusion I was inclined to draw myself as I cantered up 
one of the knolls in the park to gain a view, and found my horse 
throwing the balled snow out of his hoofs. A minute more 
resolved all doubt, for there in front of the court-yard were the 
hounds and staff, while a tide of mounted men were passing to 
and from the fine Italian entrance hall in quest no doubt of those 
cups of comfort which the herbalists of Fecamp and La Trappe 
and our cousins of Amsterdam have so cunningly compounded 
for our delectation. To be or not to be, was the burning question 
of the chilly hour. There was no disputing the substantial fact 



58 HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 

of the snow everywhere, for our horses were all apparently on 
castors, raised a hand or two beyond their normal standard ; but 
then travellers told us of pleasant green fields near Athboy, Trim, 
Kilcock, or some of those lower latitudes, and there seemed a 
general unanimity of opinion as to Summerhill being the frostiest 
and snowiest place in Meath. Unlike " Sweet Auburn " 

" Here Mr. Frost his earliest visit paid, 
And parting snow-wreaths lovingly delay'd ; 
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, 
Seats of my youth when every sport could please." 

Very true, no doubt, if the sport were snowballing, or even gun- 
ning, for the extensive coverts look like abounding in pheasants 
and woodcock. But hunting no ! The dial hands in the court-yard 
clock had nearly met at noon when Mr. Waller resolved our 
doubts. Foxes are very soon routed out in the home woods 
three, I think, starting off together. One went off on a good line 
out of the park, but was headed back, to the grief of its noble 
owner, in a quarter of an hour. Another is hustled out rather 
higher up, past Spring Valley, over the road, and on apparently 
for Garradice covert ; hounds are running ; the banks don't look 
pleasant or inviting to man or horse, but men press on and horses 
jump and fall too, as a hard man from the Pytchley and Quorn 
packs soon found. Just as the run was warming into something 
pleasant, our fox, headed on his way, turned sharp into Summer- 
hill, and there, after some hunting, we left him. 

We can now take a look at our surroundings. The field is an 
unusually large one more carriages than such weather would 
warrant our finding along the drives ; sportsmen from Westmeath, 
Galway, Kildare, and Dublin appear on the scene. The cause is 
not far to seek ; it is his Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught's 
first visit to the pack of Royal Meath ; and Royal Meath, if just a 
little turbulent and self-willed in a few minor points, principally 
pertaining to the " dirty acres," is loyal to the core, and curiosity 
and loyalty combined have tempted out all those " villagers gay " 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 59 

who are making holiday of it, to the confusion, perhaps, of an 
early fox or two. We are now trotting on eastward for a couple 
of miles or so our point Pratt's Gorse, which, cut down not very 
long ago, seems in famous holding order. It is a square of gorse, 
without tree or shrub, and near nothing but a solitary cabin. In 
a minute or two there is a whimper and a rustle, a false start or 
two ; after that it is " gone away ! " in earnest, and at express pace. 
The second fence is a rather large ditch and bank, which I see 
Lords Howth and Clanmorris flying in good style near each 
other. Presently the line bends towards the trees of Larch Hill, 
and by a. lane there is a check of a few minutes. On again it takes 
us, now over the boundary fence of Larch Hill, and presently, at 
a sort of up-bank by the lake opposite the house, I see one of the 
best performers (horses) in Meath spread-eagled and sprawling. 
On past the house, across the Kilcock road, where I see a sports- 
man, who had been riding a rather hard puller in a Newmarket 
noseband, get an ugly-looking fall. Next, over some large green 
fields and wide open fences, in one of which a handsome bay 
mare, daughter of Roman Bee, that the Duke of Connaught was 
riding, dropped her hind legs (the place was very blind) and gave 
him a fall, and a good skirmishing run of a quarter of a mile or so 
on foot. But here we are at our starting point, Pratt's Gorse, 
and once more we are in pursuit, the line taking us towards Sum- 
merhill, but at very different pace a promenade in fact. From 
Moneymore in the evening they had a racing twenty-five minutes 
to the edge of the Dalyston Bog, when it grew dark, and hounds 
were stopped. Mr. Trotter got a lead at a nasty drop fence 
(where Goodall was hung up), and never was caught. Among the 
horses that were fencing beautifully were those of three ladies, 
belonging respectively to Westmeath, East Meath, and Kildare. 
Captain Sawle's grey and Mr. Macneil's chestnut were carrying their 
owners admirably, and so was the Hon. Charles Bourke's chestnut 
mare My Lady, by The Marquis. Colonel Fraser got a nasty fall in 
the middle of a field from his horse pecking at a blind drain, and, 



60 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

I regret to say, broke his collar bone. Col. Fraser lost a great 
part of last season's hunting from a broken arm an accident in 
the field also. 

I hear Mr. Hamilton Stubber had a good forty minutes and a 
kill from DeverilPs Hill the day his pack met at Maryboro' 
Heath; and Mr. Filgate's splendid gallop from Flatten, right 
through the cream of Meath, on Wednesday last, is a fertile 
theme for conversation in northern and eastern hunting circles. 
Of this more anon, I hope. From the Duhallow country I hear 
that every day has produced sport so far, with one single 
exception. 

On Saturday, the nth, the Kildare hounds who, by-the-by, 
had a very good forty-five minutes from the Moat of Ardskull by 
Mullagh Mast on Thursday last, and found foxes abounding in 
Nine-Tree Hill visited the edge of their best country, where 
Meath, Westmeath, and Kildare almost join boundaries. The 
meet was at the town or village of Enfield, a station on the 
Midland Great Western line; consequently every facility pre- 
sented itself to pursuers, from remote Galway and comparatively 
neighbouring Dublin, with all the intermediate places thrown in, 
to attend the assembly. There were some strangers, and, if I 
mistake not, a few hard-riding men from the neighbourhood of 
Edenderry, who take their hunting pleasure mainly with Captain 
Dames's and Mr. Palmer's 'harriers; but the congregation was 
not anything like so large as might have been anticipated. 
Ryndville, the first draw, always holds a fox or foxes, but it is 
honeycombed with burrows, and a good run over a promising 
line ended in a coney hole. Cappagh Gorse, the scene of the 
wire catastrophe last season, was next drawn, and from it a fox 
broke in the direction of Agher ; then, bending to the right in 
a line somewhat parallel to the Midland track, he won his way to 
Ballycaghan Gorse, and when pushed out of it beat the hounds 
out of scent. It was a very fast scurry, and Major the Hon. 
E. Lawless, Captain Sawle, and Mr. F. Rynd were about the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 61 

quickest in making the best of a good start. Grief was very 
visible by unmistakable signs and tokens scratched faces, dirty 
coats, stoved-in hats, etc. The east wind was now blowing half 
a gale, and very cutting and keen withal. The hounds had been 
thrown into the huge forest-like gorse, and the field assigned 
their proper boundaries. Ten minutes pass away, and no sign. 
Ten more, and no music greets the ear. It is very cold, and 
we are getting somewhat lukewarm in our hunting zeal, huddling 
up into nooks of shelter, and wondering when the hounds would 
be taken away to some livelier and likelier spot Horns were 
blown, I hear, and blown lustily; we heard them not. Who 
gave the impulse I know not ; but presently every one is catching 
his horse by the head, feeling him with the cold steel, and fifty 
gees are in a minute or two galloping over that verdant ocean 
where the eye only sees a single cottage on an eminence for a 
considerable distance. The first fence, which generally engulfs 
one or two at least, if not more, is crossed safely and success- 
fully, I think, by all there. For a mile or two we gallop on 
wildly to Cappagh Gorse, our companions a couple or two of 
the tail hounds. Here we find the pack had dwelt for a short 
time, but sent their fox quickly out of its shelter by Mr. Keenan's 
house, over the deep bottoms, past the Decoy Woods, on past 
Knockanally House, and so downhill into Hortlands. The pace 
must have been very fine indeed, the line grass all the way 
except some twenty yards or so; distance I should guess some 
five miles or more ; but in what time this was covered I cannot 
say. Who saw it ? Well, I believe only three saw it thoroughly 
Lord Suffield, Mr. W. Forbes, and Will Freeman ; and the first 
named, I fancy, pulled off just before the hounds ran into Hort- 
lands. He was mounted on Colonel Fraser's chestnut horse, 
Famous, who won the twelve-stone Red-coat Race in Meath last 
year. Mr. Forbes was on Gridiron, a handsome son of Kildonan, 
and as good as he looks in any country, be it wall or bank, for 
some of his education was in Galway. A small cut, blind from 



62 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

the fringing grass, proved fatal, I fear, to a very perfect hunter 
of Lord Langford's, a son of Solon's, and grandson of West 
Australian's. Mr. Paley, the eminent V.S., was telegraphed for 
to Dublin ; and all will be glad if this very accomplished hunter, 
who had been fencing to perfection all day, can be brought 
round. A lady got an unpleasant-looking fall early in the day, 
but was not hurt. Rumour says a lady was badly hurt hunting in 
Westmeath this week. 

On Saturday the Ward Union hounds met at the seventh mile- 
stone of the Ashbourne road, and, enlarging not very far off, had 
a nice gallop for about three miles or so, when they met a very 
long and decided check near the Fairy House Lane, and had to 
abandon pursuit, as the flat country was gorged with water, and 
the deer persistently ran into the brimming ditches and brooks, 
thus killing scent. 

On Monday, meeting a party of about thirty at the Flat 
House, in mist and rain, they enlarged an untried red deer in a 
field near the Fairy House lane, who led off over a series of 
water jumps that wanted not a little stretch to cover success- 
fully; a short horseshoe described, and then a brief excursion 
over the Meath line, when a colley dog had a cut at the " running 
deer," which was far too tempting to resist, and presently, in 
jumping an up-fence, she met with an accident, and so ended a 
very short pursuit the terminus being aptly named " Quarry 
Land." No. 2 was a fallow deer, who had also a strong penchant 
for water ways, the very first obstacle being a brook, with a high 
bank opposite, too large to stride over; so horses had to be 
forced in, and then ridden out of the water up the bank. A 
very well-trained hunter of Mr. D'Arcy's allowed his rider to 
dismount and then jumped up after him. All were not so well 
mannered, and had the hounds been running at any pace, a good 
many would have been out of it; but just at this moment another 
coursing match was going on, to the confusion of the pack. 
Presently, by the Ten-mile Bush farm, where the pastures rival in 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 63 

size those of the Vale of Aylesbury, the hounds began to run in 
earnest past Rathbeggan, past Batterstown Parsonage, on to 
Crookstown, over the Trim road ; then, after a short circle, she 
was taken after a very twisting gallop of some fifty-five minutes, 
of which Jem Brindley and Mr. W. Butler had considerably the 
best, a few others having come to grief at a double into the road. 
" The sick bay," as the blue jackets term it, is already crowded 
with victims to blindness of fences, want of real condition, and the 
thousand and one chances and mischances which the mimicry of 
war brings in its train. Mr. Coppinger, one of the hardest of the 
Ward Union light weights, got a nasty fall on Saturday when 
hunting ' with this pack, and his leg was reported as broken ; 
but I believe a squeeze and bruise was the extent of the injury. 
Lord Wa^erford got a very ugly-looking fall in his own country, 
but is quits, I hear, for a cut head and face ; while Captains 
Slacke and Chichester were, I am told, also more or less knocked 
about I myself was a witness to a very narrow escape from 
pendulous wire on a bank this afternoon. 



6 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



VI. 

" In spite of th' unpromising state of the weather, 
Away broke the fox and the hounds close together. " 



Races and Rain Punchestown Gorse Ward Run Galway Blazers Meath 
West and East Sir D. Roche ! 

A SHARP frost and a fall of snow so early in the season are as 
scaring as a skeleton or death's head at a banquet, or. a garrulous 
enfant terrible who has seen no one knows how much, and won't 
be bribed or threatened into discreet silence; and yet this brief 
"cold snap" has done us yeomen service in clearing away a 
great deal of the obstacles to that smooth hunting progress which 
we so much desiderated. The November which the cynical poet 
inveighed against 

" No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, 

No comfortable feel in any member, 
No shine, no shade, no butterflies, no bees, 

No light, no leaves, no fruits, no flowers November ; " 

is on us, with all its accessories of leaden skies, soppy fields, and 
darksome horizons. A week or ten days ago, the light streamed 
through aisles of arched foliage of many hues, like the subdued 
gleams of painted and stained glass. It was "the torrent's 
smoothness ere it rushed below," and now we are face to face 
with winter the winter of our content. The tracery of the trees 
is fast revealing itself. Presently those black depths of with and 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 65 

brambles and weeds will be comparatively bare and open, and 
the long fringing grass which now makes cuts and drains in 
fields almost invisible to horse and rider, will have disappeared. 
Riding straight over the country has been a service of danger; 
the crop of accidents has not been a small one by any means. 

Let me commence with a very brief outline of sport in Louth, 
which want of space compelled me to postpone last week, merely 
alluding to a single day in an eventful week. That day was 
Wednesday, the 8th, when Mr. Filgate brought his pack to 
Flatten. They found instantly a fox in the laurels near the 
house, and drove him into the covert. Before leaving it finally, 
the fox tried the earths, and made a complete circuit of the 
place; but at last he broke by the Glen, and then set his mask 
westward, leaving Duleek on his left and Cruicerath on his right. 
Away he raced over the rocks of Carragubbin, where a five-feet 
coped wall arrested all the field save Mr. Robert Jameson, who 
got over with a fall, but was not hurt, and from this point he 
had the hounds to himself, as they raced by Garballagh and 
Weston into Somerville Woods. Here there was a check, but 
the pack soon got right again, and sent their quarry through 
the woods into the open by Bessborough and Belrath, rolling 
him over at Lismool ; one hour and fifty -five minutes in all, 
one hour and five minutes up to Somerville. By 1.30 p.m. 
pursuers and hounds were on their way homewards, which fact 
speaks well for the satisfactory nature of this splendid chase. 

On the nth they were at Churchtown. The fox was twice 
headed in his efforts to break from the gorse, so that Mr. Filgate 
drew off the pack. From Clonbracton they had a ring; in 
Rathony they found again, and had a ringing pursuit by Reas- 
town, Cardistown, and Tullykeel, the fox being saved by the 
appearance of a fresh one, who took off the hounds towards 
Coolderry, where he turned by Aclint and Nicholastown into 
Knockably, and here the hounds were stopped, after one hour 
fifty minutes in all, as darkness was coming on apace. 



66 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

"Nocte pluit tota, redeunt spectacula mane," says the old 
Latin hexameter, and so was it in the province of Leinster, in 
the island of Ireland, on the night of the i3th of November and 
the morning of the i4th. Let the hydrometrists tell us how 
many tons of water fell in twenty-four hours ! My weather 
gauge was a couple of coats soaked like sponges in an un- 
usually short time on Wednesday afternoon ; and even on 
Thursday morning, at seven o'clock a.m., or a little after for I 
will not assume the virtue of early hours, not having it the out- 
look was what sailors call decidedly "dirty" leaden skies, and 
scarcely any apparent interval 'twixt earth and heaven, and the 
rain driven against the windows by a strong west wind as if by 
a powerful hose. "Sport of kings, eh?" is the uppermost idea 
as one stands in the land of sleepy debate, dubious whether 
it shall be instant immersion or a retrograde movement into bed. 
Sport of kings, indeed ! Well, methinks I'll appoint a vice-king 
to-day, and enjoy myself like a rational subject for the nonce. 
These are sleep-begotten fantasies, and one plunge into the 
Lethe of cold water banishes them, bringing to one's recollection 
the consoling balsam of proverbial wisdom in the old verse, " rain 
at seven, fine at eleven." 

There were two hunting events of major interest and attraction 
(if anything could be attractive to-day) to all residents in what I 
may term the home hunting circuit, namely, a by-day with the 
Ward Union hounds at Warrenstown Gate, to capture, if possible, 
an outlying deer, and a meet of the Kildare fox-hounds at Naas. 
Now, the Ward Union country is very flat, very floodable, and my 
experience of yesterday inclined me to think that on these deluged 
plains scent would not be very serving, nor riding very pleasant to 
man or horse. (I have heard since that the capture was effected 
without much sport.) On the other hand, to hack over well-nigh 
a score of miles in such torrents, and to find your natural 
avoirdupois considerably increased by water concealed about 
your person, is not a very inviting experience. On the whole, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 67 

however, Naas and its charms kick the beam. Hunting in 
rainstorm or windstorm is a mockery, a delusion, and a snare ; 
but, if it is to be done, there is no better neighbourhood than 
Naas, with its surroundings of light gravelly soil, which it takes 
half a deluge to make really deep or holding to the hoof. A 
meet at Naas is what Yankees call a " big thing " in the ordinary 
way ; to-day it was almost to borrow from the same vernacular 
a one-horse affair. Few came from Dublin, Sir Michael Hicks 
Beach proving an exception ; none, I think, from the Queen's 
County, which is generally represented in force. Westmeath 
sent none, Meath but one or two. The Curragh was not so 
liberal in its patronage as usual. Dunlavin coursing meeting 
kept away the representatives of the Tynte family, who occasion- 
ally, with their party, made a small field in themselves; but, en 
revanche, Sir Charles Burton and Mr. Horace Rochfort did duty 
for Carlow, while Mr. Frewen (well known in hunting circles on 
your side of the ditch), the Messrs. Power, and Captain Frank 
Cole and Mrs. Cole were among the visitors; and Mr. Rea 
Palliser had come from his home in the Curraghmore country. 
It is not a day to survey the beauty of either Naas or Kildare. 
The houses seem to have their hatches battened down for the 
foul weather; the streets are desolate. The few ladies out are 
waterproofed, so as to be almost nunlike. By 11.20 a.m. we are 
en rottte, a very small band, for Punchestown Gorse, a mile or more 
distant. Five or six enterprising ladies have now joined the caval- 
cade, and make the masculine array seem smaller by comparison. 
The first field off the road on our way to the dear old gorse is 
now in tillage, and as we toil over and through its furrows a 
sense of gratitude must arise that we have so little arable land 
in this country. We are allowed to pass (perhaps not hindered 
from passing would be more correct) through the well-known 
wicket gate in the corner of the field into the large grass field 
bordering the run home, and this in itself is a mercy, because 
the ugly rush made to it on the proclamation of a find in the 



68 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

gorse the kicking, crowding, squeezing, malison, and evil 
speaking consequent upon " the real jam " there is neither 
pleasant in itself nor advantageous to sport. I suppose we were 
on parole, and certainly no one went far into the field. Perhaps 
the field was so unusually small that mischief was not much feared. 
The portion of the gorse in sight would not harbour a rabbit, 
much less a fox, as it has been recently cut down. Beyond, I 
believe there is some strong good lying, and now we can look 
about a little, for the rain has mitigated somewhat, and there goes 
the Curragh gun for noon. It is seldom that a field in this part 
of Kildare does not contain a few horses of name and character 
in the chasing world. Mr. T. Beasley is riding New Purchase, a 
very smart young bay horse, who has won a few events in his 
time, though he has had the bad luck to have been disqualified 
for three or four from careless weighing and mistaken entry, and I 
know not what else. Mr. Dundas is on Ironmould. Malone, a jock 
who is less known than many, but whom Kildare farmers patronise 
largely (they are not a very indiscriminate class either), is schooling 
a sharp little bay full of action, but rather small for our modern 
notions. 

But no more ! Music mingles with the west wind a fox is 
tallied away by somebody, and Mr. Percy La Touche, a very 
quick starter, is half across the wide pasture in front of us. The 
chase began with a gallop over the racecourse towards Eades- 
town or Arthurstown; but a quick turn to the right decides 
the direction, and, led by Mr. Blacker, on his trusty grey, we are 
now careering on towards Keely's farm, en route peradventure to 
"The Banks" or Stonebrook. Another incline to the right dis- 
poses of that theory, and now we are galloping over a few green 
fields, having crossed the Ballymore Eustace road, and skirting 
a square bog plantation full of heather, known as Silliott Bog or 
the Baron's Bog (the Baron de Robeck owns and planted it), in 
the centre of which the hounds, brought into strong relief by the 
russet heather and peat, are at work very industriously, and 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 69 

evidently near their fox. Ten minutes' delay here till he is routed, 
when his line takes us by Mr. Coffey's farm towards Mullacash, 
where he tries a sewer which nipped a very promising run in the 
bud last season. It is closed tight to-day, and presently, after 
jumping in and out of a road, we are in a network of small fields, 
and while in this district are every minute at a fence. Soon we 
emerge into larger fields at Dunshane (Mr. Maunder's), over 
which the hounds stream away at good pace; then, jumping a 
small wall, we very soon gain the deer-park of Harristown, and, 
running by its wall and the ruined castle, we again cross a road 
leading to Ballymore Eustace (two newly made banks which flank 
it require some handiness on the part of horses), and in a few 
fields are by the side of the wall of Harristown Park, with the 
Liffey below, and the Black Thorns on its further bank. 

After some slow hunting in the park of Harristown, this 
good fox was given up. A Stonebrook fox crossed the river 
Liffey, and did not give anything very meritorious in the way 
of a chase ; nor did, as I learn, an Elverstown evening fox. 
The first was a very pretty hunting run, with fencing enough 
for a dozen average gallops, in which the ladies and the visitors 
took their part right well, Miss Kilbee and Mrs. Davis repre- 
senting the former, while Mr. Rochfort, of Clogrennan, and Mr. 
Frewen were in the forefront of the fray all through. Mr. Roch- 
fort seems to have made up his mind to apply Mr. Elmore's 
theory and practice about hunters, namely, that to keep them 
right you must always keep them going, as Mr. Rochfort's grey 
seems to be everlastingly galloping, jumping, or taking a railway 
constitutional ! 

The Carlow record is something like this. On the 28th ult., 
after drawing Altamont blank, they found a good fox at Killrick, 
who ran the banks of the Slaney for a couple of miles, then 
crossed under Ballynoe, and gave the field a good hunting 
pursuit of some seven miles, ending at Knocklow, where he 
got to ground. On the 3ist, after some hunting at Ballykealy, 



yo HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

they had a sharp forty minutes from Castlemere. On the 7th 
inst. they met at Charlesfort, and had a good forty-five minutes' 
ring from a small patch of gorse near it. 

Post nubila Phoebus ! After the rain and wind storms it was 
quite refreshing to bask again in the rays of even a wintry sun, 
to see a glimpse of blue sky, and to feel that the elements had, 
like the Sublime Porte, granted a short armistice to us storm- 
tossed, rain-beaten mortals. My path to-day led me to Rath- 
beggan, where the Ward Union men were to congregate to 
hunt their tri-weekly stag. Rathbeggan is only a very short 
stage distant from such fixtures as the Black Bull, the Flat 
House, and the other townlands and farm and gentlemen's 
houses beyond Dumboyne, which give names to the meeting 
places. The traces of the rain floods were all too apparent 
on the left-hand side of the road as you journeyed from Dublin, 
much of the fine pasture land being a mere for the time being, 
while some of the country looked like Holland with the dams 
cut, as, say, when William the Silent flooded it to rescue Antwerp 
or some beleaguered city from the Spanish attack. A little further 
on is the well-known Ten-mile Bush Farm, owned by a Mr. Boylan, 
who, en bon Chretien, if he has raised ramparts round his do- 
minions, and bounded them by deep and broad streams, has 
gated almost every field, and oh, portentous circumstance ! 
the gates are in useable, every-day order, opening and shutting 
readily, not locked or secured by chains, or tied by a suggawn 
(Anglice, a straw-rope), which is probably renewed twice or three 
times annually when the gate is really used. The pasture fields 
of this farm are of very great extent, as any dairyman from 
Leighton Buzzard or Newport Pagnell would admit, with ad- 
miration at their richness of hue and splendid quality of herbage. 
Here our chase after the red deer, "His Lordship," began in 
earnest, the hounds racing after him over these fine reaches. 
Through three gates had we proceeded at a very smart hand 
gallop, which stretched the slow ones, and over a considerable 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 71 

distance, when we are confronted suddenly, and I must say 
most unpleasantly, by a bank studded with quicksets and gorse, 
beyond it a river, and a bank on its far side. The whole bank 
on the near side seemed honeycombed by rabbits' burrows. To 
the strangers the depths of the swollen river were quite un- 
known. I daresay at times it is quite fordable, and a handy 
horse can be worked in and out without much bother or diffi- 
culty. Some men who knew all about it pulled up before we 
got to this huge obstacle, and diverged I know not whither- 
All I can aver in the truth of hunting story is that it seemed 
to arrest all alike the cautious, the bold, the rash, the im- 
petuous, the overweening, the reckless, the steeplechase rider, 
and the many-seasoned huntsman; along its banks we seemed 
to spread out like a fan, looking for that apparent impossibility, 
a practicable spot. In a few minutes I saw a very small division 
galloping on the far side. (They had, as I subsequently learnt, 
the key to the fortress.) My companions in misfortune and 
prison turned their backs on the relentless barrier, and tried 
to flank it. Here a second river, with boggy banks, interposes ; 
but a good grey, ridden by Mr. Robertson, nicking a good 
take-off and landing, showed us the way over. A very hard- 
riding welter attempts to follow ; but, though he lands on the 
far side with the reins in his hands, his hunter is taking a cold 
bath, and cooling his master's saddle for him. A third experi- 
menter in hydrostatics tried a seemingly fordable spot ; but he 
was seen swimming very soon. 

" Like whales in the water, some floundered about ; 
Thrown off and thrown in, they were also thrown out. " 

After all, an easy spot was presently discovered a few hundred 
yards higher, and it turned out most fortunately that we craners, 
shirkers, and hydrophobists were not doomed to pay a very 
heavy penalty for our discretion as we were riding on the arc 
of the circle, and came in with the chase very soon. Batters- 



72 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

town is left behind; a road, which I should think went to 
Dunshaughlin, is crossed and a very nasty fence led out of 
it; for perhaps a couple of miles the line leads over beautiful 
level pastures, intersected by deep and broad water-cuts. Then 
there is a short check. We are now on the edge of Ballyma- 
glasson (Mr. Thompson's residence) Lands, and a couple of 
fences that want doing lead us in and out of a wood, or rather 
a skirting plantation (I fancy not a few stopped at this point, 
having had already a fine gallop). Then on we go over a line 
of most enjoyable country the fences smaller, and mostly 
singles till we pass the Hatchet, a celebrated meet of the 
Meath hounds, with Coulstown and Mulhussey Castle to our 
left. At this period of the run His Lordship was probably 
headed, for he made a very abrupt turn to the right. Some 
slowish hunting, though without casting, succeeded, the line all 
the time being over the most inviting fields, and the most 
pleasant of fences. " Wire ! " about this time, I hear Charlie 
Brindley shouting, who was on his very well-known grey, " Wire ! 
'ware wire ! " but there was a capital spot in the fence, and no 
harm occurred. 

When I first took an observation, though it was necessarily 
a very hurried one, we were galloping over that beautiful bit of 
upland between the fox coverts of Culmullen and Beltrasna, and 
going along at very good pace indeed, though far from straight. 
The next landmark or place of significance that we entered was 
Woodtown, the deer apparently leading us on to Summerhill ; 
here, however, an inclination to the left brought us to a rather 
lower level, and we passed through the little village of Moy- 
nalvey, which had the honour of giving a name to a well-known 
stag a season or two past ; the entire population, including " the 
Force " (the constabulary is so named here), and " the fair " 
abandoning their flirting (none but the brave deserve the fair, 
you know), gossip, knitting, or potato washing, to gaze on the 
chase as it floated by. Time, too, is on the wing. Are we never 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 73 

to get on terms with this long-winded wanderer ? At last ! In 
perhaps a mile or a mile and a half from Moynalvey we view 
him at the other side of a quickset hedge loafing along most 
contentedly, and apparently very fresh; but the pack see him 
too, and in a few fields they force him into the yard of a small 
farmhouse, the only one in view; and, Jem Brindley and his 
father being as usual close to the pack, His Lordship is secured, 
with only a few scratches about his ears, to repeat a similar 
performance later on in the season, we may fondly hope. 

One hour and forty-two minutes, says the timekeeper, Mr. 
Morrogh, who has been in front all through, on a very neat, 
small, bay horse, and I know his watch is accuracy itself. On 
the map it is very hard to estimate the distance, for His Lord- 
ship did not run straight from point to point, like a fox far 
from it; but even on the map the distance covered measures 
something very considerable, and I should say that it would not 
be easy to walk the exact track of the deer very much under a 
score of miles. The distance ridden, allowing for short cuts and 
other such helps, could not have been much (if at all) under 
fifteen miles. The line was over the very cream of Meath, and 
we skirted a number of fox coverts, such as Culmullen, Beltrasna, 
Pratt's Gorse, and Larch Hill. Out of a large field, I do not 
think more than fifteen or sixteen pursued to the capturing 
point, among whom for I cannot pretend to catalogue them 
were Messrs. Morrogh, Meldon, O'Reilly, Hone, Coleridge, 
Daly, Macneil, Bayley, Morris, M'Cormick, Hanaway, Percy 
Maynard, Murland, T. Turbitt, and a few more. Mr. M'Geer, 
riding a chestnut of Captain Davis's, went admirably up to a 
point. The fencing of Mr. MacneiPs chestnut was a thing to 
look at. Mr. Allen, who is no feather, was very well carried, and 
so was Mr. Meldon, who rode as if some fairy had graciously 
taken off his three or four stone of overplus (if we set the standard 
at i2St. 7lb.). A General Hess grey of Dr. Daly's was going 
extremely well, and so was a young one of Mr. Runaway's, and a 



74 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

small thick bay horse of Mr. M'Cormick's. Captain Wardrop sent 
a four-year-old along most merrily for a few miles, and Mr. Dundas 
was pleasantly carried by Mistletoe. A long ride home to stables 
and train followed ; but the evening was beautifully fine, and the 
sky, shot with rose and maze, may be said to have tinted to-morrow 
with prophetic ray the prophecy of frost versus rain. 

In Galway Mr. Persse's career has been almost uninterruptedly 
successful. On the 4th he was at Ballyduggan, in the Loughrea 
country, from which I recollect seeing a most spirit-stirring fox 
chase and kill some two or three seasons ago ; but, strange to say, 
it was drawn blank on this occasion. Hollyhill, however, held a 
brace, one of which ran over a charming line by Carra Gorse, and 
was turned up just as he was nearing Ballydonelane, twenty-five 
minutes of beautiful going. On the 6th he visited his Athenry 
country, and found three foxes at Cregmore, one of which he hunted 
with bad scent for an hour, and put to ground at Coolarne, where 
Mr. Meldon (equally entered to fox and stag) insisted on everyone 
taking something comforting and cheering, and then provided a 
fox in one of his coverts, which the bitch pack rolled over in 
twenty-two minutes. On the 8th he went to his Tuam country, 
and, as a matter of course, found at once in Gallagh, and had two 
rings with fresh foxes, threatening mischief; but the wavering was 
only temporary, and, sticking to their original quarry, they sent 
him at top speed through Brown's Gorse, and raced into him in 
the open, close to Kilclooney, one hour and fifteen minutes from 
the find, with only two slight hesitations. 

The entry of this year is doing very well ; and if the trappers 
will only leave foxes alone, a very high-class season of sport may 
be anticipated in Galway, judging from present appearances. 

On the 1 3th inst. the Westmeath hounds were at Pakenham 
Hall (Lord Longford's park), where the hunting was principally 
of the covert order ; but from Gillardstown, which is rather cele- 
brated for its stout foxes, they took one away at good pace 
towards Kanturk, thence by Berrison Lodge straight into Knock 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 75 

Ion, where he got to ground twenty minutes of galloping with- 
out the sign of a check ; a wire, which had to be cut, gave the 
hounds a good lead, of which they were never deprived. Mr. 
Montague Chapman, the master, the Hon. Mrs. Malone and her 
husband, with General Curzon Smyth, were about the nearest to 
them throughout the scurry. On Saturday they were at Galston 
and Gaybrook, and had some covert hunting ; but scent disap- 
peared in the evening, when they had got a fox to face the open 
fairly. 

Meath appears to me to be suffering from an easily cured com- 
plaint a plethora of foxes and Goodall is applying the lancet 
freely; but until a certain number of these superabundant foxes 
have been improved off the face of the earth and the remainder 
taught to seek their safety in instant and protracted flight, first- 
class sport cannot be generally expected, as the seasoned old 
foxes slip away directly, and leave the hounds to deal with a rabble 
of uneducated cubs, who relieve each other at intervals, and 
do little more than run circles with home for centre. I hear, 
however, that forty minutes on Monday (the day they met at 
Bengerstown) was really good, while Wednesday's sport was, on 
dit, of quite superior stamp and complexion. I have already 
narrated something of my personal experiences and observations 
in the very fine stag-hunt which the Ward Union men had that 
day, sipping or skimming (whichever analogy you please, gentle 
readers) the cream of the Dublin and Meath counties as they went 
along; so, labouring under the heavy disability of not being 
ubiquitous, I regret I cannot give you as vivid or graphic a sketch 
of the " day's doings " as I should like. The pack met on that 
day at Killallon, where a clump of trees on a mound and a lonely 
chapel formed, some two years ago, if my memory serves me truly, 
a sort of pivot or buoy to borrow a yachting simile for some 
twenty or thirty red-coated sportsmen in their annual chase. Well 
I recollect the scene, and poor Rufus Montgomery (whom Meath 
and Dublin still mourn), the cheeriest and lightest-hearted of the 



7 6 HIBERNIAN VENA TIC A. 

party, though he had not much expectation of winning, and I 
think he merely entered a hunter for the ride and sociability of 
the thing. I refer to the fact of the country being the theatre for 
a red-coat race to illustrate its character and class. The hounds, 
it would seem, found a good fox directly they were in the gorse, 
and, forcing him out of it, spun him along at a pace which a 
racing man who rode it described to me as extremely fast, scent 
being at its highest and best. The line lay by Ballinlough Castle, 
the residences and parks of Lord Vaux and Sir Charles Nugent, 
till it led into the woods of Killua (Sir B. Chapman's), where the 
coverts were being shot ; and, to avoid clashing with the gunning 
interests, the hounds were stopped, with a very beaten fox in front 
of them. Thirty-five minutes over such a country at such a pace 
is not a bad allowance of sport ; but Kilgar Gorse, Sam Reynell's 
(great men must not be Mistered) celebrated covert, gave them a 
wind-up of fifty minutes of good hunting by Lough Crew into 
Clonabraney ; so I hope I have shown cause sufficient why Meath 
should register this especial Wednesday as a red-lettered day in 
her calendar. I spoke of the prospects of frost versus rain in my 
ride homewards on Wednesday evening. Alas ! I must never set 
up again for a weather prophet, seeing the Thursday that suc- 
ceeded was about the soakingest day that has come out of the 
heavens for a small age. 

On Friday, the i;th, the Meath hounds made a nearer 
approach to the metropolis than they have done so far this sea- 
son Dunshaughlin, the congregating spot, being thirteen and 
three-quarters of Irish mileage N.W. of Dublin, on the old Ennis- 
killen coach road. Its Celtic spelling is Dunshaghelyn, and the 
nuncupation has something to do with St. Patrick's nephew, St. 
Seachlan, whose uncle fox-hunters should duly honour, as, when 
he banished snakes and other vermin from the saintly soil, he 
spared the fox. The distance from Dublin was just sufficient to 
banish the pic-nicking-out-for-the-day element, while it presented 
no difficulty to hunting men properly so called, as the Navan line 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 77 

was available in the neighbourhood, while Ratoath, Dunboyne, 
and Dunshaughlin itself abound in good healthy boxes, where 
horses can be made exceedingly comfortable if sent on overnight. 
A frosty morning ushered in a glorious forenoon, with such accom- 
paniments as the most transparent luminous atmosphere and a 
very warm sun. Scent might be good, but all the chances and 
prognostics were dead against such a happy consummation. Dun- 
shauglin is a village, and within a mile of it is one of those 
imposing semi-Gothic structures for in-door relief for the poor 
which are so lavishly dotted over Ireland. Between the two is a 
small gorse, well isolated and very holding, which rejoices in the 
title of the " Poorhouse Gorse." Seldom was a well-mounted field 
seen to greater advantage, or in brighter or more becoming con- 
trasts of colour than in the green pasture field outside the fox-haunt 
during the five or six minutes between " leuing " the dog pack in 
and the find and " gone away." The carriages are a long way off 
(a mercy, perhaps), and some 100 or 120 of about the best- 
mounted men going are flashing about in the field, in scarlet and 
black. Kildare has mustered pretty strongly here to-day, sending, 
amongst others, Lord Cloncurry, the Hon. C. Bourke, and Mr. W. 
Forbes to the fray. The garrison of Dublin spares a certain number 
of Inniskillings and 3rd Dragoon Guards from parade and riding 
school ; and Captain Graves Sawle represents the staff, Colonel 
Forster the viceroyalty. Lord Langford's party from Summerhill 
is a large one ; among them are Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, 
Lord Francis Lennox, and the Hon. Captain Rowley. The Ward 
Union men are quite at home here, for they occupy the soil we 
ride over ; but there is no more time to survey the fair scene, the 
goodly array. He has gone away ; four or five couple of the dog 
pack are out of the gorse, and if that is not enough to hunt any 
fox without the field, I know nothing about it. At any rate, so 
thinks the hard-riding division, headed by Lord Howth, as they 
skim over a bank and ditch, which is succeeded by a very large 
one, with an embankment on the far side. In a very few fields 



78 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

we are in Lagore Park (Mr. Thunder's place), and here our fox, 
after a few rambles round and round, gets to ground. Another 
follows suit. Let us leave these many-burrowed woods, and speed 
on to the Reisk Gorse. Alas ! one of our gallant cavalcade can 
no longer accompany us. Mr. French, of Ardsallagh, one of the 
staunchest supporters of the fox interest in Meath, has met with a 
serious accident, and is now lying at the Lodge of Lagore with his 
leg broken in two places. Dr. Daly is soon on the spot ; Mr. 
Thunder's comfortable family coach takes the veteran sportsman 
to his home, some seven or eight miles distant ; all good wishes 
will accompany him ; but all this fortunate combination of circum- 
stances cannot undo the serious mischief, and if the owner of the 
kicker is given to reflections, they cannot be pleasant. Now, most 
people who are in the habit of hunting with any popular pack in 
Ireland know one or two horses who are notoriously dangerous 
of approach ; they avoid them. Strangers cannot be so forewarned, 
and may suffer like Mr. French to-day. Last year Captain Tathill 
had the narrowest of escapes from the playful heels of a young 
horse. Surely society should combine against the owner of an 
inveterate kicker at men, horses, or hounds, if he persists in mingling 
in the crowd after due warning. Damages were recovered in the 
South of Ireland very lately on similar grounds ; if a vicious-habited 
dog make a master liable to an action, why not a horse ? I talk 
not now of over-fresh coltish horses of exuberant spirits, but of 
confirmed outlashers. 

A mile or twain, through pleasant fields mostly, brings us to 
the Little Reisk Gorse ; ten minutes sees the field galloping fast 
for full a mile to a swollen brook or river, which some cross by 
bridge, some ford and with difficulty. Half a mile beyond this 
point is Kilbrew Hill, an old park, with groves on the top. The 
hounds meanwhile had run by a small stick covert, and the well- 
known answer of a covert-keeper to an interviewing M.F.H. was 
never, perhaps, better illustrated. " Are there any foxes in the 
Bog covert now, Pat?" "Is't fawxes, yer-anner? they do be 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 79 

jostling one another down there." So it was to-day. Foxes were 
afoot in all directions. After climbing Kilbrew, the hounds sent 
one on towards Somerville, when he swung back, ran some water 
meadows where brooks abounded (brook upon brook, by the way, 
is bad heraldry surely), and unus e pluribus was killed as he neared 
the stick covert. Corbalton Gorse, the last draw, produced more 
foxes than sport. I can only allude here to a capital day's sport 
which the Galway hounds enjoyed last Tuesday from Derrahiney, 
Colonel Featherstonhaugh's place, and from Longford. 

Saturday was a day of brilliant scent and sport, at least within 
a wide radius of Dublin. The Kildare hounds met an immense 
crowd at Kingswood in fog and mist, in which it was no easy task 
to ride straight or follow the hounds, save by the sense of sound. 
The " day's doings," to which I shall recur in my next letter, were 
a sharp scurry from Belgard, through Dr. Kennedy's place, to the 
Green Hills, where their fox got to ground. They went a very 
quick gallop from Miss Gould's Gorse to a point near Castle Bagot, 
where the hounds ran into their fox. The third was a fine run 
from Johnstown Kennedy, through Coolmine, to Saggart, when 
night intervened. The Ward Union hounds had, on the same 
date, an extremely sharp 35 minutes from the neighbourhood of 
Ashbourne to a point near Garristown Hill. Here a view was 
obtained of their deer, and 15 more minutes succeeded, as fast as 
could be desired. 

Sir David Roche had a splendid pursuit last Friday from 
Ballingarry Gorse to Adare Manor (Lord Dunraven's) to which I 
shall refer by-and-by eleven miles, and a crowning kill. 

The Westmeath hounds had a couple of good gallops on the 
1 5th, when they met at Moate; the second, from Kavedonully 
Gorse, ended in a kill, after a very good thirty-five minutes ; while 
Mr. Filgate, on Friday last, after killing two foxes (one a good one, 
too), and sending another to ground after a short pursuit, finished 
a very fine hunting run of i hour 40 minutes by rolling over a 
rare stout fox from Blackball. 



8o HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



VII. 



" Let statesmen on politics parley, 

Let heroes go fight for renown ; 
While I've health to go hunting with Charley, 
I envy no monarch his crown. " 



Hunting bravery Belgard Kickers and Kickees Sir D. Roche The 
Fairy House Somerville scenery Kilkenny sport Shiner. 

IT was Somerville, I think, the classic bard of hunting, who first 
taught us to look upon the chase as the noble mimicry of war. 

' ' My hoarse-sounding horn 
Invites thee to the chase, the sport of kings, 
Image of war without its guilt," 

says the author of this unrivalled poem, in the turgid language of 
his day, and if there be but one Milton of hunting, surely Jorrocks 
is his prophet, for he has made the quotation referred to a house- 
hold word among us. And yet, perhaps, a closer parallel might be 
found in the institutions of chivalry, which, having faithfully served 
its purpose in the darker periods of mediaeval history, exists no 
longer in concrete form, though much of its better part and spirit 
can never know extinction or decay so long as gentleness and 
manliness find their embodiment in what we call a gentleman. 
For, in the first place, horses and cavalry are merely accidents, 
splendid accidents, no doubt, of war, and not of its essence; 
whereas in chivalry, the horse was as essential to the knight as his 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 81 

lance or his armour, for a " grabby" in those days belonged to a 
different class and caste. Then, again, the armourer in those 
times was as great and important a personage as our own Bartly 
and Peel, Tautz Anderson and Hammond, all rolled into one, 
while grooms, pages, esquires, all find their counterparts, more or 
less, in the hunting field of to-day. A perusal of Froissart and 
other chroniclers of the period, assures us that Sir Brian de Bois 
was just as particular about the sheen of his morion, the burnish 
of his mail, as is the Hon. Crasher about the shade of his tops, 
the length of his bows, the squareness of his tie, in the century we 
live, move, and have our being in. No doubt the knight with his 
blazon of heraldry, and his smart esquire and page, was a very 
gallant sight to look upon, and that fair eye of chatellaines and 
bower women followed him as he rode over the castle moat, 
making his clumsy Flemish beast caracole as it was duly taught 
in the manage. But will not half a dozen of our modern hunting 
dandies, with their smart second horsemen, bear comparison with 
them even in the matter of bravery and burnish, putting aside the 
enormous superiority in horseflesh which modern chivalry pos- 
sesses ? No ! Conservative as is the modern hunting world in 
general, few will, I think, gainsay the assertion that a popular 
fixture in the shires (be they English or Irish for we, too, claim our 
shires) is in fine weather a gayer and fairer sight than was joust 
or tournament, with lists, heralds, and queens of beauty in the elder 
days just as it excels in cultivated eye and taste the barbaric splen- 
dour of elephants in cloth of gold, and all the magnificence and 
splendour with which the Orient invests its hunting celebrations. 

These reflections have been caused by sundry recent meets in 
this country, whose size, volume, quality, and smartness show not 
only the exceeding popularity of hunting in this island, but the 
enormous strides which the study of hunting properties has made 
of recent years. A late master of a crack pack in England made 
the same observation to me, as the sight impressed him greatly. 
As a sign of national wealth and prosperity we hail it with delight, 

G 



82 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

and as a proof also that we are assimilating to the manners and 
customs of our elder and wealthier sister, whom we resemble in 
so many things barring in this year " those Bonds" from which, 
thank goodness, we are mainly free. If we chose to pursue the 
analogy further we might easily do so, seeing, that recent rapid 
scurries have left their marks on full many a pursuer, and that the 
knight of the rueful countenance is no stranger to the array; in 
fact, as somebody said the other day, between swollen lips, 
scratched faces, black eyes, and general contusions, a strange 
"interviewer" might, only for the horses, fancy a lively little 
" glove fight " had recently been enacted in the neighbourhood. 

Such a monster meet took place at Kingswood on Saturday, 
the 1 8th ; and though the frame of a fine park and the groundwork 
of a smooth lawn were wanting to make the picture complete, 
there was a very imposing congregation in front and alongside of 
Mr. Walsh's residence, very near the sixth milestone on the Naas 
and Dublin highway; and had the Hyades only withheld their 
watery influences, and the fog generated thereby only raised its 
curtain for a few hours, the scene of this morning might be 
reckoned among the most picturesque and pleasant which the 
hunting panorama unfolds. But soaking rain, followed by dense 
vapour, are not enlivening conditions; and the show of purple 
(pink if you will), and burnish of steel, and sleekness of hunters' 
coats suffered greatly from the water-laden atmosphere. The 
proximity to Dublin attracted naturally a very great crowd, and on 
a moderately fine forenoon the master of the Kildare hounds may 
always reckon on a large field, and a queue of carriages that would 
not discredit Bond-street or Regent-street at their shoppingest 
hour (of course, I mean only in point of number) ; but to-day's 
field was unusually large, and smarter in its component element 
than one usually sees. The gallant defenders of Dublin came 
thither in all arms gunners, engineers, heavy dragoons, lancers 
riflemen, infantry, and staff and in such numbers that we think 
the metropolitan military authorities must favour the rational theory 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 83 

that for cavalry officers the hunting field is an apter parade ground 
and more practically useful than barrack square or riding school. 
The Inniskillings had been entertaining the Duke of Connaught 
and a large party at the Royal Barracks on the previous evening, 
and that may partly account for the large attendance of soldier 
officers ; for his Royal Highness's mail phaeton was at the meet 
with exemplary punctuality, and soon afterwards Captain Ward 
Bennett brought up the Inniskilling coach, full inside and out as it 
could hold, while Captain Wardrop followed suit with the 3rd 
Dragoon Guards ; the outriders of the viceregal carriage pioneer 
their handsome horses, and after them follows a mass of equipages 
too numerous to take stock of just now. Of hunting men and 
hunting women there were many scores assembled, " never mind 
the weather " being apparently their motto and slogan, so long as 
the tambourine can be kept rolling and sport and excitement sus- 
tained without flagging or intermission. Among the " visitors," in 
opposition to the habitues, were General Herbert, Mr. Frewen, a 
pursuer or two from Meath, and one or two from Galway's remote 
bounds. 

We are in an atmosphere like a vapour bath, but as the fog 
won't disappear, and hunting the fox is our object and purpose, a 
beginning must be made, and with this view the master sets the 
cortege in motion towards Belgarde, which is the first draw. 
Belgarde has always been a piece de resistance for the Kildare 
hounds, seldom visited without finding foxes ; and, though not 
quite equal to " the Cheshire breeches," that the Laureate, with 
perhaps a tendency to poetic licence, declares " Lasted us three 
days a week," Belgarde has deserved well of the master and mem- 
bers of the Kildare hunt ; for it is, in the first place, close to the 
meeting-point, and it thus enables the master to show something 
of a fox chase to the crowds who throng the Dublin road, and who 
are quite satisfied to ride or drive homewards after viewing a scene 
or two of the first act. It has produced good stout foxes, I believe; 
but for my own part I never saw a satisfactory run from it, the 



84 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

situation and the crowds on the road partially accounting for this 
state of things. The covert itself a mass of gorse is contained 
within an old deer-park wall, very high, with a gate for ingress and 
egress. There is a good deal of tillage on the mountain side of 
the gorse, and the occupier of the land found the damage done 
by the incursions of light and heavy horsemen so great that I 
believe the idea was entertained of cutting down the gorse and 
abandoning the stronghold. A compromise, however, seems to 
have been effected, the result of which was that, while the pack 
were carefully exploring the furzy recesses within the walls, we 
were drawn up in a body outside in a bit of plough with a single 
outlet 'for the large mass. The fog is very persistent, lifting for a 
moment, then dropping the curtain again, and figures at many 
yards off loom large and indistinct, while the horizon is bounded 
by a single field. But a whimper, swelling into a chorus, is heard by 
some, and a rush is made to the outlet in the park-wall which leads 
into Dr. Evory Kennedy's lawn. Over this we gallop, jumping 
over another small wall ; then a short check on the Dublin road 
lets up the fuglemen, after which the pack stream away at great 
pace, never stopping, till in a field by the Green Hills and Tim- 
mins Castle the fox either gets to ground or baffles them somehow, 
for the fact I never ascertained. However, this was the conclusion 
of a very short gallop, seen well by a minority, among whom were 
Captain R. Mansfield, the Hon. E. Lawless, Mr. Ellis, the Messrs. 
Blacker, General Irwin, and others. The distance was short ; but 
fences were greasy, and the land was far from light, consequently 
grief was not unfrequent ; and a runaway horse that landed its 
owner in a pit very nearly made the burden of sorrow serious, but 
I believe neither suffered very severely from the catastrophe. 

Castle Bagot, the next draw, proved empty; so we trotted on 
to some wild gorse patches near the twelfth lock on the Grand 
Canal; but they were in the same category of blankness; and, 
turning westward, we trotted on along the canal banks for a couple 
of miles till we reached a secluded little gorse, very young but very 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 85 

thick, which was made in Sir Edward Kennedy's presidency by 
the landlady, Miss Gould, and known as Miss Gould's Gorse. It 
is a very angular, wedgy bit of covert, but foxes seem to love its 
silence and its isolation ; and here we found very soon indeed, and 
in five minutes more we are stampeding along a lane, off which we 
turn over a steep bank into some grass fields, where hounds race 
away, and horses are stretched to keep at all anigh them. West- 
manstown is crossed, and the line leads into the verge of Castle 
Bagot Land, where the hounds roll over their quarry, who never 
got a chance after an extremely quick burst, scent proving most 
serving and sustained. A third run, terminated by night, began 
at Johnstown Kennedy and ended at Saggart. I forgot to say that 
about one o'clock the atmosphere, though heavy all day, shook off 
the fog clouds. 

This pack had a very good gallop last Thursday (one of the 
wettest days we have had so far in the season), from Knockrigg 
Gorse, by Golden Fort, across the river Slaney to ground at Bally- 
crow ; it was described to me as very fast indeed, fairly straight, 
but not well seen throughout by the field, the country being far 
from easy or pleasant to cross. 

Yesterday (Friday) was saddened by the accident which befell 
Mr. French, of Ardsallagh, from a kicking horse ; the victim 
to-day was a fine hunter of Captain Wardrop's, kicked severely in 
the near fore-arm; but really the escapes are more surprising, 
perhaps, than the accidents from this cause. On the self-same 
Friday (and nearly at the same hour, by a strange coincidence) 
that a kicker smashed poor Mr. French's leg, Mr. Filgate, in 
Louth, lost " Advocate," one of his best hounds, by a kick from 
a lady's horse, who had already gained an evil renomm'e for doing 
mischief (the horse bien entendu, of course). 

Want of space prevented my doing justice to Mr. Filgate's 
week in Louth in my last budget. Let me now repair the 
omission very briefly. On Tuesday the meet was to have been 
Clermont, but the weather was so bad no one came, so the 



86 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

hounds, after waiting till 12.30, returned to kennel. On Friday 
they were at Beaulieu, when they found at once, and ran a fox 
to ground; a second ran a ring, and was killed in finishing it. 
A third turned up in the same covert, and ran well by Beltrick 
barn and Ballydonnel, round Newtown demesne, and was rolled 
over after forty-five minutes. Newtown Gorse held another, who 
got to ground very quickly. Blackball produced a real good 
fox, who, after standing up for one hour and forty minutes and 
telling out the field, was rolled over; some four, including the 
master and men, alone witnessed the end. This part of the 
country had been very short of foxes for some time, and it was 
very cheering to Mr. Filgate to see so goodly a show there to-day. 

On Saturday, the i8th, while the fashion-led crowds followed 
the Kildare hounds as near as they could, a select party of 
the Ward Union men had one of their best thirty-five minutes 
towards Garristown, and fifteen more in view, fast as the fastest 
could wish for ; nor were they incommoded by fog in the least 
a thin rain seems to have taken its place. 

Sir David Roche's run on the i7th, to which I just alluded 
in my last, is so hors ligne that I must recur to it, if only in 
outline. The pack met at Fort William, and found in Ballingarry 
Gorse, which lies on a hill, where the thin soil hardly held any 
scent at all; so, instead of hunting, the hounds dragged slowly 
after their fox as far as Mount Brown ; here a change came o'er 
the spirit of their waking dreams. A countryman informs Sir 
David that the fox has just crossed the road, so he holds on 
the bitches without the loss of an instant, and now the valley 
lay smiling before them, and with the valley a fresh impetus to 
scent. Russ Wood spreads out before them, and all goes well 
till a cur dog comes on the scene, courses the fox, and occasions 
a check by a farmhouse. Sir David now holds them on over 
some water meadows, hits off the line happily, and never a pause 
or dwell breaks the continuity of the gallop till this gallant fox is 
rolled over on the dressed ground in front of Adare Manor, Lord 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A, 87 

Dunraven's park. The distance is estimated at eleven miles ; the 
pace was very good. The line led over the cream of Limerick. 
Form your estimate of the gallop, gentle reader, if you have any 
local or topographical knowledge to assist your imagination. 

The heavy rain which robbed Mr. Filgate of a field last 
Tuesday was also felt in Galway, though perhaps in a lesser degree. 
The county pack met at Derrahiney, the residence of Colonel 
Featherstonhaugh, a true lover and supporter of all sport in 
which horses are chief actors, or, at any rate, important acces- 
sories. Foxes abounded in the home circuit; one was sent to 
ground after one hour and twenty minutes; then Longford was 
visited, and with such success that for two hours one good fox 
defied his enemies, who were hard at him with rare scent for forty 
minutes. Night stopped the chase. 

On Monday, the 2oth, the hunting programme for those 
" within the pale " consisted mainly of a brace of items the 
Kildare hounds at Ballymore Eustace ; the Ward Union pack at 
Dunboyne utnim horum mavis accife, ardent or lukewarm pursuer ! 
There will be sport at both, take my word for it (am I not a 
prophet after the events?). Lots of good company, lots of 
coffee-housing, any amount of fencing, and some galloping with 
both. If your stud is a large one, and recruited from various 
hunting grounds in Ireland, and you are wavering in your choice, 
let the stud groom decide the question. "The Meteor" you 
knew pulled your arms off on Saturday, tried to fly everything, 
and shrivelled your heart within you to the size of a dried pea, 
as he just did the few ragged banks you encountered with a 
slight kick back. Well, the pastures round Dunboyne are wide 
enough for a runaway. There are plenty of brooks and singles, 
and the chances are he will come to your hand charmingly when 
he has had his innings for the first mile. Be it Dunboyne, then ; 
the county is very holding and water sodden, but two days of 
fine weather have improved the going marvellously. 

The hour is 1.15; the day beautiful for an outcome of 



88 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

November, and bright withal. The scene is at Dunboyne, a 
village with a history, but which at present consists of a few 
score of houses, mostly hovels, which are ranged in the form of 
an incomplete triangle, conspicuous among which are one or 
two tidy " pubs," where the yards are good, the provender sweet, 
and the landlords or ladies most anxious to do their best for the 
hunters which the central situation consigns to their tender 
mercies. I said Dunboyne had a past. In the time of Henry VI. 
it boasted a provost, and some men-at-arms ; but the lava 
wave of 1798 swept it with its fiery besom, and after that -fuit 
Dunboyne. It is said to have been a sort of Luton to Dublin ; 
but, looking at the straw thatch on the aforesaid hovels, and the 
general wretchedness of aspect of the place, I cannot think that 
any trade or manufacture flourishes greatly in its vicinity. 

To-day the sun gleams brightly upon ten or fifteen pinks, 
while about a couple of score of more sadly clad pursuers and a 
couple of habits make up the array of stag-hunters. Turning 
through a sort of excrescence of the triangle, we are presently 
trotting past Wood Park, till after a brace of miles or more are 
covered, we begin to wonder where the deer has received his 
or her liberty. Presently we are relieved from our suspense, 
for the hounds take up the running briskly as we pass Vesington, 
Mr. Trevor Hamilton's residence, and the initial rhene is got 
over safely by all save a heavy man on a cobby chestnut, who 
comes on his head from the steam not having been accommodated 
to the freight. An up-bank, another single, and then follows a 
long check. The quarry don't see the fun of making sport for 
the Philistines, and she makes way for No. 2 the doe of 
Enfield, who, enlarged at Culmullen last season, ran fast and 
well past Larch Hill and past Cappagh till she finished at the 
well-known station and village, giving her followers more than 
twenty miles of road work home that night. To-day she bounded 
first over the Batterstown pastures, ran the Ten-mile Bush Farm, 
then brushed past the Poor-House Gorse on her way to Lagore, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 89 

threaded the mazes of Mr. Thunder's park, swept past Reisk 
Gorse to Kilbrew, where the Meath hounds were so busy a few 
days ago, and was taken by Primatestown, not quite half a dozen 
witnessing the capture, out of a well-mounted hard-riding field, 
of light weights for the most part, among them Captain Candy, 
Lord Langford, and Lord F. Lennox. Of the number of stayers 
there was Mr. Trotter, who, with Jem Brindley, seems almost 
inseparable from this pack. No one was drowned, though, 
I believe, the master subsided into eight feet of running water, 
and a curious recital might be made of many moving accidents 
by flood and field. I cannot give the time, but the pace to 
Lagore was fast, and the distance covered was considerable. 

Meanwhile, Ballymore Eustace meet was well attended, and 
the first draw, Stonebrook (the residence of a ci-devant master of 
this pack and county member, now, we regret to say, in ill health), 
sent forth a gallant fox, who ran towards Dunstown Wood, by 
Mr. Maunder's lands, pointing for Silliott, but was headed, then 
turned into Harristown Park by Kelly's Wood, crossed the Liffey, 
and, holding his way along the far side bank, brushed through the 
Black Thorns, Geogheganstown, Ardenode, and Mullacash ; then 
recrossed the Liffey and scratched himself into a burrow on the 
sandy soil of the Liffey bank, and almost, I hear, in view. A 
fine long hunting run, the first part diversified by much jumping, 
and, naturally, a few tumbling feats. 

The grateful gorse patch (for 'tis no more) of Eadestown was 
next visited, and two foxes turned out of its shelter. Punchestown 
being up wind, the well-known scurry thither was not enacted 
to-day, the line being hillwards towards Elverstown, then inclining 
to the Downshire ; then twisting to Lord Miltown's Park of Russ- 
boro' ; then back towards the Downshire, when light began to 
wane, and the hounds were stopped. His Royal Highness the 
Duke of Connaught, with Captain Fitzgerald, who had been 
performing some military function at Naas Depot, joined the pack 
at Eadestown. 



90 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

On Tuesday, the 2ist, the Meath hounds met at Drumree 
station classic ground for the followers of the Ward Union 
fortunes, as well as those of Meath, for 'tis the portal to a 
charming line of country, and good gorses dot it at very con- 
venient intervals. Little wonder, then, if the meet was a very 
full one, and that Dublin mustered strong on the occasion, seeing 
tujours cerf, like toujours perdrix, may become tedious and monoto- 
nous a very surfeit of good things. Kildare, too, was represented 
by Mr. Percy La louche, Mr. Blacker, and one or two more hard- 
riding sportsmen, while among the strangers were Captain 
Trench Nugent (late master of the Staffordshire), Captain and 
the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Lord Francis Lennox (a visitor from the 
King's County, who seemed particularly well mounted on a very 
thick bay horse), Mr. Morrogh (on a very clever Wexford horse) ; 
and I fancy the list would include a few more. The morning had 
been hazy and inclined to fog, and the Dublin and Wicklow 
range loomed large and indistinct as one rode to the trysting 
point By eleven o'clock the sky was clear and the sun very 
bright, and everything was at its best. Culmullen, the property of 
Mr. Kearney, and occupied last season by poor Captain Mont- 
gomery, was the first point of investigation. The covert is 
principally contained in a wedgy-shaped bit of wood in front of 
the lawn, and from it two foxes issued, without much delay, 
considering that this day was probably their first hunting expe- 
rience ; one ran by the back of Culmullen House, and was seen by 
the entire field loping across a wide pasture field towards Warrens- 
town. Whether headed or not, or only frightened, when in mid 
career he turned right back as if bound for Beltrasna Gorse, 
crossed a lane, down which a couple of pursuers were riding very 
leisurely, and they then got a start, which, if scent had been at all 
availing, would have given them the best of the early part of the 
run at any rate ; but scent did not serve a bit, and in twenty or 
twenty-five minutes more the fox had to be given up. 

The word Beltrasna now caught the ear, and many heard it 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 91 

with joy, for no fairer gorse, or one with better surroundings, 
ever harboured a flying fox. I don't know why we were taken 
a couple of miles round by muddy lanes to it, as my memory 
is of a pleasant canter thither, over eight or ten grass fields. A 
rustic told me of " wars," by which I gathered some farmer had 
a prejudice against horses on his land. Let us hope that as 
Turkey has joined the Conference, or consented to a Confer- 
ence, our friend, too, may listen to the tender suasion of the 
great powers of hunting. Beltrasna Gorse is quivering with 
music, a fox emerges pointing for Mulhussey; he is headed 
back and devoured. A second is on foot impetuous men, 
Lords and Commons, jump over one or two fences popularly 
supposed to be boundaries. In vain the master tries to stem 
the torrent. The whole thing is suicidal; scent is low, hounds 
have to stoop for it, their heads have been got up, and hence 
these tears. But the fox breaks at last; it may be he will take 
us on to Pratt's Gorse; two fields, three fields, and it is all 
over. To ground in a bank seems the conclusion, though 
Goodall cast and cast away in vain. Kilcarty is another word 
of good omen. Our way thither lies over a splendid bit of 
schooling ground, which it takes a hunter to cross ; and this bit 
of the day was really very lively, and some of the fencing was 
very meritorious. The Grange, Mr. Murphy's residence, is next 
reached, and those who at this stage felt the pangs of hunger 
and thirst found an admirable system of in-door relief well ad- 
ministered here. We were now on our road to Kilcarty Gorse, 
one of the most celebrated in Meath, but it did not hold to-day, 
and the evening hours were occupied in dragging slowly after 
a straight, bold fox, who jumped up from the Hill of Glane, 
passed through Dunsany without dwelling or hanging about its 
inviting woodlands, having also passed through Swainstown 
equally sharply, then held on for Tara, and was given up at 
Rigglestown, not far from Lismullen, where I think he was 
marked to ground. A fine line, and containing material for a 
splendid run had scent been in the ascendant at all. 



92 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

Those who selected Sallins (the Kildare meeting-point) in 
preference to Drumree, had by odds the best of it to-day, as the 
following outline will show. Osbertown Gorse, equi-distant from 
Sallins and Naas, was the first covert visited, and its size and 
thickness made it very hard to disturb a fox. When he was 
ejected he ran for a few fields to the Liffey, and crossed its 
waters at Carragh Bridge, and was run into at, or rather near, 
Yeomanstown House. Some wild gorse on the land of Gingers- 
town, which is not regularly enclosed or formed into a covert, 
but which has recently been much haunted by foxes, was next 
run through, and from it issued a good wild fox, who, starting 
at score, led the field at great pace for some twenty-five minutes, 
till he was fain to take shelter in the ruins of the conservatories of 
Donore, a fine pile erected by the Speaker of the Irish House 
of Commons, De Burgh. Landenstown did not hold ; so a 
move was made to Bella Villa, another huge gorse, and from 
it a fox was ejected, not without the expenditure of much time 
and patience. His course lay through Longtown demesne land, 
across the commons of Lockanure, through Ballinagapha, over 
the Betaghstown road, through Mount Armstrong Covert, into 
the willow bed at Donadea, where, owing to the lateness of the 
hour, pursuit was abandoned. A reference to the map will show 
how straight the fox ran. From point to point the distance exceeds 
six miles. 

On Wednesday the foxes in Kildare and Meath had the benefit 
of a brief armistice; while the stag was enlarged for the benefit 
of the Philistines, who mustered in fair force at the Black Bull. 
Three rainless days had done much for the going of this flat country, 
and the swollen brooks had become contracted to their normal 
bounds. Trotting along that now familiar road towards the Fairy 
House for a mile or two, the hounds were put on in a field 
which I fancy made part of the old racecourse, and the head 
they carried showed at once that scent was warm to-day. Men, 
too, seemed very full of ride and jump, for the first fence a 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 93 

brook covered over with a tangle of bush and briar was not 
absolutely necessary to jump, but most went at it with a will, and, 
strange enough, all I think got over nicely. We are now by the 
farmhouse of Porterstown, and our deer turns sharp to the right, 
taking us over a succession of large fences, and a loose horse 
or two become visible in consequence. Across Batterstown and 
the terrible Ten-mile Bush Farm, and on to the Navan line ; then 
a view, and the road crossed not far from the parsonage, the 
line leads on once more past the Fairy House, Harbourstown, 
past Ashbourne, and into darkness, the deer having fairly gained 
her, or his, liberty for the time being. After crossing the Batters- 
town road, and going for a mile or so, till peradventure you found 
that your hunter was lobbing along instead of galloping, and just 
doing the fences and no more (experto crede), perhaps it were well 
to pull up before the inevitable fall comes ; and as there is no 
chance of catching the pack, for they are running up-wind, we 
may survey the scene from a hilly coign of vantage. Close by 
is a gallant officer, well known between the flags, emerging 
from a wet ditch, while several of the fields are decorated with 
the figure of a solitary horseman (not in a cloak, as G. P. R. 
James used to put him) who had found his ultima Thule either 
in. the pasture or its boundary. The peculiar feature of this grand 
gallop was that the deer were changed, on dit, twice, but most 
probably only once, as two or three hounds, sticking to their 
original quarry, hunted one deer by the village of Dunshaughlin, 
while the main body hunted a fresh one that started off in front 
of them as they were passing by the Fairy House. Finis coronat 
opus, and I hear there was no finish to this chase to decide the 
vexed questions of who rode straightest, who stayed longest, whose 
horse was freshest coming home. Some were caught as in a trap 
in that celebrated Ten-mile Bush Farm ; some were not on their 
brook jumpers ; some nicked in. But, as the Laureate tells us, 
" We're all of us tailors in turn ; " and no horse could be con- 
demned for not living the entire distance at the great pace if his 



94 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

burden exceeded izst. Among those whom I heard of as going 
very well was Mr. Hartigan, of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. 

The fact of changing deer must not lead any ingenious youth 
to fancy deer are ferce naturae in Ireland. There are a few still in 
the south and west, but in the shires they are not found, and the 
Celtic deer-hound is mostly seen on memorial brasses, tablets, 
ancient sculptures, or their revivals on canvas. These deer were 
of the Ashbourne Park, and having on different occasions baffled 
the pack while light lasted, they had thus roamed about in freedom 
ever since. 

On Thursday the scene shifts to the woodlands of Somerville 
(Lord Athlumley's extensive park), where .wood and water and 
undulating grounds crowned by a handsome modern house made 
a fair framework for the hunting scenes enacted here to-day : 

" Si canimus sylvas sylvae sint consule dignae ; " 

" We'll sing the woods if they but hold 
A stout old fox, straight-neck'd and bold ; " 

nor was such a dramatis persona wanting to-day, as the result will 
show. The forenoon was dark, and lowering, and cold. Tons of 
snow, sleet, or rain seemed about to fall on the earth ; 
but a ten-knot breeze from the east swept over the earth, and 
kept off the shower or snow bath for some hours. Meanwhile 
the roads were dry and crisp, the going good, if just a little 
sticky and holding, and the surrounding landscape surveying it 
in a hunting point of view was, so far as the aforesaid leaden 
clouds permitted, a survey of the most inviting character and 
aspect After leaving Batterstown, Drumree, and Kilmessan, 
Meath wears a somewhat altered face. Perhaps the pastures are 
not so vividly green, the grass so rich or succulent, but on the 
other hand, wider expanses of wild country meet the eye. Hills 
such as Screen, Tara, Kilbrew, and Kilmoon diversify the rolling 
plains of grass, while rivers of rapider current drain the lands and 
keep water wheels busy. 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 95 

The meet is an enormous one. I did not count the carriages, 
but their number was great, and all seemed full ! In the words of 
Ireland's poet par excellence Moore it was a case of 

"To ladies' eyes a round, boys ! we can't refuse, we can't refuse ! 
When bright eyes so abound, boys, 'tis hard to choose, 'tis hard to choose." 

I will be more discreet than Paris, for I will not hand the apple to 
any one, and will soberly say (mindful of your columns) that the 
scene was of the gayest and fairest ; but for nearly an hour His 
Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, who, I think, had nearly 
as much to do with the array of beauty as fox-hunting and fine 
scenery, did not show on the scene, for he had railed as far as 
Drumree Station, and hacked on for the rest of the journey, as 
the train was late. But wildfowl are glancing about in hundreds, 
the hounds are rattling the large woods, men are galloping about 
in all directions. At last, and after much bullying, our fox 
emerges into the open, crossing the road by the Kingston National 
School-house. The hounds carry a fine head, but in half a mile 
he is back again, and safely ensconced in a drain near the house. 
This half mile, with one or two large water jumps, has given 
wet compresses to more than one pursuer, amongst others to 
Captain Maurice Fitzgerald, the Duke's equerry, whose good- 
looking four-year-old has jumped just a little bit short (the 
Royal party have now joined the cavalcade). There is a 
pause near the Somerville stables, while the hounds are enacting 
the part of sewerage inspectors; carriages and horsemen and all 
now for a short space stand at ease. Did time permit, I would 
endeavour to depict the scene and its chief elements. For two 
prominent figures in the array I must crave a line or two of 
room, or rather room for a line or two. Colonel C. Fraser, V.C., 
spite of a very recently broken collar-bone, has not invalided, and 
his phaeton, his chestnuts, and his own Thibetian costume of camel 
or goat's hair stand out very prominently. The other very notice- 
able man is the Squire of Bellinter, Mr. J. J. Preston, mounted on 



96 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

a grand grey horse that any Arab sheik of the desert might envy 
(he is rare thing a strikingly handsome charger, and yet a perfect 
hunter), wearing the uniform of his own hunt, red and green 
collar. By the way, his harriers had two exceptionally straight 
and good gallops yesterday, killing their first hare, and whipping 
off from the second at dusk. 

I must now dismiss this part of the subject with the observa- 
tion that Somerville probably never saw so large and fashionable 
a meet; that Louth was there in great force, Kildare, Galway, 
Dublin, and Westmeath being not unrepresented, while among the 
visitors from your side of the ditch were Captain Candy, Captain 
Trench Nugent, and Lord F. Lennox. Having lost our first fox, 
we are now looking for a second in Walshe's Gorse, a fine strong- 
hold, flanked by a fir plantation. Not till the remotest corner was 
gained did I hear a whimper. Then the jam ! the gates ! the 
scurrying ! I see on my right Mr. Rothwell, on a clever old grey, 
charging a large quickset hedge to get clear from the crowd, and 
successfully. We are now on the edge of a brook, and near a 
mill the hounds to our right, in a plantation ; presently they 
emerge, we cross a small fence, and then for about a couple 
of miles or less the pack race across green fields, divided by some 
three or four fences only, till we are opposite a picturesque castel- 
lated old house, the property of Mr. De Gernon, to whose careful 
preservation, I hear, fox-hunting in this neighbourhood is much 
indebted. A small spinney, with a well-known earth, runs from 
it, with brooks all round apparently, and no escape if we mean 
to pursue. Through it the hounds stream, and again we are 
galloping best pace over lands which remind me strongly of the 
Severn Valley, near Thornbury. Mr. Kearsley is leading us ; an 
embankment shuts out a brook in our path ; his horse, a very 
hunting-like chestnut, has to do it at a stand, and just gets over 
with a scramble. Lord Clanmorris has it next, and, putting on 
lots of steam, lands well in the next field. Mr. Hone, Mr. Chad- 
wick, and Mr. Tiernan's horses jumped it beautifully, although it 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 97 

was nothing when once you were over ; but we are galloping on 
again; a flock of sheep foil us much in two fields more. It is 
a cold drag by Bessborough, where I hear our fox got to ground : 
all clue is gone. Slater's Gorse, a couple of miles distant, sur- 
rounded by grand reaches of wild grass land, is worth the journey 
to see. It held a fox, but its tenant got chopped our hopes 
dashed. Of the remainder of the day I cannot speak from obser- 
vation, as my hunter had to carry me many a mile homewards. 
Miss Gradwell's grey cob was jumping beautifully all through ; 
and no one seemed to enjoy hunting more than Miss Smith on 
a neat grey pony. 

I hear the Tipperary hounds had a good hunting run on the 
2ist, when they met at Rochestown, and had a ring from Ardfinnan 
Castle to begin with, followed by a quick find in Kilmalogue, 
a sharp scurry over Logher pastures, across the Clonmell road, 
and into the lands of Magnistown. Three ladies led the way all 
through, I hear ; no bank too high, too furzy, or too trappy for 
their light hands and clever hunters. 

P.S. Having trenched already, I fear, on your columnar space, 
I regret that I can only treat, or illtreat, some splendid sport the 
outcome of the last ten days or so in a succinct and epitomising 
style. 

Thus, on Thursday the Kildare hounds met at Narraghmore 
Court House, and began very well with a fox from the neighbour- 
ing wood, who was heading for Martinstown, till a long check in 
a bit of plough marred it. Turning to Nine-tree Hill, where foxes 
seemed to abound, one was hunted via Crookstown to a point 
between Morne and Ballitore. From Spratstown Gorse a fox took 
them to the Monte Diavolo, through Ballynure, and back to the 
same hill of Shitan. 

On Saturday, from Cullen's Gorse, a fine stout fox took them 
via Windgate Hill to Lara, thence to Courtown, Taghadoe, Rath- 
coffey, and Irishtown ; the first thirty minutes very fast and good, 

H 



98 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

as we learnt from the only three men who saw the run fairly 
well the Baron de Robeck, Mr. Chapman, and the Hon. Major 
Lawless ; the field an enormous one. 

Of the earlier events on the 23rd in Meath I have given your 
readers a sketch. Having a long distance to ride home, I left them 
at Slater's Gorse eating the third fox of the day. Another was 
unfortunately chopped there; the third from this splendid gorse 
succumbed in the open after a fair gallop through Somerville, and 
thence towards Corballis. 

On the 24th they had runs, but nothing noteworthy, from 
Faughanhill Gorse, from Allenstown, and a third from Gilltown 
into Drewstown; and on Saturday, the 25th, they had a straight 
eight-mile run (as measured on the map from point to point) from 
Rosmead into Killua, thence to Miltown, and by Belgeith into 
Balrath, where their fox got to ground ; one hour and ten minutes. 
In Wexford, where Mr. Beatty, the master, so long and success- 
fully held the horn, but at length resigned it at the beginning 
of this season, the sport has been fair, foxes plentiful, but as yet 
nothing of great brilliancy has occurred. A good thirty minutes 
from Courtnacuddy Plantations over Moneybore Hill, by Scobie 
to the Bridge of Kiltrea, where the dog pack pulled down their 
quarry, was perhaps the best of recent things. 

In Kilkenny Colonel Chaplin has had rare good scent to hunt 
the proverbially stout foxes of his territory. Forty-five minutes 
from Summerhill on Monday last, to Mr. Bryant's Gorse. (A capital 
ball at the Athenaeum in the evening.) 

On Wednesday a good fox from Kiltornan ran two wide rings 
very fast, and, after standing up for two hours and thirty-five 
minutes, his life was spared at the intercession of the field. A 
visitor, Mr. Hamilton Stubber, master of the Queen's County 
hounds, and Major Bunbury, were in the front rank all through. 

On Friday, finding in " The Rock," they ran to Woodsgift, on 
to Tallyho (this savours of the Pytchley country), towards Killeen, 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 99 

and ended in semi-darkness at Knockloe ; Shiner, the winner of 
the Kildare red-coat race, carrying the master to perfection. 

I referred to Mr *Filgate's ill-luck in losing Advocate by a kick 
from a lady's horse last week. This week Duster, a third-season 
hound the oracle of the pack was ridden over and killed. 
A ring of fifty minutes from Mallabone, and a good thirty minutes 
from Stephenstown into Dundalk, were the best things of the 
week in Louth, to which I must refer in my next. 

On Monday, the 2;th, the Meath hounds visited the neighbour- 
hood of the metropolis (Dublin), and the metropolis showed its 
appreciation of the honour by turning out en masse to see them. 
The day was clear, dry, and bright. The opening scene at 
Abbotstown, the residence of one of the members for the county 
Dublin, Mr. Ion Trant-Hamilton, was picturesque and brilliant 
in the extreme; while "society" made a point of putting in 
an appearance and attending the improvised farewell levee and 
drawing-room (for really it was nothing less) of his grace the Duke 
of Abercorn, who, as everybody knows and everybody regrets, 
is relinquishing the Viceroyalty of Ireland, an office which is apt 
to sink and rise in popular estimation according to the personal 
character and dignity of its occupant. Needless to say here 
that in his grace's hands the Court of Dublin suffered no diminu- 
tion in splendour or prestige, or that the sword of state was 
right worthily and majestically borne. His grace did not hunt, 
save vicariously; his son, Lord Ernest Hamilton, having entered 
very well to hounds, and his staff being among the hardest of the 
hard. Lady Georgina Hamilton attended the meet near Dublin, 
and was out to-day, piloted by Colonel Forster, master of the horse. 
As a cricketer and rifleman the duke's name is well known to 
readers of The Field. A capital ring in the evening from Kilrue 
Gorse was the most noticeable thing in the day's proceedings, 
to which I shall allude again. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



VIII. 

! There lived I do not deal in dates 

A champion of the heavy-weights, 
Who o'er Kildare and Meath has done 
Great things, in spite of sixteen stone. " 



Mr. Chapman and the run from Cullen's Gorse Abbotstown Cork and 
Limerick Kilteel and " Snow-Storm. " 



BY one of those ingenious fictions which, perhaps, owe their origin 
to the fact of the framers of our systems of law and divinity having 
been casuists of the first force, a bishop is supposed to say nolo 
episcopari, or words to that effect, before he is inducted to his see. 
Fancy a hard-working man, with a large family, who has known 
and tasted for years the pleasures of parochialism and poverty, 
while the parent tree has been absolutely weighed down by the 
number of fruit-bearing branches fancy such a man, full of 
brains, full of organization, full of ambition, saying with real 
intent nolo episcopari. The office of master of a crack pack of 
subscription hounds, in these censorious and extravagant days, 
is open to far more hesitation and doubt The vista of difficulties, 
diplomatic imbroglios, social pit-falls, failures imminent from a 
thousand unforeseen chances ; the utter impossibility of pleasing 
the ever-contending factions of laudatores temporis acti and the 
rash innovators of the fast-galloping school; the unjust criticism 
which perverts prudence into cowardice, discretion into want of 
zeal, Fabian tactics into hesitating imbecility all these Scyllas 
and Charybdises, and a thousand more too numerous to write 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 101 

down here, are enough, in the language of the poet, to appal the 
bad, afflict the best. J^olo esse M.F.H. is the true burden of most 
men whose birth, means, and county position would entitle them 
naturally to aspire to the dubious honour, if they have been behind 
the scenes, and learnt something of the hard work, energy, tact, 
and brains (and even this combination is powerless against ill-luck) 
which a tolerably successful mastership involves. Fortunately for 
fox-hunting, Curtii are found ready to leap in full armour into the 
yawning gulf. The labour we delight in physics pain. The 
position has so many attractions to countervail the crop of 
anxiety, worry, and grumblings which each season germinates, 
that in England or Ireland a pack of fox-hounds rarely remains 
masterless for any length of time. The words of that old sea 
song 

" How proud must be our Admiral, though he is pale to-day, 
Of twice five hundred iron men who all his nod obey" 

keep dinning themselves into my memory when I think of the 
power and dominion wielded by an M.F.H., his social influence, 
his autocracy in all matters connected with the county sport, his 
hegemony among the legions of the rank and file of men whom 
hunting enlists as its ministers and acolytes. The glamour of the 
position is great, and the halo which encircles venatic successes 
is lit up with prismatic brilliancy. 

These reflections are suggested by the fact that at the end 
of the present season Kildare will be masterless. What I 
announced as a rumour has ripened into fact. Mr. Mans- 
field is not a Quaker, but his yea is yea, and his nay nay, and 
he has said the latter with emphasis and decision. When Sir 
Edward Kennedy (to whose presidency Kildare is immensely 
indebted, in the kennel department especially) resigned the horn 
some seasons ago, the county was masterless, kennelless, and, so 
far as hunting went, homeless. Backed by the unanimous support 
of the members of the hunt, Mr. Mansfield has organized the 



102 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

commencement of a permanent, not a peripatetic system, changing 
with each master permanent kennels near Naas, with houses for 
the staff, to which stables will, I believe, be very soon added. 
His dictatorship has been eminently successful, and general regret 
is felt that he should give up a position which he has filled very 
ably and satisfactorily. I recollect writing, when the office was in 
commission so to speak, that I was reminded of the imperial 
succession as depicted in Tacitus's terse and graphic language, 
that one, perhaps more than one, of the aspirants to the honour 
was avidus sed impar, another capax sed aspernans. It cannot be 
said of Mr. Mansfield, in the words of that historian, that universal 
consent would have proclaimed him the fittest man for the post 
had he never actually filled it, for he has filled it, and public 
opinion is justified. 

One of his great successes dates from Saturday, the 25th, to 
which I could only allude cursorily in my last letter, from the 
want of time and space at command. The Kildare hounds met 
at the Hazelhatch and Celbridge station of the Great Southern 
and Western Railway. Now a certain amount of uncertainty hung 
about this meet in the minds of men. The station is a mile or so 
from the town of Celbridge, and precedent generally brings the 
pack into the main street of Celbridge from the station. Many 
came to the tryst from afar from Meath, Westmeath, and its 
confines, for instance ; and though a mile there and back is not 
much for a hunter, yet no one wishes to add this distance to the 
sum total of what may be a very long day even in mileage. It 
was very possible, if not probable, that Mr. Mansfield would 
cross the line and try some of the trans-rail coverts, such for 
instance as Boston, Cullens Wood, and Pigeon Hill; so most 
people did the right thing, and went to the meet instead of 
awaiting the pack at Celbridge. A drizzling, heavy, overcast day, 
inclined to fog, it was not an inviting atmosphere for the butter- 
fly element, nor were carriages in such great force as I have seen 
them. On the other hand, Mr. and Mrs. Adair had come all the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 103 

way from the Queen's County. The Ladies Fitzgerald and Lady 
Annette La Touche were Aiding, and so were Mrs. Langrishe, 
Mrs. Morris, and a few more. His Royal Highness the Duke 
of Connaught honoured the meet, attended by his equerry, 
Captain Maurice Fitzgerald (on a confidential roan from Mr. 
Kearsley's school). Mr. A. Macniel, Captain Tuthill, Mr. 
Chapman, and a few more represented Meath; Colonel Forster 
and the officers of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and Inniskillings came 
from Dublin ; while of the absentees for the earlier part of the 
season, the most conspicuous (and not the least warmly welcomed) 
was the Earl of Clonmell, on his old favourite, Tipperary Boy, 
with the shapely Courtown for second horse. Mr. Mansfield soon 
resolved our doubts by the mot d'ordre " Cullen's Gorse." This 
set the cavalcade trotting on for a couple of miles, till the riders, 
some 200 strong, were jammed into a laneway with only one 
apparent exodus. The hounds are in the gorse in front of us ; 
but almost before we can think of tightening girth or hardening 
heart, or abandoning an interesting conversation, the crowd is in 
motion, every one pressing to the corner gap. A scramble a 
jump and lucky those who emerged quickly. A few at the 
tail of the queue take a biggish fence, and thus get on fair terms 
with the leaders ; for the majority a stern chase is inevitable. 
For five or six fields, with not more than three fences, it is 
racing pace, specially for the bad beginners. Then a road is 
reached, and the track is nearly identical with that of the last 
time the hounds drew the gorse (the Maynooth day), and we 
may not unwarrantably presume that we are hunting the very 
same fox we lost on that day. A few more fields bring us to 
the top of Windgate Hill, and then there is a pause of a few 
moments. Then the broad red and black line jumps out of a 
road; some are confronted by a bank, others by newish palings, 
which all do not get over very successfully. Two fields after 
this, the track brought one to a very wide ditch and bank, while 
in the best part of it a chestnut horse was engulfed, barring 



io 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

progress his owner, one of the hardest men in Kildare, standing 
over him in hopeless disappointment Now this place was, I may 
say, the key to the whole position ; four men charged it manfully 
Major the Hon. E. Lawless, the Baron de Robeck, Mr. Chapman, 
and Mr. Blacker ; the latter was the victim the other three alone 
saw the cream of the run ; and, of the trio, Mr. Chapman, who 
cannot be much under i6st., saw it at the nearest distance, for, 
sooth to say, the hounds had much the best of it. I should have 
stated, for the benefit of your general readers who do not know 
Kildare thoroughly, that the country we were riding over to-day is 
on the borders of Meath rich pasture land like Meath, very 
flat, and fenced by deep and wide ditches, occasionally margined 
by a bank, and intersected by brooks and deep cuttings. The 
country is very featureless, one pasture much resembling another, 
one fence its predecessor. Hence, as the day was extremely 
hazy, nothing was easier than for those who were toiling behind 
fruitlessly, and attempted independent lines, to miss their way and 
come to hopeless grief. To return to the three there is something 
mystical and magical in the number ; after jumping into a cross- 
road, their track lay past Taghadoe, with its ruined tower and 
church ; past Lady Chapel, right across one of those huge cuttings 
I alluded to, and so on to Lara Covert. Here there was some 
little delay, though not sufficient to let up the field, and on 
the course lay between Kilcock and Courtown, the fox pointing 
as if he meant to seek his rest in Ballycaghan or Cappagh Corses ; 
presently, however, he turns to the left, and enters Courtown 
demesne lands, and here a view is gained. Mr. Chapman, up 
to Courtown, had gained first honours fact'/e princeps, and never 
was diploma of merit better earned; for, conceding something 
to luck in getting a start away from "the madding crowd," 
something to topographical knowledge, it is no small praise for 
such a heavy weight to have almost distanced an enormous field 
over a big line and land holding enough in places. At Courtown, 
I was told, though I vouch not for the authority, that foxes were 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 105 

changed, and that a fresh fox led a small but considerably in- 
creased field (the tributary roads were now swelling the flood), 
once more by Lara, on by Tbolloughstown, thence to Taghadoe, 
and so on by the swampy fields of Rathcoffey into Irishtown, 
and on to Major Barton's home farm, where scent died away; 
and as all now, whether they were with the hounds, or questing 
after them, or scurrying about the country for tidings of the 
missing pack, had had galloping and fencing enough in the two 
hours and fifteen minutes of this long pursuit, there was a 
general dispersion, to which I think the certainty of finding 
luncheon and everything that hungry hunter can desire at 
Straffan House, or Lodge Park contributed not a little. There 
was a great deal of grief in this run, but, fortunately, nothing 
of a very serious type, Captain Fitzgerald, the Duke of Con- 
naught's equerry, getting as heavy a fall as most out. The first 
part of the race up to Lara was extremely fast and good, and the 
names I have mentioned were alone on fair terms with the flying 
pack. From Courtown there was some pretty hunting and large 
fencing, and in this part Captain Ward Bennett, Mr. Ellis, Mr. 
Macniel, and a few more were very well carried. The parallel 
between war and hunting is an old one, but in nothing perhaps 
is the analogy closer than in a thoroughly beaten and demoralised 
field devouring roads and fields in a sauve qui pent style the 
majority armed with the most cogent reasons why they were not 
close to the leading hounds. Few coats were unsmirched; the 
Board of Works drain played havoc with the unities of pipeclay 
and French polish ; but I think all went away with the conviction 
that they had " assisted," feebly or forcibly, at a " real good 
thing." The warm, muggy morning made scent all ablaze on 
those rich low pastures ; but Jem Hill's axiom that a good scenting 
day is invariably a good hearing day was quite negatived on this 
occasion. The hounds ran anything but mutely, and yet they 
were almost inaudible a few fields off. 

On Monday, the 27th, the original fixture for the Meath 



106 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

hounds was Beau Park, the beautiful residence of Mr. Gustavus 
and Lady Fanny Lambert, on the river Boyne; but it was 
suddenly changed to Abbotstown, the park of Mr. Ion Trant 
Hamilton, M.P., a short distance to the northward of Dublin. 
The alteration involved some dislocation of hunting fixtures, but 
the Ward Union men proved that their edicts were neither 
Median nor Persian in their character, for they agreed to forego 
their assembly at the Flathouse to avoid the peril of clashing. 
I rather fancy, though I speak without inspiration or authority, 
that the change in these arrangements venatic was made to gratify 
a wish expressed by his grace the Duke of Abercorn, who was 
desirous of seeing a meet of the Meath hounds before he bade 
farewell to Dublin, its court, and its castle. Be that as it may, 
the gathering in front of Mr. Hamilton's comfortable mansion 
was not only exceptionally large, but eminently aristocratic, com- 
prising as it did most of the notables who form the camp and 
court of Dublin. The hounds came by train, and did not appear 
in the court-yard till long past eleven o'clock, so that there was 
ample time, not only to take a leisurely survey of the splendid 
pageant, but also to gratify a more imperious and aggressive 
sense, provoked by a frosty morning and a long ride, in the 
dining-room of Abbotstown, which was hospitably thrown open 
by its owner to esurient pursuers. Among the early arrivals is 
the coach of the Inniskillings ; soon follows his Royal Highness 
the Duke of Connaught's phaeton, containing its owner and 
Captain M. Fitzgerald, apparently none the worse for Saturday's 
catastrophe. The Viceroyal carriage, with its team of brown 
horses and outriders, is always a goodly sight, and some half- 
dozen more carriages grouped around were good enough and 
well enough turned out even for Hyde Park of a June afternoon. 
Time would fail me to catalogue the tenants of smart Victorias, 
waggonettes, T carts, and modester Croydons. Let me dismiss 
the subject by remarking that the following comprised the Marquis 
and Marchioness of Drogheda, the Marchioness of Blandford, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 107 

the young Earl of Sunderland, Lady Georgina Hamilton, Lord and 
Lady Courtown, the Hon. Colonel Thesiger and his boy on a model 
hunter pony, theHon. S. Maxwell, the Hon. Captain Rowley, and 
Lords Howth, Clanmorris, and Langford. 

The woods of Abbotstown were drawn pro forma; not that 
foxes don't harbour here, but no fox would hang long in their 
covert while carriages were grinding the gravel, and the hoofs of 
hundreds of horses were resonant all round. In Hollywood Rath 
demesne, no sooner were the pack put into the small belt of trees 
than two foxes emerged, one striding off to a gorse a short way off, 
while a second ran towards Abbotstown, with a few couple of 
hounds in pursuit. It was my fortune to follow his Royal High- 
ness, who, mounted on his black horse, gave us a capital lead over 
a deep ditch and a small brook (where I've seen grief before now) 
in pursuit of this little lot, but we did not persevere, hoping the 
main body of the pack would come up. This they did not do. 
It seems the Ward River, rather in flood, arrested the tide of 
pursuit, and certainly the dauntless few who did cross it by wading 
or swimming justified a long pause, if not a full stop. Lord 
Clanmorris got over somehow, but the next man who emerged 
had to ride home without stirrups, and with a stone or two of 
water about his person. 

Ballymacarny Gorse was the point of departure for several 
very good gallops last year. We found there, but could not force its 
tenant outwards ; so, after running through Priestown Furze brake, 
we got on to Kilrue. Here the find was very quick, and the early 
stages of the run capital, till a check occurred not far from 
Ashbourne. The line, which seemed to be leading on towards 
Sutherland, now turns to the left, and hounds are again running 
hard back towards Kilrue, then through it and in the direction of 
Balfestown, with an inclination back to Kilrue a figure of 8 
almost when the pack and very diminished field, who had been 
going au clair de la tune, had to be stopped, seeing that the hounds 
had to get back to Dunboyne station to catch their train home- 



io8 HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A. 

wards. Had the ^gallop finished a very few moments sooner, 
Captain Graves Sawle would not have had to mourn the loss of a 
very good hunter, who broke a hind leg at the close of the pro- 
ceedings. There was much grief in this pursuit, but Captain Sawle's 
sad accident (for all must be saddened by the loss of a good 
hunter) was the only serious misadventure I heard of. Escapes 
from kicking were narrow ; among others the Duke of Connaught 
was well-nigh a sufferer. A good move was made by a few men 
out, who warned others by literal devices not to come too near 
their kicking hunters 

" I, pedes quo te rapiunt et aurse, 
I pede fausto." 

The Meath programme at Philpotstown on the 28th was most 
attractive. The Duke of Connaught was sure to draw a gallant 
concourse of fair women and brave men. The country round is 
charming to the hunting ken ! Why not Philpotstown ? Can 
anyone give an absolute single reason for many of the minor 
moves he makes in the game of life, for the day's or hour's arrange- 
ments? Motives mingle and cross each other like the rays of 
light in perspective. I will not attempt to disentangle the skein. 
Whether it was love of change, the recent successes of the Kildare 
hounds, the facilities or difficulties in getting backwards or 
forwards, the hour of rising, or what influenced me, suffice it to 
say here that Straff an was my goal on Tuesday, the 2 8th Straffan 
Bridge the fixture of the Kildare hounds ; nor is any special reason 
or excuse necessary to assign for a visit to so fair a scene. The 
reach of the Liffey under Straffan House is one of the best bits of 
that winding stream, and on a calm morning Major Barton's hand- 
some house is seen clearly mirrored in the pool below, perfect as 
in a photograph. A pleasant distance from Dublin by road- or rail, 
accessible to the Queen's County and Meath, and surrounded by 
agreeable and hospitable country houses, Straffan Bridge is not 
only a pleasant and picturesque spot in itself, but 'tis also the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 109 

avenue to one of the best portions of Kildare's hunting grounds, 
either looking towards Maynooth or Sallins, while the parks near 
the bridge are not sufficiently wooded to induce a fox, if pushed 
about sharply, to dally long in their glades and pleasaunces. Riding 
home last night from the final gallop with the Meath hounds, a 
red-shot sky boded either frost or rain, or both in quick succession 
the former prevailed during the watches of the night, and by 9 a.m. 
white rime overspread everything, the roads were hard as adamant, 
and thin ice was formed over all the surface waters. By noon the 
sun shone out pretty effectively, and, though it was freezing in the 
shade, mud was to be seen in the thoroughfares. Straffan Bridge 
is always thronged, nor was to-day an exception. It is a fixture 
much affected by ladies, and the hunting ladies were there almost 
to a woman among them the Ladies Fitzgerald, the Hon. Mrs. 
Barton, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Forbes, Mrs. and Miss Tuthill, Mrs. 
Langrishe, the Marchioness of Drogheda, Lady Annette La 
Touche, the Misses Finlay, Miss Kilbee, Mrs. Adair, and lots 
more besides ; but of the names I have mentioned a few were 
driving, and not riding to-day. Among the visitors from neigh- 
bouring counties were Mr. Adair and Mr. Skeffington Smyth, Mr. 
Macneil, and one or two men from Meath. The Curragh and the 
Dublin Garrison swelled the assembly, which was certainly large, 
but withal very manageable. 

The first bit of Straffan (an old gorse) drawn revealed nothing 
more than the fact that the fox had left it a short time before. 
The outskirts of Lodge Park did not even do so much as that. 
Castle Dillon Gorse, voted a certainty, failed us, as so many 
certainties do occasionally. Straffan Park remains, and hardly 
have we passed the house and shrubberies before the long line is 
in rapid motion, and we are galloping into a lane way, some- 
thing in advance of those confoundedly slow hounds who will 
stick to their line ! Here they come at last, not lifted to be sure, 
but hunting every yard of the ground. A little room is made for 
them, and then they go apparently for Rathcoffey a good gallop 



no HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

in prospect ! The lane is choked. Mr. R. Kennedy takes one 
figure out of it by jumping his clever cob over a wide ditch. Two 
ladies and a man or two follow suit, but their effort to emerge is in 
vain. The hounds turn back and hunt on straight into the woods 
of Clongowes College, nearly a mile distant. Here, in a coney- 
burrowed bank, he took refuge, and, there being no extricator 
near in the shape of spade or terrier, he was left to his ill- 
earned rest, while the field those at least whose lines were 
not cast in distant counties crossed the Liffey in semi-Indian 
file by Major Barton's Suspension Bridge (a bugbear to young 
horses sometimes) on their way to Bishopscourt, where creature 
comforts as well as foxes were sure to be forthcoming. Alas for 
the demolition of aerial castles ! There was no fox forthcoming 
at Bishopscourt (which is quite a phenomenon), and at the 
adjacent covert of Boston, Lord Cloncurry's the spes suprema of 
the day a fox was chopped. 

Apropos of the text of the earlier portion of this letter from 
which, like many other chroniclers, I diverged widely, led away 
by the fancies and ideas of the moment I should state fairly, in 
referring to Mr. Mansfield's resignation of the Kildare mastership, 
that a portion of the Dublin press gave circulation recently to a 
most visionary and startling report that Mr. Mansfield's retirement 
was owing to a grave misunderstanding with an influential member 
of his hunt. Those who knew Mr. Mansfield well must be aware 
how extremely improbable such a contingency would be. Still, 
the report was circulated with the addition of circumstance, and, 
for aught I know, it may have travelled further than our insular 
limits. Let me here, then, state most positively, with authority 
myself an uninfluential member of the hunt that for once rumour 
had not even a colouring of truth ; that no misunderstanding what- 
ever has led Mr. Mansfield to take a step dictated solely by his 
personal wishes and convenience, for the simple reason that no 
misunderstanding whatever has arisen. 

I have recently had to write short obituary notices of several 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. nr 

good hunters killed through hunting accidents. Captain Sawle's 
black horse yesterday was the recentest disaster. Mr. Cosby's 
ill-fortune in losing two valuable animals he was taking over with 
him to Pau two out of eight is even a more grievous mis- 
chance ; for of the others may be said, as it was by the Grenadier 
of the old French Guard in answering for his comrades after 
action, " Mort sur le champ de bataille" But Sampson, one of 
Sir Edward Kennedy's hunt horses originally, and reserved for his 
own use by Mr. Cosby, had none of the rapture of the strife ; he 
was an exceptionally good hunter in any country, and his owner 
bought him in last May at Sewell's, when he was bid up to a very 
high figure. His performance in the Great Cullenagh run last year 
if unsupported would have stamped him as a high-class hunter. 
Mr. Filgate, in the matter of hounds, seems one whom 

" Unmerciful disaster 

Follows fast and follows faster " 

in the words (or something like them) of the bard. A lady's horse 
recently was unfortunate enough to kick and kill that good hound 
Advocate; on the 22nd he lost Duster (in the master's opinion 
the best hound he ever owned), ridden on and killed in a good 
ring from Mallabrone a circumstance which probably saved this 
fox's life, as master and men stopped with their favourite in his 
death agony. 

While the Kildare hounds were out of luck in their Straffan 
country, the Ward Unionists (if I may use a term which somehow 
seems suggestive of strikes and picketing) had a capital half-hour 
or more with a deer who ran over a considerable portion of the 
Fairy House racecourse a line familiar to many of your readers, 
who, no doubt, would be glad to be riding in pursuit on that 
Easter Monday, when silk usurps the place of scarlet. 

On Wednesday, the 29th, Lord Derby a Knowsley red stag, 
of course led them across part of the Ten-mile Bush Farm, and 
over the Rathregan Lock, which proved a barrier insuperable to 



H2 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

all but a gallant half-dozen. The line led on past Parsonstown 
Manor over Mr. Seery's grass lands, which are entered by a fine 
wide-topped double, thence across the rails of the Dublin and 
Meath line, till he was captured in an outhouse, on the lands of 
Pelletstown, I think the riding division having crossed the metals 
by Killeston Bridge, which is not far from Drumree station. A 
second deer, a fallow of great reputation, was in the deer van, but 
somehow we missed the driver, or the driver missed us, though we 
went in quest of him as far as Dunshaughlin village. There were 
a few very smart horses out to-day, notably a chestnut son of 
Thomastown's Tomboy, I think, by name, Lady Langrishe, and 
a nice brown mare ridden by Captain Colthurst while a lady was 
charmingly carried by a grey that I recollect noticing with the 
Meath hounds some weeks ago. 

I hear the Newbridge harriers have had very good sport lately; 
and on Monday they got off on capital terms with an outlying 
fox, whom they might have accounted for if he had not got into 
sanctuary a fox covert, inviolate of course for harriers. The 
on dit is that his Royal Highness, who seems as fond of hunting 
progresses as was the Earl of Spencer in his viceroyalty, is about 
to see a new phase of fox-hunting in the south, the Duhallow 
country being destined for his first visit. Mr. Hare is, I am told, 
fortunate in finding plenty of foxes in his new territory, and scent 
enough to drive them along ; but the United Hunt in Cork seem 
to be engrossing the lion's share of the good things " down south," 
as they say in America. Thus, on the 2oth, when they met at 
Bally Edmund, Captain Smith Barry's glen supplied material for 
two hours' covert hunting, after which the pack got on to one at 
Temple Carriga. and sent him racing to Young Grove, beyond 
which he got to ground. On Wednesday, the 22nd, they had a 
capital run from Devonshire's Brake to Lenlara. On Friday, the 
24th, they were at Mogeely, and the large field out included Lord 
Fermoy, the Hon. Miss Roche, Mr. R. N. P. Fitzgerald, etc. 
From the Strand Road Covert they took a fox without pause or 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 113 

9 

dwell to Cloyne Rocks, where he was safe from molestation 
Miss Roche, I hear, in the very van of pursuit all through. A 
second fox turned up at Knockastrikeen, and was raced at top 
speed for some four miles, which disposed of the majority of the 
field, save Messrs. T. Coppinger, J. Murphy, and S. Bowles, who 
were in the front rank, as well as the huntsman. The Galway 
hounds have been stopped for a week, owing to the death of 
Mr. Robert French, of Monivea Castle ; while Mr. Taaffe's death 
suspends the Roscommon stag-hounds on Thursday, on which date 
they were to have met at Strokestown. 

The recent story of the Limerick hounds, some of whose 
brilliant passages I have alluded to at intervals in my weekly 
letters, is somewhat as follows : On the i;th ult. they met at Fort 
William, and the very limited number of red coats boded well for 
elbow room and sport. There seemed a good stock of foxes 
in Ballcngarry Gorse, but the selected of the pack was a ringing 
brute, whose tactics were round and round the hill; so he was 
given up after an hour's hunting. A move was now made to 
Mount Brown, and just as the pack were entering the demesne 
they hit off the line of a fox who had evidently just gone away; 
so, feathering and examining the ground carefully, they at last 
settled down to him, racing him to the Ballingarry road towards 
Lisnemota ; they then sent him at top speed over the water 
meadows, with Ballylin to the left, then brushing Ross Covert, 
they crossed the Kilfenny Road, passed the Glebe House at 
Derrytosna, surmounted Spierman's Hill, and entering Adair 
Manor by old Castle Robert Wood, they rolled their fox over in 
the open by the river banks, almost under the shadows of the 
ruined abbeys. Distance, nine miles, done under the hour. On 
the 2oth they were at Inch St. Laurence, and found plenty of foxes 
in the gorse at Knockyon, and killed one of them without much 
sport. From Ballinagarde a fox stood up for two hours, and got 
to ground at last. Fedamore Gorse, which is well preserved by 
Captain Smith, supplied a third fox, who ran in rather a zig-zag 

i 



ii 4 HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 

fashion till dark, when the pack were stopped at Grey Bridge. 
On the 24th they were at Rostemple, and found a good fox at 
Glenna, who went away gallantly to Castle Ivers ; thence he held 
on between Clorone Gorse and Isamore, with Tory Hill (not the 
Waterford mountain) in front, thence by the poor-house of Croom 
into Carass, brushed through the park, and was rolled over in the 
open at Castle Roberts after a grand gallop. 

P.S. The chief events in this very supplementary budget are 
a long desultory run in Kildare of nearly two hours' duration on 
the last day of November, ending in a kill not far from the starting 
point, Copelands Gorse. On the same day, which in the vicinity 
of the metropolis was clouded with a haze almost amounting to 
fog, Mr. Leonard Morrogh had the misfortune to break his leg by 
a fall from a youngish hunter he was trying while jumping that 
watery chasm known and dreaded as the Lock of the Bay. His 
many friends will be glad to learn that he is going on very well, 
though the bone was fractured in two places. 

On Saturday the Ward Union men had nearly the largest 
assembly of their season so far at Priestown cross roads ; the first 
red stag, enlarged by Kilrue Gate, made two of the briefest excur- 
sions off the road, and then subsided into an outhouse ; the second 
stag was reserved for a bonne louche; but it certainly was a trial 
of patience trotting off seven miles or thereabouts at a latish hour 
to the distant Garristown Hill, where " London," one of their many 
truants this season, had been seen grazing peaceably this morning, 
and reported to Charley Brindley. After riding up the eastern 
slope of this great landmark, and just as we had topped it, away 
went the pack at score into the valley below, which a glance 
showed to be watered by many a brook and brooklet. The field 
divided into two sections, one keeping much to the right, the 
other to the left. The former had the best of it, I think. The 
Primatestown brook, however, confronted all, and all had to get 
over as best they could or in and out One or two more sullen, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 115 



sedgy brooks had to be got over, and here pursuit ceased in many 
a case I wot of in one, at any rate, in which I had a strong 
personal interest. Curraha and Kilbrew are now left behind, and 
the chase speeds on to Somerville, or its borders, till night came 
on, and left the good deer London to roam about a pasture along 
with the countless herds of horned stock that graze these prairies 
till another, and let us hope an earlier, expedition is sent in quest 
of him. 

On the same day the Kildare hounds met an average-sized 
field at Blackchurch, his Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, 
riding his Lawyer horse, being one of the array. Johnstown 
Kennedy was the first place drawn needless to say successfully ; 
but the fox, after running for about ten minutes, got to ground by 
Collierstown Hill. Dug out, he repeated his former tactics near 
the Woolpack Road, but with more success, as he remained in 
statu. The little hill of Kilteel was next visited. It has not been 
a holding covert for the last few seasons, perhaps because it was 
bled too freely before; but to-day it held one of its old traditionary 
foxes, who plunged down into the valley at once, nearing Arthurs- 
town Gorse, which he did not enter, but wheeled sharp to the left, 
as if for Tinode and its wooded ravine ; he did not enter Tinode 
either, but made for Glending at once ; and here the first pause 
occurred, after a very sharp gallop of nearly eight miles, done in 
thirty-five minutes, the line forming something nearly an approach 
to the shape of the letter S. Only those who were happy in their 
start had a chance of seeing anything of the pack, or riding any- 
thing but a very fast and hopeless stern chase. Among the 
many who got off badly was his Royal Highness, but he never 
gave up persevering till the end (spite of a fall). Among those 
who were fortunate in securing front places early, and keeping 
them, was Mr. W. Blacker, on his cup winner, Snow-Storm. From 
Glending the hunting became somewhat of a potter on to near 
Elverstown, over Slieve Rue Hill, when the good fox got to 
ground. Arthurstown, drawn late, sent forth a fine fox, who got 



n6 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

to ground in Mr. Hendrick's lands at Newtown ; but by this time 
there was, as I hear, hardly light to see the fences. By all 
accounts this was a magnificent day's sport ; the line taken a 
regular old-fashioned one, such as turned-down foxes would hardly 
dare to enterprise. 

On Friday last Sir David Roche had a first-class gallop from 
Fedamore Gorse, thirty-five minutes without pause, Mr. Amcotts, 
of the 5th Dragoons, unfortunately killing his hunter. The Duke 
of Connaught was unlucky in his visit to Meath last week, the best 
gorses of the county not holding on that particular occasion, while 
another covert drawn held too many for sport. Thirty-seven 
minutes of good pace from Farrenalcock Gorse on the ist (the 
intervention of a river rather marred it for some pursuers) was 
about the best thing seen in Meath last week, though now I can 
only glance at it. 

The Kildare hounds had a very fine gallop from Hatfield on 
the 4th, of which more anon. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 117 



IX. 

' A bishop in Bond Street to guns was inclin'd ; 
In coping this prelate relax'd his great mind." 



A bishop in partibusSteg hunting Mr. Dundas on " Gazalier" Bellinter 
harriers Blue collars Beltrasna Gorse Limerick hounds. 

THE casualties and misfortunes attributed, and perhaps not un- 
fairly, to the unusual blindness of the country at this season, 
remind me of an anecdote which may possibly be new to some of 
my readers, forgotten by others, and so far half-new. There was 
a bishop in Ireland, not quite a hundred years ago, who combined 
with his episcopal functions a nice and discriminating taste in 
horseflesh. He dearly loved a horse, but what he loved even 
more was selling the object of his fond affection no doubt with 
the laudable and philanthropic view of benefiting his laic and 
secular brother. The bishop owned a very fine young animal, 
who seemed endowed with every qualification that hunter of high 
class should be gifted withal, save that accident or misfortune had 
robbed him of an eye. Hearing that an English dealer, who had 
not been unknown at Market Harborough, had settled in Dublin, 
and was giving long prices for young fresh hunters of quality and 
substance, he wrote him a glowing picture of his colt, and, without 
mentioning price, asked him if he thought such a paragon could 
fail to make a hunter, even single-eyed as he was. The dealer's 
reply was laconic, and not encouraging ; it ran somewhat thus : 
" My lord, in a long experience with hunters, I have invariably 



n8 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

found that they require two good eyes in their head and one in 
their tail, if that were possible." I think the professional dealer 
had the pull of his amateur brother coper on this occasion, though 
most men of any experience can recollect an odd one-eyed hunter 
of good character for performance, though more steadiness and 
watchfulness were required to save the rider from occasional 
accident. 

"On Monday," says the old ballad of Chevy Chase, if I 
remember aright, " they began to hunt when daylight did appear." 
The little party I refer to did nothing of the kind; but they 
resembled their forebears in two things first, in that they hunted 
the stag ; secondly, in that they did so on Monday ; all other con- 
ditions were widely different. Instead of "daylight," read "after 
lunch," and so on ; the points of difference being widely in excess 
of those of resemblance. The party I wish to introduce to your 
readers was a very small group of Ward Union men at the Kilrue 
Gate on the 4th inst,, to which number you may add as acces- 
sories, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, whom the Wild Irishman 
and the Holyhead steamer had only injected into Ireland a few 
hours before ; just enough space for hot bath, a breakfast, and 
a rapid scurry to the meet in one of Dublin's fast " outsiders." 
The quarry of the day was a red stag, and the scene of his enlarge- 
ment was a pasture field at Mullinam. From here he bounded 
forth, apparently full of " go," and ran an incomplete ring by Mr. 
Reid's farm to the fence of the Ratoath Road, which he did not 
cross, but turned leftwards towards Fairy House. Here the pace, 
which had been rather slow, quickened a bit as the line led over 
this famous racecourse, past its ghastly white empty stand, over 
the entrance road, and on towards Lagore, till, after a pleasant 
run in the form of a loop, the muckle beastie was safely captured 
not far from Ratoath ; and as the diurnal rain which had ceased 
for a few hours and given the sun a few moments to dart forth 
feeble rays, and the birds some respite from the watery dispensa- 
tion in which they busied themselves in preening their wet plum- 



H1BERNIA VE NAT 1C A. 119 

age began to descend again unintermittingly, I think a general 
dispersion took place. It was a pleasant run enough, over beau- 
tiful country, but so holding and water-sodden withal that every 
mile was equal to two of ordinary travelling, and the heavy going, 
added to the greasiness of the banks, made falls as thick as black- 
berries in October, nearly the last fence having almost half-a-dozen 
hunting forms extended on its bank at the same time. A lady 
came down at an up-bank near the stand of the Fairy House, but 
was none the worse for it, and continued pursuit. No one 
saw more of the cream of the thing than Mr. Harper, on a fine 
brown "M.D." horse, who makes nothing of his rider's welter 
impost. The field was nearly the smallest gathering I ever saw 
with this pack, but the flooded state of this flat basin had no 
doubt a most deterrent effect, not to speak of the menacing aspect 
of the day itself. 

Let me now, in the dialect of the chase, hark back to a few 
hunting passages I was forced to slur over in my last letter, from 
want of space or time, or both. The Dunlavin clay in Kildare 
was noticeable for a very large field in an out-of-the-way place 
nearly a score miles from any railway, and for the galaxy of ladies 
to be seen pursuing or viewing. The run lasted nearly two hours, 
part of it was fast, and over one of the stiffest bits of country that 
ever tried horseflesh; and yet a thorough-bred ci-devant chaser 
with an inclination to eagerness at his fences Gazalier, ridden by 
Mr. Dundas never put a foot wrong, as I hear, in the whole 
circuit. Another feature worthy of notice in this fox chase was the 
fact of the quarry, when pretty dead beat, seeking asylum in an 
outhouse, where " the fox," as the fowl committee of the hunt 
know full well, had proved a very hen-harrier and poultry glutton. 
He was ejected from this, and soon after run into; for, not to 
quote the " engineer hoist of his own petard," he illustrated the 
Augustan bard's couplet : 

" non lex est justior ulla, 

Quam necis artifices arte perire sua. " 



120 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

The hunting record of Meath last week, when cut down to 
shortest limits, runs thus : On November 28th they found at once 
at Philpotstown, had a short ring by Churchtown, and swam into 
their fox in the river near Dunleery Bridge. A nice gallop from 
Trimbleston to ground at Ballytallion followed. On the 2Qth 
they met at the Ball Abbey near Kells, H.R.H. the Duke of Con- 
naught being in the field. Boltown and Killallon failed for once 
to-day. Clonabraney and its many foxes showed no sport, neither 
did Sylvan Park. Friday, December ist, they met at Headfort, 
but a shooting party had been there during the week, and the 
woods were foxless to-day. Farrenalcock Gorse turned out a good 
sharp fox, who ran well for thirty-seven minutes through Bellair 
over the Moynalty river, through Kingsfort, till he got to ground 
in Challoner's Gorse. Kingsfort Glen held another fox, who ran 
by Cherry Mount and Oakley Park in the direction of Farrenal- 
cock, till the hounds had to be stopped as the light waned. 

There has been a certain amount of dislocation in the hunt- 
ing arrangements of this present week, consequent on deaths 
and departures. Mr. Gray's neat register of hunting fixtures for 
Kildare announced a meet at the Hill of Allen for Tuesday. Mr. 
Kelly's (of Navan) well-got-up hunting calendar invited us in the 
rosiest-tinted pasteboard to attend the Meath lists at Bellinter on 
Tuesday at eleven of the clock. The latter summons was post- 
poned till the following day, to enable loyal Meath to pay a part- 
ing tribute of respect to his Grace of Abercorn, who was resigning 
his high office and leaving the shores of Ireland. The Kildare 
meet was abandoned out of sympathy for the family and respect 
for the memory of Mr. O'Connor Henchy, who was buried on that 
day. Nor, indeed, could the hunt corporation do less, seeing that 
many lustrums ago, when the fate of hunting hung in the balance 
all over Ireland I allude to the famine years, when the value of 
property was little more than nominal Mr. O'Connor Henchy, 
like the famous Roman dictator, did not despair of the Republic, 
but consented, at personal sacrifice, to undertake the presidency 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 121 

and hold it till plenty smiled once more on the plague and famine 
stricken soil. How ably he acquitted himself of the self-imposed 
trust, many in Kildare remember gratefully ; nor were his years of 
office barren of high-class sport quite the reverse. In the senate 
he represented his native county ably and efficiently for many 
years, resigning this trust only from failing health and the torture 
of rheumatism, which completely and incurably crippled a very 
athletic and graceful form. His love for hunting was shown by 
his constant attendance at all the practicable meets; and till 
recently his well-appointed carriage was quite a feature in the 
Kildare gatherings, while his house overflowed with hunting 
guests, and foxes were seldom absentees from his gorse and wood- 
lands. 

On Monday the Kildare hounds were due at the neat and 
picturesque village of Branoxtown, which is close to the con- 
verging parks of Harristown, Giltown, and Sallymount. The 
news of Mr. O'Connor Henchy's death had been brought to the 
majority by the post of the morning, and it was mooted whether 
the hounds should not be sent home. The presence of a great 
many strangers decided the master in negativing this suggestion. 
The result was a most successful day. Moore Hill was the first 
covert drawn, and from its glen some three or four foxes issued 
forth, while the hounds got on one whose course leads to the 
conclusion that he was the same vulp who had baffled the pack 
after a long hunting run from Stonebrook not long ago, for his line 
for a long distance was precisely identical, threading his way by 
the banks of the Liffey, by the Blackthorns, Geogheganstown, 
Ardenode, Mullacash, and finally getting to ground on its banks. 
Hatfield Gorse was then visited after a few preliminary explora- 
tions, and from it broke a fox, who, it is not unfair to suppose, 
was one of last year's good stout tenants, the survivor of several 
long and perilous chases. His first point was to the Carlow road, 
thence right over the Ballymount Hill into Ballintaggart Gorse, 
which did not detain him much longer than I take to narrate the 



122 HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 

fact, if so long ; thence down the valley, over the flooded brook 
which leads to the water meadows, till there was a check on Rath- 
sallagh Fair Green much appreciated by all who had ridden for 
twenty-five minutes over give-and-take land, hill and dale, at the 
top of their horses' speed. Slow hunting now took the place of 
the fast and furious scurry of the opening scene, and the line 
eventually led back to Hatfield. 

There was a prudent lull in the fox campaign in the Irish 
Shires on Tuesday, for, looking at the list of those who attended 
Lord Abercorn's valedictory levee in Dublin, it is evident that the 
fields would have been very thinly attended and shorn of many of 
their best men. There was, however, one district in Meath where 
the armistice was broken, and one fox had the narrowest escape 
from being rolled over. It was on this wise : Mr. Preston's 
harriers were due at Kilmessan on Tuesday at noon ; but the day 
was so soakingly wet, and the downpour so heavy and incessant, 
that the hounds did not leave their kennels till one o'clock, when 
the master sent them out on the off-chance of a field. No one 
turned up on the way to the fixture, nor did it seem probable that 
any one would bring a horse out in such teeming torrents ; so 
Suter, the huntsman, put the hounds into a field close to the old 
castle of Riverstown. At once they dragged on to the edge of 
some wild, unenclosed gorse, into which they dashed frantically, a 
fox breaking in front of them, and racing up Tara Hill, apparently 
bound for Lismullen Woods, but a bend to the left brought him 
into Castletown, and thence into the Bridge Woods of Bellinter, 
where the hounds were stopped as they were entering Dowdstown 
the regular draw for the next morning with the Meath fox- 
hounds. For thirty-five minutes the bitches never had to stoop 
for an instant, as the scent was breast high, and they are bred to 
race. Only Mr. C. Rothwell, Suter, and perhaps one more, saw 
this fine gallop ; for, as bad luck would have it, there was one 
keen sportsman at the meeting-place who stayed till he was 
drenched, and, after all, missed the run of the season ! An accu- 
mulation of unmerited bad fortune ! 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 123 

Wednesday, the 6th, was almost continuously fine, and I 
mention the circumstance as something quite phenomenal in this 
wet cycle. The Meath hounds were to meet at Bellinter this 
forenoon, and those whose way thither lay, as mine did, through 
a part of the cream of the Ward Union vale, must have been 
struck by the omnipresent traces of the recent rainfall rivulets 
swollen to the proportion of brooks, brooks to the volume of 
rivers, while superficial water filled the furrows of the pastures and 
made small systems of lakes and ponds on every side. The river 
Boyne flows between Bective and Bellinter woods, in a stream not 
altogether unlike or unequal to the Thames at Twyford. In 
ordinary weather there is a wide margin of pasture land fringing 
either bank ; but now a swollen and turbid torrent was rushing 
down between the wooded slopes, and had usurped every bit of 
intervening land : small chance for a fox if he tried the device, 
which was so successful on a former occasion, of swimming across 
from Bellinter to Bective. 

But the hour is eleven ; carriages are driving up continuously 
to the hall door of Mr. Preston's fine mansion ; hacks are being 
walked about in numbers, as their owners make " a meridian " of 
it inside. The multitudinous peafowl, who had been busy re- 
pairing the damages of yesterday, are being scared away by the 
red invasion into the surrounding woods. Altogether a fairer or 
a more animated scene than a meet at Bellinter, viewed from the 
hall steps on a fine day, need not be craved, with its thronged 
court-yard, its circular private racecourse in front framed in by 
well-grown large-girthed timber, while the historic hill of Tara 
overlooks all. It is now a quarter-past eleven, and still there are 
lingerers, but the hounds are busy with a cub, whom they have 
found near the house, and whom they bring in nearly a complete 
circle to the edge of the kennels, where they roll him over. 
Dowdstown is the next draw. Few go into the woods with the 
pack ; most ride round the park wall on the road, fully calculating 
on thirty or forty minutes' covert hunting before a fox can be 



124 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

forced into the open on either side. Coffee-housing is at its 
fullest tide, when suddenly something or somebody spreads the 
news that the hounds have found, run through covert, breasted a 
hill, and are now half a mile ahead, pointing for Somerville. We 
ascend the hill and see that the news is only too true, the only 
consoling feature being that, instead of going straight into Somer- 
ville, they are bending up to Lismullen, having run a loop, and 
that if we are quick we can probably catch them at Lismullen 
Gorse. This programme was carried out to the letter, and we 
laggarts came on the track as they were leaving the gorse, just in 
time to see a good sportsman, Mr. Dunville, kicked off his hunter 
into the very miriest bed of mud to be found, by the playful heels 
of a neighbour. We are now crossing the road, and brushing 
through the outskirts of Lismullen's extensive park (Sir John 
Dillon's), again skirting the gorse, and plunging down at better 
pace into the valley below us, till we reach Walterstown, when our 
fox turned sharp to the left, and got back, I believe, to Lismullen 
Woods. In the evening they went back to Bellinter. I fancy 
there was more feasting than fox-hunting on the occasion. Among 
the recenter arrivals in Meath for the hunting season is Captain 
Low, late 8th Hussars. He was riding to-day a very neat chestnut 
son of Conjuror's (the sire of Juggler), dam by Recherche, who 
looks like slipping very fast over a country. Those who rode 
back via Dunshaughlin found that the Ward Union men had just 
ridden through it in pursuit of their stag, who, enlarged at 
Rathbeggan, had given them a capital chase, leaving the poor-house 
to the left, and thence on by Porterstown and Priestown. 

I must say I admire greatly those who have the courage of 
their opinions, as the Gallic idiom goes, and in a similar way I 
admire those who have the courage of their livery. Now the 
costume of the Meath hunt is red with blue collar, and I have no 
reason to believe or fancy it has ever been changed or the blue 
collar abolished ; yet at the covert side I can only see one man 
who sticks to the regulation pattern Captain Shirley Ball, late 



, HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 125 

8th Hussars, whose bay mare could make it a very conspicuous 
beacon, I fancy, in a quick thing over a big country. Every one 
wears the blue at night. Why it is tabooed in the day by most 
men passes my power of divination. It is not more peculiar than 
the Pytchley white, of which the members of that hunt are not yet 
ashamed or tired, I believe. 

The week past was not memorable or brilliant in Louth, though 
a good fox turned up in Lisrenny on Tuesday, who ran by Louth 
Hall and Charlestown, skirted Gudderstown Gorse, and gained 
Bragganstown Gorse after an hour and a half's hunting, when fresh 
foxes met the hounds, and one was taken on to Charleville. 

On the 3oth, after killing a bad fox, they found a second at 
Mosney, and came away well by Corballis to Ballygarth, where a 
tidal river stopped proceedings, and the rest of the day was spent 
between Hilltown and the Carnes, with lots of foxes, but short 
goers. 

On Friday, the 8th inst, Mr. Kelly, printer, Navan, The Field, 
BelVs Life, the Sporting Gazette, the Irish Sportsman and Farmer, 
and I know not how many more organs and oracles of sport, pro- 
claimed with the trumpet of the mighty press urbi et orbi, that the 
Meath vehmgericht would hold its session at Summerhill, at eleven 
of the clock a.m., and there issue its writ to its executive officer, 
Goodall, against all and sundry foxes in the vicinity, for wicked 
conspiracy against the peace and safety of Sir Chanticleer and 
Dame Partlett and their innumerable belongings. "Habeas 
corpus" ran the writ we who read between the lines may add 
" si possis." Now Summerhill, says an authority on topography, 
is a post town in the parish of Larracor, baronry of Lower Moy 
Fenragh, county of Meath and province of Leinster, five miles from 
Trim, seventeen W.N.W. from Dublin. At that time it contained 
49 houses and 331 inhabitants; whether it has increased or de- 
creased since the publication of my dictionary of reference 
matters not now. It is a neater village than one often comes 
across, with a few much better class houses ; as a sheep fair it is, 



i 2 6 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

I believe, celebrated beyond its own limits. What is far more to 
the purpose just now to relate is the fact of its accessibility from 
Dublin by two lines the Midland Great Western, which lands its 
passengers, human and equine, bound for Summerhill at Maynooth 
or Kilcock ; while another line, the Meath, brings its hunting 
freight to Drumree, some five or six miles distant also. Close by 
the village is Lord Langford's fine park, and a straight, wide 
avenue, something short of half a mile I should imagine, and with 
rather a sharp gradient, brings you to his spacious house, which 
overlooks not only almost every acre of the home park, but a very 
great extent of the flat pasture vales of Kildare, Meath, and 
Dublin also. By a strange coincidence, in a rather open winter 
it has fortuned that a Summerhill meet should be associated 
with the Arctic powers of frost and snow. The latter prevailed 
on the first occasion when his Royal Highness and a large party 
attended the fixture ; the former was our antagonist to-day. 
Neither, I am happy to say, marred sport, or even considerably 
delayed it. 

I think to-day the hospitality of lords overrode the punctuality 
of princes, for it was nearly half-past eleven o'clock when the 
hounds were put into covert, and the woods became vocal forth- 
with. Of the first fox I can say nothing ; I believe he went away 
somewhere in the Bullring direction. The second broke near the 
Kilcock Gate, and ran very sharply over a wide field or two, as if 
he meant to go towards Agher, when he wheeled for Drumlargan, 
and beat the hounds out of scent. Whether this were caused by 
the sudden incubation of a very dense fog, which completely 
blotted out the Kildare side of the country from view, I leave to 
the discussion of the learned in the philosophy of scent. From 
Drumlargan we got into a clearer atmosphere, and could see our 
surroundings. Let us take a glance at them. Kildare has sent 
a representative body to this assembly. Mr. W. Forbes is on 
Darius the Persian, a very handsome blood-like bay horse ; 
whether called by that Oriental title because if he says " no " at 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 127 

a fence his law, like those of his ancestors, " altereth not," I 
cannot say, but will only add that on his " going days," which are 
the rule, he is a " rum one to follow, a bad one to beat," like the 
Laureate's horse. Mr. Percy La Touche is on Gondola, a very 
racing-looking mare, selected perhaps from her brook-jumping 
powers. Mr. F. Rynd is on Grey Plover, who seemed to have 
taken out a patent last year for winning hunters' and farmers' races, 
and is none the worse or less temperate for his achievements 
between flags. Captain Davis is riding a very thick, strong chest- 
nut, a "Blood Royal," I should imagine, and a very perfect fencer. 
Among the visitors are Mr. C. Macdonald Morton, long the 
popular and successful president of the Westmeath Hunt; Captain 
and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Mr. Dundas, Mr. Price, and one or 
two more from the 3rd Dragoon Guards ; Captain Graves Sawle, 
A.D.C., on a very perfect iron-grey horse ; one or two of the yth ; 
and Colonel Frank Forster on the beautiful Greek Fire. 

I should have stated that " society " in Ireland was dancing 
last night at Emo, Lord Portarlington's beautiful house and park 
in the Queen's County the Duke of Connaught being one of the 
guests there. The ball was to be followed by a meet to-day 
(Friday) on Maryboro's heath ; but a strong contingent forbore 
sleep and rosy dreams of fair women, and posted across to 
Summerhill no small tribute to the Meath hounds and the Meath 
country. 

We are now by Garradice Gorse, which I attempted to 
describe, I think, in a previous letter. The fog threatens, but 
has not descended on us completely. The find is so quick, there 
is hardly an instant to do the needful to girths, etc. The first 
narrow bank and ditch are jumped, apparently safely by all, when 
in the very second or third field scent fails again, though we are 
entering on the land of turf and old pasture ; and, after a slow 
drag on as far as Pierstown, the order is given to 'bout ship and 
try Garradice again. At this conjuncture of affairs down came 
the fog seriously, sights and sounds assuming that grotesque, 



128 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

unusual, " Alice in Wonderland " character that fog sometimes 
imparts. Home and stables seemed to me the right thing under 
the circumstances, and I had gone some distance with this intent, 
when I was arrested by the note of a single hound, so completely 
drowning those of the pack, that I turned back to the gorse to see 
what was to be seen. Lots of foxes, and lots of covert hunting, 
but no power could force them to break ; so Mr. Waller gave us 
the cue for Beltrasna Gorse, some three or four short miles off. 
Again the fog came down like a pall, and as one or two widish 
ditches had to be done en route, and as said ditches were pretty 
full of water, there were some bathing scenes enacted, and a Triton 
or two to be seen disporting themselves in muddy waters. We 
are now at the edge of this good gorse, near enough to learn that 
it is tenanted, and by no recreant either, for he breaks within five 
minutes, pointing as if he meant to give us a gallop to the Grange; 
but a second impulse sends him towards Culmullen. Again scent 
proves most catchy, and we are at fault. There is a small patch 
of " swedes " in front, and Goodall holds them over this, and 
regains the thread, which leads within a few hundred yards of 
Culmullen Covert. Strange to say, our fox, who had ample leisure, 
did not enter it, but turned sharp round, crossed a lane-way, and 
appeared verging back to his old haunt. A fault again ! but 'tis 
only momentary. And now for ten minutes or fifteen the hounds 
carry a fair head as they cross a fine bit of wide vale, watered by 
a brook or two ; but as we rise Mullagh Hill, with Kilmore 
rectory on our right, scent almost disappears, though, if ever fox 
ran over scent-retaining pastures, they were before us here. A 
road meets us now ; it is getting duskish ; good-byes are said ; 
arrangements made for Enfield to-morrow with the Kildare hounds, 
or " Lost London " with the Ward Union ; when the pack, who 
won't leave a big pasture they are in, suddenly begin running again, 
taking the line past Mr. M'Gerr's house, on to a road. Here 
another parting of the few left occurs. But again the pack will 
not be denied ; one or two couple have made out the line on the 




MISS PERSSE OF MOYOJDE CASTLE 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 129 

far side of the road, and are hunting away gaily. Colistoun 
Covert is within a field or two now ; but darkness is overtaking us 
apace, and the kennels are many miles distant, so at last the pack 
is stopped. This run, an incomplete edition of the letter S, would 
have been charming had it only been done at a better pace and 
with fewer breaks, for a better line of country could not easily be 
found. Mr. Waller has to deplore the loss of a very good bitch, 
Wishful, who was ridden on. 

The staple of hunting "gup" to-day was of an extremely quick 
gallop yesterday with this pack, run in a fog so dense that, unless 
you were almost on top of the hounds, you had no chance of 
seeing the fun. I was not out myself, and can only state that 
there seemed a most unanimous consensus that it was " a real 
quick thing," and that it took a good horse to stay with hounds at 
all. It was somehow on this wise. After some rather meaningless 
hunting round Lord Darnley's good gorse of Rathmore, a move 
was made to Tullaghnogue Gorse, from which the pack issued 
forth "tied" to a good fox. Some sixteen or seventeen started 
on very fair terms with the flying hounds ; hardly half-a-dozen 
survived to the first check, which was at the end of seventeen 
or eighteen minutes as I hear, Mr. Kearsley having held 
a front place all through the scurry, with Mr. Hone and perhaps 
another, Lord Langford having been equally efficacious in cutting 
out the work till his good and gallant grey, landing on a stone or 
stump of a tree, rolled right over him, with a stiffening effect which 
must have made hunting the next day rather a mixed delight. 
A noble lord, whose experience extends over a great many of the 
best packs in England and Ireland, told me that in his line he met 
one impracticable place, from which he had to turn away, and that 
the pause in selecting a more negotiable spot cost him the 
remainder of the gallop. The fox, it seems, ran to a high bank 
near Medestown, and was wholly unaccounted for afterwards, the 
theory being that he had run his foil back and then lain down. 
The Kildare run of the same date was unmarred by fog a fortu- 

K 



130 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

nate circumstance, as one of the actors informed me that, between 
wire and bog, the track was anything but fascinating ; a very fine 
show of foxes in the Nine-tree Hill country was the pleasanter side 
of the picture. 

The show of horseflesh at Summerhill to-day was very attractive. 
Weight-carriers are getting very scarce in Ireland, but Captain 
Kearney and Messrs. Brown, Dunne, Campbell, Carew, and a few 
others, seem to have found the desideratum. There was a smart 
Blood Royal four year-old out, who was fencing with all the 
hereditary talent of that strain, while Captain Low was on another 
son of Conjuror's, " The Crow," who is almost a fac-simile of the 
Duke of Connaught's Lawyer horse, and as clever, though perhaps 
not quite so powerful. A lady, Mrs. Drake (I hope I may be 
pardoned naming names : it is a rare hunting one), who was riding 
a very well-trained bay horse, seemed thoroughly at home in the 
biggest part of the country. Mr. Murphy, of The Grange, rides 
13 st. hunters, almost as well known in the chasing world as in 
the hunting, and his grey mare of to-day was no unfit companion 
for her stable mates ; while a grey cob ridden by another 
Mr. Murphy was an admirable performer, and so was Captain 
C. Ponsonby's brown mare. 

I hear Lord Waterford has been showing his field very good 
sport lately, while Sir David Roche's thirty-five minutes without 
a check from Fedamore Gorse is among the best recent triumphs 
" down south." 

On Saturday, the gth inst, the Kildare hounds to whom 
Saturday ever brings sport, seeing that it draws them from hill 
to dale, from gravel to rich loam met at the little village of New- 
town, near Enfield, the outer edge on the west of their domain, 
here bounded by Meath eastern and western. Cappagh Gorse, the 
first draw, proved for once false to its holding traditions, though 
a fox had evidently left it recently. Not so Ballycaghan, the next, 
whose huge area seemed lined with foxes. The difficulty of 
ejecting the hunted one from so extensive a covert is not small, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 131 

and the master was much plagued by late comers, (I, too, cry mea 
culfa), who blocked the best avenues for departure. At length, 
when every one was half frozen, he broke away a beautiful rich 
red fox and gave us for our preliminary fence, before we could 
get to the park, a very wide bank and ditch to jump. Once over 
this, it looked odds on a race to Lara or Courtown ; but something 
made our fox turn back suddenly, and nothing came of it but 
another long stand at ease while the hounds were dusting him 
in the gorse. At last who-whoop sounded gratefully on the ear, 
and now we knew we were bound to Courtown, whose extensive 
but thin plantations always harbour foxes, though they are easily 
scared away by such sounds as an army of hunting men two or 
three hundred strong would make clattering down the road on 
their way to the draw. To prevent this, Mr. Mansfield implored 
the field not to hurry on in spoil-sport fashion before the pack ; but 
Courtown and its hospitalities lay in front, and I think the brandy 
of cherries and the wine of Xeres were master passions in not 
a few breasts just at that moment. " All's well that ends well," and 
the draw of Courtown plantations had a goodjinate. Three parts 
were drawn in mute silence and expectation. At last there is 
a prelude to the overture. " He breaks ! he breaks ! " with Lara 
or Straffan in his mind's eye. " He's back ! he's back ! " but not 
for long, for ecce fox racing away over the Courtown Park lands, 
and with head turned westward, giving us to imagine we were to 
gallop back to Ballycaghan. The first fence proves unlucky 
to some, and there are one or two stiff up-banks next. Then our 
fox turns leftwards, over those pleasant flat pastures which are 
mainly divided by ditches and small banks, over which you can 
send your hunter at twenty miles an hour. A very pleasant phase 
of hunting was this sailing away over small brooks and shingles 
with the conviction that the far side was " all right." We are now 
within a few fields of Laragh Covert. We have crossed a couple 
of by-roads, if not three, and now there is a slight pause by some 
cottages Baltracey is the name of the place, I believe ; the 



i 3 2 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

hounds have rather overshot the mark. Will Freeman has them 
right in less time than I take to write the fact, and from this point 
we hunt on steadily and at fair pace parallel to the Naas and 
Kilcock road, when our fox again inclines to the right slightly. 
We cross one of those drainage canals which, fortunately for us, 
have soft, sloping sides, down which we slide into the watercourse, 
to climb up the far side ; and now, when we look up to take bear- 
ings, we find ourselves passing a semi-vacant gaunt-looking house, 
which we know to be within a few hundred yards of Mount 
Armstrong. Two or three furzy fields (Hodgestown is the local 
name) and as many fences bring us to the outskirts of Sir Gerald 
Aylmer's fine park of Donadea. There is a lodge gate a few score 
yards down the road, which will bring you down a long straight 
avenue to the castle woods. If you would fain see the end of 
a good straight fox, who-whoop, they have him ! They have 
earned him well, for scent has not been breast high, and I don't 
think they can have run him less than eight or nine miles from 
find to finish. I talked just now of two or three hundred horse- 
men. I do not think there were nearly so many out to-day, 
though the field was large, and there were not a few visitors from 
Limerick, Cork, Dublin, Meath, Gal way, etc., at the rendezvous. 
Lord Oranmore represented the latter county, Mr. Rose did the 
same for Limerick. Grey was decidedly the winning colour to-day. 
Sir J. Higginson went in his old form on a grey ; Mr. R. Kennedy 
was on a grey, so was Mr. W. Blacker ; but few greys or hunters 
of any colour could have performed more beautifully than Major 
Dent's fine lengthy grey and Mr. Robertson's well-known hunter 
of the same hue. The Hon. Captain Rowley, Mr. A. Macneil, 
and Mr. Chapman represented Meath in the fore front of the fray, 
and Captain R. Mansfield kept his place very near the pack all 
through. The Inniskillings were in great force and form, and so 
were the 3rd Dragoons. 

The Coolattin Club is a small and very select corporation, 
devoted mainly to whist and fox-hunting, while French cookery 



HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 133 

and matured Chateau Margaux are not within the table of pro- 
hibitions. Lord Fitzwilliam houses the club, and gives them other 
privileges. Carlow and Wexford find foxes. The club was in 
session last week, but so far have not, as I learnt, had much sport. 
Tuesday, their opening day, was diluvial. 

The meet of the Queen's County hounds on Friday, at Mary- 
boro' Heath, led to little sport : the effervescing loyalty of the 
populace, which broke into shouting and hurrahing, was fatal to 
finding foxes early. Cremorgan in the afternoon held as usual, 
but scent was catchy, and one or two hard-riding men would not 
let them work out their problem, so the sport was not of a high 
order. 

There is again breach and interruption of hunting arrangements 
in Kildare, owing to the sadly premature death of Mr. Archbold, 
of Davidstown, last Saturday, after a very short illness typhoid 
fever. Tuesday's meet at the eighteenth milestone is consequently 
transferred to Friday, while Wednesday's fixture is for the kennels. 

I recollect writing about a meet at Davidstown, Mr. Archbold's 
residence, last year. Few could then have imagined that his 
young life, so full of vigour and promise, would have terminated 
so abruptly. The mourning for Mr. Archbold I do not mean 
the perfunctory livery thereof regulated by degrees of consan- 
guinity will be very extensive among all classes, specially in the 
counties of Kildare, Wicklow, and Carlow, where he was best 
known as a landlord, a friend, and a neighbour known only to be 
beloved. As a sportsman his loss will be immensely felt, for so 
great was his influence that fox preservation of the strictest 
character became a fashion and a rule all over his estates. He 
was a fine rider to hounds, notwithstanding his height and weight ; 
a first-rate judge of horses ; a naturalist by taste, experiment, and 
observation ; and, for the last few seasons he was a master of 
harriers. Sir John Esmonde, another good friend to foxes and 
fox-hunting, died rather suddenly in Wexford about the same 
time. 



i 3 4 HIBERNIA YEN AT 1C A. 



X. 

Dark, dreary, and dull was the sky, 
With rain clouds the heavens were big. " 



Traps and Trappers West Meath Kilbrew Mr. Reeves' oyster beds and 
harriers The Marquis of Ormonde Straflan Bridge. 

THERE has been no scarcity of foxes this year in Ireland, with 
a few notable exceptions. The cubbing season was not a blood- 
thirsty one, for the simple reason that scent for several weeks 
was at zero, but no master of hounds that I have heard of com- 
plained of not finding game, even if he was denied the capability 
of hunting it. Since cubs attained their majority the course of 
hunting, unlike that of true love, has run in the smoothest 
of currents, and though I know of two blank days, I can hardly 
localize a third in the whole of hunting Ireland. The season was 
most favourable to vixendom ; when foxes were wanted they were 
turned down, and the aliens or naturalized vulps thrive like the 
natives, and yet the trapping curse, like the trail of the serpent, is 
over us all, and saps fox-hunting in its very foundations. One of 
the worst features of the case is this, that these vulpecidal engines 
have now been sown so broad-cast over the island, and familiarity 
has so vulgarized them, that many a proprietor of large acres, who 
had set a bad example in bringing trappers into his park and 
woodlands, and who subsequently felt anxious to neutralize the 
mischief he has done the fox-hunting interest in his county and 
vicinity, would be unable to lay the spectre he had invoked, or call 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 135 

in the traps which had strayed or been stolen in the course of his 
raids on rabbits. Under these circumstances, of course, there 
is less restraint than ever in the manner of trap setting. Farm 
labourers who have tasted the sweets of hare, rabbit, and 
even pheasant catching by this simple and inexpensive process, 
will not easily be induced to abandon it. The snare is not 
primarily set for " the fox " save by a few exasperated individuals 
who fancy they have been overlooked, perchance, in the distri- 
bution of fowl money ; but if the fox is caught, vice some more 
saleable or edible quadruped, tant pis for the fox ; he is knocked 
on the head and put out of sight, while the trap is reset in hopes 
of better luck next time. These observations are elicited by the 
fact that out of three foxes found recently in the covert of a well- 
known fox presever on the same date, two were maimed by traps, 
and unable to take their part when hunted ; while the third proved 
a good straight runner. It is well known that the covert owner is 
a foe to trapping. Whence then these tripod foxes ? Simply 
from traps being common in the neighbourhood, and in such 
general use, that foxes would be more dexterous than nature made 
them if they managed to escape them altogether. But not only 
are traps common from the causes I mention ; they have become 
"a leading article " in country shops, and it seems now as natural 
and as little peculiar to purchase a trap as a hand-saw or a ten- 
penny nail. 

Let us now glance at Western Meath, where it is pleasant to 
find that Mr. Montague Chapman's well-directed zeal and energy 
in the cause of sport have not been unrewarded. 

On the 4th they met at Lord Greville's residence, Clonyn 
Castle, and found three foxes in the coverts at the back of the 
new castle. Settling to one, they followed him towards Drumcree 
into Mooretown, where he did not hang long, but broke again 
and almost retraced his steps, finishing in a rabbit burrow. 
Kiltullagh Plantations held another, but the hounds ran into him 
almost immediately. Another, found in Williamstown Gorse, they 



136 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

killed before he could get into Rockview. A Reynella fox ran a 
ring to Clonlost, when darkness stopped hunting. 

On the yth (Thursday) they were at Baronston, and found 
three foxes in the Bog Covert. One took them past the fine 
mansion, through the lands of Tristenagh Abbey into Sonna, 
where he was viewed by the new gate. The Plantations here 
did not detain him a moment, and he was next forced through 
Kildollan Gorse over Slanemore, a grassy elevation, where the 
pasture is old and sound, and the going as good as any in West- 
meath. Here, however, as he was passing Ballyote Chapel, a cur 
dog came on the scene. A long check ensued, and perhaps the 
most promising run of the season was marred. Frewin Hill 
Gorse was next drawn. Here they found at once, and ran 
straight to the shores of Lough Owel, where their fox wheeled 
to the left, ran through Mount Murray, and thence made Clon- 
hugh, where the earths were open, and a good fox respited. 

On the 9th they were at Moyvaughly, where they found a fox, 
who did not stand up any time before them. Mosstown, which is 
always well preserved, held a brace, and the hounds went away 
gaily with one, who led them to the top of Knockast Hill, the 
highest ground in this neighbourhood, which was smothered with 
fog that seemed to kill scent ; at any rate, the fox was not 
accounted for. 

On the nth they were at Drumcree, the residence of General 
the Hon. Leicester Curzon Smythe, whose good gorse (a reminder 
always to myself of an extremely pleasant gallop right into Meath) 
has just attained holding growth after having been cut. The find 
here was very quick, and was followed by a capital thirty minutes, 
ending at Windtown, where the fox got to ground. Hopes Gorse 
held a second, who started over a beautiful line and ran nicely 
for a couple of miles, when he suddenly disappeared in a coney 
hole, when the odds seemed in favour of his going on to the hill 
gorse at Knock Ion. 

On Monday a beautifully clear, diaphanous atmosphere showed 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 137 

everything in nature at its very best, and revealed objects which 
fog, haze, and rain clouds had obscured for months. The Ward 
Union stag-hounds met at Norman's Grove, one of the fixtures 
nighest to the metropolis, some nine miles (Irish) distant, and 
the assemblage collected there was one of the largest which this 
pack has had since the season opened formally at Ashbourne. All 
Ireland was more or less represented there, and though Meath 
held out the tempting bait of Grange Geath Gorse in the forenoon, 
and Hussey's Gorse after luncheon, not a few threw in their lot 
with the stag, among them Lord Langford and Mr. A. Macneil. 
The Garrison sent gunners, riflemen, and staff men to the fray red 
soldiers, blue soldiers, and green and Dublin of course poured 
in a flood-tide of its sporting citizens. Enfield, who gave perhaps 
the best gallop of the season last year (in some judgments), was 
the quarry, and he got his liberty at Nutstown, whence he bounded 
on by the Caulstown Brook, over the Dunboyne road into Ballin- 
tray, thence by Priestown in a line parallel to the Ratoath and 
Dublin roads, across the road by the gorse covert of Kilrue, and 
thence via the Moulden Bridge into Ratoath village, where he ran 
the road for a short time in view, and many who had gone well up 
to this point, and fancied the cream of the day had been fairly 
skimmed, turned their horses' heads homewards. A few, how- 
ever, stayed on to the end, and had a rattling finish up to 
Bournestown, the last part, as I hear, being very fast indeed. 
Among this division were Lord Clanmorris, Mr. D'Arcy, Mr. 
Hone, and Captain Graves Sawle. I hear the timers made the 
run an hour and a half. 

The night which succeeded this beautiful, soft, balmy Monday 
was memorable for one of the heaviest rainfalls of a watery 
season, the gushes of rain seeming to be propelled from hydrants. 
" The rain a deluge poured " in Ireland as in the " Bay of Biscay 
O," and fortunate were those who were well housed during its 
fury. 

By eight or nine o'clock a.m. of the i2th, all traces of the 



138 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

storm had vanished. True, flocks of sea-gulls, driven in from the 
coast, dotted the green fields and roads, and everything had a 
flooded look, while furrows and runnels were brimming to overflow. 
Tuesday was "beautifully mild and bright, and the sun shone out 
gaily. The Meath fixture for the day was Kilmoon Police 
Barrack, a solitary little fortalice or block house, in a wide green 
valley, bounded by the gentlest of grassy elevations. It is some 
fifteen or sixteen miles (English) from Dublin, not quite so much 
from Navan, a long distance from town or railway station ; so that 
there was little of that miscellaneous crowd which curiosity and 
a fine day muster whenever a popular hunting fixture is very 
accessible from a capital by rail or road. But, on the other hand, 
it was far from a small gathering. Louth sent many of her sons 
and daughters thither (admirably mounted, too) ; Meath turned 
out strong ; while among the visitors were Captain and the Hon. 
Mrs. Candy. Time, however, fails me to tell of the beauty and 
fashion congregated in this lonely wayside spot, now bright with 
colour and full of life and motion ; of Mrs. Dunville's indefatigable 
and charming pair of bays ; of a sporting tandem ; of a small 
string of thoroughbreds owned by Messrs. Saurin and Reynolds ; 
for we are under way already to a small stick covert, with a little 
bit of plantation at one end, on the side of a grassy hill, which, 
though not covering very much more than a rood, has always 
been full when I have happened to see it drawn. To-day was not 
doomed to be exceptional. After a very little forcing, a fox broke 
away in the Ashbourne direction, running straight for a short 
distance, when he inclined to the left, and was presently lost, 
giving us to understand very plainly that scent was uncommonly 
coy to-day. A second fox had gone away from the faggots in 
another direction ; but it was no use dragging after him, so the 
task before us was to get back into the lane-way by which we had 
come into the covert field. A thorny up-bank, which required a 
hunter's instinct where to place hind and fore legs, interposed 
itself, and afforded a good deal of excitement and fun ; but at last 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 139, 

we are in the aforesaid lane-way, and trotting on to the wooded 
height of Kilbrew, on the far side of which, by a well-known 
brook, lies another stick covert, which I think Mr. Waller only 
made last season, and which we found well tenanted on the last 
occasion. How many it held to-day is to me an unknown number. 
We went off with one over huge grass pastures in the direction of 
Reisk Gorse first, when he turned to the right, and gave us the 
benefit of a lane for nearly a mile ; then he went through the 
grove and shrubberies of Green Park, turned once more down 
the vale, and, I should think, joined his scared brethren in 
Kilbrew ; at any rate, after a mile he was given up, and Corbalton 
Woods were now the scene of exploration a quick find in the 
wood next the Navan road, a canter across the park ; another for 
some distance along the Dunshaughlin road sidings, then a mile 
or so more to the right of Corbalton, and that is all I can say of 
the day's performance, which certainly was most unequal to the 
grand theatre that witnessed it. 

Is the Turkish question likely to lead to a solution of the 
oyster difficulty ? Is the Danube to enrich us with sturgeon flesh 
and caviar ? The lines of Virgil occur as I ponder these things : 

" Quam quibus in patriam ventosa per gequora vectis, 
Pontus et ostriferi fauces tentantur Abydi." 

Had the bride of Abydos an oyster bed for her dowry ? or had the 
Roman patricians eaten them all ? I would transfer the reader's 
mental eye to the banks of the Shannon, and by a rural burying- 
place where a head-stone tells the tragic fate of the Colleen Bawn. 
Here Mr. Carey Reeves, rich already in salmon weirs, has enriched 
his foreshores with well-cropped oyster beds of the green-fin 
species, which, strange to say, are much affected by the gastronome 
in Ireland and France, while his brother contemns them in 
England. There are also some importations of oysters from 
Arcachon, but the green-fin bivalve is his staple. Along these 
banks of the great tidal river roam many good stout hares ; and, 



1 40 HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 

as fox-hunting does not flourish much in the county Clare, Mr. 
Reeves finds his useful pack of harriers attended by large fields 
as for instance on the yth inst, when a goodly company, com- 
prising Mr. and Mrs. Reeves, Mrs. Phelps and her boy, Mr. 
E. Kelly, Mr. J. Bennett, Mr. O'Donnell, Major Gore, Mr. J. 
O'Donnell, Mr. Bulger, and Mr. Burke, etc., had a capital run 
from Tiervarna by Burrane House and Knock Wood ; the last 
part extremely good, nearly three miles without pause, and two 
more gallops afterwards, less brilliant, though a kill crowned the 
last from Carandota. 

On the 1 3th the Kildare hounds had a quasi by-day at the 
Kennels, which are under the shadow of the palace which 
Strafford erected for himself, now in ruins, but ruins which attest 
the " thoroughness " of the planner. Though a by-day, and out 
of the regular roster which, as I remarked in my last letter, was 
interrupted by the death of Mr. Archbold it was notified to all 
the members of the hunt by cards, to the public by the voice of 
the press. This circumstance, and the central position of Naas, 
drew a very large concourse to the meeting-point; H.R.H. the 
Duke of Connaught, attended by his equerry, Captain M. Fitz- 
gerald, being among the visitors of the day a list which also 
included Lords Oranmore and Clanmorris, the Hon. T. Scott, 
Captain Graves Sawle, Mr. A. Macneil, Mr. Skeffington Smythe, 
Mr. Rose, several of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and Inniskillings, 
of the Royal Horse Artillery, yth Dragoon Guards, and 4th Regi- 
ment of the line. I have seen much larger fields on similar 
occasions, but there were quite enough to mar sport or to enjoy it, 
if the elements of sport had only been forthcoming. 

Osberstown Gorse, to which I have before introduced your 
readers, looked as large and luxuriant as ever. The flat country 
round was much more suggestive of snipe-shooting than hunting, 
after our recent watery experiences, but within the inclosure 
drainage had made the fox's haunt dry, and comfortable, and 
warm. The hounds soon told us of one at home, and, after 



HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A. 141 

much bullying, a splendid specimen of his race, of the richest 
mahogany hue, and white-tagged as to his brush, emerged into 
the open, but after a very brief excursion returned to his strong- 
hold, to be again expelled after a long similar process. Another 
excursion towards Old Town followed, when, scared by some 
object or other on the canal bank we may imagine a native 
bargee our fox ran the gauntlet of the field, while one or two 
vainly endeavoured to cut him off from the gorse, but he made 
good his vantage-ground. After another half-hour of vain effort 
to force him into the open a third time, he was given up, while 
we crossed the Liffey by a ford, and drew up at Gingerstown 
Gorse, an unenclosed wild patch of furze ; and having explored 
it as well as the neighbouring covert of Castle Keely fruitlessly, 
we were sent on to Landenstown, where search was equally futile. 
Bella Villa held not, and Kerdiffstown, the never-failing, failed 
us in our hour of need, while Palmerstown, its neighbour, followed 
suit. The trail of the serpent may have been over them, the trail 
of the fox was not ; by this time light was waning, and a general 
dispersion took place. Mr. Mansfield lost a good servant's horse 
near Osberstown, who broke his leg in galloping into a blind 
ditch. To-day's proceedings reminded me of the still-existing 
custom in England of beating the bounds of a parish. We beat 
the bounds, I should think, of several. This black-letter day is 
the first serious check which the Kildare hounds have experienced 
this season. 

The Newbridge harriers had, I hear, a very good thirty minutes 
last Monday from Mr. Coffey's lands, at Faircross, to Silliot Hill 
Gorse, with an outlying fox, who took his pursuers over a trying 
line, which weeded out all but some three or four sportsmen, 
among whom were the huntsman, Mr. Knox, R.H.A., and Mr. 
Medlicott. 

Sport in Louth has been of a most mediocre order during the 
last ten days or so. Thus, on the 5th, they visited Duffy's Cross, 
and found plenty of foxes in Corballis, but between getting headed 



1 42 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

and so on, they yielded no sport. Bragganstown furnished a brace, 
one of whom gave only a ringing pursuit. 

On the yth, meeting at Townley Hall, Dowth Hall was the 
first draw, and it produced a brace of foxes, who got to ground 
very soon. Townley Hall and Mellifont were empty to-day. 

On the Qth they were at Barmeath, which did not hold either 
a fox or foxes, neither did several gorses about Johnstown. A 
wild gorse, however, near Drumcar, was tenanted. The fox ran 
into the park, and got to ground near the house. Charleville, 
after this, turned out a smart fox, who ran for seventeen minutes 
into Williamstown, when he, too, got to ground. 

I fancy "These Bonds," in esse or posse, real or simulated, have 
rather stayed the plague of testimonials from which we in Ireland 
have suffered infinitely less than you did on your side of the ditch. 
Testimonials in Ireland have for the most part been genuine 
embodiments of gratitude, admiration, or esteem ; or, perhaps, all 
three combined. Hence it was a pleasure to your scribe to record 
last year the presentation of a handsome piece of plate by the 
Curraghmore hunt to the Marquis and Marchioness of Waterford. 
It is an equally agreeable task to tell this season of the gratitude 
of the members of the Kilkenny Hunt to the Marquis of Ormonde, 
which found expression this week in a congratulatory address on 
his marriage with the Lady Elizabeth Grosvenor, and took con- 
crete form in a beautifully modelled golden fox the symbol of 
the royal sport, which, but for the noble marquis's purse and 
prestige, would very probably have become an unknown art in 
the county of its birth (in Ireland). It is no secret that Lord 
Ormonde's liberality tided the Kilkenny Hunt Club over financial 
difficulties which looked very menacing at one time. It is pleasant 
to find that recent success has not dulled the recollection of good 
deeds. The Marquis of Waterford read the address. The pre- 
sentation took place in the picture gallery of the castle, where a 
long line of ancestral Butlers illustrate the history of Ireland, 
which they often moulded. The Kilkenny hounds, whose tri- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 143 

umphal progresses I have frequently recorded, had, I hear, a 
bright day on Wednesday last, when a good fox took them from 
Garryricken (a covert of Lord Ormonde's), by Killmory and Nine- 
mile House, through Butler's Wood, on to the foot of Sleivenamon 
Hill, where pursuit was stopped. Another run from Davis's 
Gorse, though far less straight, ended in a kill. " The Rock " on 
Friday revealed a good supply of foxes, who will probably give a 
good account of themselves by-and-by, though their education is 
only inchoate at present. 

The on dit is that the Earl of Clonmel has accepted the 
presidency of the Kildare hounds, which would be only a case 
of interrupted succession, his father having mastered this pack 
long and successfully. Venerie and woodcraft are in this family 
a tradition. Among those who have suffered severely in limb 
in their pursuit of mimic war is Mr. J. O'Donnell, of Trugh 
Castle, Limerick, who, I regret to learn, sustained a compound 
fracture of his left arm and dislocation of both joints when 
hunting with Sir David Roche's hounds at Balinagarde. Mr. 
Morrogh's stud of hunters were sold on Thursday last in Dublin ; 
but it is not impossible that the end of the season may see Mr. 
Morrogh riding again, as his broken leg is doing wonderfully well. 

"Water, water everywhere" (I cannot add "and never a drop to 
drink," for the country I write of is Ireland, and Ireland has never 
hitherto suffered from a lack of potables) brooks overflowing 
their banks ; pastures turned into mere ; the sidings of the roads, 
where not under water, in a semi-quagmire condition, as one sees 
a well-trampled fair green become after a few hours of rain and 
bullocks ; but there is little to wonder at, for at the covert side 
to-day there was unanimity of opinion on one subject at least that 
no one had ever been out in heavier or more continuous rain in 
these latitudes than to-day ! Vain were leggings, vain were covert 
coats. As in fences, so in wraps and devices to keep out rain, 
there is always some weak or unguarded spot through which the 
insidious moisture is soon found percolating ; and it is almost 



i 4 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

impossible to watch or guard the entire man in such a downpour 
as to-day. Why, in an hour tops were as full of water as they 
could be, each foot enjoying the benefit of a cold tub for hours. 
I once recollect a very smart sportsman, whose get-up was a thing 
of beauty, telling a field who were condoling with him on having 
to ride home a long distance, after he and his horse had been 
swimming across either a river or canal, that his nether man was 
not even damp ; " for, you see, my boots and breeches fit so very 
perfectly that it is mechanically impossible that a drop could get 
in." No one dare affirm anything of the kind here. Men, 
horses, and even the few ladies who ventured out, had that 
poulemouillee look as if they had been swimming rivers and canals 
for some time. My tale is of the Kildare hounds at Straffan 
Bridge on Saturday, the i6th inst. a beautiful scene in fine 
weather ; but, with an horizon of the narrowest limits, and rain 
blackening the air, scant leisure remains to admire even the most 
picturesque object. I fancy most people smiled an internal smile 
as they saw that the hunting madness had been pervasive enough 
to draw a very large assembly to the meeting-place. Every one, 
whatever they felt, put a cheerful courage on, and no one railed 
at the elements, no matter how pulpy, draggled, and miserable 
their sensations might have been. A glance at our field here ! 
and, as the ladies have been very heroic in braving not merely 
the rain and water, but their unbeautiful effects, let us do all 
honour to le courage malheureux. Five were riding nearly all this 
fearful day Lady Annette La Touche, Mrs. Adair, Mrs. Langrishe, 
Mrs. Moore, and Mrs. Morris. Would that they could have been 
rewarded with a shprt, sharp gallop, to carry away some pleasant 
memories of this most pluviose day ! Driving on a hack car were 
the Hon. Mrs. Barton and Mrs. St. Leger Moore. The usual 
Kildare field was increased by a good many visitors, among whom 
was his Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught (attended by his 
equerry, Captain M. Fitzgerald), Mr. J. G. Adair (from the Queen's 
County), Captain R. Barton (late 9th Lancers), Mr. A. Macneil and 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 145 

the Messrs. Murphy from Meath, Mr. Longfield (who was riding 
that well-known mare Miss Brayley). Lord Oranmore was on a 
very hunting-like grey, while his second string was a powerful 
chaser, who had done well in the land of the Gaul ; Major Dent 
on his good-looking grey, was the only 7th Dragooner. The Innis- 
killings were represented by Captain Bloomfield alone, I think; 
the 2oth Hussars by Captain Irwin; the Staff sent Captains Sawle, 
Crosbie, and De Montmorency; the R.H.A., Colonel Sarsfield 
Green, Mr. Knox, Mr. Aitken, and one or two more. But there is 
no time for observation or gossip ; the hounds are working through 
Lodge Park. In ten minutes or rather more they found a good- 
looking fox in the long clump by the river, whom they hunted from 
plantation to shrubbery, from shrubbery to plantation, till a check 
took place in a sort of nursery to the walled-in kitchen garden. I 
believe the vulp did his best to break away ; but the rurals, who 
could not work on farms such a day as this, were in a cordon all 
round, so we lost all chance of a run, and soon after lost our fox 
too. Now commences the only bit of fun vouchsafed to us hitherto : 
a large part of the field are inclosed in a place from which the 
only extrication is by jumping a quickset hedge and ditch, while 
the remainder of the sporting world of the day look on and 
criticise. It was rather amusing for five minutes ; no one actually 
came down, though a back or two looked in danger, and hind 
legs were dropped dangerously short. The rest of the day was 
spent (or mis-spent, according to some versions) in drawing vainly 
about three parts of Straffan Coverts, Castle Dillon, Boston, 
Cullen's Wood, and Bishopscourt. By about three o'clock rain 
ceased, and for an hour nature looked lovely, the evening lights 
bringing out the landscape strongly, as varnish does on canvas. 
The field meantime received constant accessions of sportsmen and 
sportswomen who had been sane enough to reserve themselves for 
dry weather. 

The Friday previously was anxiously looked forward to by those 
who take their pleasure in the green fields of Kildare and Meath. 



146 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

The former pack met at the eighteen-mile stone, and went first 
to Silliott Hill, where a fox got headed, and showed no sport 
afterwards. In Pimchestown Gorse they found a second, who 
was followed not hunted over Punchestown (where the brook 
watered a gallant captain who has turned his sword into an 
agricultural or pastoral implement, and also received in its embrace 
a very hard-riding dragoon) ; thence by Tipper and Craddocks- 
town and Killashee, into Rathascar, and so on to Herbertstown, 
whence pursuit was abandoned. 

In Meath, Larracor was the meeting-point, Trotter's Gorse 
the first draw. It did not hold; but Moneymore gave them a fox, 
who ran by Rathmolyon, and was believed to have jumped into a 
conservatory, for the hounds made nothing of him afterwards. 

The Ward Union men had another good day last Wednesday, 
the stag taking them past Dunshaughlin from a point near the 
Ten-mile Bush Farm, and was captured somewhere near Drumree. 

While sport has been so scant in the midland and eastern 
portions of the island, it is refreshing to hear of something better 
in the south. Lord Doneraile's hounds met at Miltown Castle on 
this occasion, and, after putting one fox to the ground and walking 
some distance over a fine line with another, went back to try 
Boulard a second time, when they got away close to their fox, and 
took him by Curraghglass and Gibbings Grove, where he bent 
round for his original place, and saved himself in a drain. Time 
forty-five minutes ; horses beaten off. 

From Bowen's Court, on another day, they had a sharp 
seventeen minutes' race to ground, and then a long run with good 
bits in it right into Sir David Roche's country, the fox getting to 
ground in the main earths at Darragh. 

I see the subject of the increase or decrease of game in 
Ireland is being discussed in your columns just now, and traps 
and trapping are assigned their proper place in accounting for the 
scarcity in some districts which would otherwise have abounded 
in fur and feather. Hares are just now the desideratum, and hares 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 147 

are minishing most alarmingly. As a set-off, however, I may 
remark that on Saturday last, while the Kildare hounds were on 
their way to Irishtown Gorse, I saw in one of Major Barton's 
large pastures more hares than I think I ever saw in a single field 
in England or Scotland. 

The west wind brings a tale of better sport in the west than 
we have been favoured with in the east and midlands. This is an 
epitome of Mr. Burton Persse's " good things " since his hounds 
resumed hunting : On the 4th, twenty-three minutes, at great pace, 
over a fine line from Carra Gorse, in the Loughrea country ; three 
besides the master having about the best of it. On the gth, a 
brilliant thirty minutes over a fine line from Castle Taylor, and 
a hunting run to follow. On the izth, a good gallop in the after- 
noon, which darkness stopped in the Athenry country. On the 
1 4th they were in the Eyre Court country, and raced down a 
fox from Chesterfield Gorse in fifteen minutes, rolling him over in 
the open. A bad fox in the evening gave them an hour of slow, 
twisting hunting. On the i6th they found a good fox at Raford, 
and killed him in the open, after a capital twenty-five minutes, 
interrupted by only one slight pause ; while Carnakelly set them 
going again, and gave the field rather more than enough to do. 

P.S. Scent has returned to our fields. The Kildare hounds 
had a capital day from the Downshire on Monday. The Meath 
rejoiced in three good runs that day forty-six minutes, twenty- six 
minutes, and twenty-three minutes, the last ending in a kill. On 
Tuesday they had one of the most extraordinary long persevering 
pursuits that any pack ever enjoyed. It began at the Poor-house 
Gorse, Dunshaughlin, at about 11.30 a.m., and finished with the 
death of the fox at Parsonstown (not in the King's County) at about 
2.30 p.m., having been, uninterruptedly sustained during those 
hours ; while bits of it were fast enough, and it was all over grass. 
I must postpone details till my next letter. 



i 4 8 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



XL 

"Well-nigh three hours the open kept, 
As stout a fox as ever slept." 



Stony Batter and mud batter Poor-house Gorse run Rathbeggan stag-ch 
Garradice United Cork, etc., etc. 

IF we are to believe high authority, no verses can live or please 
the public ear for any length of time that are written by water- 
bibbers : 

" Nulla placere diu nee vivere carmina possunt 
Qua3 scribuntur aquse potoribus." 

" Who water drink, in water think ; 
Good wine's the sap of poet's ink." 

And yet, all this notwithstanding, the laureate of the great games 
of Greece tells us that water is the best thing out, apiarov p*v vSup. 
Lord Palmerston's gloss upon this was about on a par with many 
of his witty and wise sayings. The story goes that Mr. Glad- 
stone, who had just returned from the Ionian Isles, was expatiat- 
ing upon the " curious old wines," strong of resin and sulphur, 
which he had recently been quaffing, when his chief struck in 
with the remark, " Well ! I now can understand Pindar's eulogy 
of water." Without daring to detract one iota from the great 
element in the composition of all things, I may be permitted to 
remark that just now there is far too much en evidence for hunting 
purposes. The roads overflow with it; the fields are partially 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 149 

turned into lakes ; the pastures, with their beaten-down grasses, 
look as if a heavy roller had passed over them ; and the grass 
land in the rich vale of Dublin and Meath rides so heavy, that no 
one whose figure does not in some measure resemble the New- 
market standard has a chance of seeing the hounds if they run 
fast and long. How, in the old O.U.B.C. days, one used to 
envy the Titans in flannel who pulled five and seven in "the 
'Varsity " ; how one longed for their expanse of chest and swelling 
biceps ! Now, if one has to ride at all, the ambition is all the 
other way. Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt ! oh that 
my millionth or billionth grandsire (according to Darwin) in 
the aeons gone by had transmitted to me the prehensile sinewy legs 
(how lovely they would look in tops !) and the long, thin, flexible 
arms of the Simise ! But then perhaps the horse would be too 
slow for such ambitions, and a pterodactyl would be essential for 
the requirements of scent and pace in slime. Footprints in the 
sands of time, indeed ! We are daily making our mark in the 
pastures of green Erin, writing our characters too in a fashion 
that will last for many a day. Mud fever and scarred legs have 
of course appeared in stables, but I do not think the visitation 
has been so general or severe as in former years ; perhaps we 
understand the treatment better than of yore. If any one is 
ambitious of trying an experiment in mud baths and their con- 
sequences on cloth and horse's coat, I will tell him the best plan 
I know of for his operations. Emerging from Arran Quay in 
Dublin, and facing northwards, you will in a few hundred yards 
find yourself in a street not unknown in song, called "Stoney 
Batter." A quarter of a mile further will bring you into com- 
parative ruralism, and here " mud batter " begins, and for three or 
four miles your progress is through a deep liquid slush canal, 
fortunately not more than a few inches in depth, whose bottom is 
so uneven that with every jolt of your springs or peck of your 
horse the filthy liquid flies upwards, to settle on coat, hat, or face, 
or all three. This is the main road to Dunboyne, and I believe 



150 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Trim also. Those with local knowledge avoid this Mala Via, 
making a considerable detour through the Phoenix Park. Those 
in a hurry to catch hounds, say at Dunboyiie or Norman's 
Grove, may easily fall into the trap. For the benefit of those 
who like to present one side of their tops moderately clean at 
a meet, and to be recognizable by their acquaintances, I mention 
the abomination. 

Monday, the i8th inst, was, in the language of the country, 
a soft day, though I am not sure that enough rain fell to warrant 
the epithet fully; but, if not falling, it was in suspense, and its 
descent was little more than a question of hours. A small field 
met the Ward Union pack at Kilrue, the 3rd Dragoon Guards 
forming the staple of the soldier element, and they sent a coach- 
load; the red-coats might nearly be counted on one hand, and 
the visitors did not much exceed a score. Among them was 
Lord Clanmorris (on a racing chestnut), Captain Fitzgerald 
(on a young brown horse), Mr. Murphy (on Sapling),' the Hon. 
Captain Rowley, and Captain M'Clintock Bunbury. The sport 
was not so good as usual. A good-looking red deer, enlarged on 
Mr. Reid's land at Ballymacoll, showed a strong penchant for 
road work for a bit, running short circles till past Ballintry, when 
he struck off towards Mulhuddart, inclined slightly to the right till 
he reached a place called " The Main," and then went off in a bee 
line till he gained soil and sanctuary at donee Bridge, the last 
mile having been done at good pace, and crossing a couple of small 
brooks or ditches which had the pretentions of brooks to-day. 
The stream at Clonee was in flood, and had overflowed its banks 
considerably, so it was no easy task to save the quarry, as 
the pack were swimming round him; and, even after they had 
been collected together on terra firma, it took nearly half an hour, 
two colley dogs, and a lasso to effect a capture. In compliance 
with the wishes of the farmers, no second deer was enlarged. 

The week began well in Kildare. The county pack met in 
Blessington village, when, notwithstanding the invitation of a 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 151 

lovely da)', which succeeded a night of rain, the attendance was 
very small indeed. The customary programme is to go from the 
main street of Blessington through a spacious avenue (which once 
led to a lordly mansion that the lava flood of '98 did not spare) 
into Downshire Park, a large walled-in grassy space, of which only 
a small portion is fringed by trees, where the surface is broken up 
into a curious succession of hills and hillocks, on the slopes of 
one of which a gorse covert was planted long ago, and has given 
Kildare a series of as good and famous runs as any she embraces 
in her area. This covert has been cut down for some time, and has 
not yet attained holding age or proportion ; but the spacious park 
has many a furzy patch in its extent, and these are seldom with- 
out a fox or two. The ordinary routine was adhered to now; 
the usual result followed a fox turned up in the park and crossed 
the Naas road. The hounds followed him they could not be 
said to drive or force him along ; but as they were on Slieve Rhua 
Hill the complexion of things changed for the better, and from 
this point they sent their fox gaily along into Punchestown Gorse in 
the vale below. Here several fresh foxes jumped up, but the pack 
stuck resolutely to their own, and forced him out of the gorse, 
when he ran rather by a different line to his first departure, keeping 
over Athgarrett Hill. Next he crossed the Downshire Park, and 
ran through the gorse there till he reached the Blessington road. 
Here he turned back into the park, and got into a sewer, from 
which he issued presently (not bolted), and was rolled over close 
to the town of Blessington. Strangely enough, a second fox 
issued very soon after from the same sewer ; so we may hope 
non deficit alter, to run as good a chase when wanted by-and-by. I 
do not know the time of the gallop up to Punchestown, the 
first stage ; the return or second stage occupied forty-five minutes. 
The line was a grassy one, and, the soil being light, it rode quite 
unaffected by the recent rainfall. 

On the same day the Meath hounds met at Brittas, and had 
forty-six minutes thence via Robertstown twenty-five minutes very 



152 HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A. 

good from the second covert drawn and twenty-three from 
Farrenalcock Gorse, killing their fox. A Leicestershire man who 
was out told me the country and flying fences reminded him much 
of that paradise of hunting men and women. 

On Tuesday, the igth, a rather limited field met the Meath 
hounds at the ancient village of Dunshaughlin, whose surroundings 
and historical traditions I alluded to in a recent letter. Like 
Mr. Gummidge, Dunshaughlin had seen better days ; and brighter 
hunting days than the present had beamed on it for the array is 
sparse enough, considering the character of the country and the 
facilities for reaching it. The cause is not far to seek. His 
Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught was the guest of the 
yth Dragoons last night, in Newbridge Barracks ; the Royal 
Horse Artillery also entertained a number of hunting men ; 
and we may be quite sure that the staff in the Curragh Camp 
are opening hospitable arms to other hunting guests, and stretch- 
ing their stables to the utmost limits of expansion to put up their 
hunters. The soldiers are the true descendants of the Knights 
Hospitallers, and when hunting (the image of war, you know) 
is in question, huts and barracks, like Aladdin's wonderful lamp, 
are made to furnish everything that is good, genial, and comfort- 
ing to the spirit and flesh of mortal. These facts will account 
for the absence of many from the ranks in Dunshaughlin (let 
me duly acknowledge the hospitable provocation which nearly 
made me a deserter) ; while peradventure lots of hunting 
" casuals " prefer the easily reached Newbridge and its 
surroundings to the equally easily reached Dunshaughlin and 
the vicinity. Quot homines, tot sententia. I can only say that, 
while I am ignorant at this instant of the result of the New- 
bridge gathering and les gros bataillions, I can aver that we, 
the minority, had a hunting run, which, for length artd country 
traversed, is rarely equalled by any pack in the three kingdoms in 
a cycle of seasons. The morning was fine and grey. By 
1 1 a.m. it began to cloud over heavily, and menace of rain filled 



HIBEXNIA VENATTCA. 153 

the western horizon, to the confusion of those who had no 
overcoats, and had donned the "better" pink to do honour 
to the smiling morn. Half a dozen cars and carriages less 
than a dozen certainly and some sixty or seventy horsemen 
form a total of our field muster. Among the visitors are Lord 
Rossmore on a very fine lengthy chestnut, Colonel Forster on 
Greek Fire, Captain Candy, Mr. Dundas on a roan, Captain 
M'Clintock Bunbury on a clever-looking grey horse, and Mr. 
Rose on a good-looking brown horse ; while a few Ward Union 
men helped to swell the ranks a little. It is always a subject 
of regret to see the fugleman of a field hors de combat, if 
only temporarily, and Mr. Trotter has certainly attained that 
position in Meath by continuously riding to the front, no matter 
what the country, for three or four seasons. He was driving 
to-day on a car forbidden to ride for a week or two, in conse- 
quence of a fall. Trotting down the usual laneway, we come 
in ten minutes to a small gorse in the middle of grassy fields. 
It is known as the Poor-house Gorse, for there is the poor-house 
facing it, a quarter of a mile to the eastwards. No sooner were 
the hounds "leud" in than a fox went away, pointing for Ash- 
bourne, when he inclined a very little to the right, and ran through 
some wild patches of gorse at the back of the poor-house. Here 
we were confronted by a very wide ditch, which could not have 
been jumped, as least by most out, had the sides not sloped 
inwards. Some jumped, some crept down, nearly all got over 
somehow. In a couple of fields we are bearing to the left ; 
our fox is evidently ringing back, and there is not much scent; 
so for a time there follows a very short check in a small planta- 
tion. And now we are under way again, in the original 
direction, but at rather a slow and hesitating pace. Presently 
we cross the Dublin road, and here we are by the edge of the 
river and wooded bank that guards the fearful Ten-mile Bush 
Farm, which I have more than once noticed in recent letters. 
Our course diverges now to the right a little, and the first obstacle 



i 5 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

is a rhene or brook, ugly enoygh and big enough, and with 
certain black tokens on the far side which speak of soft falling 
if you get so far. How many got in I cannot say, but among 
the unfortunate were two who we may be quite certain did harden 
their hearts and put their horses at it with resolution Goodall 
the huntsman and Captain Candy. (Melting moments these.) Nor 
did the process of getting out look half as easy as getting in; 
but their friends must not mourn no coroner will pronounce 
his " Found drowned " on them yet, at any rate. Over the brook 
and a smaller edition in the' shape of a drain or two, we are 
confronted by a huge double, sedgy and reed-grown really 
nothing much to jump, but rather appalling if you are not sure 
of your mount. I think Lord Langford, Captain Bunbury, and 
Mr. Dundas piloted us over. I fancy I recollect following a 
lady who rode a neat grey over it. We are now entering 
Parsonstown Manor, close to the Batterstown railway station, and 
hounds begin to mend their pace forthwith. Some stalk off to 
the right, some keep a* line parallel to the metals (just the course 
a deer ran the other day) ; the former had much the best of 
it when the pack turned, which they did presently, running through 
Johnstown lands, thence past Dunshaughlin village, and then 
dipping down into that fine valley under Culmullen. Why the 
fox did not try Culmullen, I know not the harbour was within 
a mile or rather more, and it might have saved his life; but 
the probability is that he was one of a litter brought out near 
Parsonstown Manor House, and for that reason he neglected 
Culmullen and the friendly gorses of Mulhussey and Colistoun, 
which latter covert the hard-riding Mr. M'Gerr looks after most 
efficiently. If this theory be correct, it brought him over again 
across the Meath line by Parsonstown, over the wide pastures 
of the Bush Farm (whose gates were fortunately open), thence 
across the Dunboyne Road to a point very near the Fairy 
House, the capital of stag-hunting. Here he turned, and made 
Mr. Thunder's park of Lagore, through which he ran resolutely 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 155 

onwards, neglecting apparently its countless burrows, into which 
he might have crept and saved himself. Once more he brushes 
by the Poor-house Gorse, and threads that path which he has taken 
twice already, across the Dublin road, and so on to Parsonstown. 
But if this place saw his birth, it also saw his death. Who-whoop, 
who-whoop ! they have him at last ! a strong and determined 
fox, if inclined to twist and zigzag not a little ; for the chase 
began at 11.30 a.m., and till 2.30 p.m. they have been running 
him continuously, and sometimes at good pace. Multiply seven 
miles Irish by three, and you will have a total of twenty-one Irish 
miles, done on rich holding grass lands ; nor is seven Irish miles 
a very grand or exaggerated estimate of fair hunting pace. Had 
this run been moderately straight, it would have been something 
extraordinary ; as it was, I have heard of nothing equal to it this 
season so far. To be on grass land for three hours is in itself a 
luxury, and, beyond a small garden near a cottage, I cannot call 
to my mind any plough in the circuit. Thrusters of the noli me 
tangere order despise circular runs. To the preponderating 
majority they are everything, enabling them to see many stages, 
if not all, of a fine long pursuit, and to be in front also occa- 
sionally. 

In a twisting run of this immense length, of course there were 
innumerable changes in the front ranks of spectators. The metals 
of the Navan line, for instance, threw out one or two good men 
into temporary exile. Some went wide at Culmullen, and lost 
that good bit. In the second stage the hardest rider and the 
best-mounted man in the world might find himself pounded in 
the Bush Farm. Goodall came to watery grief a second time, 
when going in his usual fine form. (By the way, I have since 
heard that a sportsman from Leicestershire had his ear invaded 
with a deafening effect by a small fish, which he picked up in the 
brook.) A noble lord who had gone well desisted in the Bush 
Farm, after his third fall. Lord Langford, who had been ex- 
tremely well carried for two-thirds of the journey, lost a fore shoe 



156 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

towards the end, and had to give up, when lost shoes and dead 
beat were not synonymous terms. Passing through Lagore and 
Dunshaughlin Gorse the last time, there were not many near the 
pack, but among them were Messrs. M'Gerr (on a capital black 
hunter), Dunne, Coleridge, Dundas, Thunder, Maher, and 
Aungier, while Messrs. Hone and Kearsley were among the 
finishers. Nearly every hound took his part in the worry. To 
have ridden eight or ten miles of the run was a treat ; to have 
never quitted them was an aureole to man or horse. The ladies, 
three especially, went admirably. 

In Kildare, on the same date, sport did not patronize the 
crowds who ventured to the Barrack meet. There was a gorgeous 
gallery. The jumping powder purveyed by the soldier officers 
was as exhilarating as ever ; but scent and luck combined against 
the prospects of the day, and a fox chopped in Martinstown, and 
some pottering round the Curragh and Carrick Hill, were nearly 
the sole outcome of great expectations. The soldiers and civilians 
who trained down from Dublin pronounced the unanimous verdict 
that the game was not worth the candle, seeing that the Great 
Southern and Western line, who are more liberal to the racing 
than the hunting interest, made the said candle an extremely 
expensive taper. Two consecutive fine hunting days is too much 
to expect just now ; consequently Wednesday was as continuously 
dripping in the earlier hours, as soakingly heavy in the later, as 
the heart of a wildfowl need wish. 

The Ward Union hounds met at Rathbeggan, very near the 
glorious finish of yesterday's fox chase, and through rain and mud 
a select party of about thirty-five, or perhaps even less, journeyed 
to the trysting-place, something like a dozen English miles from 
the metropolis. On the left hand, after passing Dunboyne, flood 
usurped the entire valley ; the right-hand pasture land lay higher, 
but was partially under the dominion of water. The best thing 
to do under the circumstances was to ride up towards the highest 
land in the basin ; so the deer-cart was sent up the Fairy House 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 157 

Lane, and an unknown, untried deer made her debut on the lands 
of Porterstown. From this point she pushed on past Dun- 
shaughlin village, and skirted the Lagore Marsh now more like 
a sedgy lake then holding on by Harbourstown towards Pries- 
town, she turned back as if for Batterstown ; but brushing by the 
Pinkeen Bridge, where there was a slight check, she held her way 
on direct to the Fairy House racecourse and stand, beyond which 
point, when seemingly bound for Ratoath, she crossed the road 
leading^ to that town, and once more got on to the verge of 
Lagore, giving the half-dozen who were still pursuing a deepish 
river to cross on our track. It was just a nice fly ; but horses are 
not in flying trim after an hour and fifty minutes in such a country. 
However, Mr. McCullagh did it cleverly and quietly. Lord Clan- 
morris, who was on a very smart chestnut mare, probably to be 
heard of between the flags, etc., etc., hopped over it as if it had 
been a mere drain. Mr. Hanaway, who was on a hot but very 
good chestnut, sounded its depths ; the other three well, we 
found out a ford which was very nearly a swim for some horses, 
and so got over'after a few minutes' delay ; while Charley Brindley, 
on his celebrated grey mare, despised this slow process, and flew 
it to our right. Another river, hardly jumpable, hardly crossable, 
is in front now ; the hounds have thrown up their heads ; rain is 
coming down in heavy torrents. Another deer must be left out, 
I very much fear. We are now close to Ratoath, or its outer 
edge, and the time is said to be two hours from the enlargement 
to the fault at the Ratoath stream. " Never rode such a race," 
says a noble lord ; " No, more did I," says a commoner, who 
always rides hard, whether between flags or in the hunting field. 
Is it not somewhat of a coincidence that two such runs should 
follow each other so immediately, and partially over the same 
country ? for the big Poor-house drain, an initial fence of yesterday, 
was in the track to-day. 

His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught was out to-day, 
riding the roan horse I have before alluded to, and for an hour 



158 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

as I hear was quite a pioneer. I cannot speak of his hautsfatts, 
nor of those of several good and gallant men, for the simple 
reason that I did not see them, having only nicked in for the 
latter part of this splendid gallop, when several left off riding, 
thinking the best part of the fun was over. I hear that among 
the heavy weights Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Meldon were going very 
well. Mr. W. Stewart's Gamekeeper mare also proved herself as 
stout as she is brilliant, persevering on till the end ; but I believe 
the fugleman of the earlier part of the run was Mr. Coppinger, on 
Honeymoon. 

In justice to the authorities who rule over the mud canal 
I referred to, I must say that at last some repairs are being 
attempted. Stones are laid over the grosser ruts; but plenty 
of mud remains for experimental observers. Every day lately 
has brought sport to the United Hunt (Cork). As illustrations 
we may take the i5th, when they met at Dunkettle, the residence 
of the M.F.H., Mr. Thomas Gubbins, in much rain. A quick 
find, and a four-mile steeplechase till the fox was rolled over in 
a fifty-acre field, were the results. On the i8th they met at 
Mogeely, and found at once in Castle Martyr, Lord Shannon's 
park, sending their fox to ground in a limekiln, after about two 
miles. In the Strand Road Covert they found a second, who 
took them along gaily beyond Cloyne, where a long check ensued. 
Saunders, however, presently hit off the line, and him too they 
rolled over in the open, Captain Hunt, Mr. and Miss Longfield, 
seeing the chase very well all through. The mastership of the 
pack will be vacant at the close of the present season, and the 
bait ought to tempt enterprise and adventure, seeing that the 
committee, besides keeping the country, proffer ten or eleven 
hundred a year. The pack belongs to the committee, who would 
lend it on terms and conditions of the most liberal nature to the 
master : and the stock of foxes is one that reflects great credit on 
the preservers and promoters of the royal game in their riding 
of Cork. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 159 

Of Thursday I can only state that the weather seemed to 
prelude a white Christmas, for it was very bitterly cold, and much 
soft snow fell for an hour or two, though it did not lie. I made 
a mistake in a fixture, and did not find out my blunder till late, 
after hacking a long distance. A blunder in Ireland is, of course, 
a very natural thing; but, as such a thing might possibly occur 
anywhere, I make a suggestion, in the printing interest, that 
hunting men who have many engagements should have cards in 
triplicate one to be placed near the scene of early shaving, one 
in the hall, and one in the saddle-room, so that your groom's 
audit may correct any lapse of eye or hurried glance of your own. 

The card was correctness itself. My eye was wrong ; or did 
I trust somebody's unauthoritative ipse dixit ? I fear this was the 
case. Rahinstown meet and the subsequent events are now 
matters of (fox) history. I dip my pen into the ink bottle, and 
record the sport of the day. Ink is fluid still not frozen ; that's 
encouraging, at any rate, while frost is supreme out of doors, and 
has no small influence within, too. Rahinstown forms one of a 
triad of parks which almost border one another Summerhill, 
Lord Langford's ; Agher, Mr. Winter's ; Rahinstown, Mr. Fowler's. 
It is a phoenix, inasmuch as it has arisen recently from the ashes 
of a mansion burnt down some three or four years ago, of which 
catastrophe I recollect writing you an account at the time of its 
occurrence. The country round is not pleasant or inviting to the 
hunting eye. Moss and peat mix largely with the vale; while 
the little hills, of which there is a perfect eruption, are poor and 
thin of soil gravelly for the most part, and not scent-retaining 
by any means. No greater contrast could be presented to the 
wide-ranging pasture through which one rides or drives either 
from Kilcock or Dunboyne. The outlook in the earlier hours 
was very anti-hunting. Snow flakes were eddying about in the 
air current ; the grasp of hard frost was on the earth ; it seemed 
even betting on a fall of snow. By ten o'clock, however, the sun 
came out, and everything brightened a bit, though the cold was 



t 6o HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

great, and a searching north wind bit into you shrewdly. The 
eastern mountain barrier gleamed white with new-fallen snow, 
ice filmed over the surface water, and one's reins gave one the 
feeling of touching hot iron. There was a very good-sized 
assembly in front of Mr. Fowler's house, and the juvenile element, 
like the bees in Virgil's poem, " ludit favis emissa juventus " the 
working " cells " being, I suppose, thfe school-rooms, now to be 
forgotten for six (we'll hope very pleasant) weeks. Some were on 
ponies, hunters in miniature ; but one young gentleman rode a 
very fine brown mule, who seemed, if willing, capable of great 
things. There were not a great many visitors or strangers pre- 
sent, if we except Lord Rossmore, Mr. Forbes, and Mr. Russell, 
of Limerick ; but here is the gorse, which clothes luxuriantly one 
of these little hills I alluded to just now. It is tenanted, be sure, 
for no hare could evoke such notes, were the Meath hounds 
capable of riot of which I believe the single-season hunters 
are quite free, even under strong provocation. Away he goes, 
making a half-circuit of the park, and past the farmstead, the 
hounds very near him, and carrying a very good head indeed. 
Now they are on plough the soil peaty, and a poor medium for 
scent they are at fault ; but Saffron, a fine, large-sized hound, 
repairs the telegraph, and away they go nearly back to the gorse, 
then on towards the obelisk in the lands of Dangan Castle, 
leaving Rathmolyon village and church to the left hand. Pre- 
sently our fox turns in to the Bullring Gorse, where the brook and 
double caused some amusing scenes. After a mile it is no use 
persevering, we must give him up the record is lost. 

Agher Woods are now the scene. A quick find, a tremendous 
scurry through the park at racing pace for those who were not 
keeping a sharp look-out for the pack, followed by a sharp burst 
into Agher Red Bog. Garradice Gorse, the next draw, is a better 
prospect for the gallop we want to stir the blood and quicken 
pulsation. One hound, with a very deep note, tells us a fox is 
there, though not very willing to leave its warmth and thickness. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 161 

At last the steeplechase begins (because men somehow start from 
this gorse as if they knew they had not more than a mile or two 
before them, and are determined it shall be fast, if brief). The 
third fence, an up-bank, has a treacherous cut on the far side, and 
Mr. Dundas and Mistletoe come down, apparently heavily. A 
few fields more, and grief is rampant ; loose horses, led horses, 
all the tokens are there. On through Larch Hill lands ; but the 
hounds are pausing now. After this it is a potter, I think a 
fruitless one; at any rate, your scribe pottered home minus a 
shoe. This pack was at Balrath Bury yesterday. Foxes were 
not wanting ; but, beyond some hunting between Balrath and 
Drewstown, the day was inglorious. 

The Westmeath had, I hear, fair sport on Monday last, 
between Gaybrook and Galston Parks, killing a fox from the latter 
after about an hour's pursuit. From Irishtown, on Wednesday, 
they had another good chase, the line leading past Ballinacargy 
and Rathcourath. 

I find in my account of Tuesday's engrossing run (from the 
Poor-house Gorse, Dunshaughlin) that I have over-stated the time 
by a good many minutes, twenty at least, though my estimate of 
the distance is not very incorrect some say understated. This 
makes the hounds' performance a better one even than I had 
conceived. Captain M'Clintock Bunbury, I should have added, 
as first up, had the handling of the stout fox prior to the worry. 

P.S. I must not forget to include among the great hunting 
successes of the week a very fine hunting run which the West 
Meath hounds had on Friday last, while we in Eastern Meath were 
" beat, bafHed, and blown " from want of scent ; nor a capital 
gallop which the Kildare hounds gave us on Saturday (to-day) 
from Cullen's Gorse, when the upper crust of the earth was frost- 
bound, and it seemed doubtful whether hounds would come to 
the meet at all. The pack had a moderate day on Thursday last, 
when they met at Tinoran cross-roads, deficient earth-stopping 
being the principal feature of the day. 

M 



1 62 HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A. 



XII. 

' Shivere, shakere, diluculo ! 
May be very wholesome but not for Joe ! " 

Revised Latin Grammat 



Maynooth Cullen's Gorse Christmastide The Mount Neil run Mr. 
French's death Trim ' ' London. " 

THOSE who got up before nine o'clock a.m. on Saturday, the 
23rd and to do so required some stoicism saw the winter of 
pictures very grandly illustrated ; a sky cold and repelling, while 
a sun which only Turner could interpret was suffusing the east 
with saffron hues; the air hushed and still; beasts and birds 
wearing that patient, subdued air of resignation which the first 
touch of winter in earnest brings ; ponds skirted over with ice ; 
but consoling feature ! the earth was overspread with rime, and 
it requires but little divination to know that such a frost is seldom 
a stayer. 

The Kildare hounds were due at Maynooth, where the moist 
water-sodden vale, well carpeted with luxuriant grass, afforded 
a better prospect of riding than any country I know of outside the 
Ward Union limits ; but so hard was the ground in the forenoon 
that I saw a very bold pointer, full of go and with good feet, 
utterly unable to beat his ground in his wonted style. " Will the 
hounds come ? " was the anxious problem of many. The hounds 
did come, and the ivy-mantled ruins of the old Geraldine keep 
looked down upon a very goodly company gathered together in 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 163 

the cause of fox-hunting; but as their horses' hoofs made the 
adamantine roads resound again, the hope of hunting to-day 
seemed somewhat a forlorn one. A very cosmopolitan gather- 
ing it was. Lots of border men from Meath, well-mounted as 
they generally are, among whom we may mention Lord Langford, 
the Hon. Captain Rowley, Mr. A. Macneil, Mr. Dunne, and 
a few more ; the Queen's County sent Mr. and Mrs. Adair, who 
seldom miss a Kildare Saturday, and are equally fortunate in 
securing good front places in the gallops which Saturday rarely 
fails to bring to Kildare. Lord Oranmore represented Galway on 
a fine stamp of bay weight-carrier, who, I hear, galloped fast in 
France between flags. 

H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, on his Lawyer horse, was in 
the field, attended by Captain Maurice Fitzgerald, his equerry. 
The Dublin Garrison was not in force, the Hon. Captain Scott and 
one or two more being the sole champions of that powerful hunt- 
ing body. Dublin contributed Mr. Roberts and Mr. Robertson, 
both admirably mounted. Mr. Rose was ready to ride hard for 
Limerick, his native county no hard task on the beautiful Zouave 
horse that carried him. The 75th Regiment of the line sent 
Captain Beresford and Mr. Keevil Davis. Kildare Lower 
Kildare, I mean, for in all probability Upper Kildare was looking 
to its skates was in strong force. Leicestershire was championed 
by Captain and the Hon. Mr. Candy, while Eton (Bucks) sent 
two of its alumni in Mr. W. Forbes's sons, both admirably 
mounted, both fully capable of doing justice to good mounts. 
But the bell rings ; the play begins ; we are entering the splendid 
park of Carton through the Maynooth avenue, Lord Maurice 
Fitzgerald the sole representative of his ducal house in the field 
to-day. Park-hunting is park-hunting, and, though few fairer 
theatres exist for its exhibition than Carton, it is not interesting 
in the relation or the reading. Let us pass over an hour or two 
spent in fine woods and spacious pastures, and let us trot up the 
lane leading to Cullen's Gorse, where the usual jam and other 



1 64 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

features of the sort reproduce themselves. The find is quick as 
lightning; a few who are very well placed jump through the well- 
known gap, cantering down the pasture in front of them, only to 
find that the fox has not gone on his usual track now ; he has 
turned towards Carton, and we have to clatter back along the 
lane-way again, to find that the fox, probably headed, has bent 
to the right, and is running towards Castletown Park. Towards, 
but not to; for presently he bends to the right, and, shaping 
a course over some swampy-looking ground, which really was not 
bad riding at all, and most suitable to the exigencies of the 
day, he swept along at great pace through this bit of vale ; on 
through Corbally, passing by Mr. Wrecker's farm, where a double 
or two detained some sportsmen ; and so on to the gentle acclivity 
of Windgate Hill, down once more into the vale, pointing for 
Rathcoffey ; then with an inclination to the right, through Griffins- 
town, by Lady Chapel on to Laragh. And here a flock of sheep 
caused a long check, and suspended hunting for some time, till 
the clue was regained at Taghadoe Covert, in which our fox, who 
had got fifteen or twenty minutes to the good, had taken refuge. 
From this point he was hunted till the first bit of newly turned-up 
plough brought the pack to their noses, and gave our fox another 
good start. Thence we followed him slowly to the cross-roads of 
Windgate Hill; over the hill, across the Celbridge road, through 
Captain Johnson's farm, till waning light and failing scent stopped 
further investigation, for I cannot call the last part of our chase 
pursuit. The going over the vale was very good unexpectedly 
so, I should think, to many and, though a few banks had rather 
hard tops and sides, the fencing (mostly of a flying nature) was 
very pleasant, and there were not so many falls as might have 
been anticipated. Mr. Forbes (on Hock) and one of his sons (on 
a capital brown hunter) got off on capital terms, and made use of 
their advantage ; so did Messrs. Bayly and Hanaway, two hard- 
riding men, who will not, I fancy, summon me to Calais or the 
land of the brave Belgians for dwelling on this personal character- 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 165 

istic, or naming their names. Captain R. Mansfield and Mr. 
Percy La Touche met a huge ditch in their progress, which their 
horses failed to clear. (It is described as almost unjumpable, if 
not quite so, where they took it;) and here they had to spend 
many a mauvais quart d'heure till ropes came to extricate them, 
and the first set, I heard, proved too weak for the strain ! 

Talking of horses and their peculiarities, I heard of a rather 
dangerous experience the other day ; but I was not out myself on 
the occasion, so cannot speak from observation. A bold dragoon 
and he needed all his courage bought a horse whose fencing 
was uncertain, but of his vicious or playful habits when his rider 
was prone no doubt existed. After several escapes it seems our 
gay cavalier, who had fallen at an up-bank, was climbing up the 
steep eminence to get out of his hunter's reach. The latter, how- 
ever, would not be denied his opportunity, so he seized his rider 
by the back of his coat with his teeth to have his innings. How 
he was rescued it boots not now to tell ; suffice it to say that I 
have seen the said dragoon going well since, so his nerves may be 
supposed not to have suffered. Most systems would have felt the 
shock for many a day. The Ward Union hounds met at the Flat 
House on this date, and had, I hear, a very enjoyable gallop. 

Apropos of the peculiarities of hunters, let me record here 
a very curious circumstance, to which I know no parallel. Mr. 
Morrogh, on the occasion of his recent accident (a broken leg), 
sent his stud to the hammer at FarrelPs, in Dublin. They were 
seasoned hunters for the most part, well known, and sold to the 
satisfaction of their owner all save one, perhaps the pick of the 
basket, a thoroughly good hunter, but withal a nervous, sensitive 
horse. It is supposed that this horse got thoroughly cowed by 
the usual trials of copers for wind soundness, for just as he was 
about to be sold it was found that his jaw was rigid from tetanus. 
Some fourteen or fifteen days have elapsed since, and I have not 
heard that the horse has been relieved thoroughly yet. Let me 
here state an experience of my own in a foreign country, where 



1 66 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

the veterinary art was still in its infancy and unsystematised. I 
had driven a young mare, a remarkably good goer, a long distance 
as tandem leader ; no sooner was the bit out of her mouth than all 
the symptoms of idiopathic tetanus set in. Circumstances aided 
me. A sheep had been recently killed ; I had the skin put over 
her loins, and kettles of almost boiling water poured over it 
at short intervals for hours. By morning the poor mare was 
relieved. I sold her, and saw her at work afterwards, but never 
the same high-couraged animal as before the nervous seizure. 

Ireland is emphatically the island of saints. Look around its 
ivy-mantled ruins they nearly all wear an ecclesiastical type. 
Many of the bubbling wells and springs to which the peasant 
matron and maid daily resort are rich in saintly story and tradition. 
Like the Spaniard, the Irish Celt built his temple on grand lines, 
before, like the Gaul, he bethought him of his theatre or his own 
domestic hearth ; and, even while his cult was in the cold shade of 
semi-legal proscription, fanes of no mean architectural beauty 
dotted the face of the country. With this exordium let me state 
that all over Ireland foxes and, I believe, hares too had perfect 
repose and peace on Christmas Day. Apollyon himself, in the 
quick, would, I believe, have been granted an armistice on the 
day of universal peace and good will to mankind and our cousins 
the ferae. 

" He prayeth well who loveth well 
Both man, and bird, and beast," 

was the rule and legend sans exception, save in the case of fat 
oxen and double-breasted bubbly-jocks, to whom we showed our 
affection in a very carnal and cannibal fashion. So for forty-eight 
hours the music of hound and the blast of the huntsman's trumpet 
were not heard in Ireland ; and stud grooms had an interregnum 
of two days to repair the exhaustion of nine or ten weeks of con- 
tinuous and wearing strain, latterly intensified by the holding 
nature of the water-sodden ground. Two whole days without 
hunting ! Why, the riding world, like the hero of Donnybrook 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 167 

Fair, was beginning to get blue-mouldy for want of a scurry, more 
especially since the menace of frost and snow had passed away 
like the alarms of war ; and this terraqueous section of the globe, 
after having resumed for a brief interval the nature of crust, had 
relapsed again into a state of crumb and pulp and gelatinism. 
Tuesday was the festa of St. Stephen, the proto-martyr. In John 
Bull's land it is boxing day ; here it is " stoning " day, and bands 
of small boys, accompanied by some mummers, and such music 
as they can command, go about from house to house dancing, 
feasting, and collecting tribute (if they can) in reward for the 
slaughter of sundry wrens, whom we may suppose to be stoned to 
commemorate the fate of the saintly deacon. It is a holy day ; 
for sure 'tis under the patronage of St. Stephen. It is a jolly day ; 
for sure that mighty moon, John Jameson, who sways the tides in 
the affairs of men (and women) in Ireland, is under no eclipse 
that day. The armistice is closed ; war upon fur and feather 
aye, even upon the pike who infests lakes and canals is univer- 
sally proclaimed. Almost every man of able body and robust 
health in Ireland on that day becomes for the nonce a sportsman, 
and, donning the insignia of his calling, sallies out on the war 
path. Gunners, anglers, coursers, fox-hunters, stag-hunters, hare- 
hunters, all had their beats marked out for them. Looking at the 
hunting programme from a metropolitan club-window point of 
view, three lines like Sir Robert Peel's celebrated three courses 
presented themselves to the otiose hunting man to whom the deep 
soil and the watery ways had left a horse or two fit to take their 
part in the image of war. The stag-hunter met the Ward Union 
pack at the Flat House, whose vale was far more suggestive of 
otter-hunting than aught else. The Meath hounds met at Swains- 
town, Mr. Preston's residence, and it was well known that His 
Royal Highness would be in the field, as he was the guest 
of Colonel Fraser, V. C., at Bective, and Swainstown was very 
accessible by that delectable Meath line which brings you, 'tis 
true, to the trysting-place in very good time, and also for the most 



1 68 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

part in great personal safety, but takes you away (there are but 
two trains a day on this single line) just as an afternoon fox, 
ungorged and lively, is beginning to show sport : " keeping the 
word of (hunting) promise to the ear to break it to the hope." 
Non tali auxilio. No indeed ! one or two such experiences suffice 
for a season. Certainly not, while Naas and the Great Southern 
and Western line offer a better exodus and a more convenient 
time for retiring from the fray. The Kildare hounds were to meet 
at Naas that day. Swainstown and the Flat House ought to dis- 
pose of many redundant men and horses. Let the glass of fashion 
and the mould of form repair to Swainstown to witch the world 
with noble horsemanship, and to display the recentest triumphs of 
Saville-row and St. James's-street. I will repair to modest Naas 
and its sporting brotherhood peradventure sport will be pro- 
pitious to our minority. Yes, it was a minority compared to the 
legions whom " Naas " on Mr. Gray's correct card usually draws 
to this sporting vortex ; one saw this at once at King's Bridge 
Terminus, where not more than a dozen horse boxes were 
requisitioned for the day's use from garrison, court, and city. Let 
us pass over that slow procession to Sallins, near which town it is 
easy and grievous to see the most attractive flying fences in the 
vale margined by wire. The most salient feature on the route was 
a green and gold band of musicians, the last phantom of Fenian- 
ism, which hopes cere ciere viros martemque accendere cantu. Naas 
was comparatively empty at eleven o'clock, when we reached it ; 
but for this one of the most bitterly cold days that this year has 
evoked must be mainly responsible, for horses had to be kept 
moving fast or in their stables, while every one stuck to his ingle 
nook on such a morning till the very last instant. Five minutes 
past eleven, and then came the hounds; Will Freeman and his 
aide-de-camps all wearing that look of achievement and content 
which a very successful half season has fully warranted ; and now 
the streets are beginning to fill, and horses are pulled out of their 
stalls and boxes ! Among those whom fashion and novelty had 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 169 

not drawn away from Kildare and its hunting grounds were 
Lord Clonmell, the Hon. T. Scott, Mr. W. Forbes, Sir Michael 
Hicks Beach, the Hon. Major Lawless, Captain and the Hon. 
Mrs. Candy, the Baron de Robeck, Colonel Forster, Captain 
Wakefield, R. N., Lord Oranmore, Mr. and Mrs. More O'Farrell, 
General Seymour, Captain Ward Bennett, Mr. Roberts, Captain 
Beresford, a detachment of the yth Dragoons and the Royal and 
Horse Artillery from Newbridge, etc. ; Captains Trench and Mans- 
field, General and Captain Irwin, Mr. Charles Hamilton, Captain 
de Montmorency, Captain Gresson, Mr. Percy and Lady Annette 
La Touche, Captain R. Barton, Captain Fortescue Tynte, Mr. and 
Miss Moore, Mr. Linde, and Mr. Beasley (on Montgomery II.), 
the Misses Kennedy and Owen, Miss O'Kelly, and Mr. Thunder, 
with a good many more leal men and true, loyal to their hunt and 
their own hunting grounds. 

It was a bitter forenoon. The wind was easterly, the glass 
ascending ; but the slopes of the eastern hills were snow-flecked. 
Portentous clouds, charged with rain or snow, hung over our 
heads, and it became only a question of what shape the fall would 
take when the half gale which was blowing in full blast began to 
mitigate its violence. No morning to make fine speeches about 
the compliments of the season, or invoke everything good for the 
coming year. Mr. Mansfield rattled us off at the double to 
Eadestown Gorse by the well-known Punchestown track. The 
irony of fate or circumstance willed it that our line should be cast 
over breezy acclivities to-day ; and, though a fox did not detain 
us more than ten minutes or a quarter of an hour in the tiny 
gorse, it seemed an interminable space of cold, dreary duration. 
Away he goes; away we go, jammed in a gate; then careering 
over a plough and a well-trodden gap, then emerging into grass, 
where the pack checks at the road. Our fox has been headed 
(small wonder, when the place is all but encircled), and is gone 
back. Another twenty minutes, even drearier than the last, and 
then we are in motion again. The fox's first impulse was Punches- 



170 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

town ; now it is Elverstown or Downshire Park. Either would 
do for a fair gallop ; but no fox would face the gale for two 
minutes unless he had a great start, nor does ours; so, sinking 
the wind, he runs parallel to the gorse and the Rathmore road, 
then sweeping over some very fine pasture land, he holds on over 
the Blessington road where a very narrow, newly made bank 
brings a well-known chaser and a good welter-weight to grief 
crosses the wide grassy acres of Newtown Farm, and is supposed 
to have gone to Forenaghts Woods. But hounds hardly hunted 
a yard beyond Newtown pastures, and my theory is that our fox 
doubled up a hedgerow, tried the well-known earths and got back 
to Eadestown. Be that as it may, we gave him up, and went to 
another eminence, which overlooks Arthurstown Gorse, and then 
huddled under banks and thorns to avoid the cutting sting of the 
east wind. Presently the horn informed those capable of hearing 
that our search was vain. The storm of rain now began to 
descend : a stampede homewards was the almost universal instinct. 
A council of the chase convened for the occasion decided (wisely 
I think) that to draw Punchestown Gorse in such weather was not 
advantageous to Kildare's best hunting interests. So ends the 
story of St. Stephen's Day in Kildare as I saw it and felt it. Even 
a short gallop was a pleasure. I have said nothing of the per- 
formance of men and horses in that short spin, and yet it was not 
wholly devoid of episode and incident. Empty saddles were to 
be seen. One of our best light-weights broke two stirrup leathers 
starting in this run, and had a narrow escape of a heavy fall. 
The Hon. Mrs. Candy, who was riding a new four-year-old, had 
the great satisfaction of finding out that her mount was as clever 
in performance as he was taking in appearance. Those who 
elected Naas in preference to Swainstown were right, I find, 
according to the issue ; for, meagre as the sport was in Kildare, it 
was even more jejune in Meath, seeing that Swainstown and 
Kilcarty Corses were foxless to-day, and some park-hunting round 
Dunsany was, I believe, the entire outcome of the long-expected 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 171 

day. By-the-by, what is a good run ? I may give my notion on 
that subject by-and-by; but when I see your generally well-in- 
formed and accurate sporting contemporary actually crediting the 
Osberstown fox (kennel meet, Kildare) with a good run when the 
brute never went four fields from his gorse, I am beginning to 
think that definition is necessary before adjectives can be freely 
used. 

On Wednesday, the 28th, the Ward Union hounds were due 
at Dunboyne village at one o'clock, and, as this village is full of 
hunters just now, I conceived that in all probability there would 
be a very large meet there, seeing that it is not much more than 
eight miles (Irish) from the metropolis, with a railway station close 
by. My anticipations of a large company were erroneous. The 
field was most moderate in extent, and the Garrison was almost 
wholly unrepresented at the assembly. A dark, sombre, foggy 
forenoon; by one o'clock a thin rain began to descend, which, 
like Fame, gained volume in its progress (vires acquirit eundo), 
and by twenty minutes past it descended in sluices, but only last- 
ing long enough to soak every one pretty thoroughly. Before two 
the storm was over, and we were careering after a deer enlarged 
by Baytown Park. First, we had a little ring by way of prelimi- 
nary, then a wide one, which introduced us to several brooks 
(where Mr. A. Macneil's chestnut horse showed very good form), 
and to an array of large, repulsive fences between Baytown and 
Ballymacoll, which required a good hunter's stretch ; then followed 
the capture at a point near Vesington. The day being still young, 
a second deer was enlarged not far from the scene of the capture 
of the first ; and if it did not run very far, it ran over a fine sound 
line, well brooked also, by Crookstown, on to Batterstown, where 
it was secured, Captain Candy, who got very well away, taking 
a leading part in the performance. The Hon. Mrs. Candy was 
riding one of the nicest chesnut horses I have ever seen a lady on, 
and equal, I hear, to any and every country. 

I alluded just now to the diversity of opinion existing about 



172 HI BERN I A YEN ATI C A. 

runs, and the application of qualifying adjectives. Of the follow- 
ing outline of a run I give the mere skeleton there will be very 
little divergence of opinion, I fancy. The date was the 22nd inst., 
the meeting place Moncoin, the pack the Curraghmore. Mount 
Neil, first drawn, was empty. A fox, however, turned up in a 
small plantation on the Curraghmore side of Mount Neil. He 
ran through the covert and pointed for Granny, where some quar- 
ries had ere this saved him opportunely. They were closed now ; 
so he held on for Dunkit, where there was a slight check ; but 
Duke hit off the line directly. It led over the railway and across 
the Blackwater by the bridge, thence right through Bishop's Hall, 
and straight into Tory Hill, where, with the hounds a field behind 
him, he got a refuge among inaccessible rocks. The distance 
from Mount Neil to the finish, as the crow flies, is over nine 
English miles ; as the fox travelled it was about fourteen, and very 
straight, all over grass. The time taken was one hour and thirty 
minutes, and the field had dwindled down to eight or nine, in- 
cluding the huntsman and first whip, the Marquis of Waterford, 
a welter-weight, on Long John, and a couple of ladies who rode 
the gallop admirably. Needless to say, scent was breast high 
nearly all through ; but the fact is, the Curraghmore hounds have 
had very little baffling scent this season ; hence, combined with 
their stout foxes, the grand sport they have shown up to date. 

Friday, the 2 2nd, was also a white-stone day in Western Meath, 
my authority being a Leicestershire man, who was full of the sport, 
the servants and their mounts, and, in fine, of the tout ensemble. 
On this date they met at Delvin, and, finding at South Hill, ran 
their fox through Rosmeade Park (Lord Vaux's) to Ballinlough 
(Sir C. Nugent's), and here there was a short check. Then the 
chase led on towards Heathstown, to Mount Nelson, and thence 
to Drewstown, which is Meath territory, and consequently stopped : 
one hour and a quarter by the unstopped watch. Among the 
leaders in this gallop were the Hon. Mrs. Malone, General the 
Hon. Curzon Smythe, and Captain Candy. A second fox was 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 173 

found in Rosmeade, who got into a rabbit-hole ; but when the 
pack were drawn off he came out, and was hunted into Ballin- 
lough. South Hill produced a third fox, who was hunted as long 
as light lasted, when every one turned in to a late luncheon. 

Saturday's run from Archerstown with the Meath hounds was 
described to me as very good ; but the riding, by all accounts, 
was neither pleasant nor very safe. Kilgar and Clonabraney also 
furnished their quota of good foxes that day. Wednesday, the 
zoth, was another good day in Westmeath; they found a good 
fox in Irishtown Gorse, who took them by Ballinacargy and Fay 
Mount to Rathconrath, where he got into a cave. The time well- 
nigh sixty minutes, the line grass, the pace good, interrupted but 
by a single check. 

Friday, the 22nd again ! The scene is now laid in Wexford, 
where the hounds met at Wilton. Let us hurry on to "the 
Master's Gorse," which, as usual, is full. Forty minutes' ring with 
one ; then the hounds change to a fresh one, and race him towards 
Rossdroit, then through Mr. Hope's large grass farm, over Balla- 
deen, through Ballinavary, across the river Boro at the Flax Mills, 
through Craan, and into the Turret Grove on Carrighill. Here 
the bitches were halloaed on to a fresh fox, whom they raced over 
Davidstown by the back of the chapel, through Moneybore, 
through Rossdroit Wood, over the hill as if he meant to try Lord 
Carew's coverts at Castleboro' ; but, swinging to the left, he swept 
through Moneytucker and Ballybane, winning his way back to the 
Turret Grove (the last eight miles occupied an hour) ; in vain, 
however, for he was rolled over at ten minutes to four o'clock, the 
hounds having been continuously hunting for three hours and 
twenty-five minutes, and part of the time running very fast. Every 
hound, I hear, was up at the finish. 

The Kildare hounds had a good day's sport on Thursday last, 
to which I think I hardly made allusion. The meet was at 
Tinorin cross-roads. The Hill Gorse held a fox, but he was 
killed in covert. Ballyhook was blank ; but Whitestown held a 



174 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

tenant, who ran towards Stratford, then turning over a swampy 
sort of morass, strongly banked, which emptied a good saddle or 
two, he ran back by Wine Tavern to his starting-point, and got 
to ground somehow, after a very enjoyable twenty-six or twenty- 
seven minutes. Copelands held a fox, who ran vid Merganstown 
to Whitestown also, and could not be dislodged. Sleet and snow 
showers coming on caused a dispersion homewards, many of the 
Carlow quota having long rides back, and they were in force 
to-day among them the Messrs. Bunbury, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart 
Duckett, Mr. Beauchamp Bagenal, and Captain Tanner. 

The week, now closing in storm and tempest, has not been 
rich in sport. Hounds blown home ; meets rendered impossible 
from weather considerations ; a race fixture postponed, not from 
frost and snow, but from rain and deluge such have been our 
chief weather characteristics. 

I find I was somewhat premature in denouncing the week of 
storm and rain as barren of sport. While we were enjoying 
ourselves on Wednesday last with a couple of short-running deer 
in the deep Dunboyne country, the Meath hounds had one of 
their brightest days from Beau Pare, Mr. Gustavus Lambart's 
beautiful residence by the Boyne Water. I should say the fun 
began from Beau Pare, which was the scene of the meet ; but it 
was Slater's Gorse that furnished the best morning fox, who gave 
the pack a capital half-hour, though not continuously straight, 
the run ending near Lismullen. His Royal Highness the Duke 
of Connaught, who had been staying at Bective, the guest of 
Colonel Fraser, was in the field, and saw this portion of the day's 
sport. Some military function in Dublin prevented his witnessing 
the concluding part of the day's programme, which turned out 
exceptionally good and brilliant, a straight-necked fox, found at 
Lismullen, taking the pack along fast over a beautiful, sound line 
of grass by the Castle of Screen, past Corbalton into the Reisk, 
nearly an eight-mile point The following day was very good in 
both Kildare and Meath, Cryhelp furnishing a good fox and good 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 175 

sound upland grass in the former, while the Meath hounds began 
with a hunting run from Allenstown (the master's park), and 
wound up with a very enjoyable forty minutes from Rathmore vt'd 
Gilston to Allenstown. 

On Friday the same pack met at Trim, in rain so soaking that 
I saw one of the best of their light-weights turn homewards. 
From Trimlestown Gorse they had a very wide ring, at capital 
sustained space ; another departure from the same gorse after a 
short delay, then a recapitulation of the first couple of miles of 
the run, and a subsequent bend towards New Haggard, near which 
point I believe they failed to account for their quarry a very 
good day's sport, though severe on horses, and not too pleasant 
for the human race. In the Queen's County Mr. Hamilton Stubber 
was at Timogue on Wednesday; found foxes abounding every- 
where, but defective earth-stopping spoilt what might have proved 
a very good day this part of his territory riding comparatively 
light and springy still. 

Your contemporary (the Saturday Review], I see, has told us 
in his wise caustic way that we hunt too much. Was it in 
deference to his pandect, or in consideration of a limited liability 
stable, that I forbore from pursuit on Thursday, and so lost a 
good day in either Kildare or Meath ? If this weather lasts, we 
shall all perforce subscribe to some of his doctrinaire views. 

The recent death of Mr. French, of Ardsallagh, in the County 
Meath, has put many families in mourning, and caused wide gaps 
in the hunting array. His death was the result of a kick from a 
young horse in the hunting-field, on the occasion of the Meath 
hounds meeting at Dunshaughlin, some five or six weeks ago. 
He was a good sportsman, a staunch preserver of foxes in his 
extensive coverts, and entered all his family to the royal sport 
early. Your columns recorded last summer the sad yachting 
disaster by which Mr. French lost his son, and many a friend and 
companion. 

"Multis ille bonis fiebilis occidit." 



i 7 6 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

Mr. French's death stops the Louth hounds for a week; Mr. 
Filgate, their master, being his son-in-law. Hunting has this 
season been fearfully prodigal of life and limb in men and 
horses. 

Let me finish the year's hunting in this letter I mean that 
modest portion thereof that comes within my power of seeing and 
hearing. Saturday, the 3oth December, the last hunting day in 
Ireland, England, and Scotland, of 1876, was, so far as Kildare 
went and with that pack I throw in my lot anything but a 
red-letter epoch. II pluit averse was the only way to describe the 
torrents of the morning up to 10.30 a.m., to which succeeded a 
clear warm afternoon, whose fineness and serenity were only 
broken by a single shower. Belgard Gorse was the first draw. 
The last time we were there was in fog ; a clear sky did not 
improve the position, for the hounds were inside a park wall. 
The field, if like good boys they did what the master told them, 
were half-bogged in a bit of heavy, soaked plough outside. There, 
with one or two false starts, to diversify proceedings, we stayed 
for an hour or more. At last we heard or saw, by such sema- 
phores as hats raised a long distance off, that the fox had broken 
and gone away. When we emerged into grass-land from plough, 
the leaders were half a mile in front, the rear rank half a mile 
behind the middle division. Our fox ran to a small plantation 
near Tallaght Covert; then, wholly unpressed, wandered back 
towards Belgard, turned to the right, and got safely to the green 
hills by Castle Tymon ruins. Castlebagot and its gorse were 
foxless to-day, and this is all I can say of a bad day's sport and 
a large field up to 3.30 or so p.m. There was lots of fencing, 
big and little, brook jumping, tumbling, and all that to many 
constitutes the fun of the fair. Thursday last in Kildare, and its 
three runs from Cryhelp, Hatfield, and Moorhill, was a contrast 
to this lymphatic day. I may recur to it by-and-by, if time permits. 

While we were having a good day near Trim with the Meath 
hounds, the stag-hounds (Ward Union) had by all accounts even 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 177 

a better. It was a by-day not much bruited about, so the field 
was most select. The object was the capture of " London," the 
outlaw, and it was effected after a chase of three hours and fifteen 
minutes ; but the poor beast had had too much, and grass feeding 
told its tale, for he died soon afterwards. 

Mr. Maxwell's harriers had also a brilliant run with a hare 
over the Fairy House course, three miles, at top speed. 



178 HIBERNIA VENA2ICA. 



XIII. 

" This castle hath a pleasant seat : the air 
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself 
Unto our gentle senses." 



Trim Trimlestown and Lord Langford Cryhelp Westmeath Water- 
jumpingKilkenny Kildare, etc. 

" IN Troy there lies the scene," says the poet of all time. For 
Troy, we must this time read Trim ; not so storied, perhaps, as 
the mighty Ilium which is now disclosing its treasures to the 
archaeologist, but still very ancient, very historic ; the scene of 
much fierce debate with sword and tongue (for the Irish Parlia- 
ment was held here at one time, and its sieges are past counting) ; 
very ecclesiastical (for, if tradition be reliable, St. Patrick, earliest 
of nepotists, planted one nephew as abbot or bishop in Trim, 
while another overlooked his clerical flock in the neighbouring 
Dunshaughlin). What is far more to our purpose is the fact that 
it is commanded by a branch of the Meath line, and therefore 
very accessible once or twice a day from the metropolis; that it 
has a good hotel and hunting stables ; and that it is in the heart 
of a splendid hunting district. Trim to me always suggests the 
corporal, whom Sterne has made coeval with the English tongue ; 
but a greater than Corporal Trim stands on that fine Corinthian 
column as you enter the town even the great Duke of Wellington, 
who was born close by, at Dangan Castle, who represented the 
borough of Trim while it existed, and who probably, we imagine, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 179 

during his holidays, learnt in the neighbouring fields those lessons 
of venerie which stood him in such good stead during the tedium 
of the Peninsular warfare, and during the allied occupation of 
France. Few towns in Ireland are richer in castellated fragments 
than Trim, one tower being the highest of the sort I can 
remember; and one cannot help thinking that in the days of 
bows and cloth-yard shafts the besiegers must have had far the 
best of the shooting, for the warriors on its airy parapets must 
have presented a very small mark indeed to the bowmen of Cressy 
and Poictiers. By the way, Henry V. of England was imprisoned 
in one of these towers by order of Richard II. 

But we wax historic. What says the proverb about a live 
jackass being better than a dead lion ? So, failing the lion, let us 
come to the fox and his haunt. First passing over the old bridge 
through which the mighty Boyne in majestic flood is hurrying on 
to Drogheda and the sea, in some two miles or so on the northern 
bank of the Boyne, after passing some splendid mills, we come 
to a green-swarded lane, nearly a mile long, which has evidently 
been an avenue to yonder ruined pile of 16th-century style, with 
embattled towers and projecting windows, whence once the lords 
of Trimlestown surveyed their ancestral domains. Two or 
three large grass fields will bring you to a low-lying snug gorse, 
very secluded, where I should think foxes were rarely absent. 
Nor was it unoccupied to-day. How many harboured there I 
know not. One breaks away over what looks a beautiful grass 
line, though the Boyne would cut it short, if he preserved in a 
straight, after a mile or so. Not knowing the topography, I could 
not say what covert the fox pointed for perhaps New Haggard 
would be a promising venture but very soon he bent to the right, 
crossed the green lane I referred to, and swept down by the old pile 
I spoke of a few sentences back. Here one of the Boyne's tribu- 
taries, usually a modest rivulet, flowed down in full spate as turbid 
as the Tiber. There is one inviting-looking spot only there, and 
some rails of unknown stiffness at the far side. Lord Langford, 



j8o HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

who was riding a very smart four-year-old a Blood Royal, I 
fancy, and big of heart as that race prove themselves plunges in, 
swims against the barrier, and fortunately breaks it away. Mr. 
Purdon follows him. We, the polloi, had the most cogent 
reason for declining the bold lead. Not that we were dry ; those 
who, like myself, had ridden well-nigh twenty miles hither, had 
little to boast of in that respect, for the day was one long down- 
pour clatter and patter, the former representing the horse, the 
latter the dropping rain. But we were, one and all, struck with 
hydrophobia most virulently. So, coasting along the river-side, 
we came to a bridge, while the hounds ran to us by a farm-house ; 
so that our pusillanimity or caution was actually rewarded. Now, 
I hear, we are going towards Kildalkey. I hope so, for the sake 
of the geographical unities. At any rate, I can see for myself that 
we are going towards the regions of the setting sun, and perhaps, if 
the hounds hold on, we may find ourselves by-and-by at Mullingar. 
The outlook now is over rather swampy grass fields not bad riding 
at all, but very widely ditched, where the hesitators often remain 
on the wrong side ; but a turn to the left brings us quickly to small 
inclosures, an odd bit of malignant holding plough, three or four 
doubles, and singles of extra size. In a few minutes more hounds 
have checked by a farmstead (Mr. Potterton's, I believe), but the 
fox has run down a hedgerow, and in a minute they are off again 
and crossing the Trim road, running by a small plantation, and 
then getting into an area of low-lying pastures, drained by deep 
brooks. Another inclination to the right, and we are face to face 
with one of these rhenes. Mr. Peter Murphy, on a very smart 
four-year-old colt, by The Coroner from Prima Donna, gives us a 
good lead, and most get over, though the last thing I saw was 
a sportsman on the bank, pulling at a bridle which belonged to 
an engulfed steed. Now we are on the Trimlestown brook again, 
where Lord Langford had his swim forty or fifty minutes ago. 
What an advantage it was to be a stranger in the land, the waving 
line seems so straight! Our next step is to the original gorse, and 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 181 

here we had a pause of perhaps ten minutes or twelve, and these 
we may utilize to take some stock of the surroundings. Among 
the strangers or visitors are Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, 
who rode yesterday in, Kildare, or rather in the Wicklow side of 
the Kildare country, over a line the very antithesis of what we 
have now crossed (Mrs. Candy's young bay mare of to-day is a 
very promising one indeed), General the Hon. L. Curzon Smythe, 
Lord Rossmore, and M. C. Macdonald Morton. Three sportsmen 
who have occupied the " sick bay," as the sailors term it, for some 
time, are out again, and full of ride as usual the Earl of Howth, 
Colonel Fraser, V.C., and Mr. Trotter. Among the lighter weights, 
the Hon. Captain Rowley on his good grey, Captain R. Low on the 
Crow, Captains Crosbie and Fitzgerald, and the Messrs Murphy 
have been very well carried near the pack, and so has young Mr. 
Trotter ; the Hon. H. Bourke, Mr. Hanley, Mr. Barnewell, and 
Mr. Dunne have been revelling in the big fences. But our fox is 
off again, and in a mile or so (a repetition of the morning line) 
we are once more at the original bathing-place. The line then 
leads through Mooretown towards New Haggard, and I hear in 
twenty minutes or twenty-five the fox was lost. As every boot was 
now full of water, every coat saturated, and horses, after carrying 
many pounds of liquid measure beyond their proper burdens, and 
over deep land, must have had well-nigh enough, I fancy a general 
dispersion took place. I did not await it, trotting homewards 
(a big trot it was) so soon as I reached the highway to Trim. 
Saturday in Kildare was more remarkable for the size of the field 
than the quality of the sport I think I alluded to it in my last 
letter. 

It is a pleasant thing to find hunting men returning to their 
old hunting grounds even after a long interval. Lord Oranmore 
has located a very strong stud at Johnstown for the Kildare 
hounds; and I hear Captain Boulderson's horses (lyth Lancers) 
will soon help to fill the neighbouring stables. Mr. Dundas is, 
I think, the recentest arrival in the county Meath, where he has 



1 82 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

made Kilcarty his hunting quarters. Proselytes are pouring 
in, but there is room for all, even in Dunboyne, Dunshauglin, 
and Ratoath, while Naas and Sallins have still a few vacancies. 
With Saturday the hunting chronicle for the expiring 1876 ought, 
properly speaking, to close. There are, however, one or two recent 
rubrical days, which time and space force me to slur over at the 
moment of writing, that may now be recurred to with advantage. 
Before doing so, let me illustrate the present condition of hunting 
Ireland by two pregnant facts within my own experience. Glanc- 
ing over the fixtures for early January, my eye caught " The 
Club House, Kilkenny, for Monday, at eleven." I telegraphed 
to a friend on the spot on Saturday night ; his answer was not 
reassuring country much flooded, or words to that effect 
by which I gathered that the Nore and its tributaries had been 
overflowing their banks, and that the valleys beside them were 
unridable. Now, Kilkenny is some eighty miles from Dublin, 
and the only railway facility for reaching that sporting city is a 
train that, starting from Kingsbridge terminus at 9 something a. m., 
lands you on the outskirts of Kilkenny at 11.40, and virtually, 
if very punctual, brings you to the meeting-place at or about 
noon. Now, the prospect of catching hounds an hour after they 
had left the tryst and then, perhaps, see them enacting the 
part of otter-hounds rather than fox-hounds was not inviting 
enough, even with one's imagination fired by the accounts of 
brilliant sport which the pack has been showing this season ; 
so the eye, sent wandering again over hunting programmes, rests 
delightedly on the Ward Union stag-hounds at Culmullen cross- 
roads on Monday, the ist, at i p.m. Now, a heart that is humble 
might find happiness here. Culmullen is celebrated as a fox 
covert celebrated, too, for the runs which the stags have given 
when started from its gentle undulations. Standing on high, sound 
land, moreover, it is comparatively free from the surrounding 
plague of water. Culmullen for me, then ! A hunting we will 
go ! Alas ! the post, which reached me just when I ought 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 183 

to be preparing to start, brought the unwelcome tidings that 
the Ward Union authorities had determined to forego, not only 
this charming meet, but all others, till dry weather returned. 
I am not astonished, only disappointed. The Ward Union area 
is not a very large one ; it is for the most part a rich grassy basin, 
much affected by flood and rain, and the process of kneading 
this soft stuff three times a week cannot be beneficial to the 
farming interests. Of course the decision is a just and right one, 
though I wish it had taken effect for the first time on Wednesday 
next instead of New Year's Day. 

"Turn we now" (as the chronicler in that most charming 
book of fable, the " Morte d' Arthur," continually suggests) to 
Kildare and its hounds at Dunlavin on Thursday last, premising 
first of all that this thriving inland town is the capital of a fine 
upland region of grass, many feet above the sea, and most 
unaffected by the recent deluging influences. Carlow men very 
often swell the fields at this place. The Queen's County, too, 
sends her quota occasionally, while Newbridge and the Curragh 
send their best-mounted representatives there, for the banks in the 
whole of this region require a well-educated handy horse, with 
a leg to spare and some quickness of eye. The weather, strange 
to narrate, was very fine ; and now the cavalcade is trotting 
off to Cryhelp Gorse, the Baron de Robeck's property needless 
to say, always full of foxes, and foxes generally of a stout, long- 
running caste. The find was very quick, and the usual rush 
followed to the small gate, which gives egress when the fox 
as on the present occasion heads Copelandwards. He did 
not persevere on this line, but, inclining to the left, seemed 
bound for the mountains, a few miles eastwards ; but, holding on 
still to the left, he kept above and parallel to a bit of boggy 
land which runs in here ; then crossed the Dunlavin road, by 
what used to be the Cryhelp School-house, and seemed in 
full swing for Lemonstown Moat. Headed here most probably, 
he turned towards Cryhelp again ; but, finding a vacancy in 



i8 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

the borough of Tober, he filled it, and was not disturbed by 
petition or anything else from the seat. The time was nearly 
forty minutes; the run extremely fast and almost unchecked 
throughout. Mr. Burke, of the ;th Dragoon Guards, got well 
away through the gate I referred to, and held his place through- 
out; so did Mr. Brunskill, of the 4th Foot, on that admirable 
hunter, Sportsman, who seems as good this season as he was 
last year ; and Mr. H. de Robeck sent his bay mare along 
in a style worthy of his father the Baron. Dirty coats and 
crushed hats bore witness to rotten banks and unexpected ditches. 
Mr. Brunskill lost his hat in the gallop, but the pace was too 
good, and his place too good, to give it a thought. I hear 
Dunlavin and its hatters were equal to the emergency. 

The Bowery Gorse has become light and hollow below, and 
did not hold a fox to-day ; but Hatfield, drawn last week, was 
ready with foxes in duplicate and triplicate. Two ran nearly the 
same line, and rather spoilt a run which began towards Halvers- 
town ; next crossed Mr. Kilbee's large pastures towards Dunlavin ; 
then, winding through Logatrina, ended at Tober, where the fox 
or foxes were given up. 

Moorhill Glen was next drawn, and the hounds were presently 
seen streaming on for Branoxtown ; next crossing the park wall 
of Harristown, and racing over that wide extent of grass known 
as Rochestown, they sent their fox into the blackthorns (where 
he was joined by sundry other foxes ; but there is no reason to 
suppose a change was made there) ; through the covert, through 
the lands of Geganstown, and Ardenode, and Mount Cashel ; 
thence over the Ballymore Eustace road, as if the still distant 
Hollywood was his aim ; but, whether headed or finding his 
power failing, our fox now crossed the large pastures which lead 
into Moorehill, and here there was a slight check. This allowed 
him to steal away towards Branoxtown, and get into a sewer. 
The Kildare bitches were sailing along in this forty-five minutes 
at about their best pace, starting on good terms with their fox, 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 185 

and pressing him very hard. The pace required good speed and 
condition in hunters to keep anywhere nigh them, even in the 
earlier stages the hesitation on the return to Moorehill being 
about the only check or pause in the circuit. 

Thursday, the 28th, was also a capital day in Westmeath, 
producing certainly one of the finest runs of the season. The 
county pack met at Mosstown, and drew the old stick covert 
blank. In the new one there was a tenant, but he was very hard 
to dislodge ; in the mean time, news came of a fox who had just 
jumped out of a hedgerow. The hounds were put on, but 
nothing good resulted from it Grieve was next visited, and, 
strange to say, found empty. The hill covert of Middleton, 
however, produced a good fox, who started at once, with the pack 
near him, in the direction of Ballynagore, which point he did not 
reach ; for, turning to the left, he made Ballinwire, and thence 
ran close to the town of Kilbeggan, where he turned short to the 
right, and saved himself in a drain. It was a very sharp fifty- 
eight minutes over a good country, the hounds doing their work 
by themselves, for they had beaten off the field, which in this 
neighbourhood is composed of hard-riding elements. A lady, 
Miss Daniel, met with a sad accident in the pursuit, as her horse 
rolled over her, broke her leg, and dislocated her shoulder, not 
to speak of bruises. She is, I rejoice to hear, going on very well 
so far. Their next day was at New Forest, which held a fox 
who was lost without much sport, and the rest of the day was 
wholly uneventful. 

I have just heard of a proprietor whose coverts are always 
open to foxes, as well as to a large head of game, who did an 
act last week, which, I think, most hunting men will say was 
worthy of general imitation. The county hounds, on drawing his 
covert, found, 'tis true, but only a fox caught in a trap. The lord 
of the manor instantly sent for the gentlemen who walk about in 
velveteen attire and siller ha'e to spare (aye, and gold and notes 
in battue time, I fancy), and then and there gave them their conge. 



1 86 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Would that my sense of probability allowed me to transfer to 
your columns some magnificent hunting episodes I read of- in the 
dailies. Here, in one journal, is a pack of harriers (a right good 
pack they are, too) hunting an outlying fox " at least nine miles." 
"There was not a check from find to finish" the fox, when he got 
to ground, " being viewed not more than the length of his brush 
before the leading hound." In the same I read of a chase 
beginning between one and two p.m., lasting four hours and a 
half, while the hounds viewed their noble game a mile before they 
took him. Certainly, there is a moon just now ; but really ! 
How many hours did Falstaff fight ? The real fact being that 
the magnificent run alluded to lasted three hours and twenty 
minutes. I shall give a sketch of it by-and-by. 

While making these observations in the bitterness and dis- 
appointment of my spirit, lo ! " Through the hush'd air the 
whitening shower descends." By morning light there was a very 
fair sprinkling of snow over the face of nature. It was freezing, 
too ; but before nine o'clock a strong sun was clearing the roads, 
while the well-watered fields were absorbing much of the snowfall. 
Sommerville, the appointed place for the Meath hounds, is a long 
way off, but, certes, 'tis well worth an expedition. I noticed the 
more salient features of this fine well-wooded, well- watered park, 
and the aspect of the country around it, so recently in one of my 
letters, that I may pass them by now. The drip from the trees 
caused by the thawing snow, probably banished foxes from 
Sommerville woodlands. Walsh's Gorse, close by, almost abut- 
ting on the park, was tenanted, and I hear its fox is a small 
compact one, quite a celebrity, who trusts to his pace and dash, 
and doesn't mean to allow his mask or pads to grace the Meath 
kennel doors. He has given capital gallops, but has never yet 
been in imminent danger ; perhaps he had rather a bad quarter 
of an hour to-day, but still the result was the same. I think it 
was high noon when the hounds sang their paean of trouvaille 
in Walshe's Gorse. A quick find it was, very little coquetting 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 187 

or feinting round the strong gorse, and away he goes towards 
Sommerville and the land of mills, brooks, drains, and water 
meadows. The line is much the same as the last time I visited 
these parts, when his Royal Highness was in the hunting field. 
After about a couple of miles, Athcarne Castle, a modernized 
square old keep, is reached. Then the line is over water 
meadows, somewhat, I imagine, of the nature and consistency 
of oriental paddy fields : the fences are banks and brooks, brooks 
and banks, for every ditch is now become, for the time being, a 
rivulet. The biggest of these water-ways is " the Hurley," where 
Mr. Dunville lost a very good mare last year. Hounds are racing 
with a scent which such atmospheric conditions as to-day's, plus 
well-watered and recently flooded grass fields, are sure to con- 
tribute (a noble master of hounds told me he never saw the pack 
go faster than to-day) ; horses are still fresh, for they have not 
been going more than twenty-five minutes, if so much, and the 
fences have not been very recurrent ; but the grief was con- 
siderable, the absorption of muddy water great. We are now 
inclining towards a hill (one of the chain to which Garristown, 
Primatestown, and Kilmoon belong), Hawksley, or Hawksworth, 
I think 'tis called a very gentle elevation, rising out of the 
surrounding flat basin, as the hand pivot out of the flat watch 
dial. Men are settling into their places for a good thing, when 
a check occurs near a farm-house ; the fox has stopped, and run 
his foil. For a field or two the hounds pick up the broken thread 
and tell us the news in the joyfullest notes ; but the fields are now 
stained to a degree ; our quarry knows the use of a brook in 
baffling hounds and their huntsman. After nearly half a mile 
retrogade over brookland, we have to give it up. Now let us get 
to the road the best way we can. More brooks in cold blood, 
with banks more than ever rotten and broken and crumbled. 
But they must be got over, unless you mean to dine d la belle 
etoile on watercresses and such Lenten fare, and all faced their 
perils most gaily, I must say. Talk of the democracy of hunting ! 



1 88 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Here is the greater democracy of bathing (in costume). There in 
one ditch, a padre and a horse-breaker may be seen wallowing 
together ; Lords, Commons, and medicine in an adjoining one ! 
Presently, I see a manly form taking off his coat and shaking it 
I suppose, to clear the pockets. The ladies' horses behaved very 
well. I did not see a single immersion, and not a few were out 
to-day. 

The cavalcade is now reunited on the road; we can take 
stock of our party. Mrs. Dunville has had a capital survey of 
the water party from her hunting phaeton, which to-day holds 
an extra passenger one of the neatest fox-terriers I ever saw. 
Louth, whose hunting list has been temporarily cancelled from 
the melancholy cause I referred to, is in great force ; among her 
daughters being Mrs. Osborne, the Misses Gradwell (three), and 
Messrs. Jameson, Tiernan, M'Naughten, Pepper, Osborne, and 
many more of the followers of Mr. Filgate's musicians. Among 
the visitors are the Earl of Howth, Mr. Trotter, Mr. Dunville, 
Lord Algernon Lennox, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, 
Colonel Fraser, V.C., Lord Rossmore, the Hon. H. Bourke 
(though he belongs to Meath), Captain Low, the Messrs. Hone, 
Captain C. Ponsonby, Mr. and Miss Coleridge. Dublin and its 
Garrison were, I think, wholly unrepresented, and, strange to say, 
the Ward Union men sent very few champions to the white list 
to-day. We are now en route for Corballis Gorse a strong one 
still, though half has been cut down. The find was quick, the 
exodus quick also. Scent seemed very good, for the hounds got 
well ahead of their followers in a few fields, but the race was most 
uneventful. A series of gaps in half-a-dozen fields led us into 
Corbalton Park ; then succeeded a game of hide-and-seek in 
plantations and shrubberies by the avenue, at which the fox got 
worsted, for in a few minutes, I think, as I was starting home- 
wards, I heard the who-whoop for five or six minutes seemingly 
inevitable. Lismullen, I hear, produced a third fox, who was 
taken into Dowdstown at good pace, but the pack were here 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 189 

stopped. Mr. S. Garnett, I grieve to hear, met with rather a severe 
accident from a collision. As we were riding to the latter gorse 
my attention was called to some wire stretched along a boundary 
fence by the road side (not treacherous wire run through thorns, 
or hanging from tree to tree, but with its legitimate supports of 
posts) ; on either side telegraph posts had been erected, in one 
case to show where the wire ceased and the fence was open to 
jump ; in the other, to indicate a set of sliding posts and rails, 
through which a hunt might pass with very little trouble or delay. 
The story goes that the present owner of the property had lost two 
good runs by the wire barrier, and that when he came into pos- 
session he talked about it to the farmer in occupation, Mr. Cassidy, 
who promptly carried out his ideas in the efficient manner I have 
described, or attempted to describe. Wire is comparatively rare 
in Dublin and Meath ; but I do know one farm in the Ward 
Union country where wire has been suspended from posts, or 
rather run through posts on either side of the road, the posts 
standing on the banks the original barrier. Now the posts have 
given way in most cases, and the wire is hanging in a limp sort 
of fashion half way down the bank, where many a well-trained 
hunter would plant his fore feet before springing. The wire has 
ceased to be of much avail as a fence ; as a snare, it is capable of 
any amount of mischief. I mention this circumstance in the hope 
that Mr. Dunville's (for he is the landlord) happy notions may be 
carried out here by the occupier. I saw myself a very narrow 
escape from an accident at the same fence. There is a con- 
siderable drop into the road, and broken knees and broken necks 
seem not unlikely results from a turn over horresco referens / 
There were a few very nice young horses out to-day. Mr. Morris 
was on a very neat mare by the Knave of Hearts, Mr. Saurin rode 
a thoroughbred, a son of Kingsley's (by King Tom). I hear this 
pack killed a fox in a most patient and persevering manner 
yesterday, running and walking for nearly two hours ; the find in 
Clonabraney. 



1 90 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

I alluded in my last letter to a very remarkable run, in which 
the outlaw deer London was taken. Let me now supply the 
particulars. The date was Friday, the 2Qth ult, when Mr. Turbitt, 
accompanied by Messrs. Hone, O'Reilly, Murland, D'Arcy, 
Wilson, and Jem Brindley, the whip, went forth in quest of the 
truant with nine and a half couple of hounds, of whom four 
couples were from Mr. Turbitt's pack of drag-hounds. I should 
add that Mr. Turbitt held the horn in the absence of Charley 
Brindley. At 12.45 they found their quarry in Knockcommon 
Wood ; his course lay through Loughlinstown, by Slater's Gorse, 
to the hill of the rock into Somerville, where he jumped the park 
wall yft. high, thence along the river to Balrath police barracks ; 
and here, after a very quick burst of twenty-seven minutes, came 
a check. The line was hit off again in Ballymagarney Wood, and 
it led on through Irishtown, Temorn, to White's Cross, by Garlins- 
toun, to the commons of Duleek, by the Lough of Clonlusk, to 
Sodstown, and here the deer was safely taken in the river, at 4.5 
p.m., but died presently of exhaustion, stiffening like a fox. All 
I hear went well ; but Mr. J. Hone, Mr. Wilson on a four-year- 
old, half-brother to Umpire, Mr. O'Reilly on his old chestnut, and 
Jem Brindley on Safety, alone saw the finish. Only one couple 
of hounds was wanting at the capture. 

Wednesday was a dies non so far as hunting in Meath was 
concerned. A south-easter, laden with a vast amount of water, 
swept over the eastern shores of Ireland, involving the almost 
total suspension of traffic by rail and road, and flooding everything 
within reach of its influence. The Meath hounds came to Clifton 
Lodge; but hunting under such conditions was a mauvaise plaisan- 
terie of which no one seemed ambitious ; so the surrounding foxes 
had a week or ten days' respite. Whether the violence of the 
rainstorm in Kildare was partially broken by the eastern barrier 
of the Dublin and Wicklow Hills I know not. At any rate, the 
usual select party went down from Sallins station to Athy with the 
dog pack, found no weather to mar (much less veto) hunting, and, 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 191 

as a reward for their adventure, had a very satisfactory afternoon 
and a fine long hunting run over a good, sound, ridable line, with 
the opening twenty minutes as fast as need be wished for. 
Avoiding the Barrow valley, the hounds first drew the moat of 
Ardskull Gorse; but for once this season it was foxless. 
Narraghmore Wood, however, the second venture, was, as usual, 
well stocked ; and the hounds, settling to one, ran him at great 
pace over those pastures which the winding Greise drains, Sprats- 
town being left on the right hand ; thence over the hill ridge by 
Blackrath, down the narrow valley, and up to " Mat Conran's " 
hill snuggery, where there was a pause, but only a brief one, the 
track leading on over the sound grass fields to the eastward of the 
gorse, across the Ballitore road, and into Ballynure, Mr. Henry 
Carroll's park, till this stout fox found a refuge in a burrow not far 
from Grange. The Kildare hounds had the good fortune not only 
to be able to hunt on this day of storm, but to give their followers 
a very fine run, which could not have been much short of nine 
miles. All the other packs within my ken found it simply im- 
possible to attempt hunting. The Meath hounds, as recorded, 
tried it and failed ; the Kilkenny hounds were equally weather- 
baffled. In both the latter fields were men to whom weather is no 
personal consideration, who abound in good hunters in going trim, 
and yet their voices were against hunting. By-the-by, on that 
Monday when the telegraph warned me to turn back from 
Kilkenny and its hunting grounds, this pack had very fine sport, 
and within a few miles of the famous city itself. The morning 
began with a ring from Troy's Wood, where Mr. James Poe's strict 
preservation makes rather a small covert always a holding one. 
Several coverts were then drawn blank, and a number of the field 
rode homewards ; the few who stuck to the hounds had their 
reward. From Sutcliffe's Gorse a good fox broke for Ballykeefe, 
but was turned from this point, and forced to run past Castle 
Blunden through Kilcreene, by Grange Wood, Dunmana, and 
Ballycallan, to Knockroe, where pursuers only numbered three 



1 9 2 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Colonel Chaplin, the master, riding Shiner (whom I have often 
mentioned in your columns), Major Bunbury, and Captain 
Bunbury, of the Scots Greys. Where the hounds were stopped I 
cannot say ; but I heard they killed in the gorse. 

The same Monday brought Mr. Hamilton Stubber also a very 
first-class run. It began from Lennon's Gorse, and passing 
Moyadd and Chatsworth, led on to Castlecomer, where a flooded 
river stopped the fox's career for a few minutes, and when he 
summoned up resolution to try it again he was run into. I heard 
that in breaking up this fox one of the pack got choked by a bone. 
Lord Waterford also had a capital Monday, killing after a fine 
pursuit, but particulars have not reached me yet. 

On Friday, the 5th, the Meath card invited all and singular 
to meet the county pack at Summerhill, Lord Langford's park, to 
which meeting-point your readers have frequently accompanied 
me this season. Nature, wearied out with the tumults of the past 
seven or eight days, was hushed in the completes! repose; a bright 
luminous atmosphere was lit up by a strong sun ; the rushing and 
roaring of innumerable streams, hurrying with their watery tribute 
to the sea, was comparatively stilled, and much of the surface 
water had been absorbed during the last forty-eight hours. Alto- 
gether the outlook was very cheerful, and the day was gaudy in 
the extreme; there was a sting in the south-easterly wind which 
might lead one to expect a good scent over the well-soaked grass 
lands. The fine outlines of Lord Langford's handsome .residence 
never, to my eye, showed to greater advantage than in the floods 
of light which enveloped it to-day, revealing every bit of its archi- 
tectural symmetry, while the court-yard in front was gay with the 
many-coloured figures who passed and repassed the stone steps ; 
ladies driving, ladies riding; scarlet pursuers, black-and-white 
pursuers ; while cynosure of all who ride to hunt and not hunt to 
ride were the dog pack, bright of colour and bright of condition, 
shepherded by Goodall, J. Bishop, and young Rees; for, strangely 
enough, I hear the second whip in Meath and the first in West- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 193 

meath have both been temporarily disabled by kicks, and both on 
the same date last Tuesday. 

The inviting forenoon and the interregnum of two whole 
days without hunting have brought out the Meath array in great 
numbers and force,lhough Mr. S. Garnett's pleasant presence from 
the hunting field is not a little missed. I alluded, I think, to his 
accident last Tuesday evening when hunting with this pack at 
Lismullen ; let me now state that his shoulder was put out, but, 
most fortunately, Colonel Fraser and one or two more of his 
friends slipped it into its socket then and there, so he may be 
etpected to be in the saddle ere many days. The soldiers were 
represented by Captain Graves Sawle, A.D.C., Captains Wardrop 
and Yatman, and one or two more of the 3rd Dragoons ; while 
among the visitors were Lords Rossmore and Algernon Lennox, 
Mr. C. Macdonald Morton, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, 
the Hon. Captain Harbord, Captain R. Barton, and Mr. Rose ; 
and from Kildare came the Earl of Clonmell, Mr. W. Forbes, 
Mr. A. More O'Ferrall, Mr. Percy and Lady Annette La Touche, 
Lord Cloncurry, Mr. F. Rynd, Mr. Blacker, Captain Davis, etc. 
Summerhill, according to its wont, abounded in foxes. One was 
rattled about the woods for some time, taken along towards Agher, 
and killed. Then followed more park-hunting in Agher, some 
refreshing of hunting pilgrims at Summerhill, an ineffectual visit 
to the Bullring Gorse, less excitement than usual at the Bullring 
double (by the way, this may be evaded by jumping two small 
singles, which ain't equal to a double), and then we are once more 
drawn up outside Rahinstown Gorse, which we drew successfully 
only a few days ago. Suspense is very short here. A quick find 
is followed by a quick exit. The country round here is most 
unlike the Ward Union side of Meath ; peat alternates with 
gravelly hills, and even the better land seems to have been moor 
at one time. So down we go one of these gravelly pitches, and, 
ascending another very sharp hill, see the pack streaming away 
over a bit of pasture land, carrying a head which looked as if a 

o 



194 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

fox had little chance with them to-day. In two fields more there 
is a road the Enfield road, I think over which the pack flash, 
throwing up their heads in a field on the far side. All in vain are 
forward casts ; so Goodall takes them back half a field, and in a 
minute they are hunting away, taking the line by a bit of unre- 
claimed bog on through Baconstown lands, across the Enfield 
road, into Mr. Dillon's farm, then across another road as if 
Cappagh Gorse were our fox's point, when a bend to the right 
brings us into Ryndville ; and here, knowing that the earths were 
open (it is a Kildare covert), I left the hounds still hunting. Had 
it not been for the long check at the road, this fox would have 
been obliged to travel very fast to reach his goal, for scent was 
serving and good. It was not a nice country to cross; the fences 
were ragged and trappy, and the inclosures small for the most 
part, but the land rode far lighter than might have been antici- 
pated. I should mention that Mr. Waller declined to draw 
Garradice and Beltrasna Corses to-day, owing to his wish to avoid 
poaching the wet grass lands around them. 

The best gallop the Wexford hounds have had recently was 
on Thursday week, forty minutes from Dunbrody Flax Mills. 
The Kildare hounds ran very fast, I hear, from Elverstown to 
Punchestown on Tuesday; while the Westmeath hounds gave 
those who remained out long enough to see it a very fine run 
from Clonlost to Knockdrin (Sir Richard Levinge's fine park) via 
Clondriss and Edmonton and back again, on the evening of the 
same day. 

The Kildare hounds had a bumper meet at Courtown Gate on 
Saturday, the 6th inst., the Meath and Ward Union men swelling 
the array very considerably. A good fox, found at once at Cour- 
town in a clump of trees, took the hounds along at capital pace 
by Laragh, over the brook to Lady Chapel, as if he was bound for 
Colestown in Meath ; but, though within a few fields of Maynooth, 
he did not persevere on this tack, but made his way to the much 
nearer Taghadoe Gorse, and thence on to Dowdstown. The very 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 195 

few who saw the beginning of this run enjoyed it extremely, though 
some of them did not get over the brook without a thorough 
drenching. 

A second fox, found in Cullen's Gorse, ran through Dowdstown 
Lands to Taghadoe, and thence over a fine country, but in a most 
circuitous fashion, back to Taghadoe. A rainstorm coming on 
probably killed the early scent, and after this most of the distant 
comers dispersed, few following the pack to Lodge Park. J wind 
up with an extract from the Pau Gazette of the nth ult., just 
received : " Captain Cosby, as he rode so splendidly his horse, 
elicited much admiration for his noble bearing and manly erecti- 
tude." The ex-master of the Irish hounds was, in fact, feted un- 
consciously. 

P.S. The Meath hounds have begun the week right royally. 
On Monday they had a brilliant thirty-four minutes, from Gibstown 
to Dunmoe, which only five saw satisfactorily Lieut. -Colonel 
Fraser, V.C., Lord Algernon Lennox, Captain Trotter, Mr. Walker 
(I think), and Goodall. On Tuesday they were blessed with the 
most driving scent, and they forced a fox from Corbalton to 
Gerrardstown, thence by Dunshauglin to Lagore, on by the Poor- 
house Gorse to Ratoath village, and here they lost him. The 
pace was very animating, the line some of the cream of the Ward 
country, and the distance very considerable. I must recur to this 
when space is freer. 

The Kildare hounds had a fine long hunting run on Tuesday 
afternoon from the Downshire, a very fast fifty-five minutes from 
Tinonode in the evening. The Ward men had a good gallop on 
Wednesday. 

In my observations on Mr. Morrogh's hunter (who is since 
dead) I never meant to cast any reflection on Farrell's Repository 
in Dublin, so well known to all amateurs of horses. As a matter 
of fact, I have since learned that the horse showed symptoms of 
tetanus soon after arriving there. Copers cope there, as at Tatt's 
and everywhere else, but always within legitimate bounds. 



196 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



XIV. 

1 Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm 
Invades us to the skin." 



Courtown company Corbalton chase Punchestown programme Dangan 
Bridge Sam Reynell's death Mr. Burton Persse. 

I WILL begin this letter with words of good augury ; for surely 
we are all tired of this constant omnipresent rain, which takes 
all the "grit " out of our hunters, ruins our war paint and hunting 
kit, makes our servants melancholy and mishippical, M.F.H.'s 
testy, farmers short and reflective, and upsets the domestic coach, 
from the cradle to the saddle room, from basement to attic, 
in more ways than I can here undertake to narrate. The glass 
is rising, and no rain worthy to be classed with either the "former" 
or the " latter rain " has fallen for two whole days. Let me para- 
phrase Pope's well-known couplet : 

" Accept a miracle instead of wit 

See two dull lines by Stanhope's pencil writ," 
into 

" Behold the age of miracles again ! 
Two days have passed with very little rain ! " 

The floods to use the beautiful language of a "mighty 
hunter" no longer clap their hands. The rushing and rustling 
of myriad streams and rills, all plying their watery task with 
intense zeal, no longer fills the ear. The overflowing surface 
water has vanished from many a furrow, leaving the grass sere 
and sickly of hue as if its life blood had been poisoned. True, 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 197 

there is a great deal of the vale still under the dominion of water ; 
and a moonlight view of much of the low land when the air 
is still is like the sheen of silver. But Smith of Deanston has 
made us hopeful for the future; our hunting area is mainly 
under his beneficent influence (some say too much so), and 
two or three days of drying winds and cessation of showers 
will put a vast deal of the country into good going order once 
more. Like King Lear, "I tax ye not, ye elements." Half 
a season unchecked is a good long run. Dona prasentis cape 
Icetus horce is good Latin, and still better counsel. If the going 
be deep, the falling is soft, and it does not require the acumen 
of a Gully nowadays to tell us of the virtue of cold compresses 
for many of the pains and aches that flesh inherits. 

The mention of the cold-water cure brings me to Saturday, 
the 6th inst., and its burden of sport in Kildare, to which I 
could only allude en passant in the last budget I sent you. The 
Kildare hounds met that day at Courtown Gate, which, for the 
information of distant readers, I may state is not a turnpike 
(we have abolished that nuisance in Ireland long ago), but a 
somewhat ambitious entrance to a spacious park, where Captain 
and Mrs. Davis have for some years found a capital stage for 
the exercise of that hunting hospitality which is one of the 
great social attractions of the royal sport, and where the Aylmer 
family before them the proprietors of the property ever made 
sport and hospitality go hand in hand. Courtown Gate is within 
a mile of Kilcocfc, a most important station on the Midland 
line of rails, and bringing this fixture within less than an hour 
of Dublin, and not much more of many places in Western 
Meath ; while it is just within hunting range of what I may 
call the cis-Boyne part of Meath of nearly all Kildare, includ- 
ing the soldier population of Newbridge and the Curragh. The 
country around Courtown is almost uninterruptedly pasture 
land, flat, but without any tendency to peat or red bog. The 
fields are large comparatively, the fences sound generally, and 



198 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

mainly singles, and, on the whole, the hunting surroundings 
are not very dissimilar to what the eye ranges over in many 
portions of the Ward Union country. It is not to be wondered 
at, then, that Mr. Mansfield had a bumper meet, and that his 
chancellor of exchequer had siller to spare, as his take of half- 
crowns swelled up to the amount of a good many pounds. By 
the way, let me give a conundrum somebody suggested apropos 
of this half-crown collection : What would be the proper desig- 
nation for the crime of robbing the collector, say hustling him 
at a fence, and picking up the half-crowns when he was picking 
himself up? Why, silver guilt to be sure. The overflow of 
Ward Union men, who are just now flooded out of their own 
dear hunting grounds, was something to see nearly a dozen 
boxes from the Broadstone terminus, and a special train to 
Kilcock, Among the occupants were Lieut-Colonel Forster, 
Captain Ward Bennett, Captain O'Neal, and several of the Innis- 
killings ; a detachment of the 3rd Dragoon Guards ; Captain R. 
Barton, Mr. Waldron, Messrs. Turbitt, Rose, Coppinger, Gore, 
and Hone of the latter name I think I counted some five or six 
out for as 'tis given to some to inherit silver spoons, the Hone 
family appear to me to have a sort of birthright to good hunters, 
and the faculty of riding them straight. 

Among the visitors from Meath were Colonel Fraser, V.C., the 
Hon. Captain Harbord, Lord Algernon Lennox, Captain and 
the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Lord Langford, Captain Trotter, Mr. 
Trotter, Mr. George Murphy, Mr. P. Murphy, Mr. Dunne, Mr. 
Brown, Mr. M'Gerr, Mr. Rafferty. Newbridge and the Curragh 
were well represented by Major Dent and some of his brother 
officers of the 7th Dragoons, Captain Hanning-Lee, A.D.C., 
Mr. M'Donnell, R.H.A. ; while among the many Kildare pur- 
suers were the Earl of Clonmel, the Earl of Mayo, Mr. W. Forbes 
and his sons, the Hon. C. Bourke, the Hon. Maurice Bourke, 
Lord Cloncurry, the Hon. E. Lawless, Mr. F. Tynte, Mr. Percy La 
Touche, Mr. W. Blacker, Mr. More O'Ferrall, General Irwin, Captain 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 199 

Irwin, the Baron de Robeck, Mr. D. Mahony, Mr. S. Moore and 
Captain St. Leger Moore, Mr. Cook Trench, Mr. R. Bushe, 
Mr. Kirkpatrick, Captain Tuthill, Mr. Gerald Brook, the Messrs. 
Kennedy (three), Captain R. Mansfield, the Messrs. Rynd, etc. 

The morning was mild in the extreme, but dark withal, and the 
clouds seemed laden with their daily burden of rain destined to 
fall ere many hours had gone by. The road men were, on the 
whole, very punctual ; not so the large numbers who had entrusted 
themselves to the tender mercies of the rails ; however, there is 
hope for them. Courtown has held foxes of late, and right good 
ones too; but the chances are strongly against their waiting 
patiently for the investigating pack in these hollow, skirting planta- 
tions and thin clumps, while wheels are grinding all round them, 
and the clatter of a century or two of hunters and covert hacks 
puts the most somnolent hen-harrier on his guard, and warns him 
of peril imminent in some shape or other. Hence a find at 
Courtown, when the meet is at the Gate, is far from a certainty ; 
and a move to the neighbouring large gorse of Ballycaghan is 
generally the order of proceeding before the business of the day 
has begun in earnest. This gorse is so large, and takes so much 
drawing and forcing, that the tardy and train-stayed can generally 
hope to pick up the pack here, though, needless to say, they run 
a certain amount of risk in the venture. To-day, however, was 
a day of surprises. A fox jumped out of a small clump of trees 
in the park, raced across it, and, leaping the boundary fence into 
the road, started off at once in the direction of Laragh, the pack 
on good terms with him, and scent evidently most serving. Now, 
to jump a nasty drop into a road, for the initial fence, before nerves 
are properly braced is a strong measure, and requires resolution in 
man and his mount. Some did not hit on the nicest spot : 
perhaps others, if they did select a good place, were not prompt 
and decided enough in action. At any rate, though hounds did 
not check, men and horses paused considerably, and I fancy a few 
made a full stop of it Laragh Gorse is here skirted, but the river 



2 oo HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

has to be done, and that, too, occasioned a little more delay/for 
not a few good men (two who have held the horn in their turn 
among them) came in for a ducking. The fox now crosses the 
road which leads from Maynooth to Courtown, and appears 
sailing away for Laragh Brien en route, it may be, to "the Hatchet," 
Colistown, or Mulhussey Gorse in Meath. At the road there is 
a partial check for a minute or so, but Will Freeman soon hits off 
the line by a quick fence, on towards Maynooth and the Midland 
line ; but something or other has turned our gallant red rover, 
perhaps the vision of a train, a barge, or a canal boat, and he now 
turns round, and in a mile or rather more of slow hunting by 
Lady Chapel lands we bring him into Taghadoe Gorse, whence, 
after a few minutes, he is forced out and hunted into Dowdstown. 

The first three miles of the run were very good ; and between 
the leading division and the rear rank there must have been an 
interval of fully a mile. Among the former were the master, 
Lord Langford, Captain Trotter, W. R. Kennedy and his nephew, 
the Hon. E. Lawless, Captain O'Neal, Mr. Bayley, and a few more. 

Cullens Gorse, which has been appealed to so very often this 
year, and never that I can remember in vain, again furnished 
pabulum for sport. A very quick find, a race over a pasture field, 
a fly into most sobering plough, a road and the next field gained, 
crossed by a nasty quickset hedge and ditch, a smart gallop into 
Taghadoe, with half-a-dozen flying fences en route, including 
a quasi brook ; a jam at the gate which must have been put up 
before Kildare became a fashionable hunting centre, and we are 
once more sailing on towards Laragh and Courtown again ; about 
half way thither two gunners and a dog scare our fox, who, unwill- 
ing to give up his point, tries to compass it by a flank movement. 
But all in vain, fresh obstacles apparently diverting him from his 
object ; and so we wind round grass fields and get back to 
Taghadoe for the third time to-day, though nof till a good many, 
like Horace and his friend at Philippi, 

" Turpe solum tetigere mento." 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 201 

The motive cause being a double, rather lean and narrow in the 
shoulder, where I saw my two predecessors involuntarily making 
Catherine-wheels in mid-air. Straffan furnished the third f6x of 
the day, but his pursuit to Clongowes Woods hardly calls for much 
notice the inevitable downpour closes the day. Whether it was 
a sudden afflatus or contagion, I know not whether the fact of 
Meath, Ward, and Kildare meeting on a fine arena had anything 
to do with thrusting, it is not for me to say. Certain it is that 
men meant riding up to the motto " Be with them I will," and 
to-day falls and immersions had no deterrent effect ; of both there 
was a good crop, with no bad results apparently, though Major 
Dent got rather a hard squeeze. 

I have just read, in your sporting contemporary's last issue, of 
a very fine run, which reminds me forcibly of the bard's precept : 

"Whate'er you say, or write, or do, 
Let probability be kept in view." 

(I quote from memory, and perhaps not quite correctly.) He is 
talking of last Thursday week in Meath, I rather think, when his 
Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught was in the field, and 
proceeds to say, " Slater's Gorse was then the order, and from this 
a downright ' rattler' instantly took his departure, going at a 
terrific pace to Corbalton, and nearly as straight as a rule to 
Trim, when he got to ground after two and a half hours without 
a single check." This is, indeed, a paper chase, evolved, like the 
camel, from inner consciousness. I doubt much if the annals of 
fox-hunting furnish a record of any run ever occupying two hours 
and a half without a single check at least not in this country, 
since hounds have been bred for dash and drive. Your con- 
temporary is generally accurate in his information, but in this case 
our faith is severely strained. 

I read also, in a " daily," a description of the gyrations of 
a hare told with much minuteness of topography, and I doubt not 
with great fidelity ; but when the narrator proceeds to informs us, 



202 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

his readers, that the hare had pointed " his mask " to So-and-so, 
the impression involuntarily steals on me that I am reading the 
troubled annals of a companion of Puss in Boots, or one of that 
curious and historic family ! 

On Monday a fine clear day the Ward Union hounds and 
men still remained quiescent, waiting for the subsidence of the 
floods and the good effects of nature's drying processes on their 
well-soaked soil. The Meath hounds met at Donaghpatrick 
Bridge, which is not a popular fixture, and in the estimVtion of 
those whom I consulted (not having been there myself) about the 
worst rendezvous in the Meath roster. As it is not prudent either 
in war or its image to venture into distant lands without an assured 
retreat, and the single return train on the Meath and Navan line 
is dispatched on the Dublin route too early for safety or pleasure 
I mean the safety of catching it I did not visit this meeting- 
place ; which, if it did nothing else, redeemed its character, and 
illustrated for the thousandth time the bonheur de rimfrevus the 
best part of fox-hunting most gloriously. The gallop from 
Gibstown to Dunmoe over a fair line and at great pace is de- 
scribed to me by one of the actors in the play as most brilliant ; 
and my informant is not a biassed son of the soil, and has had 
a wide experience of various packs. Five got off in this gallop, ' 
and were about the only section of the field who saw this thirty- 
four minutes really satisfactorily. I hope none of the quintette 
will be offended by a publication of their names, which were 
Lieut. -Colonel Fraser, V.C., Lord Algernon Lennox, Mr. Trotter, 
Mr. Walker, and Goodall, the huntsman. It is a good criterion 
of the quality of a run when you find the enthusiasm is un- 
evaporated on the following day, and those who were "out of 
it " can speak in the highest commendation still. Such was the 
case on Tuesday, one of the most glorious days which the young 
year has vouchsafed us hitherto. It commenced with haze and 
fog, and seemed inclined to relapse into that condition by three 
o'clock ; but from ten to three nothing could be imagined finer 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 203 

than the atmospheric surroundings a sun so hot that a covert 
coat was a positive encumbrance ; even the ordinary heavy pink 
would have been willingly exchanged for something summery and 
light by most pursuers after a mile or two. The air was luminously 
clear; and of wind there was absolutely none. Hardly the day 
you would prophesy a burning, driving scent, with the grass at 
noon still laden with dewdrops. Those who struggled for four or 
five miles over those wide pastures between Corbalton and Lagore 
will have a good idea of how a pack can drive a fox when they 
have it all their own way no stopping ; no interference from the 
riding crowds, whom they easily distance. But I am anticipating 
the sequence of events. 

The Meath hounds met at Dunshaughlin village on Tuesday, 
the gth instant. There is very little to say about this hunting 
centre. An ugly, ragged, colourless town, set in a sea of the most 
vivid and verdant grass lands flat for the most part. I think it 
about the best meet on the Meath card, taking everything into 
consideration ; its accessibility by road and rail from Dublin 
(Batterstown and Drumree stations are very near), as well as from 
Navan, the country to which it is a portal, and the holding nature 
of the quiet gorse close by the Poor-house Gorse, which it is 
part of the programme to visit always first. The wetness of the 
surrounding fields, however, made Mr. Waller anxious to bring us, 
if possible, into sounder and higher ground to-day, so the rule was 
broken to-day pour cause. The meet was a fairly large one, 
swelled by a large influx from Dublin Garrison and the Ward 
Union desoeuvres sportsmen. In this division were Lord Clan- 
morris, A.D.C., and Captain Crosbie, A.D.C., a good many of the 
3rd Dragoon Guards, Messrs. Wardrop, Hartigan, Yatman, Barber, 
Lee, Captain Bloomfield, and some Inniskillings ; Messrs. Turbitt, 
Coppinger, Hone, Greenhill, and other Ward men, with Jem Brind- 
ley, the whip, while among the visitors were Captain and the 
Hon. Mrs. Candy, the Hon. Mr. Harbord, Lord Algernon Lennox. 
Meath was at the trysting-place in great numbers and force ; 



20 4 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

but we are now trotting on to Reisk Gorse, not a few having 
lingered in the neighbourhood of the Poor-house, unwilling to 
believe that the time-honoured usage could be violated. The find 
in Reisk Gorse was very quick, and the way hounds raced over 
the wide fields which separate this covert from Kilbrue, told us at 
once that scent was all ablaze. The fox got to ground in a 
burrow near the old lane-way at Kilbrue, so this stage of the 
proceedings was of quick accomplishment ; a mile or two brings 
us back again to Corbalton lands, which the Reisk Gorse abuts. 
The plantations here yielded no music till the narrow road was 
crossed, and from a clump of laurels out jumped a good fox, who 
did not hang a moment, but went away straight as if for Killeen 
or Dunsany Woods. These he did not reach, for, bending to the 
left, he led us for about a couple of miles or rather less over grass 
land of wide extent, till he reached Gerrardstown Gorse. I do 
not think he entered it, but merely brushed by it, and thence his 
course lay straight onwards by Dunshaughlin church, left a field or 
two to the right, across the Navan road, through Mr. Morris's 
farm (which those in search of a handy hunter or two might visit 
with profit), then by those low grass fields which border Lagore 
till we reached the boundary fence. It looks nothing it is 
nothing, really a fine wide sloping bank, with a watery ditch in 
front ; but up to this the pace has been very severe, the grass land 
very holding though sound ; the day tells on hounds as well as 
horses, and this boundary fence makes horses check if hounds are 
still running. I see the best cob in the county in the ditch, with 
his hard rider standing over him every practicable place has 
a horse jammed or refusing. Fifty yards further on I see the 
hardest man in Ireland (or well-nigh it) trying in vain to extricate 
one of his good stud from a boggy drain whence ropes alone can 
haul him. A couple of hundred yards further you will see half 
a score or more wandering, like ghosts along the Styx, by the edge 
of a black sort of chasm margined by a wide, high bank, which 
horses might have tried thirty minutes ago, but are too wise to 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 205 

attempt now. Needless to do so ; there is a hunting gate within 
a short distance. The hounds have taken their fox by the edge of 
the Poor-house Gorse, over some rather swampy lands, inter- 
sected by most black-hued, repell ing-looking drains. We are now 
on Ballymore lands : half a mile further brings us to the verge of 
Ratoath, and here we lose our fox by the edge of a brook which 
he probably used for his own baffling purposes, in a small tributary 
to which Goodall narrowly escaped total immersion. There was 
a rumour that Kilrue Gorse would wind up the day, but the 
kennels were a long way off. Most horses were beaten, and I 
think there was a general feeling that enough had been done 
to-day. The gallop I have just outlined for your readers was 
really a splendid one for those who rode it through and through ; 
for it was somewhat of a semicircle, and a road formed an arc, 
which would have shortened the distance greatly, not to speak of 
the heavy going. The line lay over very large pastures of old 
grass, fairly fenced; and for my own part I can only recollect 
jumping into one very small bit of plough in the nine or ten miles 
traversed. The surprises of fox-hunting were again exemplified 
here. After the first scurry from the Reisk most men concluded 
that we were in for a parky, pic-nicing sort of day, interspersed 
with some cub-hunting. The fine scent prevented that catastrophe, 
as hounds kept working along with a will ; and as for my ex- 
perience, I can aver that, starting as I did on an animal I had 
hacked very fast to covert, I never saw the smallest chance of 
changing to a hunter till we got to Lagore, when the glory was 
virtually over, and of course the horse was not forthcoming then. 

The Louth hounds, who had an interregnum of a week, began 
hunting again on Tuesday, the 2nd, at Castle Bellingham, finding 
lots of foxes at Bragganstown, and running three to ground. 
A brace turned up next at Drumcashel, and the hounds got away 
on very good terms with one. He sank the hill and swam the 
Dee, which was in flood, and only to be crossed by a bridge 
a mile distant ; the pack, meanwhile, went over Richardstown and 



206 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Mullacurry and got to Ashville, where they were found at fault, 
owing to a flock of sheep and a herd of cattle having foiled the 
land. A six-mile point had been done under the hour. The line 
now led on to Collon, but coldly. 

On the 5th they were at Balbriggan station, and had a ring by 
the Naul from Knockbrack twenty-two minutes, and a good line. 
A second fox was found in Harbourstown, who made two rings, 
the second a wide one ; when forced out again he crossed Snow- 
town Hill, and, leaving the Naul to the left, entered Westown. 
Here Mr. Filgate stopped them, with a beaten fox in front of 
them, as a train had to be caught. They had hunted continuously 
for one hour and fifteen minutes, and deserved their prey. 

The almost imperceptibly lengthening days, even if we dis- 
regarded dates, warn us that the pastime of princes must ere many 
weeks give way to the popular pastime of steeplechasing. Already 
busy caterers and entrepreneurs are framing programmes and 
bidding high for favour with trainers and the public. Punchestown 
is a sort of Areopagus among the minor assemblies it regulates ; 
it controls, it gives a tone and colouring to the others so far as it 
is possible ; and Punchestown this year presents a revised and 
altered programme to a certain extent. Among the on dits about 
its attractions is a projected sweepstakes for real bond fide hunt 
horses that have been owned and worked since January ist, 1877. 
The idea is novel decidedly attractive ; but the winner would in 
all probability turn up in some highly bred weed with jumping and 
galloping power, but such as most masters of hounds would rather 
see in any other stable than their own. A first-class hunt-horse 
would rarely prove the winner of a chase unless in an extra large 
or intricate country, and after winning he would probably take six 
or eight months to get back into true huntsman's form in Ireland. 

Second to Punchestown, and of totally different character from 
the majority of Irish race meetings (and by this difference I do 
not insinuate dispraise), conies the Fairy House meeting, with its 
genuine intelligible programme and heavy weight of metal. No 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 207 

country that I know of owes more to the occupiers of the soil 
than the Ward Union territory ; no country is more empresse to 
acknowledge the obligation, and where possible to repay it ecce 
signum f A race of ^120 is annually given by this hunt for the 
farmers of the district, and, in addition, they are eligible to com- 
pete for two other races, value about 200. Just now a meeting 
of farmers has been invited to attend to arrange the conditions of 
their own competition at the approaching Fairy House gathering, 
and a popular and filling article may be consequently anticipated. 

On Wednesday, the loth instant, the loyal, the brave, but above 
all the curious, rendezvoused at every coign of vantage and bay 
window that could command a good view of his Excellency the 
Lord-Lieutenanf s processional entrance into the metropolis of his 
new viceroyalty. The pomp, the pride, and circumstance of war 
require flashing suns and bright skies to illustrate their best parade 
features aright ; lurid skies, choked with vapour or fog, throw their 
gloom over the brightest conceptions and the most effective 
details. So the entrance was not magnificent, though the arrange- 
ments were well made and dovetailed admirably. The sword 
which, in the archaic words of the Liturgy, her Majesty the Queen 
had committed into her servant's hands, was not en evidence. His 
Grace the Duke of Marlborough comes to us in the era of flood, 
storm, and deluge ! Is he destined to be " the dove of peace and 
promise to our ark," the sword to be exchanged at last for the 
olive branch? 

The day was further noteworthy in that the Ward Union men 
resumed hunting on that date, and had three or four miles at 
capital pace from Ballyhack, by Harborstown, Ballymacoll, and 
Priestown, before the deer took to the road near Hollywood Rath. 
The rivers in this county are anything but down to their natural 
level, the whole Tolka Valley being partially submerged. Mr. 
George Brook's harriers had a capital afternoon round Laragh 
Brien, finding game almost too plentiful ; while Meath was sipping 
what I may, without any sinister punning meaning, call "the 



208 HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A, 

cream of the valley " about Dunshaughlin, On Tuesday the 
Kildare hounds had a long and eventful day in the neighbourhood 
of Blessington, which was their meeting-place. Finding, as usual, 
in the Downshire Park, the hounds raced their fox at top speed 
across Glen Ding, the Naas road, and Slie Rhue, till he came to 
the well-known ravine overlooking Elverstown ; up to this point, 
I hear, the pace was so good that the tail hounds never decreased 
their distance from the leaders, though straining after them. 
Here, if report be true, the hounds were hurried a bit, and a pause 
of some very precious moments was the consequence. From this 
point pursuit became "potter;" but the pack worked on admir- 
ably, following their fox, first towards Eadestown, then right over 
Athgarrett Hill, thence by the edge of the old Punch Bowl Covert, 
towards Three Castles, where he tried some earths ; then back by 
Mr. Dunne's lands, in a winding line towards Gouchers ; then one 
hears of a sheep-dog intervening, and the fox is finally lost by 
Castle Inch, near Coolmine. An extremely long hunting run, 
most interesting to the hound men, not exciting enough for the 
hard riders; but they too had their turn presently, for a second fox, 
found in one of the Tinode Ravines, ran the glen right through to 
the Gate Lodge, crossed the Blessington road, and, picking a 
capital path for himself and his followers through the heavy pas- 
tures on the far side, held on to within a field of Three Castles 
Covert. Then he turned back by Mr. Boothman's house, ran 
across the dividing hill to Punchestown (not the race track), swept 
over the large fields under Kieel, and won his way back ultimately 
to Tinode, when the hounds were stopped at 4.45, after a very fast 
fifty-five minutes, of which only half-a-dozen saw the last stage. 
A distribution of the falls among the original morning field would 
give a fair average, as the hard men got not a few repetitions, and 
not many who rode at all escaped. Will any hunting M.P. in 
Ireland be bold enough to propose that a brace of colley dogs 
shall be restricted (save under larger licence) to sheep owners and 
their herds. They are deadly to game, and they constantly mar 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 209 

a stag or fox-hunt at a critical time. I see by a recent decision 
that to keep a greyhound lawfully you must own ^1000. Can we 
believe that the Sunday poachers and other greyhound and lurcher 
owners of that calibre are good for a " thou " each ? 

Black sheep will always infest a large fold, but it is pleasant 
to see brilliant instances of their repudiation by the white-woolled 
flock. Lord Huntingdon recently lost some hounds by poison. 
His country at once subscribed the most tempting sums to lead 
to conviction, and have thus one and all assoiled themselves of 
the shame. 

" The west wind sighs," says the bard. I should like to 
have put the said bard on a hunter, with orders not to jog 
more than six or seven miles, an hour, and to ride westwards 
on Friday morning, from, let us say, Dunboyne station to 
Larracor, some fourteen or fifteen miles, and then ask him 
what he thinks of the appositeness of his verse. To me the 
sighs seemed to come from an iceberg, which, peradventure, the 
Arctic expedition had detached from the frozen continent, to 
wander till dissolution in the warm Gulf Stream ! The night had 
been rainy, and there were signs and tokens of more water all 
round and in front of me on the road ; but the day itself was 
bright and clear, the sky was high, and the sun radiant. By 
the time we reached Dangan Castle the road began to fill with 
men, horses, and carriages, and there were signs and tokens 
of a very large gathering at Larracor ; for, teste the great dean 
himself (Swift), fox-hunting was more popular in Pagan Meath 
than were his homilies a few generations ago ; but what is this ? 
The tide which had set for Larracor has turned now for Summerhill. 
In a moment or two the terribly sad and stunning cause is learnt 
by all "Sam Reynell" died suddenly yesterday! The first 
whip, J. Bishop an ellve of his, and a credit to him has been 
sent by Mr. Waller to say that there can be no hunting to-day ; 
and, indeed, I fear the Meath hunting annals will feel a break 
now for some davs. 



210 HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 

It seems but a day or two ago that Mr. Reynell was among 
us at Rahinstown (how well I recollect his kindness on that 
occasion in asking me to his house for two meets not easily 
accessible to me !) full of health and spirits ! His biography 
in a recent " Baily " tells something of what he did for fox-hunting 
in the two Meaths ; nobody can tell "how much he did. Almost 
every spare energy and thought of an active mind was for 
years bent on the work he had undertaken; and he did it 
thoroughly. It may be said he was a slave to his idea 
most successful men are. It may be cavilled that it carried 
him occasionally beyond the modern suaviter in modo, when 
fox or hound was concerned. He WAS an enthusiast certainly, 
and Talleyrand's surf out pas trop de ztle was entirely lost on him. 
In him we may well paraphrase the lines : 

" My heart leaps up whene'er I hear 
The fox-hounds' tuneful cry ; 
So was it when I was a boy, 
So let it be when I am old, 
Or let me die." 

I am well assured his love never abated. 

It was my fortune on returning from my sad and ineffectual 
ride to meet Mr. George Brook's harriers at work with a hare 
between Hamwood and Ballymacoll. They then went to Offalis, 
found an extremely straight runner, and had a very sharp gallop 
at top speed towards Ballymaglasson, and then in the direction of 
"the Hatchet," when the venerable night stopped proceedings. 
The hare selected a perfect bit of vale, intersected by widish 
singles for the most part, and ran more direct as if for a point 
than any hare I have seen for some time. 

Dangan Bridge is one of Lord Waterford's most successful 
meeting-places. On the 5th, his hounds were there, and finding 
their first fox at Knockbrack, ran him very fast to Liskertin, 
apparently for Brownstown Wood. A slight check here occurs, 
but Duke soon sets the pack going under Tallagher village, in 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 211 

the direction of Woodstock. Another check here, and wrong 
information and then cold hunting, but not till a six-mile point 
had been done in thirty-six minutes over a fine, wild, sporting 
country. The master saw it all well. Dirty coats were not 
uncommon after it. On Monday, the 8th, this pack met at 
Churchtown, and after some woodland hunting, drew Rathgor- 
mack Gorse, a good sure holder. Its fox broke for Ballyneale, 
but was headed and turned leftwards to the verge of Coolnamuck 
Wood, when he was met by a rustic, and a check was the result 
(the three miles up to this had been got over in fifteen minutes). 
Duke then cast " the ladies " to the right, when they hit it 
off, and, crossing the Dungarvan road, sent their fox into Carrick 
Wood, three miles further on, hustling him through its length, 
past Mount Bottom, over the high park wall, into Curraghmore 
Chase (it bounds some 6000 Irish acres) ; through the Tower 
Hill plantations, without pause or dwell, into Carraboluclea Wood, 
forced him over the wall again towards Carrick Wood, and rolled 
him over at Tinhalla, after some fifteen miles had been covered in 
two hours fifteen minutes. 

Thursday, the 4th, in Kildare was not remarkable, save to a 
good many people for the long distances they had to travel for 
a modicum of sport. Bolton Hill was the meeting-place, Hobarts- 
town the first successful covert. Here two foxes were on foot, 
of which the dog-pack selected their own quarry, sending him 
to Kilkea, where he hung for some time. Thence he was hustled 
along into the Carlow country, and ultimately sent to Kilkea 
Hill. An afternoon fox, found at Spratstown Gorse, ran by Matt 
Conran's Covert, towards the bottom lands, under Ballintaggart. 
A fresh fox and a holloa spoilt, I hear, a promising run. 

Here is a sample of some of the sport which Mr. Burton 
Persse has been showing in Galway. I can only give it in epitome. 
On the 4th, his pack met at Blindwell, where they did not find, 
but a good fox broke at once from Castle Grove for Sylvane ; then, 
changing his point, ran through Ironpool by Milford and Cloghan, 



212 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

through Milbourne on to a large head of earths near Bellemount ; 
but his strength failed him, and after one hour and twenty minutes 
he was pulled down by the " Burnt House." This was on the 
Tuam side of Mr. Persse's country. On the 8th, they were 
on the Loughrea side, at Eastwell, Lord Delvin's residence, and 
ran two foxes to ground, the pack dividing. Carra Gorse was 
equal to its fame to-day, and a stout-hearted fox left it, apparently 
for Ballydugan ; but a bend to the left brings him close to 
Hollyfield Gorse, thence over the magnificent pastures of Kil- 
cooly, on towards Limehill and Streamstown, by Grange Covert, 
just eluding his death grip in a cave by Springvale. The line 
was light riding grass (comparatively), the pace something short 
of flying for thirty-five minutes. On the evening of the gth 
came the Hunt Ball, when Liddell's band did the music vice 
the Moyode choir, and " the field " consisted of well-nigh 300. 
On the nth, meeting at the Knockbrack, in the Athenry country, 
they found in a small gorse near Belleville and killed, after a 
twenty minutes' race into Athenry, by the verge of the town. 
From Goodbody's Covert they had a good forty-five minutes 
to ground. On the i2th, they met at the Oranmore station, 
and, finding in Kiltrogar (a covert planted and presented to 
the hunt by the late Lord Clanmorris), hunted a bold fox who 
held his point in the teeth of the wind till a Board of Works 
canal in full flood was reached. The fox had crossed it ; the 
hounds dashed in after, but were borne down ever so far by 
the current. The field had to go round for a bridge, but by 
good luck and hard riding came up with the pack as they were 
leaving Mr. Meldon's farm. From here they push on their fox 
through Castle Lambert, through Mr. Goodbody's farm, where 
he tried the earths, over the Tuam rails towards Grayin Abbey, 
within two fields of which he was rolled over. From find to 
kill measures a ten-mile point, the distance traversed probably 
nearly fifteen. Every hound took part in the worry, and the time 
of the chase was one hour thirty-five minutes. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 213 



XV. 

"Could we his bygone pages read, 

His feats by flood and field ; 
The varied narrative, indeed, 
An Iliad might yield." 



Ballinglough burst Culmullen chase The Black Bull The Grange. 

WHAT has been will be, and the procession of the seasons and 
their phenomena continue their miraculous course, which we 
mortals of many lustrums get so used to that we talk of the 
course of nature and the order of things ! January is only 
repeating itself this year, and the chances are that many hundreds 
of years ago the farmers of the fertile Milanese were wont to 
complain of the flooded fields and the incursions of the Po and 
his tributaries every January, just as we have been inveighing 
against this two-faced month for its burden of waters and unre- 
mitting downpour in 1877. I see by an old Roman calendar that 
Cancer sets, and in the middle of this month Aquarius and his 
hose come into play : 

"Irrorat Aquarius annum." 

Of course the earlier commencement of the season of ks grandes 
eau-x is due to our faster times ; for it would indeed be hard if 
an age of progress only landed us a few days ahead of those old 
Pagans ! 



2i 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Marie gravis ! A week since, we were listening to wars and 
rumours of wars, and men's hearts were failing them for the things 
coming on the East. Now the war cloud seems passing away, 
and the image of war once more engrosses soldiers and sailors, 
statesmen and squires, in its vortex. " Leaves " seem to be less 
dubious now ; men appear to be buying horses, with somewhat 
more confidence, "to finish the season" withal for, disguise it 
from our minds and memories as we may, half the season has 
already flitted away into the past. The better half, according to 
popular estimation, " remains to be crowned by us yet." Longer 
days, lighter land, sharper foxes, horses more experienced and 
in better condition, fences fairer, men harder, hunt servants 
quicker, the whole machinery in better working trim these are 
a few of the blessings which the second season is supposed to 
bring in its train. Let us, now that it is a retrospect, be just to 
the three months' hunting which we have enjoyed in Ireland. If 
the ground was adamantine in early October, it has been soft 
enough for the screws and navicularly affected ever since. Frost 
has kept away, having frightened us by a brief interlude which 
merely impeded the hunting current for a few hours. Scent, since 
the land got well soaked, has been marvellously good. Sport has 
been keeping pace with it, and the supply of foxes has been so 
good that I hazard a statement that there have not been five 
blank days certainly not more in all Ireland up to the present 
date (mid-January). Abnormal rainstorms certainly did spoil 
sport for a day or two ; but even in the worst day of the storm 
period one or two packs made capital weather of it, and had fine 
continuous pursuits. The Ward Union hounds suffered most 
from the rain and its effects. But their basin is subject to these 
visitations almost annually; nor were they totally exempt last 
year, their country being under the flood ban for a week, if I 
mistake not, at the commencement of the season. 

I concluded my last letter with the melancholy tidings of 
" Sam " Reynell's death. I must now go back to the very Thurs- 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 215 

day of his seizure, when the Meath hounds had met at Drews- 
town, and had just found their second fox in Ballinlough, and 
taken him backwards and forwards between that place (Sir Charles 
Nugent's) and Killua Castle, Sir B. Chapman's park. The pack 
were streaming after their fox out of Ballinlough when the news 
of Mr. Reynell's death reached Mr. Waller. He at once ordered 
Goodall to stop the hounds ; but they were racing, and Mrs. 
Partington's celebrated broom was of about as much avail to 
keep out a rising tide. Something about a score, I hear, got off 
with them, and all went merry as a marriage-bell till a boggy- 
banked river barred progress. Mr. Dunville gave them a good 
lead, but somehow Goodall and Captain P. Lowe alone profited by 
it, and they had the satisfaction of being nearly the sole pursuers 
over a fine sound line of country, which bore very little trace of 
the recent downpour, and which hounds have not been known to 
run over for a very long time. The fox pointed first for Cauces- 
town, then beat to the right and made Cloghbrack, where he got 
to ground forty-three minutes, without pause or dwell to enable 
Goodall and his small field to stop the flying pack. Strangely 
enough, I learnt that a small strip of wood, through the length 
of which they ran, did not detain them a second, for scent lay 
there as well as on the turf. I alluded to the circumstance of 
my having met Mr. Brook's harriers on my return from Larracor, 
and enjoying a very fast gallop with them. A Kildare pursuer 
fell in for even a better thing (longer, at least) with the Newbridge 
harriers, who took a hare, or possibly an outlying fox, over the 
line of the old Kildare Red-coat course, by Kilteel, round by 
Rathmore, into Furniss, till, I hear, the hounds got rid of their 
field. 

Saturday, the i3th, the Kildare hounds repeated their own 
history by meeting at Hazelhatch station, on the Great Southern 
and Western line of rails. There had been a severe frost during 
the night, and by nine o'clock a thick enamel covered everything, 
and made even the low-lying pastures feel very hard to the tread, 



216 HIBERN2A VENA TIC A. 

and the spots poached by cattle almost unridable. Very soon, 
however, came an hour's rain, and dispersed and dissolved all 
the congelations of the night The meet was a very large one, 
though Meath was almost wholly unrepresented, and the Ward 
Union men did not muster a dozen strong altogether ; Mr. Adair 
was there from the Queen's County, Lord Oranmore from Galway 
(both admirably mounted apparently) ; General Herbert, as senior 
officer, commanded a miniature army recruited from the Dublin 
Garrison, the Curragh, and Newbridge, consisting of a very large 
squadron of Inniskillings, some half-a-dozen or more of the Rifle 
Brigade, a few of the yth Dragoons, a guardsman or two, and men 
of the 75* and 4th Foot. Captain J. M'Calmont, long an 
absentee from the plains of Kildare, reappeared there to-day, and, 
with Colonel Frank Forster, represented the new Household. 
Winding through the streets of Celbridge, Mr. Mansfield led his 
knights-pursuers into Castletown Park, where a fox was very soon 
on foot. His career was brief, as he saved himself to run, we'll 
trust, further on a future day in a gaping sewer. Cullen's Gorse 
had been so frequently appealed to of late that this, " the last 
appeal," proved wholly inefficacious, and the good stout fox who 
had done his duty by Kildare right foxfully knew it not to-day. 
Taghadoe, another gorse which has been very useful this year, was 
tenantless; so I may repeat my paraphrase of the Laureate's, 
" Bad luck to the country ! the clock had struck one ; no foxes 
forthcoming no hunting begun ! " For of the Castletown rat 
we need not take any account till he prove more worthy of a 
niche in fox history. Courtown furnished the esurients with much 
much refreshment, solid and liquid, some jumping, but no fox. 
Remains Ballycaghan ; but at this stage much desertion took 
place, the distances beginning to tell on the comers from afar, and 
those dependent on trains and time-tables. A quick find in 
Ballycaghan Gorse, very little covert hustling, and away the good 
fox speeds, for Cappagh apparently two miles over grass as 
hard as horses can gallop. Three or four of the wide pastures in 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 217 

this direction, however, had not been crossed before our fox began 
to bend to the left, as if Hortlands were his object ; Newtown 
village is left on the right hand, and now, by the edge of the road 
leading to it, a check occurs. " Volatile " leads her sisterhood 
over the road into beautiful green fields ; but the clue has been 
mainly lost, and, though we got a very enjoyable canter over a 
mile or two of old turf, intersected by three or four wide fences, 
and one a bank and deep drop which caused some grief, but 
immense amusement and peals of laughter nothing came of 
Freeman's rapid casts in the Hortland direction ; and on visiting 
Cappagh Gorse, as the westering sun was lighting up the whole 
horizon with brilliancy, it was only to find a fox one moment, and 
presently to hear " who-whoop ! who-whoop ! " in the covert why 
I know not. Gone to ground ! A poor day's sport ; but those 
who hold that larking over splendid old pasture lands and fair 
fences is better than a gallop over plough and plough obstacles, 
had enough to content their aspirations to-day. 

I alluded in my last letter to the fine gallop which the Meath 
hounds had from Gibstown to Dunmoe, when five alone filled the 
ranks of persevering pursuit. The line led through Randlestown, 
over Syllogue Hill, and here it was that a huge boundary fence 
weeded out the field. By all accounts it was a very brilliant 
thirty-five minutes, interrupted but by a single pause of very short 
duration in Craig's Covert Gibstown is a very hard place to 
get away from, and often involves a long weary round. " Sam " 
Reynell's death has dislocated all plans and arrangements in 
royal Meath now verily and truly mcerens Meath. The hunt 
ball, which was to have taken place on Wednesday, is postponed 
indefinitely. Westmeath put off her meet at Gillardstown on 
Friday ; the Allenstown harriers theirs at Drumcree. There will 
be no hunting, save stag-hunting, on this side of the country (by 
which I mean Dublin and Meath) till after Mr. Reynell's funeral 
to-morrow (Tuesday). Every one is going there to pay the tribute 
of a sportsman to the remains of a very great one, and till then 
pendent opera interrupta. 



2i8 HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 

In Kildare Monday's meet at Eagle Hill has been put off 
in consequence of the death of the Hon. Mrs. Borrowes, the wife 
of Major Borrowes, of Gilltown, one of Kildare's most holding 
coverts. Major Borrowes was for some seasons the master of the 
Cottesmore hounds. 

En revanche for these postponements, interruptions, and their 
sad causes, the Ward Union hounds, released from their durance 
of ten days or a fortnight, have had two glorious pursuits con- 
secutively. Of the first (Saturday's) I can only repeat what I 
hear, that everything combined to make it a splendid pursuit, as 
there is an interval of somewhere about fifteen miles between the 
point of enlargement and the point of capture by Beau Pare on 
the Boyne. Of the second I can speak ex cathedrd, though the 
cathedra was that of a very distant spectator and follower over 
a portion of the line but I anticipate events. Let me begin 
with the painful lesson in punctuality which, much and sorely 
needed, I learnt in the forenoon. Having great faith in a big 
stable clock and a fast stepper, I drove to Maynooth station to 
catch the morning train from Mullingar. It was vanishing as 
I drove up. A bad beginning ; but there is ample consolation 
the Ward Union hounds are at Culmullen cross roads at 1.15 p.m. 
You can easily reach that place in time, says the soothing spirit 
to the irritated inward man. Too true ! but, as a matter of fact, 
I did not, and the hounds and deer and their followers were a 
mile off, when I should have been in the ranks of pursuit, or 
stragglers, at any rate. The whereabouts of the line was marked 
by spectators on every little eminence, so, pushing along, we got 
alongside of the worst-beaten division presently; but a mile of 
good firm road gave the leaders such a second start that to catch 
them or the pack was quite beyond my power, though, to verify 
the line, I followed the tracks over a very pleasant bit of country. 
The morning was intensely cold and rimy ; ice sheeted over the 
pools, but by nine o'clock rain began to fall with that gushing 
persistency which no longer surprises us, and till three o'clock 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 219 

continued with hardly a moment's pause. The field at Culmullen 
cross-roads was not large by any means, though recruited from 
Meath by Lord Langford, Captain P. Lowe, Mr. Chadwick, Mr. 
Murphy, and a few more, while the Dublin Garrison also aided 
to fill the ranks, principally with men from the 3rd Dragoon 
Guards. Culmullen itself is on rather high ground, while stretch- 
ing away below to the eastward is a fine valley, through which the 
Meath line runs it single rail. The enlargement took place near 
a new church in process of erection, and the deer, jumping a 
somewhat impracticable wall, put her mounted pursuers at rather 
a disadvantage to begin with. There is a driving wind from the 
south-west, and the deer goes away straight for Batterstown not 
quite in the teeth, but about what sailors would call close-hauled. 
It is a heavy, swampy line of pasture for about two Irish miles 
between Culmullen and Batterstown. This was the deer's course, 
and, as scent was very warm, no wonder a good many horses had 
little left at the end of this stage. It did not, however, quite 
reach to Batterstown, but, turning at Piper Hill, led on towards 
"the Hatchet;" and here a good hard road helped horses for a bit 
after the soppy, holding grass lands. Soon it bends to the left, 
and, passing through Ballymaglasson, steers a tract between 
Baytown and Vesington, crossing the by-road leading to Rath- 
beggan at a small bridge ; thence it goes on to the verge of Wood 
Park, over one or two very pleasant little brooks (if you are on 
a water jumper), then it uses a lane for a few hundred yards, till, 
crossing the Dunboyne road, Norman's Gorse is made, and in a 
mile or so more donee (on the high road to the metropolis) is 
reached. Thence the line diverges on to Cruice Rath (the home 
of a very popular sportsman, Mr. Maxwell, now, alas ! in small 
health, whose liberality has made his harriers les bienvenus in any 
country in any weather), and here the capture was made. Take 
a compass and measure the points of this gallop on the Ordnance 
Survey map. Few packs in a cycle of seasons can boast a 
straighter, longer, or better line, though the latter part was rather 
spoilt by roads. 



220 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

A circular bids me attend a meeting of the Kildare Hunt 
Club at Naas on the 22nd. The subjects to be considered there 
are : First, the future mastership ; secondly, the separation of the 
management of the country from the mastership of the hounds 
"country" standing generally for fowl damage, covert expenses, 
and compensation claims of various characters. As to the master- 
ship, if Kildare's sons decline the honourable but responsible and 
onerous office, it appears to me that the panacea for the wants of 
a sporting age, The Field and its contemporaries' advertising 
columns, must be resorted to. There are not a few enterprising 
men of good means, position, and leisure in England and Scot- 
land who would gladly welcome such an opportunity. Liberal 
subscriptions and a grass country; pleasant society and good 
houses ; Dublin within an hour, London within less than a dozen ; 
an army of all arms cantoned close by, to protect and enliven ; 
racing within easy reach, and " lep racing all round your 
quarters, wherever you may make them ; good farmers, most loyal 
to fox-hunting, and land that rides light and does not overtax 
hunters such are a few of the good things which Kildare men 
perhaps value less than outsiders, because they have grown up 
among them, and familiarity has dulled the keenness of appetite. 
Add to all this that there never was a time, perhaps, when the 
undertaking of the management of this pack involved less outlay 
or personal trouble. New kennels (most healthy they have 
proved) have been built centrally, to command the country by 
road and rail. The chain of coverts is perfect in every link, and 
the stock of foxes is very good. Of the hounds it were superfluous 
to say much ; I do not think even a very fastidious master could 
find much to cavil at in looks or performance. Such as they are, 
they are ready to hand, and thus one main source of anxiety and 
expense to a new M.F.H. is saved. I believe there is a prejudice 
against the introduction of a " stranger " as master in some minds. 
There are many obvious reasons in favour of new blood, if of the 
right strain ; not many cogent ones, to my fancy, against it. Such 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 221 

a trust would not be delegated lightly or inconsiderately by a 
country ; and, as in leases, there would of course be strict clauses, 
covenants, and conditions. The power of the purse is a strong 
curb to any M.F.H. ; and it would be the committee's fault if any 
serious or lasting injury were done to either country or pack, sup- 
posing the almost inconceivable notion that the "stranger" were 
either grossly ignorant, prejudiced, or malevolent. A colonel from 
another corps will be just as likely to do justice to a cavalry 
regiment as a regimental promotion. 

On Tuesday, the Meath hounds would have been due at 
Ratoath but for the death of the great master spirit departed, to 
whose obsequies I know a vast number of the aristoi in the world 
of hunting, and also in the social world, are hurrying to-day irre- 
spective of business or pleasure Quorn meets, Tailby meets, or 
Kildare fixtures all anxious to pay a last tribute to what I may 
call a past master of his craft, who for more than a generation 
wore the crown of royal Meath, a king of its royal sport. Ratoath 
is the portal to so much fine country on all sides, that for the sake 
of my readers I regret that my surveys did not embrace some 
scenes in that neighbourhood. The alternative was Johnstown 
Inn in Kildare, sure to attract a large assemblage, which in point 
of fact was the starting-place from whence, after some hours, we 
got a capital and most enjoyable run of that more presently 
but which I could not compare to Ratoath in point of the great 
hunting unities, that, with luck and good handling, lead to a great 
epic in action. As I drove thither betimes, I met the Earl of 
Clonmell posting on to be in time for the sad funeral procession, 
abandoning a fashionable meet close to his home to fulfil the dic- 
tates of friendship and kindliness of heart. Well, is it not written 
that sometimes a visit to a house of mourning is better than to a 
house of feasting? I forget the words, but the idea is somewhat 
cast in that mould. A gusty morning, and very dark. The rain- 
fall (our almost d.iily portion) was only kept off by the wind, and 
so soon as that lulled was bound to descend in torrents. The 



222 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

village of Johnstown was full, very full, of hunting visitors I 
might almost say guests ; for are we not bidden by Mr. Mansfield 
to a grand spectacle and great games ? There were not quite so 
many as at the opening festival in October not near so much 
carriage pomp or bravery of apparel and yet the meet was very 
fashionably attended. Half a score of ladies, if not a whole 
score, riding nay, I am not sure now, if there were not even 
more ; a good many driving ; while the Marquis and Marchioness 
of Drogheda surveyed the peripheries of the day from one of 
Comerford's famous hack cars, sure to be well driven and well 
horsed. There were very few Meath men, pour cause ; but Mr. 
and Mrs. Adair were there from the Queen's County, while Dublin 
Garrison and Dublin city were strongly represented the former 
by Captains Ward Bennett, O'Neal, Bloomfield, Peareth, and 
other Inniskillings ; by Messrs. Stewart, Wardrop, Hartigan, and 
others of the 3rd Dragoon Guards ; also by Captains Bagot, Sawle, 
Crosbie, Hon. T. Scott, etc. ; Dublin city by Messrs. Robertson, 
D'Arcy, Burke, and others. The Curragh and Newbridge sent 
detachments from the R.H.A., among them Messrs. Costobadie, 
Knox, and MacDonald; from the yth Dragoons, headed by Major 
Dent, well mounted as usual ; from the 4th Foot, and, I think, 
the 75th of the Line, etc. The half-crown business transacted, 
the chariots and horsemen, according to time-honoured custom, 
entered the gates of Kerdiffstown, had a pleasant drive through 
its avenue and park, and the usual marshalling took place in the 
large field opposite the usually good holding gorse that Mr. Hen- 
drick watches over so vigilantly and well. Great expectations and 
suspense for a quarter of an hour ! Then the trumpet blasts make 
us turn our horses' heads round. We are soon in the neighbour- 
ing park of Palmerstown, but no foxes roam its plantations to- 
day ! Then we begin to ascend a mild gradient till we are once 
more enacting the part of vedettes, while the hounds explore the 
greeneries of Arthurstown below us formerly the pride and boast 
of Kildare, now much fallen from its high estate. This is getting 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 223 

really serious when luck deserts us in the odd number. Remains 
Eadestown the never-failing ! Nor was the proud nuncupation a 
misnomer. In ten minutes or less the two narrow gates at either 
corner are crowded those near either get about a small field's 
start of those worse posted and the hounds are racing ! A few 
small obstacles a dozen fields of rather poor grass land, and 
none the heavier, or scarcely the heavier or more holding, from 
the recent rains and we are entering the well-known Punches- 
town arena ; only we are reversing the track, and running left- 
handed instead of right up the hill towards the stand, instead of 
down past it In a minute or two we are on the edge of the 
almost equally famous Punchestown Gorse, and those who have 
got away fairly well from Eadestown can look back upon the tail 
men cantering and galloping up. Here is a gentleman whose 
lines are cast in the law courts of Dublin. A flight of high and 
stiff hurdles is in front of his path ; he charges them right 
gallantly ; but whether his horse swerved or jumped extra big, the 
rider is supine on the right side, and, as somebody quaintly 
observed, his head executed a deed poll on the ground, his corpus 
an indenture. The said gentleman I saw afterwards charging the 
biggest obstacles to be met with, as if a fall were merely a stimulus 
to his enterprise. "Hold up!" says a gallant Saxon, evidently 
a soldier, to his hunter, as he gets on to the top of a bank. The 
horse evidently does not understand the injunction ; for he plunges 
incontinent into the ditch (luckily, a dry one), and it taxes his 
rider's hand, seat, and nerve severely to save a fall. A loose horse 
or two may be seen about, I believe ; but scent is very good, and 
the half-hour's respite, or at least a quarter's, which most foxes on 
most days can, with, perhaps, one or two followers, count on in 
this strong thick gorse, is to-day cut down to seven or eight 
minutes. Away we go, past the grand stand, over the old 
" Downshire course wall " (a three-foot gap, be it understood, pre- 
sents itself in the middle), across the Rathmore road, as if for 
Cradoxtown or Tipper, then a swing to the left leads us over 



224 HIBERN1A YEN ATI C A. 

another road from Naas to Punchestown, while a few light-riding 
grass fields and scrambling banks bring us into Killashee, Mr. 
Richard Moore's park, over which the hounds run fast ; then we 
cross the Naas and Dunlavin road, enter Mr. Kearney's extensive 
fields at Rathasker where there used to be a breeding earth by 
the old castle, I believe run over some rather swampy fields, 
where a boundary double makes a call on a tired horse's powers ; 
and presently, having got over a by-road, we are in Mr. Fay's 
farm, and we hear who-whoop ! who-whoop ! at a bank and ditch 
where I have seen a fox take sanctuary before to-day. At this 
point, being well-nigh twenty miles from my stable, I turned 
homewards, thinking all was over, when, looking back, I saw men 
riding again ! so the fox must have only tried this sewer or drain. 
Slowly, but without much hesitation, the hounds now hunt on to 
Newlands, Mr. FitzPatrick's residence, and by his farm-yard there 
is a pause of a few minutes, which the owner begs the large field 
to utilize in tasting his hospitality ; but the break is only momen- 
tary away the hounds hurry on towards Herbertstown. 

The Ward Union hounds continue their unchequered career of 
brilliant sport. The meeting-place on Wednesday, the i7th, was 
the Black Bull (stat nominis umbra}, and in addition to the faces 
one generally sees at these assemblies there was a small knot of 
hard-riding Meath men, whose occupation, so far as fox-hunting is 
concerned, is gone till Friday next. Among them were Lord 
Langford, Mr. W. Butler, the Messrs. Murphy, Mr. Trotter, Mr. 
Chapman, Mr. Metge, Captain Peter Lowe, Mr. Hone, Mr. 
M'Gerr ; Kildare supplied a few, representatives, Louth one or two, 
Limerick the same. There was a coach-load of Inniskillings and 
3rd Dragoon Guards, one or two of the Rifle Brigade, and Dublin 
mustered strong to a very favourite and accessible fixture, some 
ten miles of Irish measurement from the General Post-Office. The 
deer selected for this pursuit was rather a celebrity, as this year 
he gave about the longest chase of the season, which ended at 
Garradice, and hopes were high that the gallop of this afternoon 




STEWART DUCKETT. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 225 

would be in no way inferior. In length it was very inferior, but 
the pace for a few miles was very good and continuous ; but 
I anticipate. The red deer was unlucky at the outset, for, en- 
larged not far from the meeting-place, he was coursed for some 
fields by a sheep-dog, and this no doubt spoilt the first stage of 
our gallop for in the first mile we had a long check ; then 
crossing the Dunboyne road, we got jammed and entangled in 
a sort of network or prison of rails, wire, and water, which took 
up a few moments, and might have been fatal to seeing anything 
further of the pursuit. But up to this our quarry took things very 
leisurely, going down by Wood Park and its brook ; then turning 
to the left, recrossing the Dunboyne road, and presently holding 
a course over the Ratoath road by Loughlinstown, Mullinam, and 
Ballyhack, it led us over a very perfect grass line, widely fenced, 
but where, with a very few exceptions, you could clap on steam at 
every obstacle, and never think of the safety-valve. Inclining to 
the right, the track takes us to the well-known Kilrue cross-roads, 
a very celebrated meet for this pack, and thence by Beltrasna to 
a point in the Ashbourne road, soon after which the road was 
substituted for the pastures, and a capture was effected beyond 
Fleenstown. The cream of the gallop was, I should think, about 
five miles over a line nearly good enough for any modern steeple- 
chase, very superior to many courses patronized a generation or 
two gone by. There were falls and loose horses, but no bones 
broken or horses injured, and the half-hour or forty minutes occu- 
pied by the brightest portion of the chase was deliciously warm, 
the sun shining out radiant and serene after some very heavy 
forenoon showers. A very hard welter-weight owed an involuntary 
cold bath to some concealed wire, which turned his hunter over 
into a brook. The invisible wire is so rare in this country that 
I mention the circumstance. A pillar of the Irish turf became 
for the nonce a pillar of Irish mud, while his place in the alpha- 
bet of pursuit, generally nigh Alpha, waxed by this misadventure 
nigher to Omega. We make a vast pother about our rains and 

Q 



226 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

floods here ; but really what are ours in comparison to your 
experiences in the Thames and other valleys ? Yesterday the 
nephew of an old friend, who held the horn once in England, told 
me that his uncle was recently asked to go to a ball, and when 
his station was reached and the brougham was expected, lo, a 
boat and a ferryman were sent to bring him to his destination ! 

Mr. Hamilton Stubber is, I hear, showing very fine sport in the 
Queen's County, one sample of which I sent you in the merest 
outline last week. A pursuer who graduated with Mr. Tailby, 
told me that on Monday last he had a wonderfully pleasant gallop 
with this pack, which showed very high hunting form. I am not 
quite certain about the accuracy of my memory, but I give 
a sketch of the pursuit, subject to any amount of correction. 
Finding at Orchard Gorse, they hunted their fox to a sewer near 
Luggnacurran village. Whether the fox emerged from his hiding- 
place when the hounds were taken away is not ascertained, but 
soon the hounds dragged on a line into Corbally Covert, and from 
it sent a fox over a range of hills flat at the top and covered with 
short grass, where there is a long-stretching gallop of nearly three 
miles, broken only by two flying walls, or walls that can be flown 
in a horse's stride. After this the fox got into a thorn and hazel 
scrub which clothes a hill known as The Banker, from which he was 
pushed into a new plantation of Captain Cosby's, and when he 
broke again it was to run over the Old Hill, gallop once more 
its walls, and get to ground not far from his original starting-place; 
from this he was bolted, and soon after rolled over by the pack, 
who had deserved him well. 

Thursday, the i8th, was marked by almost heavier rain than 
we have been blessed with hitherto this year. As a matter of fact, 
there was no hunting of fox, hare, or stag within a very wide 
radius of the metropolis, and, if the evening corresponds to the 
forenoon, hunting in such a diluvial downpour would be a very 
mixed delight. I met a very weather and water-proof pursuer, who 
told me he started for " The Grange " (Kildare hounds), but was 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 227 

driven back by the gushing rain. The evening was tolerably fine, 
and so warm and muggy that I should not be surprised to hear of 
one or two brilliant hound passages and beaten fields. 

The chronicle of hunting events would be incomplete were we 
to pass over " Sam " Reynell's funeral sub silentio. Much of hunt- 
ing Ireland found its way to the churchyard shade at Reynella, as 
a glance at the following names will show : The Earls of Howth 
and Clonmell, Lords Langford and Greville, the Hon. Charles 
and Harry Bourke, Mr. Waller, the Hon. E. Preston, Lieut- 
Colonel Eraser, V.C., Mr. J. L. Naper, Major Naper, Captain 
Hartopp, Mr. Dunville, Captain P. Lowe, Captain J. M'Calmont, 
Mr. Macdonald Moreton, Messrs. F. and M. Chapman, Mr. R. 
Malone, Mr. Mervyn Pratt, Mr. Pepper, Mr. Rothwell, Mr. S. 
Garnett, Captain Kearney. Major Donaldson. Some nine of the 
above list have been masters of hounds. There were also a great 
many of the peasantry present 

" His saltern accumulem donis et fungar inani 
Munere." 

The harrier interest has been very triumphant during the 
last week or ten days. Besides Mr. G. Brook's and the New- 
bridge pack that I alluded to, the Queen's Bays have had two 
very good runs of an hour and an hour and a half from Garry- 
roan, and earlier in the month I had a very meritorious perform- 
ance by Mr. Carey Reeves's hare -hounds. 

On Friday, the iQth, the Meath hounds recommenced hunting 
at Philpotstown, in weather most hostile to sport. I hear the 
show of foxes at Churchtown, Meadstown, and, in fact, passim, 
was very good ; but their ways were ringing ways, and nothing 
very decisive took place. 

I hear the Curraghmore hounds had a very fast thirty-five 
minutes from Lane Fox's Gorse on Tuesday last, ending in a kill. 
The track was through Carriganard, Grace Dieu, and Firmon, 
in the direction of Waterford. 



228 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

On Friday, the i2th, the Kilkenny hounds were interrupted 
in their career by Mr. Ponsonby Barker's death, but Colonel 
Chaplin improvised a by-Saturday at Windgap, which brought a 
good many hunting men together. Davis's Gorse furnished 
a good fox, who ran by Marsh's Gorse, through Mr. Morris 
Reade's plantations at Rossenarra, into Castle Morres, where 
he was rolled over after a pleasant fifty minutes. On Monday, 
the 1 5th, they were at the fifth mile-stone on the Dublin road, and 
had a short gallop to ground at Gowran from Flagmount ; and 
an evening run from Bishop's Lough, through Blanchardstown, 
by the chapel of Pitt, into Clifden Bottoms, where the hounds were 
stopped, owing to the approach of night. 

On Thursday last the Kildare hounds were at the Grange 
village. The morning was one that would have daunted even 
an intrepid pursuer. The afternoon cleared, and the small party 
who awaited the course of events were not disappointed, even 
if they saw nothing very brilliant. Knockrigg Gorse, the first 
venture, sent forth a good fox, who, selecting the drier side of 
his grounds for breaking, ran by the Rath, and all but up to 
the Parsonage, where he was headed back, and his new direction 
was for Ballyhook, across the well-known and much-dreaded 
bog drain of grimy notoriety. Here the hounds got a good 
lead, for the field had to quest about for a crossing, which they 
at last found; and presently came another flooded drain not 
far from Ballynure, which only one or two managed to cross 
successfully. The fox now brushes by Ballyhook Gorse on his 
way to Saunder's Grove ; but bending to the right, as if he meant 
to complete the circle, he saw an open drain or sewer in Griffins- 
town, and into it he crept. By all accounts, this was a good 
hounds' run ; the field had a stern chase. Matt Conran's Gorse 
and Ballintaggart were non-holders to-day; but Hatfield the 
inexhaustible provided a runner, who started off as if for Halvers- 
town, then turned to the right, and made the Bowery (here the 
field were compelled to trust to the Dunlavin road for the most 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 229 

part, owing to the flooding of the swampy lands around) ran 
through it, and worked his way to Logatrina, crossed the Naas 
road, and was lost not far from Cryhelp. Pace latterly was not, 
I hear, very good. 

On Saturday, the Ward Union hounds were for the second 
time flooded out of their country ; so they or their followers 
rather, to be precise threw in their lot with the Kildare hounds, 
who met at Rathcoole, some eight miles from Dublin. The 
field was enormous ; the day was fine. Foxes proved con- 
spicuously absent from sight or smell till near two o'clock, when 
a Johnstown Kennedy fox (or a visitor, at any rate) started off at 
top speed for the hills under which it nestles ; ran very nearly to 
the Saggart reservoir ; and brushed past Gouchers, and ultimately 
made Tinode, where he was rattled about for some time. A 
fresh fox (as supposed) then started up before the pack, and led 
them towards Kilteel, getting into a hole or burrow half a mile 
or so from the Kilteel road. 

Mr. Humphrey's stag-hounds also stopped hunting last week, 
in tribute to Mr. Reynell's memory. 

The Ward Union hounds had an exceptionally fine gallop on 
Wednesday, the 24th inst, which began by Bay ton Park, and 
progressed by Batterstown Parsonage, Blackball, " the Hatchet," 
Kilmore, Moynalvy, Culmullen, Warrenstown, till it finished 
at Dunshaughlin village. I propose to write in my next letter 
at length, and to notice, if space permits, the results of Monday's 
meeting of the Kildare hunting senate as well. Roughly speaking 
an M.F.H. who takes Kildare will have .1500 or ^"1600 per 
annum, a pack of hounds found, stables and kennels for his estab- 
lishment, and his country kept. 



230 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



XVI. 

' What's that skirting the hill-side ? 
'Tis the fox'! I'll bet a hundred ; 
Forward, forward let us ride 1 " 



Rathcoole rendezvous Fine run from Johnstown Kennedy Baytown. 

THE outlook on Friday morning was on a semi-deluge and its 
natural consequences. On Saturday the vis medicatrix natura, 
to use the jargon of " the Faculty," had done wonders to dry up 
the surface waters and harden the crust of the pulpy, water-sodden 
earth. There had been a sharp frost during the night ; the 
spiculae of ice were on the roads and all around, while a lambent 
sun was glorifying everything with his bright far-reaching rays. 
The Kildare hounds met at Rathcoole, a village neither clean, 
comely, nor beautiful, but very ancient, which lies under the 
shadow of the Dublin and Wicklow ranges of hills. To-day it 
was glorious in colour, enlivened by the presence of several 
hundred horsemen and horsewomen, soldiers' drags, flashing 
sunlight, war horses innumerable, and all the pomp and pride and 
circumstance of war's image. Here were the lords of the soil, 
represented by the ducal and noble houses of Leinster, Clonmell, 
Cloncurry, Oranmore, Harewood, and I know not how many 
more. Here were the lords of no soil lords of themselves, that 
heritage of woe according to Byron, but of that heritage to-day 
there were scant signs or tokens visible. Here were the lords of 
many horses, but masters peradventure of none, and side by side 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 231 

with them the owner (it is Saturday) of a quiet unpretending nag 
horse, which somehow gets over and through a country, and does 
an odd bit of harness and hacking perhaps in addition. Here 
are good horse-masters and bad horse-masters, ladies riding, ladies 
driving in cars, phaetons, waggonettes, and croydons. It is a 
field day for garrison and staff, cavalry, artillery, and rifles ; but 
no corps muster so strong as the Inniskillings, and no two majors 
are more effectively mounted than Major Gore and Major Billing- 
ton of that sporting regiment Major Gore's weight-carrier being 
a perfect picture of symmetrical strength ; while for performance 
and handiness in crossing any sort of country with a steadying 
load Major Dent's grey hunter is, perhaps, unrivalled. Galway, 
Limerick, the Queen's County, Scotland, and a great many more 
portions of her Majesty's dominions, are here doughtily 
championed. It seems to every eye a day for best horses and 
best clothes. The enforced rest has perhaps restored the bloom 
on many an overdone hunter. The bright sun and clear air has 
evoked the brightest of purple togas. Suffice it to say now that 
it was a very bright, joyous scene, worthy the panegyric of the 
laureate of the chase : 

" When all around is gay men, horses, dogs, 
And in each smiling countenance appears 
Fresh blooming health and universal joy." 

The days are lengthening, and with them hunting licence ; so 
I think it was considerably past eleven o'clock when we filed 
down into a miry, flooded lane-way, whence leathers and cords 
received many a slushy accolade. From this we emerge into 
wide green fields which bound Castlebagot Gorse ; but, alas ! 
the trumpet sounds. There is no fox on the premises, nor yet 
in the neighbouring shrubberies of Castlebagot House. I said 
the crowd was enormous ; it contained a few perilous kickers of 
course there were some kickees. Between holes, an odd fence or 
two, and such like causes, there was a small crop of disasters 
before we had visited the third covert (Twelfth Lock Gorse). 



23 2 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Alas ! no luck in odd numbers to-day ; it was empty, and foxless 
likewise. 

One of the sights of the forenoon which we encountered in 
these progresses over the paths of Macadam was a large company 
of young Levites, probably enjoying a holiday ramble from May- 
nooth or some affiliated college, all wearing the biretta or black 
cap, which I suppose here, as in the case of the judge passing 
sentence, symbolises death to the world and its vanities. They 
were a fine stalwart regiment of manly looking young fellows, 
not much sicklied over with the pale cast of thought. If there 
were any ritualists in our cortege, they must have been highly 
edified by the ecclesiastical costume and hierophantic millinery. 
Perhaps a few of us thought of old Oxford days, when " Jack 
Adams, who coaches so well, set us down by the Royal Defiance 
at the door of the Mitre Hotel," with the assurance that, arrived 
at the steps of the Mitre, we were safe to get on in the Church ; 
and when, to quote the same dear old supper-party ditty, known 
and sung of all men on the banks of Isis, we " flashed our top- 
boots in the slums." The next stage was a very long and dreary 
one by the uneven banks of the canal, called Grand, on the lucus 
principle, because no grandeur meets the eye along this dreary 
waterway. I should think we trotted along it for nearly three 
miles, perhaps more, till we came to a nice secluded bit of gorse 
known as Miss Gould's Gorse, the townland on which it stands 
being Lough town. There is a curious coincidence about this 
gorse which it may not be out of place or impertinent to mention 
here. Sir Edward Kennedy, the then master of the Kildare 
hounds, saw that a gorse covert was very desirable in this locality ; 
he applied to Miss Gould and her landlord, and was offered any 
field he chose to select. Having made his choice, and sowed it, 
the next step was to make an earth ; and, on his visiting the place 
to make all the arrangements for the purpose, Sir Edward was 
accosted by an old man, who asked for the post of earth-stopper, 
urging that he had the best claim. " Why ?'^ said Sir Edward. 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 233 

" Because I was earth-stopper in your father Sir John's time ; and 
this was the old covert, and here is the old earth ! " It turned out 
perfectly true, and Sir Edward had only to re-open the old fox- 
haunt. 

After very careful drawing, this place too was pronounced 
blank; and the next venture, a small screen near Lyons, was 
equally barren of result. By this time we had wandered over a 
great deal of country, and patrolled the highways and by-ways 
in anything but pleasant fashion for this is the season of survey 
and inspection of roads, and the contractors have " fanged " them 
with any amount of newly broken stone. As a natural result, a 
good many desertions took place here ; for Johnstown Kennedy, 
the next draw, is some distance, and hunting men, like generals, 
have to consider the retreating as well as the forward movement. 
Blackchurch Inn has a good fame for its cordials, I believe ; at 
any rate, not a few stopped here to try. My business was to pay 
for a horse I had sent on the night before ; and so busy were they, 
that five minutes, I should think, elapsed before I could find 
any one good-natured enough to receive my cash. I mention 
this circumstance to show how very quick the find and exodus of 
the fox of the day was. The inn is not jive yards off the road, 
only a few hundred from the lower gate of Johnstown Kennedy ; 
and five minutes, at a rough calculation, was about the time I lost 
sight of the pack, for I made my way into Sir Edward's park 
directly, but only to find that the hounds were streaming away 
towards the Coolmine Lodge. Well, what of that? Tis a sight 
one has seen many score of times. Foxes are too fond of their 
luxuries in Johnstown Kennedy to forsake its woods without at 
least one long ring. So I galloped with the ruck ; but when we 
emerged at the Coolmine Lodge, oh, horror ! no hounds were 
visible, but some twenty-five or thirty men were to be seen from 
half to a quarter of a mile ahead, climbing up the mountain-side 
at the best pace they could command. Now, say what you like, 
three-quarters of a mile bustling up an incline which begins with 



234 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

the mild gradient of the Derby starting-point or the Bedford 
chasing-course finish (to use popular illustrations), but increases 
in steepness the higher you go, when hounds are beating you 
every yard, takes most of the "' go " out of an average horse, and 
leaves a residuum of limpness and flaccidity not very desirable 
when ugly rotten banks, with the take-off and landing, rendered 
indistinct by reason of gorse or heather, are before you and 
inevitable. This was our fate, the fate of the polloi, as we emerged 
from the gateway. Some rode hard to a point to the left, hoping 
to catch the pack in Coolmine Gorse they fared badly, I think ; 
others, among whom were Lord Clonmell and the Hon. Charles 
Bourke, galloped along the high-road towards Kilteel, turned up 
a useful lane, and met the pack at a sort of lodge and plantation 
on the top of Slieve Thou Hill. The twenty-five men or there- 
abouts who had got well away with the hounds, were led by 
Major Dent, on a well-known grey, who had a lead of fully a 
hundred yards at one time. An inept minority, among whom 
I formed a unit, followed the pack in a sort of despairing way, 
with nothing to guide us ; for once the leading division had 
dipped the hill, our clue was gone. Even at this stage a ragged 
fence or two had told its tale of loose horses how many I cannot 
say, but I heard of several. It requires a good-hearted, good- 
winded, handy horse to stay near hounds in these latitudes. A 
ditch here ; a narrow-backed stone-faced bank, obscured by gorse, 
there ; a small wall ; timber stuck in a gap these are the impedi- 
ments to your progress, and mostly at an angle dead against your 
hunter. Once on top of the hill, the riding becomes very light 
and springy ; it is covered with a growth of ling and heather and 
one wonders why it is not peopled with black game. These are 
the near objects; the distant ones very distant ones are three 
or four men galloping ; a few more at a long interval. When you 
look around you, horsemen seem to people the mountain aimless 
and objectless perhaps they have not yet caught sight of the 
receding leaders. The hounds, meantime, after running very 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 235 

near Coolmine Gorsc, slipped off to the right, driving their fox 
towards Gouchers Corse, but not giving him a chance of visiting 
it save in spirit as they pushed him along with a blazing scent 
up the reverse of the hill range, over the flat top, and so on with 
unslackened pace into Tinode Woods, through which he was 
rattled towards the Downshire ; but his strength was not equal to 
the effort. He turned downwards, and ran past Mr. Cogan's 
residence, the hounds making the whole hillside resound with 
their melody, as we persevering plodders knew well to our 
encouragement In a deep ravine a fresh fox (at least it is sup- 
posed he was a fresh one) was tallied away into the open, and 
the hounds were clapped on to him. For a quarter of a mile he 
ran the Kilteel road, the hounds working admirably in spite of 
the stampede in their rear, when he turned sharp to the right 
hand, crossed a few grass fields, and, who-\vhoop ! he got to 
ground in a bank in the corner of a field. Whether there was a 
sewer or burrow there, I cannot say ; for 'twixt myself and the 
pack, a few yards only distant, stretched a bank, not all too 
sound, at the far side of which was what some would call a ditch, 
others a quasi-nullah, and here I confess my mount declined any 
further risks on her own account or mine, perhaps prudently ; 
but possibly her nerves, like my own, were shocked by what 
I saw a young horse coming good pace to the bank, flying it, 
and then in mid-air just managing to kick back, and so save a 
bad fall in all probability. 

This is a most imperfect version of a very fine fast run, and 
of the chase and escape of a very sporting bold fox, who it may 
be hoped will infuse his intrepid, straightforward ways into the 
race of vulps at Johnstown Kennedy. I saw nothing of it except 
the last little bit with what we suppose was a second fox. I fancy 
very few out of the original good starters stayed at all near the 
pack, while I hear not more than a dozen could be called within 
reasonable distance. Some hunters that I know to be good vale 
horses and safe fencers came down at these peculiar obstacles, 



236 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

and a popular general officer looked in a perilous position for a 
moment or two, but got off all right. Kilteel a very happy little 
hill covert, formed of a grove well lined with gorse was drawn 
blank ; and here a dispersion took place, not a few having, like 
myself, a long journey before them. 

I forgot, in alluding to Friday, the igth, in Meath, when they 
were at Philpotstown, encircled by brimming rivers, to mention 
that they killed a fox from Meadstown after a ring, and had a 
very sharp gallop from Tullaghnogue till stopped by darkness. 
On Saturday they had lots of hunting about the Loughcrew Hill 
and in Clonabray, but nothing very brilliant or decisive. 

On Monday the flood ban was taken away from the brave 
Ward Union men, and a special train from the Broadstone took 
down a rather select field to the meeting-place, Batterstown station. 
There were one or two Kildare men out, a Louth man or two, 
a good many of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and one or two Innis- 
killings, one or two Queen's Bays and 5th Dragoons, added to 
about the usual number of the members ; Mr. Turbitt acting as 
the master. A fine run, which may roughly be described as to 
and from Culmullen, over a line of beautiful grass vale say six 
miles in all was spoilt by greyhounds and colleys, who cut in 
constantly, ruining scent and directness. Two colley dogs com- 
pletely marred the first stage of the second chase by Parsonstown 
Manor ; the second stage of thirty-five minutes was good. 

I alluded to Mr. Hamilton Blubber's recent good sport, epito- 
mising rather vaguely, I fear, one or two good pursuits I had heard 
of. On one of these occasions, when the hounds had just missed 
their prey, which they had well earned, the covert-keeper came on 
the scene, and when the master asked him for a spade or pickaxe, 
or something of the sort, declared that, so far from aiding in such 
vulpecidism, " he would kill the man who attempted to dig out the 
fox." Upon this Mr. Stubber took the mattock, went to work, 
dug up the fox himself, broke him up, and astonished the keeper. 
A master of hounds must sometimes be master of men. M.F.H.'s 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 237 

are too often the involuntary slaves of some of their dependents, 
who atesume airs of arrogance because they have much in the way 
of marring and making sport in their hands. An occasional strong 
lesson is not a bad thing. 

On Wednesday last Mr. Filgate had a good hour with a fox 
from Stephenstown, killing in the open ; a pleasant thirty-five 
minutes from Clyde Court, through Corballis and Kilmoony, to 
ground at Rathtrist. 

On Friday, ipth, a good gallop from Greenhills, through 
Mosney, Corballis, and Ballygarth, died away as a storm came 
on ; a second, from Dardistown, ended the same way. 

Swainstown, the handsome residence of Mr. and Mrs. Preston, 
standing in rather extensive woodlands, was the meeting-place of 
the Meath hounds on Tuesday, the 23rd instant. It forms one of 
a sort of quadrilateral of parks and pleasaunces which beautify 
the fertile bit of vale through which the Meath line meanders (I 
cannot say rushes) quietly, so as to give the traveller ample scope 
to survey the beauties of Killeen (Lord Fingal's castle), Dunsany 
(Lord Dunsany's), and Warrenstown, on the far side of the metals. 
It is very near Kilmessan, a railway station. So, in spite of a 
very dirty morning, there was a very large accession of Garrison 
and Ward Union pursuers, while Upper and Lower Meath were in 
great force, and strong in cavalry. Kildare was championed by 
the Earl of Clonmell on Conrad, Mr. and Mrs. More O'Ferrall, 
Mr. Reeves, and one or two more ; while among the visitors were 
Lord A. Lennox, the Hon. Mr. Harbord, Major Naper, Mr. 
Gordon, Captain Magennis, Mr. Rose, Captain Peterson, Captain 
O'Beirne, M.P. The ladies equitant formed a small troop, among 
whom were the Hon. Mrs. Donaldson, Mrs. Johnson, Miss Cruise, 
Mrs. Preston, Miss Coleridge, Mrs. Magennis, Mrs. Drake. 

I said the day was a dirty one, in sailor's parlance ; a lands- 
man might say filthy. A strong south-easter was blowing a gale, 
while at intervals at least, in the hour before the meet the rain 
gushes came down heavily; they were lighter during the day. 



238 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Kilcarty Gorse is the piece de resistance of this meet, and many, 
I think, came expressly to see it drawn. I believe such was the 
intention of Mr. Turbitt and a few of his friends, who hoped to 
get their gallop from it early, then post off to Kilbrue, where one 
of the best of the Ward Union red deer was reported as recently 
viewed, and for this purpose some drag hounds were posted at a 
convenient distance. This plan was prevented, first by Jem 
Brindley's arrival with the news of the red deer having decamped 
from the Kilbrue feeding grounds ; secondly, by Kilcarty's holding 
no fox to-day. They had searched Swainstown woods and planta- 
tions in vain previously. A fox turned up at the third venture in 
a plantation which forms one of the boundaries of Dunsany Park. 
The hounds started on capital terms with him, and ran him very 
fast and musically across some grassy stretches with a small inter- 
vening brook, which afforded some fun ; but scent was most 
nickering and changeful, and in twenty minutes or twenty-five this 
fox was hopelessly lost. The Hill of Glaine seemed full of the 
much-desired quadruped, and one for a moment led to hopes of a 
run, as he faced outwards for Culmullen in the teeth of the gale ; 
but he too in a very short time turned parkwards, and baffled the 
pack. We were now, I believe, fairly en route for the open 
country, when a fox turned up in a skirting wood belonging to 
Killeen, and he was rattled up and down (scent, strangely enough, 
seeming just as good among the trees as outside), and forced across 
the Dunshaughlin road, only to be lost in his turn. We are now 
by the verge of Gerrardstown Gorse, a large safe double in front 
of us, every one at attention, and with his spot picked out for a 
quick start. Before us are fine wide grassy fields, over which we 
strided a fortnight ago in pursuit of the Corbalton fox ; behind, at 
a distance of half a mile or so, the chain of parks and plantations 
through which we had been cub-hunting with very poor result all 
the morning. Every chance of the open was given our fox, whom 
we had just heard of; every chance seemed against his running 
parkways. But his motives were not in accord with ours; so, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 239 

crossing the Trim road, he got back to the woods ; and there I 
left them, having a lame horse or a tender horse under me, and 
not caring for a repetition of the earlier experiences of the day. 
They took the fox very fast to Corbalton, I heard since. 

The Upper Meath men were very jubilant over a capital day's 
sport which they had yesterday, of which I fear I can only give a 
meagre sketch. The meeting-place was Slane, the village by Lord 
Conyngham's fine park and castle of the same name. The 
coverts were full of foxes, and one forced out seemed inclined to 
make Grange Geath Gorse ; but, perhaps fearing the ascent, he 
held on by Hussey's Gorse and Tankardstown, and was rolled 
over in the open near the latter place, after a very long and per- 
severing chase. " The Graigs " furnished the second fox, who led 
hounds and horses at a most stretching pace for eighteen minutes 
through Stackallan, over Barstone Hill by Slane, and then ran for 
some distance over the line of the morning fox, when he got to 
ground in a burrow. Scent, specially in the afternoon hours, was 
pronounced very good ; the country, too, rode far lighter than on 
the Dublin side of the county. 

" Oh, for a muse of fire ! " says our great dramatic poet, " that 
should ascend the highest heav'n of inspiration" or invention 
which was it ? Oh, for an observing eye ! says your scribe, and 
the power of reproducing, even faintly and dimly, a photograph of 
a magnificent chase which the Ward Union hounds have just had. 
No colouring, no embellishment, is required ; a tithe part of the 
bare unsophisticated reality would be enough to set the imagina- 
tions of those who love to ride for eight or ten miles straight over 
peerless pastures, unprofaned by the plough for many a genera- 
tion ; over wide fair fences, where on a good hunter a real work- 
man you can go almost recklessly at the first place that presents 
itself in the line of obstacle, and then, if you think you have three 
or four more miles in hand, you will find five or six companions in 
your wild ecstacy, a streaming pack, and a deer with some " go " 
left still in its agile frame and unchoked lungs in front of you. 



2 4 o HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

He is not magnifying a pursuit which he saw well himself, or was 
fortunate in ; on the contrary, it was his lot to get into the very 
first ditch, having charged a wide spot with perhaps insufficient 
energy, and, as extrication involves a few very precious seconds, 
a stern receding chase. Men and horses succumbing totally 
after a few miles, some plodding on perseveringly, most abandon- 
ing pursuit after seven or eight miles had been compassed these 
were the sights which his eye took in as he strained it to make out 
the path of pursuit, and to get some idea of the vicissitudes and 
the geography. 

Those who travel by the Meath line, if they have any hunting 
fire in their composition, must be attracted by the wide and vividly 
green fields which stretch away to the horizon on either side of 
the metals, unarrested by any chain or barrier of hill, lake, or sea, 
though every here and there the land seems to swell into gentle 
undulations ; and these in this flat land they call hills, because 
they give an immense command of survey and vision. It is a 
very rare thing hereabouts to meet a ploughed field. The land is 
worth (I speak roughly) some ^5 round by the statute acre, and 
many would be glad to take any amount of it, I believe, at that 
figure. For many a square mile this pastoral land is entirely free 
from anything like clusters of parks or woodlands. It is devoted 
to cattle mainly ; it is strongly and deeply fenced, but the fences 
are fair and untrappy, and for the most part singles. A few farm- 
houses dot it about, and a few herds' cottages ; an old chapel and 
church rear their modest forms in the landscape ; otherwise it is a 
wilderness of grass ; nearly treeless, with strong quick hedges to 
shelter the stock. 

The Ward Union hounds rendezvoused at Baytown Park on 
the 24th, a nearly treeless park, the nominis umbra being almost 
the only appreciable shade to be met with. It is about a couple 
of miles from Dunboyne, and twelve English, to calculate roughly, 
from the metropolis. The coach of the 3rd Dragoon Guards 
brought a fair number of soldiers from Dublin dragoons, rifle- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 241 

men, staff, and artillery. Lord Langford came from Summerhill ; 
Mr. Rose, of Limerick, from Dublin; while Messrs. Macneil, 
Tuthill, Murphy, Davis, M'Gerr, Butler, Morris, etc., are more or 
less connected with the neighbourhood. The majority of the 
other pursuers, some thirty or forty, hailed from Dublin city. Mr. 
Turbitt was the acting master of the ceremonies; but there was 
little preliminary preparation. The deer was enlarged very near 
the meeting-place, on the way to Vcsington (to be topographical), 
and the hounds started off with a head which looked like a fast 
gallop. A wide ditch, some eight or ten feet broad, hairy and 
deep, is the first obstacle. A few got over the first spot charged ; 
a few hesitate, one or two get in, the majority flank it; pace is 
good. It is rather more than a mile to Batterstown Parsonage, 
and here we jump into a laneway, which, in a few hundred yards, 
leads us towards Ballymaglasson and BlackhalL There is a mo- 
mentary pause here. Then the line leads on straight, and most in- 
telligibly, on towards " the Hatchet " a celebrated Meath fixture, 
keeping parallel to the Dunboyne road. For two or three miles 
the even flat tenor is held on, when the land begins to rise a little 
as we pass Mr. M'Gerr's farm, and rise the celebrated hill of the 
Mullagh, a great low grassy wart on the smooth face of nature, 
which commands a very wide prospect ; a mile or two more brings 
us past Kilmore Parsonage, and the chase appears holding on for 
Summerhill, Lord Langford's park, some three or four miles 
westwards ; but presently our deer bends by Moynalvey chapel 
(the field was here reduced by desertions, falls, accidents, lost 
shoes, and what not, to very small proportions indeed), brushes 
past Beltrasna Gorse, to ascend another slight gradient (but how it 
told !) to Culmullen. Then once more it is downhill, and it leads 
on to Warrenstown village ; then by the outskirts of Dunsany 
(here are two phases of the royal sport, for we were in this district 
yesterday) to Drumree station. Then in a few moments followed 
the capture, at a point very near Dunshaughlin village. Messrs. 
M'Gerr and Fitzgerald were, I believe, the nighest during the last 



242 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

stages of the run ; and, as Mr. M'Gerr started in front, it is a fair 
inference, judging by what one sees of his riding habitually, that 
he was in a forward position all through. With these two were 
Messrs. Wardrop, Waldron, Rose, Hone, and one or two more ; 
while Mr. Murphy (on Sapling) and Mr. W. Butler were in the 
van for some distance. Many had stopped, or been forced to 
stop, four, five, and perhaps six miles from the finish ; and this 
tells its tale to people who know anything about hunting when 
I add that there was not a single sensational jump no eighteen 
feet of deep water, no stiff timber barrier, no masonry wall ; the 
fences were large and fair all through ; but pace, distance, and 
occasional rising ground told their tale on slack condition and 
flaws in the ancestral tree. It is a bold assertion to make, but 
I do not think such a run possible in any other part of the three 
kingdoms certainly not in any portion of " the shires " within my 
experience. I should estimate it at over a dozen miles, nor do 
I think the hour was very much exceeded ; but I did not time the 
run, and I speak by conjecture, though not quite without data. 

On Tuesday last the Kildare hounds met a fairly large field at 
Sallins in storm and tempest. Bellavilla Gorse furnished a fox, 
who ran through Longtown into Firmount, then shaped his course 
along the boundaries of these two places, and, inclining to the left 
hand through Killibegs, made Downings, where he found sanc- 
tuary in the root of an old ash tree, which has long been a fox 
nursery. It was a fast twenty minutes over a rather nasty line of 
country. The wild gorse of Gingerstown (Castle Keely failing to 
hold) supplied the second runner. He made his point for 
Landenstown, and reached it in sixteen minutes of galloping pace; 
and here he got a few moments' breathing space, when he started 
for Donore, but, headed after a few fields, ran by Castle Keely 
back to Landenstown, where he was rolled over. Grief and dirt 
were very conspicuous after this last scurry, which lay through 
rather swampy lands. 

The Kilkenny hounds are, by all accounts, doing full justice 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 243 

to the stout old foxes for which the county has long been famous. 
Thus, on Wednesday, the i yth, they met at Knocktopher, when 
Sir James and Lady Langrishe were the hosts, the field the guests, 
at a hunting breakfast. Kiltorkan Gorse supplied the fox of the 
day; he skirted Coolmine, Sir John's Gorse, Knockmilan, and 
Firgrove, ran back to Kiltorkan, and was killed close by Sir John's 
Gorse after an hour and a quarter. On Friday a ring from the 
" Rock " was rather below the Freshford average, where they met. 
On Monday, the 22nd, they were at Jenkinstown, the park of 
Mr. George Bryan, one of the county members, beyond which to 
the north'ard there is some fine wild country. After some wood- 
land work they drew Dunmore Park, Lord Ormonde's covert, 
found, and had a sharp ring, then a quick scurry over Mr. Doyle's 
farm, killing their fox when he was apparently bound for Castle- 
comer Coverts. 

Kildare is still masterless the horn is within the grasp of 
a competent stranger. A quasi competitive examination as to 
qualifications of head and heart, purse and person, venatic voca- 
tion and experience will be instituted. Among the examiners will 
be Lords Drogheda and Clonmell. It is the first time that the 
office has been open, for hitherto the succession has been most 
strictly limited to countrymen, and the new expansion of liberal 
ideas in this direction is due, I rather think, more to a combination 
of circumstances than to any new difficulties in a master's path, or 
any diminution of the credit attached thereto. Ideas are apt to 
take involuntarily a financial turn at this season, when reflection 
follows festivity, and tradesmen, with " the first, second, and third 
of this tenor," are apt to draw the pensive mind in this direction. 
The tergiversation of the Turks those terrible Turks ! " the 
wisdom of the Egyptians," will not be lost on us as a nation if we 
follow steadily on the path of prudence and retrenchment on 
which we have entered, even in Kildare. I throw it out as a sug- 
gestion that candidates for the office should be invited to enter 
horses for the annual red-coat race which winds up the Kildare 



244 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

season, and that a decided preference should be given to what one 
may call a double first the man who wins in both classes, the 
1 4 stone and the 1 2 stone. Among the possible masters for Kildare, 
I hear Lord Shannon and Captain Cosby mentioned. Their hunting 
antecedents are too well known for me to allude to them now. 

On Friday, the Westmeath hounds had a very fair day's sport 
from Drumcree and Hope's Gorse, to which I may refer by-and-by. 
The last run was very promising till a colley dog intervened and 
marred it 

On Saturday the Ward Union hounds were neither very happy 
in their country nor their quarry ; while on Monday their efforts 
to hunt in tempest were not crowned with the success which often 
attends enterprise and adventure. 

The Kildare hounds had a very long hunting run on Saturday 
from Cryhelp, followed by a very quick burst from the Blackthorns, 
which was continuously good as long as light lasted. On the 
24th, Mr. Filgate, after drawing Beaulieu and Newtown both 
blank, found at Castlecoe, and had a very sharp quarter of an 
hour by Colistoun, and by the shore behind Rath into Newtown ; 
from the latter they forced him away into Blackball, where he got 
to ground in a rabbit hole. Nearly forty minutes, all told. A 
second fox turned up in Blackball ; he ran round the park first, 
then crossed the railway by Drumshallon, left Rokeby on the left, 
and again crossed the rails by Carrickbogget ; and, racing past 
Walshestown chapel, took a line straight to the hill of Almonds- 
town. Up to this the hounds had never checked, but here they 
probably changed foxes, taking one on to the strand at Ryndstown, 
when light failed, though the fox, dead beat, was just in front of 
them. On Friday, the 26th, they met at Collon, but did not find 
till they reached Tenure Gorse, the fox taking them a splendid 
line to Mullerry, where he got to ground under the old church. 
Finding at Painstown, they took their fox across the Ardee 
racecourse, then by Dromina into Dunleer Court, thence to 
Rathescar and across to Collon, when a badly stopped earth saved 
him, after running for one hour and a quarter. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 245 



XVII. 

" Many a day from yonder spinney, in November moist and chill, 
Have I seen the wily animal steal slowly up the hill. " 



The fox in ambush "The Ward" at the eighth mile-stone Snow and storm 
Drumcree Brannoxtown Pageant at Abbotstown. 

I HAVE been spending some short intervals between hunting in 
studying something of the natural history of fox life. Any one 
who has observed a chained fox for any time will have seen how 
keen he is in watching the birds within his purview or within 
his pad-reach, to be more exact no cat is stealthier or quicker 
in striking ; a pigeon has a poor chance within chain limit. Now, 
close to my back lodge there is a small field of cow-cabbage, 
which, till the quice or wood-quests of the neighbourhood 
swooped down upon them (like locusts in Kansas), were most 
healthy of heart, and vigorous and round of girth ; now they are 
picked as bare as the Monument, except in a few spots. When- 
ever I put a pointer into this field he stands rigid, and up jumps 
a splendid old dog-fox, red as a rose and bushy of brush, within 
a few yards. Now this fox must I think have followed the quice, 
and must have been lying in ambush for them among the few 
uneaten cabbages; for the field in question is bounded by a 
broad, sunny bank, full of gorse, grass, and warm lying ; nor do 
I think he would persist in staying in the plough for any less 
motive after having been disturbed by man and dog. The quice 



246 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

are exceedingly numerous, and the mischief they have done is 
very great. I should think a judicious fox watching his oppor- 
tunity would have no difficulty in making his right and left. 

Having enlarged upon one or two very brilliant hunting 
passages which came under my ken, I fear I have omitted not a 
few moderate days with the fashionable packs within reach of the 
metropolis. Some of these may be dismissed in a very few lines. 
Thus, the Meath hounds at Trim on Friday last excited any 
amount of eager hope and expectation in many bosoms ; but the 
swollen current of the Boyne arrested the tide of pursuit from 
Trimblestown, which up to this watery barrier had glided along 
very rapidly ; nor did the evening's hunting from Clifton Lodge 
(Tullaghanogue being foxless) make amends for the early dis- 
appointment. 

The Queen's Bays' harriers continue to keep the neighbour- 
hood of Cahir and their masters very well occupied, as they find 
the hares of the county very stout and inclined to run straight ; 
one on Thursday last only succumbed after four miles' straight 
going at good trying pace. 

On Saturday I followed the precept of the wise in their 
generation in wooing fortune, namely, to follow on my luck Wed- 
nesday's luck for, say what you will, there is much luck in hunting. 
Misfortunes, says the bard of Avon, seldom come in single spies, 
but in battalions ; so a victorious and successful pack of hounds 
often throws in for several good things in rapid succession ; while 
a demoralized, baffled, and dispirited pack not seldom makes a 
long repetition of bad days, till something or other brings a 
reaction and turns the tide. The Ward Union hounds were 
announced as meeting at the eighth mile-stone on the Dublin 
road ; and, sooth to say, a very large section of hunting Dublin 
turned out to welcome Charley and Jem Brindley and their 
favourites ; one of the brightest days of the season, when in the 
clear cold air of the afternoon every object in nature gleamed 
forth with an almost pre-Raphaelite distinctiveness. It is no 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 247 

wonder that soldiers and citizens, men of peace and men of war, 
men of commerce, and men of technical learning, sons of Mars, 
Themis, Esculapius, and I know not how many more Pagan 
divinities, and daughters of Diana in carriages and habits swelled 
the throng of pursuit, which was not confined by any means to 
Dublin and its Garrison, for Captain Trotter was there from 
Navan, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy from Culmullen, 
Mr. and Miss Hussey, Mr. W. Butler, Captain O'Beirne, M.P., 
and several others whom one sees in the fox-hunting array ; while 
among the crowd were one or two horses of public fame, such as 
Fairy Queen, and one or two men who have stamped themselves 
as capable horsemen between the flags. Clock-like punctuality 
seems to mark the Ward Union movements, and, indeed, any 
slackness in this respect, considering that the meets are fixed 
for the easy time of 1.15, would in these short days be very 
dangerous. A by-road, down which we wound past the chapel 
of Donoughmore, brought us to a place called Miltown not 
much of a misnomer, because, if there were no mill actually in 
esse there, there were brooks hard by which might be utilized to 
any extent 

The moment we got inside a gateway, near a house in ruins, 
the hounds began to run fast ; but in five or six minutes they 
came back very nearly to their starting-point, and then com- 
menced the pursuit in real earnest ; it led us fairly straight for 
about a mile, and perhaps a half in addition, over some widish 
but fair fences, when, between mistakes and cannons, an odd 
loose horse might be picked up, and a man, tired of bay, might 
turn to chestnut Robertstown is our next stage, and, crossing 
the road by a small wall, we are in a valley watered by the Fields- 
town brook. It is bounded by a wire fence ; but the wire is open 
in spots, and so we pass through, not without delay, while the 
hounds are topping a gorsy hill in front of us, looking as if we 
are in fox pursuit. Soon we come to a very miry laneway, with 
strong quick hedges on either side. It has one or two passes; 



248 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

but if you miss these, and fancy you can find something better 
higher up or lower down, you are doomed to a stern chase, 
perhaps never to catch the flying pack till they reach the sea- 
board, a few miles to the eastward. Such was not the fate of any 
to-day; for the deer, after running to Fieldstown, turned back- 
wards, and shaping a course towards Palmerstown, got back to a 
point near Ashbourne, where a capture was made. The county 
to-day was not anything like so pleasant as the Ward Union deer 
have traversed recently not so large, perhaps, but very irregular 
with fences, of which some seemed impracticable to the 
ordinary calibre of hunters, and not reassuring at a glance to 
either man or horse. Few saw the run well after its earlier stages, 
and many falls marked its progress, among the supine being one 
or two of the very best-mounted men in this part of Ireland. 

There was a project for an attempt on the liberty of an out- 
lying deer at Kilbrew, but I hardly think it could have been 
executed; the distance and the little daylight remaining being 
strong arguments against carrying it out to-day. 

Sir David Roche's pack has been showing fair sport, but 
without passages as brilliant as in the earlier part of the season 
till last week, when they found a good fox in Main Gorse, who 
led them a tremendous chase over the best part of their vale 
towards Ballingarry. He did not, however, enter this covert, but 
passed it on the right, pointing for Ahylin Wood ; but neither did 
he enter this stronghold, but pushed on for some more distant 
goal, till the pack viewed him and rolled him over : a nine-mile 
point, probably twelve as the hounds ran. I regret I cannot give 
you the time, for it was not taken. 

On Sunday I think even the poachers, with their greyhounds 
and curs, must have been beaten off by the hyperborean weather, 
which began with some smart volleys of hail and ended in a 
snowstorm, which was heavy enough to lie on the sodden and 
water-logged fields till everything was draped in white. By 
Monday a tempest of wind and rain had obliterated nearly every 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 249 

vestige of snow, but hunting ! I write in the forenoon no one 
but a hardened old Centaur would think of such a thing ! And 
yet they did hunt ! I write in the evening. The meet at 
Culmullen cross-roads is now a fait accompli ; but Beckford was 
right, hunting in tempest is seldom stamped with success. I had 
no idea that snow, succeeded by sleet and gushing rain, could in 
twenty-four hours have flooded the country, which was just 
beginning to acknowledge the drying processes of the last four 
or five days' respite from rain and storm to the extent it has 
actually done. Not only has every field a small lacustrine system 
of its own, which makes an almost even division of the surface ; 
but the roads are turned into canals in many places by the over- 
flow of brooks and gorged conduits, and the driving wind lashed 
these canals and temporary water-ways into miniature billows 
and surf ; the cattle and sheep were huddled together, cowering 
from the storm, wherever any shelter presented itself; and the 
rustics, when asked about the arrival of the hounds and the 
prospects of a chase seemed to question your sanity. However, 
come they did, with their wonted punctuality for Ashbourne 
time, let me tell the reader, is practically equal to Greenwich time 
in its precision. I suppose the truth was that so sudden was the 
storm there was no time to countermand horses, boxes, etc. ; and 
the fact of a special train leaving the Broadstone terminus every 
Monday made it imperative on the Brindleys to be there. Of 
course the field was small and select ; but it comprised some of 
the hardest elements to be met with, among them being Lord 
Langford, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, the Messrs. Hone, 
Mr. Allen, etc. The red deer, when enlarged near the new 
chapel or church, sailed away with the wind on her quarter, 
through Cultromer, then turning to the left, gained the Cross 
Keys, and held on through Mr. Doyle's farm ; then the Dublin 
road looked far too attractive to be passed by for holding fields, 
and along this track she continued till Batterstown station was 
reached, when the Meath line tempted her, and along this she 
ran in full view of the pack. 



250 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

Drumcree, the residence of General the Hon. Leicester Curzon 
Smythe, was the meet of the West Meath hounds last Friday. 
Three foxes turned up in the gorse, and the hounds settling to 
one sent him along towards Winetown, where he was turned back 
and forced to run through Glanavea and Drumcree again ; he 
then went away for Loughbawn, but was foiled once more in this 
impulse, and he again tried Winetown, but only to be again 
headed. He now made for Barbavilla, but when crossing the hill 
over Collinstown the hounds ran from scent to view, and rolled 
him over in the open close to Collinstown village. A good 
hunting run ; one hour and twenty-five minutes, and the latter 
part of it was fast. They next found a brace in Hope's Gorse, 
and ran one of them fast over a good line towards Knock Ion 
Hill Gorse ; but when within a mile of it a colley dog coursed 
the fox, and spoiled pursuit 

Hunting and steeplechasing are, in their best forms, supposed 
to be so closely allied, that it may not be out of place to comment 
for a moment on the programme of the Cambridgeshire steeple- 
chase, which I see advertised in your last issue. The framers of 
the articles appear to me to have had one great object in view 
the apportionment of prizes to animals capable of carrying men 
hunting, and not mere instruments of gambling, as so many of 
the metamorphosed chasers of the day really are, while the 
penalties and maiden allowances ought to attract good fields of 
well-bred hunting horses to catch the eyes of buyers. I do not 
know the Cottenham pastures ; but, as nearly every English 
steeplechase course that I have seen is fully iclbs. severer than 
the average of Irish tracts, here methinks is matter for reflection 
to stewards and promoters of the Irish hunt races. 

Saturday, the 27th, was not only a very enjoyable day, but it 
yielded something more than an average of sport to the large 
numbers who met at the village of Brannoxtown, where three 
parks Major Borrowes's, Mr. J. La Touche's, and Mr. Cramer 
Roberts's converge. Moorhill, the first covert visited, yielded 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 251 

no fox ! so a stage was made to Cryhelp Gorse, from which a fox, 
described as very small, broke and ran to the neighbouring gorse 
of Copelands (two miles distant, more or less) and back again, 
but by a different route. Then, forced a second time out of Cry- 
help, he took a line towards Hollywood, and got round by rather 
a circuitous process to Copelands. The pace over the bottom 
lands, where scent lay warm, was, I hear, superb ; and on dit that a 
noble and hard-riding eloquent lord left a cast of his profile each 
side in the clay which lines the banks and ditches here. Another 
exodus from Copelands leads our vulp back to Cryhelp, where the 
covert-keeper intervened, and opened the earth for his stout little 
protege. After three o'clock p.m. the Blackthorns at Harristown 
were drawn blank, when a fox was viewed stealing away. The 
hounds were laid on at once, raced him through Geganstown and 
Ardenode, and forced him across the Ballymore Eustace road, 
where his course lay over splendid old upland pastures, wide and 
large, into Moorhill; hustled through the covert, he ran through 
Geganstown and the Blackthorns across Rochestown and the 
Dunlavin road, when he entered Sallymount, and here hounds 
were whipped off from want of light 

This must have been a very good day's sport by the strong 
and decided impression it left on the strangers and visitors. I did 
not see the fun myself, having been out with the Ward Union 
stag-hounds at an interval of many miles. Among the occurrences 
of the day was the fall of Kildare's best medium-weight (I think 
I express the general opinion of judges) at one of the many 
score of rotten, ragged, gorsy, crumbling banks, any of which are 
quite capable of upsetting an uneducated or half-educated hunter. 
His hunter got away from him, and was so full of "go" that, 
when tracked, he was found trying to jump the iron railings which 
protect the Ballynure churchyard, some six or seven miles distant 
from the scene of the catastrophe. 

On Tuesday the Duke of Marlborough held his first la>ee in 
Dublin Castle, and to give heads of departments (as they used to 



252 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

call them in the colonies) an opportunity of paying their devoirs 
to her Most Gracious Majesty's representative in Ireland. The 
temples of Themis were closed, and so were the fanes of Diana ! 
Hunting is, as a rule, most Conservative in its politics. Take any 
field in England, and you will find a great majority, if red in 
habit, most blue of instinct. And yet the Liberals have a most 
decided supremacy in the knot of statesmen whom our Imperial 
sister has sent over to guide us in the paths of equity and justice. 
Against Lord Spencer, Lord Hartington, and Mr. Horsman I do 
not think the Tories can name a single name of Irish hunting 
eminence beyond Sir Michael Hicks Beach, our present Secretary. 
To be sure, one or two of the dailies here, with effusive loyalty 
overshadowing accuracy, made the Duke of Abercorn, our recent 
Lieutenant, a Nimrod. In spirit he may have been, in heart I 
believe he was one assuredly, but he never gained the accolade in 
Irish hunting fields. His sporting fame was won on a different 
arena. 

"What shall my song be to-night, and the strain at your 
bidding shall flow ? " sang the young lady at the piano, probably 
emphasizing the "your" if the right man be in the drawing-room. 
" Where shall my meet be to-morrow ? " was my paraphrase of 
the melody on Tuesday, and if not exactly of mine, no doubt it 
was that of many vacillators and undecided in the metropolis of 
Ireland. I had made arrangements for visiting the Kildare 
hounds on Wednesday myself, so I will speak presently of what 
I saw in that county ; but the Meath hounds were at Larracor, 
very accessible to pursuers in Dublin by railway to Trim ; and 
on the whole, I think I should give the preference to the average 
chances of sport from Larracor than from the coverts within reach 
of the eighteen mile-stone fixture, if for no other reason than that 
the field in the former would be considerably less than half that 
to be counted upon at the latter, which generally brings an army 
from Dublin, a legion from the Curragh and Newbridge, besides 
pursuers from the Queen's County, Carlow, and it may be from 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 253 

Kilkenny; not to speak of the very large numbers whom the 
hospitable houses within a radius of four or five miles of Naas 
pour forth upon the thronged cross-roads at this very famous old 
fixture ! I think rain is telling : we have struggled against it, we 
have become quasi acclimatized to it ; but the last wetting, the 
last stable misfortune, has the same effect on the almost weather- 
proof, water-proof pursuer that the ultimate feather has on the 
camel's hump in the oriental apothegm. The meet was a very 
small one, the smallest, I think, I ever saw at this place in an 
experience of a few seasons. From before nine o'clock a.m., a 
deluge of rain set in, taking the place of frost which had ruled 
during the night ; a strong west wind drove it in, and the whole 
westward horizon was surcharged with water. The Dublin divi- 
sion, who came by rail to Sallins, suffered comparatively little ; 
but many of those who had ridden or driven long distances by 
road, looked externally as if an immersion or two in brook or 
ditch could affect the condition of their clothes very little. Under 
these circumstances it was not surprising to see good men and 
hard men turn homewards from the meeting-place, or when near 
it, for it did not look like sport in a very enjoyable form. And 
yet I fancied, seeing the weather they encountered last Monday, 
that a few Ward Union men would have shown at the meet, for 
they are once more, as somebody remarked, " sus. per plu.? 
which is a sort of apothecary's Latin abbreviation for " stopped by 
rain," their country being under the dominion of flood. They 
were, however, conspicuously absent. Dublin sent a strong 
detachment of her Garrison and Staff; among them Major Gore, 
Captains Bloomfield and Mills, and Mr. Thompson, of the Innis- 
killings, Captains Colthurst and Crosbie and Lord Clanmorris, of 
the Staff. Lord Oranmore and Captain Lascelles, too, came from 
the metropolis. The Curragh was represented by Captains Han- 
ning-Lee and Montmorency of the Staff, Captain Middleton of 
the 4th, with sundry other soldier officers; while from " the hall "at 
the Curragh were Mr. Hubert Moore and Miss Moore, Mr. Garrett 



254 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Moore, Mr. Beasly, etc. Sir Erasmus Borrowes, who has not 
been hunting so much this season as usual, was on a good-looking, 
lengthy son of Canary's, a high-class-looking hunter all over. 
Mr. Dyke was a visitor from Cumberland, Mr. Adair and Mr. 
Skeffington Smyth came from the Queen's County ; Kildare 
showed in smaller force than usual. Everything looked draggled 
and soaked. Those in Cording's complete armour seemed about 
the happiest, the hounds being huddled into a sort of ball, so 
that you could hardly guess that there were eighteen couples by 
the door of the little " pub " at the cross-road. With this attempt 
at describing our surrounding discomforts let me dismiss the 
preliminary business. Mr. Mansfield trotted us on sharply 
enough for a quarter of an hour, and then on either side of the 
road we have a long bit of narrow woodland ; this is Dunstown 
Wood. The hounds had not been five minutes exploring the left 
side of the hollow-looking covert which has been very prodigal 
of its fox blood when a find was announced. A miry lane leads 
across it, and we are in this, thinking our fox is bound for Stone- 
brook ; but a sharp turn has led him to the corner of the wood, 
and, if he meant Stonebrook at first, he now means it no longer. 
Outside is a wide extent of commonage, intersected by some 
drains and small brooks, where on a fine lark -provoking day you 
would be sure to see much schooling and "fancy" jumping. 
This is not a day for anything of the kind. Hounds are running 
fast, and there are gaps and bridges over everything jumpable, 
so on we go, till hounds pause at the far side of the common. 
On it is, up the shoulder of Mullacash Hill, or a little spur of 
that hill. Across the road, over a small wall, and there are the 
hounds all gathered together round a sewer where foxes are very 
fond of taking sanctuary when they can. Some jump back into 
the road, those near the sewer are galloping on fast. The fox 
has tried it, but finding it sealed has held on. Now hounds are 
racing over a bit of spongy bottom land, across a by-road, and 
on to Mr. Coffey's farm. Luckily, here there is another pause, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 255 

or the tail men could not have got up. The track is now by 
Mullaghboden Lands, leaving a most tempting covert of the 
Baron de Robeck's unvisited not more than a few hundred yards 
to the left. Here the soft ground and a large fence emptied a 
saddle or two. Now the Ballymore Eustace road is crossed, and 
we get into sound, hilly, upland grass, though some of the banks 
are still lined with snow drift. Presently we cross the Rathmore 
or Blessington road, and work on over a fine grass farm of Mr. 
Flood's hounds begin running hard once more ; another parallel 
road is passed, and we are in the lands of Barrettstown Castle 
(Sir E. Borrowes's residence). Excelsior! The track is now 
rather steep, though the grass land rides light enough here. Soon 
we are on the verge of Russboro' (Lord Miltown's park) ; some 
of us now get hung up in a field, protected on one side by a high 
rugged bank, on the other by wire. The line meantime leads on 
towards Glending, crossing -the single bit of plough I can recollect 
in the day's ride. Scent is failing and flickering ; the hounds, 
I think, dragged on to Russboro'. Practically the run concludes 
here, and it was really very good and animated in bits, sur- 
prisingly good and sustained, the weather and the storm being 
considered. Next we are overlooking Elverstown's magnificent 
area of gorse, of which a portion is cut down, though, to my eye, 
the covert still looks a very large one. A reluctant fox refuses 
to face the open. Home and hot water now occurs to most men. 
Among the curiosities of the day was a veritable twenty-seven- 
year old huntress, as fresh as a kitten, and pulling her rider hard 
on those steep hills where some of the young ones were quite 
sobered. I find I was in error about the sequel of Saturday last 
with the Ward Union stag-hounds. After the capture of the first 
deer, a small party, with Mr. Turbitt, went to look for the outlyer 
I referred to at Kibrew, found him by the fox-covert there, and 
ran him by Reisk Covert and Gallstown House to the Poor-house 
Gorse, thence by Parsonstown Manor to Crigmere and to the 
Hatchet, through Jenkinstown by Colierstown Covert to Mulhussey 



256 HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A. 

Gorse, on by Mulhussey Castle, through Messrs. Chapman and 
M'Cormick's lands to Moyglare (Captain Tuthill's park), till he 
took refuge under the bridge of Moyglare, when the capture was 
safely effected at 5.30 p.m. (he was found at 3.35); hounds, 
I hear, had much the best of the long chase, some of which must 
have been ridden by moonlight. 

Sport in Meath has not been good this week by all accounts. 
On that fearful Wednesday, when the Kildare hounds rendez- 
voused at the eighteen milestone, the Meath pack met at Larracor, 
but, owing to the storm, did not find till they got (rather late) to 
Rahinstown Gorse, from which they had a pleasant thirty-five 
minutes by Rathmolyon and the Bullring, over a tolerably good 
line of country for the district 

On Friday the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough held what 
I may call a hunting levee at Abbotstown, the spacious park of 
Mr. Ion Trant Hamilton, one of the county members. No fairer 
frame could have been selected for a really beautiful and imposing 
pageant The Court looked very courtly; his grace's equipages 
were admirably turned out ; there was a most imposing display of 
beauty most beautifully adorned. Dublin, civil, military, pro- 
fessional, and commercial formed a grand gallery for the raree 
show ; luckily the overcast forenoon spared the glory of toilettes, 
the pride of Purple and Propert, the sheen of Hoby and Clarke. 
An hour or two afterwards there was a tremendous gush of rain, 
but by that time much of the carriage multitude had gone home to 
luncheon, etc. A short ineffective run from Kilrue Gorse, which 
introduced us to very large fencing, was all of sport. The 
tempestuous day produced a fatal accident to one of the best 
sportsmen in Ireland, Mr. Nicholas Archdale, whom I saw going 
not once, but always admirably on his grey hunter, and made 
it a very melancholy one for numbers. 

I believe it is not premature to announce Mr. W. Forbes's 
succession to the vacant mastership of the itildare hounds. That 
he has accepted the horn positively and finally I am not prepared 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 257 

to state ; but that the conference of the Kildare chiefs will end 
like the miserable fiasco \ve have recently sickened over in the 
Orient, I do not believe, as I feel assured that the county of 
Kildare will be too glad to meet the proposals and conditions 
which Mr. Forbes makes on his part. A very humble unit in the 
hunt, I think it is to be congratulated very much on the happy 
combination of circumstances which secure so very promising 
a president No M.F.H. can guarantee sport to a country; but, 
as the Patrician said to Sempronius, " he can deserve it." This I 
am quite sure Mr. Forbes will do, and it will be very hard luck 
indeed if, when immense energy (perfervidum Scotomm tngeniuni), 
great experience, and a most intimate acquaintance with the 
unwritten laws, maxims, and cabala of hunting are added to 
entire devotion to the noble science, good results do not follow. 
Eighteen or twenty years ago Mr. Forbes was attracted to Kildare 
and its hunting grounds; he has been most staunch and un- 
wavering in his allegiance ever since. Hence, though I do not 
think he has a patent of naturalization, he is, by popular vote and 
feeling, a Kildare man ; no man in Ireland or England has been 
a better patron of sport legitimate, undefiled by gambling. 

The Kildare hounds met at Courtown Gate on Saturday, the 
3rd, and, as usual, the meeting-place was choke full, as well as 
the avenues leading to it The hounds, thrown into the planta- 
tions in front of the house, found instantaneously, crossed the 
road, and raced for Laragh. Here, or just beyond it, there was 
a check of some moments, and then the chase is renewed slowly 
and fitfully to the Maynooth road, at which point it ends, so far as 
the field and the body of the pack are concerned. I believe what 
really happened was in this wise: The find was so quick that 
many men were taken by surprise, while not a few fell at a drop 
fence into the road coming out of the Courtown plantations. 
These discomfited men got somehow (I think by a parallel road, 
but I don't want to libel them or their hunters) to Laragh before 
the field or even the pack. At the check I referred to five couple 

s 



258 H1BERNIA VENATICA. 

of hounds hit off the line for themselves, and ran untidy to the 
road (" silence," you know, " is the criterion of pace "), where 
a small body under the banners of Captain Ponsonby, Mr. F. 
Tynte, and Mr. Bellany, the latter on his capable roan horse, took 
charge of them, and had a capital run, as I hear, with only 
a single dwell by Taghadoe Gorse, into Cullen's Covert. Whether 
we changed foxes or not in the last gorse I cannot say, but a fox 
from it took us at capital pace over a nice line into Killadoon 
Lands, where scent seemed to fail. Castletown Woods did not 
hold a fox. 

There has been capital sport in Kilkenny lately, from Killeen, 
Ballykeefe, Kilfane, Summerhill, and Butler's Wood, while the 
Curraghmore continue their triumphs, Kilcash and Early's Gorse 
keeping up their reputation for good foxes. I regret I can only 
refer to these packs just now. 

P.S. The Meath hounds had a very good day's sport on 
Tuesday, the 6th, from Somerville, or rather Walshe's Gorse and 
Kilmoon Sticks ; while Mr. Preston's harriers (the Bellinter) gave 
a select field a most enjoyable hour and twenty-five minutes, 
killing a very tough hare after a most sustained chase, which led 
over Walterstown, Screen, and Tara Lands. By all accounts, this 
was a very fine run indeed. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 259 



XVIII. 
" In the spring a fox's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." 



Abbotstown levte Mr. Archdale's fate "Snow-Storm" Kilkenny and 
Queen's County sport Philpotstown and Rathmore West Meath. 

I MUST perforce hark back to the beginning of spring if spring 
really begins with the month of St. Valentine dear to the young 
men and maidens whose thoughts lightly turn to thoughts of love, 
but abhorred by the polite postman. (Manners, you know, make 
the postman.) Ventose, pluviose, but not venaticose, if one may 
coin such a term, February Filldyke came in blustering and 
gushing, determined not to leave the wild work of January 
incomplete. The courtly ceremonials at the Castle, a first levee 
and drawing-room, brought quite a flock of M.F.H.'s to the 
metropolis of Ireland to pay the tribute of their loyalty and 
respect to her Most Gracious Majesty's representative at Dublin 
Castle ; and to stimulate their zeal in this direction I feel inwardly 
assured that not a few causes gravitated mightily. Such an open 
season was perhaps never recollected, nor one wherein the strain 
on hunters was more continuously severe. 

" Otium divos rogat impotenti prensus yEgseo." 

" The M.F.H. he prays for frost, 

Because his nags their bloom have lost, 
And all his stable plans are cross'd." 

I can fancy an M.F.H. under these painful circumstances sum- 
moning his huntsman and stud-groom to his study, and announc- 
ing his intention of visiting the capital and court of his country 



2 6o HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

for a few days. I can conceive the pathetic injunctions to his 
huntsman during his absence to be sparing of, and tender to, the 
remaining working lot; his passing a sort of short ad interim 
Factory Act to limit the working hours of his over-wrought 
establishment ; his careful and precise directions about the draw- 
ing of the coverts, and so on. To be sure, all huntsmen have 
not obeyed Wolsey's injunction to Cromwell, " fling away ambi- 
tion," and opportunity occasionally will dull the small voice of 
obedience; so I expected that possibly I might have heard of 
one or two extraordinary passages of hunting history during this 
semi-interregnum, but none have reached me so far. Another 
potent cause, I feel assured, to drive masters Dublinwards at this 
particular season was the lady vote noto quid famina possit. 
Dublin doctors are celebrated, and country dulness and damp 
beget remittent spirits, to which only a course of medicine and 
millinery can minister. Add to all these inducements the great 
spring meetings, of which all M.F.H.'s nearly are ex-officio pro- 
moters, and forced to interest themselves in throw in a few 
Castle balls and minor private dances and the wonder will be, 
not that masters of hounds ever got away from their kennels and 
countries, but that they were able to return so quickly. 

It would not be fair, I think, to the truth of hunting chronicle 
to pass over the magnificent hunting function which took place 
at Abbotstown on Friday, the 2nd inst, with the very meagre 
comments to which scanty space and time restricted my observa- 
tions last week. Hunting fox-hunting especially is many-sided, 
and every side has its own attraction and charms for its votaries, 
just as, with changing light, every facet in a well-cut diamond 
sparkles and coruscates in turn. There is the sanguinary hunts- 
man who thinks only of killing his foxes ; there is the less blood- 
thirsty hunt servant, whose zeal fluctuates between the joy of 
pursuit and the ultimate triumph ; there is the master, whose 
anxious mind has to dwell upon a thousand subjects in the course 
of the twenty-four hours, who has to be a little of all things to 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 261 

all men and all women; there is the master who is a very Gallic 
to all minor matters so long as he can show sport, and who lives, 
moves, and has his being for this aim and object ; there is the 
master who simplex munditiis abjures the pomp and vanities 
of hunting pageantry, who looks with an angry eye at crowds 
of carriages and hacks flocking to his meets, and occasionally 
arranges his fixtures rather with a view to the discomfiture of 
this element. The master of the Royal Meath hounds, be his 
idiosyncracy what it will, has no option in the matter, or scarcely 
any. Certain grooves and traditions bind him fast in invisible 
but very sensible chains, and one of these is that on certain high 
days he must bring his hounds to the neighbourhood of the 
metropolis, timing his fixture so as to fall in with the dates of 
drawing-rooms or court balls at the Castle, and that for a certain 
space of time he must manoeuvre them before an immense 
audience or gallery composed of elements the most heterogeneous 
and incongruous. I suppose it is right that it should be so. 
Hunting lives in the affection of all classes ; so it must be made 
generally popular and pleasing. The spectacular, gossiping, 
coffee-housing, pomp-and-pageantry side must have its innings 
occasionally. Luckily, it is seldom a long one ; and, most 
fortunately for Meath, the same day often combines the morning 
pomp and parade of fine clothes and bravery of glorious apparel 
with real genuine sport in the afternoon or evening. It was not 
the case on the day I am now noticing. Last season it was quite 
usual, and considered a matter of course. The old saw tells us 
that "a rainbow at night is the shepherd's delight, a rainbow in the 
morning is the shepherd's warning ; " and such a bow spanned 
the heavens magnificently as I rode into Abbotstown on Friday 
morning. A slight shower came down, and then everything 
looked fairly serene in Mr. Hamilton's fine park, where undulating 
grounds, large grassy spaces, fine old timber, and a system of 
springs and rivulets make a very pleasant and picturesque scene. 
There is a large space in front of the house, and presently it is 



2 6 2 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

occupied by the outriders of the viceregal carriage, followed by 
the equipages of the Castle party, which includes the Duke and 
Duchess of Marlborough, Lord and Lady Antrim, Lord R. 
Churchill, Lady Rosamond Churchill, Captain Kearney, Lord 
Clanmorris, Captain M'Calmont, Captain Colthurst, A.D.C., and 
Colonel Frank Forster, Master of the Horse. 

A short distance off is the coach of the Inniskillings, driven 
by Captain Heaviside. Innumerable carriages are Avandering 
about through the park, among the smartest of which are Mrs. 
Bagot's and Mr. Rose's. Abbotstown is not more than four 
miles from Dublin ; so the Garrison in all its arms is there in great 
force. Kildare sends Lord Cloncurry, the Hon. E. Lawless, 
Mr. Forbes, General Invin, Captain Saunders, and some others 
to represent her in the tournament. The morning is overcast, 
but warm withal, so there is a capital opportunity for lounging 
about among the Watteau-like groups of horse and carriage 
people a very mixed multitude, civil, military, professional, 
commercial, histrionic. It is a conversazione al fresco and ci 
cheval for half an hour, seeing that the train which brought the 
master, his hounds, and staff up to Dunboyne from Navan is late 
by that precise measure of time. Mr. Morrogh, the master of 
the Ward Union hounds, receives a perfect ovation on his re- 
appearance in public, driving his phaeton, after his severe accident 
a broken leg some seven or eight weeks ago. 

But here come the pack at last ! The woods of Abbotstown 
are drawn pro forma (no fox could be expected to await his 
enemies so patiently while the coast was clear). Nothing is 
found, and presently the huge train, brilliant in colouring, moves 
along, churning the rotten roads into mud-butter, till we pull up 
at Holywood Rath, Mr. Thompson's residence, nearly always a 
sure find ; and here fresh accessions to our numbers arrive, 
among them Lord Langford, Lord A. Lennox, the Hon. Mr. 
Harbord, Lord Rossmore, and the Hon. Mrs. Candy. The place 
is foxless to-day, but a hard-riding dragoon makes a little bit of 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 263 

amusement for the spectators by a water jump mangu^ where his 
horse, a candidate for cross-country honours, is immersed for a 
considerable time. The next stage is to Ballymacarney Gorse, 
where a fox was proclaimed, chez lui very soon, but a fierce rain 
and wind storm now came on with almost blinding violence ; 
and, whether the fox got headed when he broke, as he did several 
times, or the weather daunted him, I cannot say. Certain it is 
that Mr. Waller, anxious to give us a gallop as quickly as he 
could to warm and dry us, led us on to Kilrue Gorse, leaving the 
sulky vulp master of the covert pro tern. There must have been 
a fine house at Kilrue at one time. A long causeway leads to it ; 
there are extensive ruins, and round them for a considerable 
space runs an old moat, rather wide, with the masonry still 
complete. The gorse is about a quarter of a mile from these 
ruins. A very quick find, a bold start almost in the teeth of a 
gale, some very large fencing, hounds flashing over the scent, the 
fox forced back to sink the wind and scurry back to the gorse, 
some grief, more very large jumping this was the first stage of 
our attempt at sport. It was followed by a second expulsion 
from the covert, a slow run over a succession of charming fences, 
with a brook or two, the direction being towards Ashbourne ; 
and then the clue is hopelessly lost or blown away. I said there 
was very large jumping nothing sensational, no single obstacle 
to go and look at afterwards, but every fence very wide, and one 
double which I saw a couple of men do, led by an officer of the 
3rd Dragoons, was passing big. The Hon. Harry Bourke, 
mounted on The Lord-in-Waiting, showed us the way over a 
yawner or two, where a bold leader was a blessing. Where poor 
Mr. Archdale met his accident, I cannot say. I had been noticing 
the very fine fencing of his grey hunter a few minutes before, and 
in his resolute good hands such a catastrophe was the last thing 
I anticipated. 

" Quod quisque vitet nusquam homini satis 

Cautum est in horas. Navita Bosporum 

Poenus perhorrescit, neque ultra 

Qeca timet aliunde fata." 



264 . HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 

I feel I have not done justice to the very splendid spectacle 
at Abbotstown; space and time forbid my enlarging on it. It 
combined something of a cross between a high-class English meet 
say at Cottesbrook, after the Northampton meeting and one 
or two features of Ascot. The show of horseflesh in the park 
was very fine, and alone well worth going to see. I cannot notice 
the hacks or hunters seriatim now, but a brown cob under Mr. 
Richard Walshe's welter-weight (Lady Patricia's owner) looked as 
if he would win ribands in the show-yard as well as give his rider 
some hunting. 

Saturday, the 3rd inst., was ushered in by snow and sleet, 
which, of course, turned to the irrepressible rain during the 
course of the day. The temperature was very low, and there 
was a sting and bite in the wind, which every now and then proves 
the precursor of tremendous scent. The Kildare hounds were at 
a very favourite rendezvous, Courtown Gate, and the weather 
desagremcns ; notwithstanding, there was a full and fashionable 
meet at the entrance to Captain Davis's park. Meath mustered 
strong there ; among the visitors thence being Mr. A. M'Neil, 
Lord Langford, Lord Rossmore, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. 
Candy, Mr. Dunne, Captain Tuthill, Lord A. Lennox, the Messrs. 
Carew, Mr. Rynd, the Messrs. Purdon, Mr. M'Gerr. Dublin sent 
Lord Oranmore, Mr. Hone, Colonel Frank Forster, Captains 
Colthurst and M'Calmont; the Queen's County, Mr. and Mrs. 
Adair. 

The Courtown foxes have become a by-word for stoutness and 
pace this season ; one was killed after a fine run to Donadea 
Castle, Sir Gerald Aylmer's park, six or seven weeks ago ; a 
second has beaten the hounds after a quick scurry several times. 
But after such a night, and looking to the hollowness of the 
plantations, few, I fancy, felt much faith in a Courtown find this 
morning. Preservation and feeding will, however, do wonders, 
and this day illustrates the theme. No sooner were the pack put 
into the belt of timber opposite the house of Courtown than they 



HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 265 

found ; the fox did not dwell a second, but raced away across the 
Kilcock road, making his point for Laragh. Two fences now 
intervene between the field and the area of the chase one into 
the plantation ; another out of it, a drop into the road I men- 
tioned. Freeman, the huntsman, and some more, got falls at the 
latter impediment, I believe. For my own part, having missed 
my hunter, who was sheltering somewhere, I was fain to canter 
back to a road which I hoped would prove parallel to part of the 
pursuit. 

" Suave mari magno turbantibus rcquore ventis 
E terra alterius magnum spectare laborem." 

" Sweet from the shore, when billows roar, 
To view at ease the straining oar. " 

I had no Larah Brook before me now, no other big obstacle. 
How courageous and critical one gets on such occasions ! It 
was a hard-riding lot of men as a rule, reckless of water their 
motto, " Be with them, I will." If a few thought of rheumatism, 
or that they were not on their water-jumpers, or that the brook 
was full of snow and sleet water, I respect their caution. I saw 
no immersions as on the last occasion; but the pack have checked 
suddenly. Three minutes! five! what can it be? and when 
they go on again, led by Crystal, there does not seem much dash 
about them. Here they come : Major Dent, on his grey, jumps 
first over a bank into the Maynooth road ; then come Mr. Percy 
La Touche and Lord Langford, and some fifteen or twenty soon 
after. At the road hounds seemed utterly helpless. The facts 
we learned afterwards : five couples of hounds had slipped the 
body of the pack, had been met on this very road by a few 
pursuers who were "out of it," and taken on straight after the 
hunted fox into Cullen's Gorse, some three miles distant. This 
they did, I am told, with only a single check. Meanwhile, we 
held on through Taghadoe after them, and the divisions of our 
army were reunited at Cullen's Gorse. From this we expelled a 



266 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

fox let us suppose him our hunted one, for it will give more 
interest to the narrative. He set his mask first in the Straffan 
direction, but the breeze was against that move ; so he doubled 
back, crossed the sort of fosse road by which we usually approach 
the gorse, and then streamed away at good pace over a wide tract 
of moory land which has been reclaimed from bogdom or lake- 
dom by draining off the surface water through very deep cuttings. 
One of these cuttings now interposes itself a canal in width, 
with high embankments of mud and marl. One or two men, 
among whom were, I think, Major the Hon. E. Lawless and 
Mr. W. Blacker, find a spot where they can jump it. Most of us 
forded it, our horses sliding down the embankments very craftily. 
A slight check as we rise into higher ground only momentary, 
however and on we go cheerily enough till in sight of a school 
or institution for orphans, founded by the Conolly family. 
Another check occurs ; then come a road, a locked gate which 
has to be forced a high wall for the hounds to climb ; and all 
this gives the fox a great lead. We are now in small fields ; but 
the hounds work the fast-cooling trail admirably. It leads into 
Killadoon, Lord Leitrim's park. Our fox has beaten us. He 
was a very good one, and I trust he may return safely to Cour- 
town. The day was one of grief and tumbling. Will Freeman 
led off with a brace ; Lord Clonmell followed suit with the same 
number. Mr. Allen M'Donough had a handsome black hunter 
of much value killed. Mr. Blacker, I hear, staked one of his 
good greys.* Major Dent's, I hope, escaped unscathed; 

" For o'er the dale, 
Or o'er the vale, 
Or on the mountain's side, 
, That gallant grey, 

Can race and stay 
The fleeting pack beside." 

* Snow-Storm, one of the finest hunters, and of the stoutest in Ireland, died 
of the effects. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 267 

Castletown did not hold a fox this evening. Among the casualties 
of the season, Mr. Filgate lost two good hounds lately in a rail- 
way accident. 

The hunting annals of the Kilkenny hounds may be thus 
epitomized. Friday last, meeting at Ballykeefe, they found in 
Killeen, and after much bullying forced their fox into the open, 
when he ran very fast past Pottle Rath to Ballintaggart Wood, 
where he got to ground. From Ballykeefe they had an evening 
run, first towards Knocroe, then a ring by Shipton. On Monday 
snow impeded proceedings at Cappana cross-roads, so they went 
to Kilfane (Sir R. Power's park), and killed a fox there after an 
hour's work. From Summerhill a fox broke handsomely over the 
Thomastown road by Ballylynch, skirting Mr. Bryan's gorse, and 
eventually getting back to Summerhill, where hounds were stopped. 

On Wednesday they were at Coolagh cross-roads, and after 
some desultory hunting from Garryricken they went to Butler's 
Wood ; and, finding there, ran a fox by Nine-mile House and 
Mr. Wall Morris's plantations towards Garryricken, and back 
again to Butler's Wood, where he just beat the hounds by getting 
to ground. 

The Ward Union hounds are hunting again ! On Saturday, 
at the ninth milestone from Dublin on the northern road, they 
met a manageable field, and had, I am told, very good sport, 
running their first deer, a red one, as far as Ardcath ; while the 
second, a fallow, enlarged on Garristown Hill, took them back 
kennelwards to Old Town. On Monday Newbridge held out 
attractions for the amateurs of lep-racing, but more especially the 
soldiers, who not only support the meeting in the most substantial 
way by hospitality almost sans bornes, but by entering horses and 
riding freely for their "pals" and the public also. I did not 
visit " the Cornet's course," preferring to throw in my lot with the 
Ward Union hounds at Batterstown station, where the assembly 
was full and fashionable, supplemented by a good many visitors 
and Meath men, among whom were Captain and the Hon. Mrs. 



268 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

Candy, Captain Trotter, Captain Lascelles, Lord Langford, Mr. 
A. Macneil, Captain Kearney, Lord A. Lennox, Mr. White, 
Mr. and Miss Coleridge, Messrs. Purdon, Kelly, M'Gerr, Bayley, 
Waldron, M'Cormick, Grey, Trotter, Rafferty, Gore, Allen. 

The first deer uncarted was a red one ; the scene a field near 
the Poor-house at Dunshaughlin. From this point, with a happy 
instinct, she turned away from the swamps and brooks near 
Lagore, and made a pretty straight line to Parsonstown Manor, 
through which she ran a course nearly parallel to the Meath 
railway. Emerging from these lands, we come to the boundary 
fence a double not unlike the well-known Punchestown fence 
before it was cut down to more pleasant proportions. There is 
no baulking or craning ; some forty or fifty take it in good 
hunting style, and then we come to a wide " fly " that leads into 
sound, hard grass land rather a treat in these soppy times for 
our hunters. It looks like a beautiful gallop, when an ill-omened 
shaggy-haired cur turns our deer almost into the pack. A thick 
hedge, however, protects her ; the hounds stick to the line most 
truly, and now we are recrossing the broad double I referred to, 
passing once more through Parsonstown Manor. And now 
comes the celebrated Bush Farm, with its Aylesbury-vale-like 
fields; only once in, we have to get out The obstacle is a 
narrow ledge of bank, made of recently dried mud apparently, 
which gives horses' hoofs very little holding ; beyond it a very 
wide ditch, full of water and slime. Some found better spots 
than others ; the earlier adventurers fared, I think, best. I saw 
Messrs. Meldon and Allen, two very heavy men, on the right side, 
having had very little of a scramble. Lord Langford's horse did 
it very cleverly ; so did several others ; but a chestnut horse got 
thoroughly imbedded in the mud, and detained his rider for some 
minutes, partly under him. Pursuit had ceased at or near this 
point by the capture of our quarry, who ran badly after the little 
affair with the yellow cur dog. A second deer, a fallow buck, 
enlarged near the Ratoath road, gave us a charming gallop over 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 269 

large flying fences for a few minutes, till the Dublin road tempted 
him to exchange hard going for soft. Of his capture, the how or 
the when, I cannot speak. A Devonshire lady and her brother 
had the cream of the run, which it is to be hoped they found not 
inferior to the cream of their own beautiful land, with its wild 
stag-hunting and wild scenery. 

On Tuesday, the 6th inst, the Meath hounds met at Somer- 
ville, a place which, with the surrounding undulations of grass, 
I have in previous letters attempted to place before the readers 
of The Field. I have no doubt the fine sunshine of the morning 
gleamed on much the same reaches of woodland and water as 
when I visited it last ; that there was an equally gallant and hard- 
riding field beauty, rank, and chivalry all combined to do honour 
to the cause of hunting in general, and Meath fox-hunting in 
particular ; that Louth sent, as usual, a hard-riding division to the 
border covert, and that the visitors who have made Navan and 
various other points in Meath their head-quarters were there to 
a man and a woman. But from observation I cannot speak, as, 
in the first place, actuated by the laudable wish to save a hunter 
four or five miles of a long road, I did not go to the trysting- 
place ; and, if I must go into personalities, let me confess that 
I spent a few unpleasant moments in a deep dyke partially under 
my hunter yesterday, and that the process of extrication by most 
kind friends on the bank was worse than the most vigorous 
manipulation of the swarthy shampooer at the Hammams in 
Jermyn Street, and one most hostile to early rising, which a meet 
something under a score of miles distant involves. 

A bad practice it is, that trying to nick in with hounds in the 
afternoon. For once that it succeeds, it fails ten times ; and, if 
attempted, it should be done most cautiously, if you wish your 
relations with the master to remain cordial and friendly as ever. 
A covert should not be approached under any circumstances, and 
even a considerable margin of road should be sacrificed to any 
little ambition to secure a good start or a good view of the pro- 



270 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

ceedings. I am happy to say I did not offend in this respect 
to-day, never having got within two miles of the hounds ; neither 
did my fellow-sinners for I was not alone in breaking the canons. 
Having waited on the road half a mile or so from a gorse which is 
generally visited in the afternoon of a Somerville meet, we set 
forth in an opposite direction, and saw a number of very cheerful- 
looking sportsmen returning homewards, all very well pleased with 
the sport which the day had brought forth no dissentients, no 
grumblers. I believe the day's proceedings were somewhat on 
this wise : Somerville Woods drawn first ; then the usual visit to 
the neighbouring Walshe's Gorse the inevitable find of probably 
the selfsame little fox so well known for the last season or two 
the gallop over the now familiar line to Athcairne Castle, thence 
on towards Ardcath Chapel (pronounced as some Cockneys would 
" hard cash "), when the celebrity among foxes worked the pack 
out of scent or got to ground. I hear the time was thirty-five 
minutes. Kilmoon Sticks, known also as Newtown Covert Mr. 
Reynell's care was then tried, and with the wonted success (it 
is very small to the eye). The hounds, starting on capital terms 
with their fox, drove him down towards Garristown Hill, when he 
skirted the bog at the foot, and worked back into Newtown, where 
I believe he got to ground twenty-five minutes I hear they made 
it, very fast and over a good sound line ; though the ground in 
places was naturally very holding, and one or two falls of course 
resulted, as horses overdone can no more exert due leverage to 
land them well on to a high bank than a ball-and-chain prisoner 
could execute a hornpipe. Lord Rossmore got an ugly-looking 
one, I hear, and so did Mr. Maher, a visitor ; both, however, 
escaped well. These runs, though not very long, were, I hear, 
very satisfying, and there were no demands for fresh draws and 
fresh foxes. The day was glorious up to three or four o'clock ; 
those who had long rides home had the customary rain accom- 
paniment to beguile the way. 

The tidings from the United Hunt country (Cork) is of rain, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 271 

and floods, and land half submerged. On the 2 6th ult., I hear, 
they had the run of the season from Carrignavar (four miles) at 
top speed, quite unchecked till their quarry got to ground in 
a sewer. The next find was at Temple Michael, from which they 
had a splendid hunting run of some nine miles or thereabouts, 
with very few checks in its extent, Lord Fermoy, Captain and 
Mr. W. Hunt being as continuously near hounds, by all accounts, 
as most men. 

I am in arrear in my notices of Louth and its pack ; but the 
stormy season has not favoured that county of late. On the 3oth, 
meeting at Hilltown, they found in the Nullah, and ran a fox 
through the demesne to ground in a hole at the top of the main 
earths. Finding again in " The Carnes," they forced their fox 
into Hilltown, round it, and then, facing the storm, he ran by 
Percival's (under Winter-grass), and on straight into the Park of 
Duleek, when a burrow saved him after a good thirty-five minutes. 
The day was very stormy, which may account for their not finding 
again. On the 2nd inst., finding at Churchtown, and getting off 
on good terms from the gorse, they pressed their fox by Prestons- 
town, over Newstone and Gallows Hill into Clonbranton twenty- 
five minutes up to this, and good ; then round the gorse and the 
bog till they lost him in a turf-bank. Another fox turned up at 
Rathory, skirted Knockabbey, and got safely into Louth Hall. 
Lisrenny furnished a third fox and lots of park-hunting. 

On Saturday last the Queen's County hounds were at Cullohill. 
They drew Belmount and Whitewall blank, but found at Harris- 
town, and the fox, breaking at the Kyle Hill side as if Rossmore 
were his aim, suddenly turned and ran straight up wind to Lisduff 
(Lord Castletown's residence) ; before reaching it in fact, when 
within two hundred yards of the extensive woods they rolled him 
over after an uninterrupted forty-three minutes, the last part being 
in view. Besides his regular field, Mr. Stubber had a good many 
Kilkenny men out. 

On Monday the pack were in the large woodlands of Bally- 



272 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

kilcavan, Sir Allan Walshe's park ; they killed one fox, ran another 
to ground, and had a good deal of hunting with a third, but scent 
was far from serving. 

On Wednesday we had an almost total cessation of rain and 
storm ; the air was balmy, the clouds were high, and some blue 
appeared at last in the vault of heaven. A large number took 
advantage of the bright lull in the elemental war to meet the 
Ward Union stag-hounds at Rathregan, a mile or two distant from 
Dunboyne on the Trim road. Meath and Kildare were both well 
represented. Among the visitors were Lords Langford, Ross- 
more, Lieut-Colonel Forster, Mr. A. Macneil, Mr. Trotter, Mr. 
Howe, Mr. M'Gerr, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Mr. and 
Miss Hussey, with a strong detachment of officers belonging to 
the Rifle Brigade, the Inniskillings, the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 
and Staff. 

The enlargement took place at the opposite side of the road 
from the Bush Farm, when the deer ran a wide loop, crossed the 
Ratoath road by Wilkinstown, ran over part of the Fairy House 
course, then, turning in the direction of Lagore, struck out to the 
right hand between Ratoath and Lagore, jumped into a by-road, 
which he used for a short distance ; then, sailing over those wide 
grass fields which bound the Reisk fox covert, was captured not 
far from Kilbrew stick covert at a place known as the Riggans. It 
was a beautiful line, the pace good, and the Seven 'miles' gallop 
was done fast, as there was only one short check near Ratoath. 
There was a good deal of grief, but no serious mourning, save on 
the part of Mr. D'Arcy, who had the misfortune to injure a very 
good hunter seriously, if not fatally ; a rising gentleman jockey, of 
recent Newbridge fame, who is quite the Hope-Johnston of the 
Garrison here, was also the falling one, for he was down three 
times, I think, if not four; a noble Guardsman, who goes very 
hard and straight, came down heavily early in the run. A second 
deer was ready to be uncarted ; but there was a lack of second 
horses forthcoming, and the first had generally had enough. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 273 

I forget whether I have alluded to an extraordinary good run 
which Mr. Preston's harriers the Bellinter gave a field rather 
weeded out by a high wall last Monday. Without entering on 
townland names, we may state that it began at the Hill of Skryne, 
skirted Ross House, wound through Tara Hall, passed by 
Lismullen (Sir J. Dillon's park), and ended at Cabra one hour 
and thirty-five minutes of continuous pace almost unchecked ; and 
the " galloping squire," on Grand Star, was conspicuous in front. 

I hear the Curraghmore hounds had a capital day last Friday 
from Mount Neil, when a stout fox took them along very fast by 
Ashgrove to Aglish, near which village he got to ground, after 
standing up for fifty minutes. Carrigatubrid furnished two foxes, 
who ran two good rings in turn, and one was killed. 

Those who went to Moore Abbey last Tuesday for fox-hunting 
had a long journey for nothing. A run from Moore Abbey is a 
possibility, not a probability nor are the neighbouring coverts 
situated in the happiest of hunting grounds. 

Friday, the gth instant, was ushered in by frost, to which suc- 
ceeded a tolerably dense haze, almost amounting to fog, between 
eight and ten am. The roads were unusually dry, and, if one 
had not been tempted into a canter along some inviting-looking 
sidings, one might possibly have arrived at one's destination (a 
Meath meet) with unsullied tops ; but this cantering ground soon 
dispelled all such fond illusions. Squelch, squelch ! spatter, 
spatter ! There is a pond of muddy water under the slight veneer 
of dry mud at top, and very soon the fair spheres of Peel, Thomas, 
or Seadon look like the most thickly populated stellar region in 
the celestial globe, say the Milky Way, plus a few comets and 
planets thrown in. 



-incedis per undas 



Suppositas cespiti doloso." 

My road led me from the Dunboyne neighbourhood through Dun- 
shaughlin, past the historic hill of Tara, freighted with its thousand 
traditions ecclesiastical, warlike, and political; by Lismullen, 



274 HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 

Bellihter, and Ardsallagh, where the Boyne, though not confined 
to nature's embankment, had sullenly retired from the valley 
which he had occupied for a long time with his encroaching tide. 
Time fails me now to speak of Bective Abbey, which one passes 
very soon, beautiful in its ivied ruins, or, indeed, of any other 
points of interest. In a few miles more we are at Meadstown 
cross-roads, evidently an important meet in popular estimation, 
for the surrounding roads are choke-full of carriages, second 
horsemen, cantering hacks, and all the posse of an extremely 
fashionable meet. And the morning's assemblage, so far as 
externals and properties are concerned, would not discredit Kirby 
Gate or Trouble House not even in the burden of leather valises 
with which a score or so of very smart pad-grooms are handi- 
capped. There is no railway or station near by to overflow into 
Meadstown. The Garrison of Dublin were conspicuously absent. 
Of the Ward Union men pur et simple there were hardly half-a- 
dozen at the tryst, including the Messrs. Hone and Coppinger ; so 
'tis fair to suppose that the intrinsic attractions of the fixture 
brought these crowds here to-day. The strangers or visitors were 
not numerous ; among them were Captain and the Hon. Mrs. 
Candy, Lord A. Lennox, the Hon. Harry Bourke, the Hon. Mr. 
Harbord. Captain Peter Lowe, Mr. Waldron, R.H.A., Mr. 
Dundas, Captain Macaulay, Major Irwin, Captain Kearney, repre- 
sented the viceregal staff. Meadstown Gorse is very silent and 
secluded, and nearly always holds a fox or two ; to-day it was 
empty. The next visit was to a somewhat similar covert a mile 
or two distant, Philpotstown. Mrs. Young, the proprietor or pro- 
prietress, lives at one side of the road, in a very pleasant-looking 
parklike villa (which General Wardlaw occupied as a hunting-box 
a season or two ago). Mr. and Mrs. Reynard are " at home " in a 
gorse a quarter of a mile or so off the road on the opposite side. 
What is more to our purpose, our fox now breaks instantaneously. 
A red avalanche passes across the road I referred to, and, jumping 
a sunk fence in the lawn of Philpotstown the reverse way (I did 



HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 275 

not see a refusal or mistake at it), presses hard on the pack, who 
flash on to a road, and there ended the chase in pursuit of our 
first fox, which began most promisingly. We are now trotting to 
Churchtown, another never-failing covert, owned, as so many of 
the best in this part of Meath are, by Mr. Barnewell. Those who 
lingered by the roadside coffee-housing or gossiping nay, those 
who were not very keen about the matter lost their start, and in 
very few cases ever recovered the lost distance. A small bit of 
wood, well-lined I fancy, is all I could see of a fox covert here ; 
but in a moment after the hounds were put in they were straining 
away with burning scent on the far side. It is a race now, and no 
slow one ; while, to make the unities complete, we are now on the 
Boyerstown racecourse, where the Meath or Navan races are held 
with much eclat every spring large wide fences to jump, the line 
all grass, but holding enough. Such is our path of pursuit ; the 
fox has been running in one direction and for one point for the 
last three miles or so, but never very straight ; and now he bends 
by the Stand House to the left hand, and jumps into the 
Navan road. A donkey cart and Mrs. Jehu scare him back, and 
now he takes us along to the verge of Navan, then crosses the 
railway track near a sort of Danish rath, where there was a check 
of five or six minutes ; then his course and ours lies parallel to the 
bed of the river Blackwater till he meets with a plantation near 
Liscarton Castle, and here in a burrow he saved himself. The 
distance is estimated at about seven miles. Up to the first and 
only check, it was twenty-five minutes of good galloping for those 
who started well with the pack of hopeless and tumultuous 
pursuit for those who failed to do so. It boots not now to tell of 
the leaders, the tumblers, the beaten, the baffled, the blown (a 
lady went very well) ; for we are now pushing on to Rathmore 
Gorse (Lord Darnley's) which gave them a sharp gallop only 
yesterday evening towards Allenstown. A bit of wild un'nclosed 
gorse is tried en route, with the result of a quick ring which emptied 
some saddles. Now we are at Rathmore proper. A find ! a false 



276 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

start ! a second start, and all is well if we can get over the first 
few large fences and hit the right spots in them ! A road crossed, 
and then we wind over the green hill of Ward, dip down a little 
valley, and surmount another green undulation, Rathcarn Hill. 
Meadstown Covert is just in front of us, and the fox tries it, but is 
forced to turn from it ; and now he is racing through Kilbride, 
en route apparently for Tullaghnogue or Clifton Lodge. Whether 
he was pulled down by the hounds or baffled them, I cannot say. 
To have seen something of four chases, and trot back some twenty 
miles with a heavy weight, is enough for what they call the 
degenerate hunter of modern times. These hounds had a good 
gallop on Monday from Headstown towards Aclare, and killed a 
brace from Drewstown yesterday. 

On my return home I find a post card from the hon. secretary 
of the Kildare hunt, inviting me to a meeting to consider the con- 
ditions on which Mr. Forbes proposes to take the management of 
the county pack, and to settle the preliminaries of the annual Red 
Coat Race and Hunt Ball. 

Alas ! the burden of conversation to-day was generally in a 
sad key Mr. Archdale gone from us just a week; Captain 
Gubbins, one of the best sportsmen of the day (who, consenu 
farum, did more than receive a Victoria Cross in the harvest of 
fame his gallantry won him before Sevastopol), lies grievously 
hurt, and almost despaired of, by a fall from his horse ; and now 
Mr. A. Macneil, so prominent a figure in the pursuits of Meath, 
Kildare, and the Ward Union packs, has just met with a serious 
accident from a fall also. 

H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught is hunting the fox with the 
Duhallow hounds. His debut was unfortunate, I hear, as he got 
kicked by a lady's horse on his way to his first meet, but was not 
much hurt, I am glad to say, and all will be rejoiced to hear. 

On Saturday, owing very much to the Castle festivities, the 
Kildare hounds had an enormous meet at Straffan Bridge, while 
the congregation at Kilrue to meet the Ward Union stag-hounds is 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 277 

described as almost equally plethoric. The Kildare hounds did 
not find till past two o'clock, and had then a long, slow, hunting 
run of an hour's duration from Bellavilla Gorse to Downing's 
Covert, and some more pottering beyond it. The line lay over a 
series of small inclosures, so there was a great deal of jumping 
and tumbling, and all the fun of the fair. 

The Ward Union hounds ran a very wide semicircle, begin- 
ning at or near Kilrue, and ending at Maynooth ; and, as the 
diameter cannot be less than seven miles, the length of the 
irregular circumference may be estimated at a very considerable 
mileage. Indeed, in some instances, horses did not reach their 
stables till the large, if not the largest hours. 

As a specimen of the caprice and uncertainty of scent, I may 
mention that on Thursday the Meath hounds found it at its 
highest, specially round Drewstown. On Friday I thought it very 
good in Meath also, though the fact of the hounds starting close to 
these foxes on each occasion may have had much to say to its power. 
In Western Meath, on the same day, though, foxes abounded. 
At Knockdrin, Kilmaglish Gorse, the Crooked Wood, and Knock 
Ion, the driving power was totally wanting, so no sport ensued ; 
while Mr. George Brooke's harriers had perhaps their best day 
this season. On this same Friday the scene of their pursuits for 
they killed a brace of hares was Cool trim, Newtown, Hortlands, 
and Cappagh, to some of which places I have introduced your 
readers many times and oft, in writing of the Kildare fox-hounds 
and their pursuits. 

To the sport in the Duhallow country last week when the 
Convamore party included H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, 
Captains Fitzgerald and Colthurst, Lord Suffield, Mr. and Mrs. 
Adair, and the Earl of Clonmell I can only make a passing 
allusion now. On Wednesday thirty-seven minutes without a 
check, and crowned by a kill ; on Thursday a pleasant fifteen 
minutes to ground ; on Saturday loyal crowds at Mallow, plenty 
of foxes, and sport moderate. 



278 HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 



XIX. 

"The best of all ways 

To lengthen our days, 
Is to steal a few hours from the night, my love ! " 



Dancing and Dublin Bellavilla run Venison and venerie 
Duhallow sport. 

' ' Nunc pede libero 
Pulsanda tellus." 

LIKE Belgium's capital, Dublin gathered together on Friday night 
her beauty and her chivalry, the Amphitryons being the Duke and 
Duchess of Marlborough, the scene of the Terpsichorean festival 
the Castle in Dublin. Needless to say that, under such auspices, 
youth and pleasure meeting to chase with flying feet the happy 
hours, Liddell's band discoursing " strains that could create a soul 
under the ribs of death" (to use Milton's hyperbolical diction, 
never less strained perhaps than here), young men and maidens, 
dowagers and duennas, had what our cousins d'outre mer call 
"a good old time of it." A generation or two ago, no doubt, 
they understood balls and suppers, and love-making and love- 
marring, just as well as we do or think we do now. But the next 
day, or rather the next morning, hung heavier, I fancy, than it 
does now when there seems a universal consensus that the rightest 
and properest and most enjoyablest thing to do is to go forth and 
do homage at the nearest shrine of Diana, no longer of the 
Ephesians, but the Diana Celtica whose cultus was never more 
popular than in this decade, whose high priests were never more 



HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 279 

embarrassed with the surging crowds of fervid votaries and 
pilgrims whose zeal lacks no devotion. By this preamble I mean 
that, after the Castle ball of last night, there was a very general 
exodus of the dancers early on Saturday in quest of a gallop, 
anywhere, anywhere out of the smoke. To the earlier risers 
Straffan Bridge, the fixture of the Kildare hounds at eleven 
o'clock, presented irresistible attractions. The scenery and sur- 
roundings of the trysting-place are very attractive. Two parks, 
well timbered and rich in conifers and evergreens, the glory of our 
damp climate, extend their limits to the well-known bridge which 
spans one of the longest and straightest reaches of the sinuous 
Liffey, into which well-furnished trees dip their branches. Straffan 
House commands some charming little islets, where the green 
of the laurel and the crimson of the dog-tree contrast well. 
Pulsanda tcllus ! No longer with satin shoe or dainty brodequin, 
but vicariously with the iron-shod hoofs of our hunters. Invitat 
genialis hiems. The morning has been rough and rainy ; but by 
eleven o'clock it has turned to a warm overcast day of lights and 
shadows what Beckford calls a jour de dames, when the eye is 
brighter, the colour heightened by animation and excitement, and 
no curdling east wind, no boisterous blasts, no fierce lights, mar the 
flush of beauty, the symmetry of hair, hat, and habit, or make 
veils and yashmaks necessary. For later revellers there is a very 
convenient meet of the Ward Union hounds at 1.15 p.m., at one 
of their most popular fixtures, very accessible from the metropolis 
by road, namely, Kilrue. Our concern, however, is not with them, 
but with the Kildare hounds at Straffan. Somebody told me 
a man with a look of experience and veracity on his countenance 
that thirty-five horse-boxes, including some trucks improvised 
into boxes, were freighted with hunters at the King's Bridge 
terminus (I tell the tale as 'twas told me, but vouch not for the 
statistics), and that the soldier officers who came from Dublin to 
this parade of mimic warfare numbered fifty-five. Again let me 
state that I did not tell the tale of them there may have been 



2 8o HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

more, there may have been less ; but I am sure that the sons of 
Mars, as the penny papers call them, formed a very large corps, 
recruited from the Inniskillings, the Rifle Brigade, the Staff, the 
yth Fusiliers, the 23rd, and I know not how many other sources, 
while the Curragh and Newbridge sent a contingent of the 7th 
Dragoons, led by Major Dent on his now famous grey mare, and 
Captain Hanning-Lee represented the Staff of the Curragh. The 
viceregal party comprised Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill, 
escorted by a very full staff, among whom were Lieut. -Colonel F. 
Forster, Lord Clanmorris, Captain J. M'Calmont, Captain Norris, 
Captain Kearney, Captain Pratt Saunders, Captain C. Beresford. 

Having spoken of the sons of Mars, I suppose I may take up 
my mythological parable and say something of the daughters of 
Venus, who formed a perfect galaxy at the meet, and who, if the 
syntax code be generally correct that " the masculine is more 
worthy than the feminine," upset pro hac vice all the rales and 
canons of grammar, and made us perhaps very bad English 
scholars, but most attentive students of the line of Irish beauty. 
Time would fail me to do even partial justice to this subject. Let 
me leave much to the imagination of the reader, merely adding 
that among the ladies at the rendezvous were the Ladies Fitz- 
gerald, Lady Randolph Churchill, Lady Annette La Touche, 
Lady Edith Monck, the Hon. Mrs. Barton, the Hon. Miss Lawless, 
Lady Alison, Mrs. Langrishe, Mrs. Davis, Miss Irwin, the Misses 
Beauman, Miss O'Kellyi Miss Aylmer, Miss Kirkpatrick, Miss 
Tuthill, Miss Blacker. Among the many visitors were Lord M. 
Fitzgerald, Lord Oranmore, Lord Rossmore, Mr. M. Frewen, 
Mr. Rose, Captain Saunders, Captain Fetherstone-H., Mr. Chap- 
man, Mr. Skeffington-Smyth, the Hon. L. White, Captain Graves 
Sawle, Mr. Power, Mr. Allan M'Donough, Captain the Hon. T. 
Scott. We recognized most of the members of the Kildare hunt, 
with the exception perhaps of Lord Clonmell, and one or two 
men who are hunting with the Duhallow hounds from Convamore 
(Lord Listowel's park). 






m 





THE LADY RANDOLPH CHURCHILL. 



HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 281 

Enough of the mise en scene. Let us try and set this vast 
agglomeration of mounted humanity in rapid motion if we can ; 
but first we must needs find the great motor Monsieur the Fox. 
Without his presence and aroma we are playing at Hamlet sans 
the prince : a motley company of Polonii, Rosencrantzes, Guilden- 
sterns, and Ophelias, with no cue. Now Straffan has been most 
liberal of foxes this year ; so has Lodge Park, its vis-d-vis. 
To-day we explored miles of plantation and screens, including 
a visit to the New Gorse, Castle Dillon, without effect, finding no 
" sign " but a somewhat stale drag. All this is very serious to the 
master ! The Kildare men feel the unuttered remarks of the 
stranger and sojourner within their hunting gates. Some, full of 
ride and thinking the glory of the day was fairly departed, in their 
idlesse took to larking over such fences as came in their way. 
Better, perhaps, if they had kept that jumping power in reserve ! 
Nous verrons. Presently the word " Bellavilla " struck the electric 
chain by which we're darkly bound. Some read it " Ballycaghan," 
and read it with joy. The former was the truer version, and now 
the long cortege, reaching considerably over a mile, is set in motion 
for Bellavilla Gorse ; and fortunately, as 'tis four or five miles 
distant, our track lies over some three miles of turf, no gates to 
open, no fences to jump, most of it good if heavy galloping 
ground. At last our journeyings are over; we are standing at 
ease by Bellavilla Gorse, which is partially cut down, but which 
still contains a vast deal of covert for foxes. For my own part, 
I do not love Bellavilla Gorse : I never saw a really good run 
from it. The country round it is not good or pleasant. The Liffey 
forms a barrier in one direction, a canal in another. My memory 
recalls sundry frigid hours when we vainly hoped a fox would 
break from its recesses, but hounds had to be called off at last. 
To-day none of these misadventures befell us : in five minutes 
there was a find; in ten there was racing and chasing over, not 
Cannobie, but Longtown Lea. 



282 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

" Bad luck to the country ! the clock had struck two ; 
We had found ne'er a fox in the gorses we drew ; 
When each heart felt a thrill at the sound ' Gone away !' 
And o'er Longtown demesne we are all making play." 

Past the back of Mr. Sweetman's house, through the shrubbery, 
on to the lawn before the house ; but here some evil genius 
prompted a couple of dozen of us or so to essay a short cut to 
a point. It would be a great short cut, ' tis true ; but between 
peaty drains, trees, and I know not how many more impediments, 
few got well over and into the open. Lord Rossmore cleverly got 
over a small bit of dammed-up water, and found a quick exit; 
most of us returned, with 10 to i against our catching the pack, 
unless luck befriended us. And luck did befriend us, though we 
had proved ourselves neither brave nor wise, only foolishly ven- 
turesome and curious. Galloping first over the lawn, crossing 
a road, and holding on up a lane, the pack turned to us ; for the 
fox, pointing at first for Mount Armstrong, or peradventure the 
nigher Millicent, had turned leftwards, and now we are in fairly 
rapid pursuit, till we come to some ruins of what must once have 
been some gentleman's residence, judging by the timber; and here 
there is a momentary check. Men are riding hard, the country is 
holding, the fences are ragged, and some of them rather large ; 
small wonder if the falling sickness soon becomes epidemic. The 
hounds have now worked steadily up a hill ; they are running again 
merrily downwards towards a village, which we learn is called 
Prosperous (on the lucus principle, of course). Mr. Frewen here 
has a lead, and, coming to a gate, pops over it with an insouciance 
bred of recent Leicestershire experiences. A noble lord, who has 
been going hard, has it next, but comes down ! The third cracks 
the top rail ! Strangely enough, in a field or two we come to 
a quickset hedge, with a drop ; at one end of it there is a quasi 
hog-backed stile, a curiosity in Ireland, which one man selects for 
himself, and does neatly enough. Now we cross the Prosperous 
road, and for a mile or so there is any amount of jumping for 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 283 

those who like it, while the hounds are steadily picking out the 
cold trail through plough and grass and small inclosures. Another 
road crossed, and we are in Mr. Boyd's lands strongly fenced 
and very grief-causing. Three ladies are riding very well here 
riding well and very well carried but Miss O'Kelly's brown 
hunter is equal to any country. Soon we are on the edge of a 
peat moss, sprinkled with gorse brakes. This is Downing's Covert. 
The fox has not tarried here, though he has run through it, and 
the hounds, quite by themselves, give hound-lovers a treat as they 
hunt over the bog, noses down, till they emerge on to the upland, 
and carry the line along for another half-mile; but our fox is 
possibly in the Hill of Allen by this time. Our start was good, 
but in the small inclosures he beat the hounds easily. An hour's 
hunting, jumping and tumbling to any amount it has not been 
such a bad day after all. Mr. Franks got, I hear, rather a nasty 
fall ; so did the Hon. Mr. Luke White, or rather his horse did. 
Lady Randolph Churchill's horse was loose once at least, I know. 
Her ladyship's early experiences of Kildare fences were rather 
trying, but she got over the country most successfully. Among the 
heavy weights Mr. Chapman's brown hunter and a four-year-old of 
Mr. Murphy's (of Hortlands) distinguished themselves by their 
jumping capacity. Lord Maurice Fitzgerald was also very well 
carried. 

On Monday, the i2th, a special from the Broadstone terminus 
brought down a good number of men and horses to Drumree 
station for the Ward Union meet at Culmullen cross-roads. Let 
me state en parenthhe that Lord Rossmore and Captain and Mrs. 
Candy are now occupying Culmullen Lodge as a hunting-box 
(Culmullen Lodge, so well known when it was the habitat of poor 
"Rufus Montgomery"), so it is needless to say that hospitality, 
hunting hospitality especially, is the rule of the house. Besides 
the soldiers and the Ward Union men from Dublin, a good many 
faces one associates with the Meath fox-hounds were at the trysting- 
place to-day among them Lord Langford, Lord A. Lennox, Mr. 



284 HIBERNIA VJENATICA. 

Trotter, the Hon. Harry Bourke, Lord Rossmore, Mr. A. Nugent, 
Captain Peter Low, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Mr. 
M'Gerr, Mr. Rose, Messrs. Hone, Butler, and Waldron, etc. The 
deer, an untried novice, was uncarted or, let me say, " enlarged," 
for it sounds prettier in a large field near the house, when, 
instead of taking to the now familiar track by Cultromer, Piper's 
Hill, and Batterstown, she skirted Culmullen offices, and, heading 
apparently for Woodtown, turned slightly, and ran by Beltrasna 
Gorse actually, I believe, going through a bit of it. Here I am 
told, for I was not in a position to see the proceedings myself, 
there was a slight dwell, and a few hounds went away with the line 
in front of the pack. One hard-riding man thought he had quite 
pack enough, and galloped on with this two couple. Certain 
other ambitious spirits set all sail to catch their leader. The great 
body of the field and the pack were, of course, condemned to a 
stern chase, and a far slower one than it would have been but for 
these contretemps. From Beltrasna the track lay over a splendid 
bit of country by Kilmore, to the verge of Larch Hill, and thence 
to Garradice, where the capture was effected. The deer suc- 
cumbed, though apparently uninjured when taken, and so the 
pack were treated to the rare luxury of venison au naturd, to 
which I feel sure they added a sauce ires piquante. A fine gallop 
of thirty minutes, it might have been something better but for the 
cause I have mentioned. A second deer was not enlarged, on 
account of the accident to No. i. 

In sending you last week a sketch of a very long run which 
this pack had by Ratoath, Culmullen, the Hatchet, and so on to 
Maynooth, I should have stated that the hounds were stopped 
from further pursuit at 5.30 p.m. at the latter place, though the 
deer by all accounts was full of running still, and had a great start 
of her enemies at that late hour. She was left out perforce, and 
some spirited hunting passages may be expected in the efforts to 
recover her. 

The sequel, or rather the conclusion, of Friday's second run in 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 285 

Meath, which I sent you, was somehow on this wise : After passing 
Rathcarne, where a very good welter-weight blocked one of two 
available spots in a rugged double, the fox ran to the verge of 
Meadstown, then, passing Kilbride, made Tullaghnogue Covert, 
whence he was hustled out in twelve or fifteen minutes, and then 
his course lay back to Meadstown ; but hounds were stopped at 
this point. The run must have been nearly twelve miles over 
grass, and the first part was very fast ; one horse, I know, died of 
exhaustion. The Hon. Mrs. Candy was well up at the finish. It 
was a splendid day's sport certainly. 

The treeing fox is not common in Ireland, and in most polled 
oaks or ashes you would be as likely to meet a Carolus Rex as 
a fox, though old ivied ruins are affected by wise vulps occasionally. 
In some parts of Gloucestershire so common a fox-haunt is a 
polled ash or willow, when well furnished with ivy, that no hunts- 
man passes such a tree by without some investigation or cracking 
of whip under it. At Ballymacoll, in the County Meath, there is 
a very matted bit of ivy in the lawn, where a fox haunted regularly 
up to last season, his lair being as well known by the neighbours 
as the railway station. Why he has forsaken his home is not 
known generally. Perhaps Mr. Vulp preferred a basement to the 
more elevated position ; perhaps change of scene became desirable 
for many reasons. 

" Heigho, the wind and the rain ! " Blowing great guns at 
night, raining torrents by day such was the outlook on Tuesday, 
the i3th, when we were meditating about setting off for the Meath 
meet at Dunshaughlin. Methinks a few will sing "Heigh nonino!" 
for it is coming down in small bucketfuls, and the western horizon 
is black with rain. No ! we have not degenerated from our fellows 
of Tarporley, of whom the Laureate sings 

" Holding together, sir, 
Scorning the weather, sir, 
Like the good leather, sir, 
Which we put on. " 



2 86 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Dunshaughlin reached, we find between one and two hundred 
sportsmen, and a few sportswomen too, awaiting the advent of the 
pack, who now top the hill, and are presently huddled together by 
Mr. Kelly's small hostelry, while waterproofed forms emerge from 
stables and all sorts of sheltering nooks, and in a few minutes a 
large cavalcade is in motion down the well-known lane leading to 
the Poor-house Gorse. Here we are amid wide green fields, 
divided from each other by single banks protected by a quasi 
moat. The gorse occupies a field in front, and, by Jove, 'tis a 
find ! There he goes a small fox ! Goodall has some five or six 
couples of hounds with him ; the rest have found another, and are 
hustling him about. The first fence is such as I have described, 
and in a second five men are " moated ; " a few get over, not a 
few decline. It is only a couple of hundred yards to go round, 
and the pack are checking already. On to Parsonstown Manor 
no ! 'tis back towards Lagore. You can get there by gaps and 
gate with hardly a jump ; you can have a few chasms en route 
if you please. Some did please. We have a sprinkling of 
" customers " out whom big things don't daunt Mr. Trotter 
cares little what country he meets; Mr. Frewen is out on a fine 
bold hunter, whom I noticed recently in Lord Oranmore's posses- 
sion; Captain Norris hails from the Pytchley; Lord Randolph 
Churchill is here straight from the Heythrop, dear to under- 
graduates ; Messrs. Coppinger, Murland, Meldon, Hone, Turbitt, 
and a few more confront weekly the biggest country in these 
islands ; the Hon. Harry Bourke loves width when associated 
with pace ; while large fencing, of any sort or kind, is simply 
second nature to Lord Langford, Lord A. Lennox, Lord Ross- 
more, and Messrs. Candy, Harbord, Butler, etc. In Lagore 
plantations there is some delay, followed by a second excursion to 
our starting-point ; then we visited Lagore again, once more slide 
into a brook and creep up the far side, jump into the Ratoath 
road, and now it looks like a run at last. A drop over a brook 
into a road, which was not nice for heavily burdened horses ; then 



HIBERNIA VENA 2 1C A. 287 

a check ; then on it goes to another Dunshaughlin covert (a rood 
or two of plantation, with some shrubs and gorse) ; then exit for 
I forget what time to Lagore ; then who-whoop ! who- whoop ! 
Not a very bold fox, and one much given to sentry-like rounds ; 
but the country must have been almost as daunting to him as to 
our horses, and horses did fall like ninepins ; for, though we were 
never off grass, the going was like a tenacious slough. Who looks 
at a watch in such weather ? so I can't tell you the time. I should 
think they hunted him for more than an hour ere they killed. 

Lagore is the hospitable mansion of Mr. Thunder, and thither 
his sons bid the field, a call which not a few soaked mortals obeyed 
with alacrity. We are now en route to the Reisk Gorse. The 
mendacious glass, which has been rising for some time, now finds 
fulfilment of its augury : the rain ceases. The find and departure 
here is an affair of less than two minutes. Scent seems burning 
as the pack race after their leaders over very large grass fields, 
well gated, where, with the pull of the hill in your favour, you may 
send your horse along at best pace for a mile or more. Kilbrew 
Sticks is left on the hand of that name. We have got over the 
brook by a bridge. The hounds seem to dwell a bit in the covert; 
one single hound racing, and Mr. Trotter trying in vain to turn 
him, is what we see when we emerge from a small plantation. 
The hound is right ; the' pack stream after him. For a mile or 
two we have a good gallop, with lots of flying fences, till we get 
into Green Park. There is no detention worthy of mention here, 
among the shrubs and plantations ; a minute or two at most, 
then on we go to Corbalton Hall, about a mile distant a very 
stiff mile too ; and here I left the hounds very busy with what 
I should imagine was a tired and beaten fox, for the woodlands 
and plantations are extensive. Considering the weather, the sport 
was very good; hounds worked admirably. The strangers from 
different hunts laud Meath and its grasseries (pray pardon the 
coinage), but think mostly that its fences are over-big. Perhaps 
a few natives concur in this estimate ! 



288 HIBERN1A YEN A TIC A. 

The pack had, I hear, a very smart gallop yesterday afternoon 
over a stiff line, after a moderate morning, from Shancarn to the 
Mullagh, almost a repetition of the extraordinary run of their 
opening day. 

The hunting chronicle of the Duhallow pack, during H.R.H. 
the Duke of Connaught's visit to Convamore, runs somewhat in 
this fashion : Monday's meet was transferred to Wednesday to 
suit the programme, and it turned out very wet. Killalty Gorse, 
and Killalty Rock, close by, were foxless for a wonder ; but in, or 
rather near, Lisnagourneen a fox was viewed stealing away. He 
ran a nice line for a bit (very much the same as he had travelled 
ten days before), then turned towards Glanworth, and was rolled 
over; thirty-five minutes of very good uninterrupted hunting, 
which I hear the Convamore party saw rather better than the rest 
of the field. His Royal Highness's mishap on the way has been 
already mentioned. Lunch followed at Mr. Welstead's, Baily- 
walton. 

On the next day, they began by finding a brace of foxes at 
Clonee, one of whom they sent to ground in the direction of 
Sallylease, without much sport. Kilborehirt, the next covert 
tried, was surrounded by the loyal sons of the soil, whose zeal 
rather interfered with the hunting. A good fifteen minutes to 
ground under a road was the result, when the fox of the place was 
permitted to break into the open. Ballybane supplied a third fox, 
but his career was not very brilliant or exciting. 

On Saturday Mallow was the meeting-place, and a levee en 
masse greeted the Duke. The Poor-house Gorse furnished nothing 
better than a stale drag. While moving to the second draw, a fox 
jumped up out of a hedgerow, was run to ground, dug out, and 
killed. While the pack were breaking him up, a second was 
tallied away. The hounds were clapped on him instantly, but 
made next to nothing of him, nor of another vulp found in 
Rosheen, who ran towards Longueville, Mr. Longfield's residence. 

The Ward Union hounds met at Flat House on Thursday, the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 289 

1 5th (Wednesday, their usual meeting day, having been changed, 
we will suppose, in deference to Mother Church), and a soldiers' 
drag, with carts and carriages of all sorts, made the uninteresting 
spot wear for the nonce a joyous and festive aspect, to which a 
very pleasant, cheerful day added no slight assistance. Trotting 
across the railway track, with Norman's Grove on the right hand, 
we came to the enlarging field, and then the steeplechase for it 
was one began at fine pace, with a plentiful allowance of large 
ditching, which included the Caulstown Brook and a very large 
half-dry ditch near Loughlinstown, over which a few horses made 
tremendous springs (in the native tongue, " threw heavy leps "), 
while some more discreet slided down into the bottom and got 
up the far side with a half-jump, half-scramble. Through Har- 
bourstown the line leads towards Ratoath, across the high-road, 
and thence on to Ashbourne. The deer being viewed now, for a 
short distance the green fields (tenacious and holding they were, 
too) are exchanged for a sound road. Greenoge is sighted, a turn 
back towards Ashbourne, and a capture effected. Such is a mere 
sketch of a magnificent pursuit over a grass vale second to none 
within my experience, and till Ballyhack was reached there was 
neither pause nor dwell in the continuous pace. Lords Langford 
and Rossmore, I fancy, saw the hounds from a good position all 
through, and so did Mr. Trotter. I haven't heard what the 
Kildare hounds did on Monday last On Tuesday watery Tues- 
day the glorious uncertainties (or certainties) of the Irish turf 
(cum banks) were being exemplified on Halverstown hillside. On 
Wednesday (day of ashes) they met at Saggart ; were near a good 
run from Tallaght, but missed it ; and found foxes galore in Johns- 
town Kennedy. 

The Wexford hounds have had a very good season. Let me 
illustrate the assertion by the evidence of one or two days. On 
the 22nd ult. they met at the kennels, and found in the Ringwood, 
the fox sweeping past the kennels, over the hill by Moneyhore, 
Clohass, Scobie Church, and Daphneyhill, into the fair green of 



2 90 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Enniscorthy, where a horse mart was being held a famous oppor- 
tunity to prove, what every owner of a likely horse was prepared 
to swear by the shades of his ancestors, that said horse or colt 
was the best-lepped horse in Ireland. Many joined the ranks of 
pursuit here. The fox now bent to the left, and ran rather a back 
track, but failed to beat his enemies, who rolled him over after 
one hour and twenty minutes of capital hunting. 

The 26th is said to have been the best scenting 'day of the 
season in Wexford. From Courtnacuddy Wood they ran a fox 
straight into Castleboro'. Their second they found in Killoughran 
Wood, and the pack, getting off on the best of terms with him, ran 
him a hard ring by the Chapel of Carne, thence across the large 
fields towards Ballyhyland, which he skirted, and then turned for 
Woodbrook; but he was beginning to feel the severity of the 
pace, so he turned again, spurted past Ballyhyland Lawn, hoping 
to gain the earths at Warren's Gorse, but they were closed. He 
had made his final effort, and the pack were on him. Fifty-three 
minutes, very good and continuous. This was followed on the 
29th by a very fine hunting run from Mr. Maher's New Gorse, 
while on the i2th inst. they had thirty rare good minutes in the 
teeth of a strong wind, running from scent to view. On Tuesday 
the Curraghmore hounds, with whose master his Royal Highness 
is now staying, met at Guilco cross-roads, and seem to have had a 
very fine ring from Rathgormac, described as a dozen miles done 
in one hour and twenty-five minutes ! We have had a Leicester- 
shire man over here during the past ten days, and I much regret 
that the sport he has seen has not been first-class by any means 
hardly second-rate as he is quite as much at home in Ireland as 
in the shires of the Saxon, coming up very nearly to the Cheshire 
poet's ideal man, " to whom nought came amiss." In a run the 
other day he managed to sound the depths of a river, and in going 
to his station he was accosted by a native, who remarked, " Faith 
ye were in a river, and they're very wet this season ! " 

The Kilkenny hounds have had a busy week of it, beginning 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 291 

at Desart on Monday, when they killed, after a pursuit of three 
hours. On Wednesday, the yth, they were at Castle Morris, 
where a fine extensive park and handsome modern house give 
beauty to a whole hill slope. In Bullaglass, a covert of Lord 
Bessborough's, a very stout fox turned up, who, without any very 
straight impulse, kept the pack at work between Wynne's Gorse, 
Owning's, the Slate Quarries, and Castle Morris for upwards of 
two hours. 

On Friday, meeting at Foyle Bridge, they first sent a fox from 
Ballyspellan to ground, then drew the Rock, and had a capital 
and very long half-ring from it, through Aharney, Ballyspellan, 
and Gathertown, etc., the pack running into their fox in the open 
before he was able to complete it. The time was one hour and 
thirty minutes ; the line very good. 

The Westmeath hounds had a good run from Gaulston Park 
on Tuesday, the track leading by the Grove towards Violetstown 
and Clonmoyle, through Catherinestown and Gurteen into Gay- 
brook, where fresh foxes turned up ; but the hounds kept to their 
own, hunted him by Dunbodin and Carrick, till he got to ground 
in Skreen. 

The Kildare hounds had a great deal of hunting and a long 
run, which improved towards its close, from Nine-tree Hill Gorse 
on Thursday, when they met at Athy. 

Sir David Roche's pack had a fine pursuit from Ballycummin 
on Friday, the Qth, beating the field into Cahirconlish, about eight 
miles. Sir David, to the regret of the country, has sent in his 
resignation. 

The Meath hounds were at Larracor on Friday, and, finding 
instantly at Moneymore Gorse, ran a fox over a charming line 
towards Tobercur, when he was headed and got to ground. 
Rahinstown found them a fox, but could not give scent to drive 
him withal ; while in Garradice they found their third fox, and 
had a fine hunting run, with fast bits in it. They had a fast gallop 
from Headfort through Kilmainham to Blomesbury on Thursday 
in which the hounds were quite alone. 



292 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

It is satisfactory to be able to report many of the wounded in 
our mimic warfare as convalescent. Lord Howth is riding again ; 
Mr. Morrogh is driving about ; Mr. Macneil, who put out his hip 
joint about a week ago, is going on very well, though in bed still 
his stud will be in the market very soon, well-bred powerful 
horses, accustomed to go straight and fast, one or two of them 
extra good performers over water, and I hear over timber too, but 
of the latter accomplishment I can only speak by hearsay, oppor- 
tunities for gaining this distinction are so rare in Ireland. Another 
sportsman, very well known in Meath and Kildare, has just passed 
away Dr. Wade, the owner and breeder of many good horses in 
his time. Martha was, perhaps, the best known of his recent lot. 

I think I mentioned the fact of the Duke of Connaught's 
being a visitor at Curraghmore, and hunting with that splendid 
pack of fox-hounds, one of whose highest praises is the competi- 
tion in good kennels for their drafts. Let me here give an 
epitome of their sport last week. i3th February, meeting at 
Guilco cross-roads, they got on to a fox, who did not await a 
ceremonious draw, but raced away for the mountain of Crughorne, 
where he got into the rocky fissures ; twenty-two minutes at top 
speed, most men down. The Duke was well carried by a horse 
of Lord Waterford's Anchor. A second fox was found at Bally- 
neal, who ran to the same mountain refuge, which cannot be 
thoroughly stopped ; eighteen minutes, with burning scent. 
Anchor again bore his Royal Highness in the van. The third fox 
turned up in Rathgormac, pointing for Curraghmore ; but, headed, 
he made for Carrick Wood, running a splendid line of grass ; then 
swung to the left, and, crossing the Milvale river, brushed through 
the Churchtown plantations, trying hard to make Gurteen; but, 
finding his powers failing fast, he turned back for Coolnamuck, 
and got into Rathgormac again, when he crept into a rabbit hole 
a very short distance in front of the pack. Six only finished this 
splendid circuit of eleven miles, which was done very little over 
the hour namely, Lord Waterford, Mr. Mansfield (who had a 



HIBERN1A VENA TIC A. 293 

front place all through, I hear), the huntsman and first whip, 
Mr. Me.nce, and a farmer. The Duke, mounted on what I call 
the Kearsley roan, saw the run well up to Churchtown. On the 
1 5th they met at Dangan Bridge in storm and rain, which, how- 
ever, did not prevent an enormous field from coming thither. A 
long trot partly across country brought them to Knockbrack, the 
Duke of Connaught getting a rather nasty fall at a wall, from his 
horse landing on a flag. A fox broke from here handsomely, but 
was headed back, when he tried the open the second time. Duke 
had eighteen couple of his bitches unpleasantly near his brush, 
and- the result was an extremely fast scurry of twenty minutes to 
Bally varon, where he got to ground in a drain under the road. A 
fox was chopped at Tory Hill, and the storm after that dispersed 
every one homewards. 

The 1 6th saw them at Mountain Grove, and presently trying 
Carrick Truss, whence a greyhound fox sallied forth at once, 
pointing for Killeen, and gaining a few precious seconds at the 
start; from Killeen he bent in the direction of Castle Morris 
(Kilkenny county), and it was a race to it for hounds and horses 
for about five miles. He ran right through the woods here to 
make Wynn's Gorse, but, strength failing, he swung down into the 
vale, and was rolled over in the open in fact, in the middle of a 
large grass field at Harristown, after an hour and twenty minutes 
over thirteen miles of continuous and light grass. Eighteen 
couple of hounds started in this splendid chase ; seventeen and a 
half broke up their fox, one having been ridden over. The Duke 
of Connaught was again carried to the front by Anchor, and saw 
the finish well. Thirty-nine and a half brace of foxes have been 
killed by this triumphant pack, and not one dug out since the 
cub-hunting. Needless to say, H.R.H. was enthusiastically re- 
ceived by all classes. His popularity in Ireland was hereditary, 
it is now personal. 

Sport in Louth, too, has been first-class. I can only glance at 
it now. Thes'e are the plums of the pie : An hour and seven 



294 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

minutes from Charleville on Monday, the 5th. On the loth, after 
much wood-hunting at Cabra, a capital fifty minutes from Lis- 
naboe. On the i3th, three-quarters of an hour very fast from 
Bragganstown Gorse to the town of Ardee. On the i6th, a very 
long circular hunting run from Glenmore, by Flattens, Donore, 
Duleek, Rathmullen, back to Glenmore, two hours and fifteen 
minutes in all. On the 8th the pack had the narrowest of escapes 
as they were pursuing along the Northern line. 

The Ward Union hounds had a singularly fine run on Wednes- 
day over a perfect grass line of upwards of thirteen miles. I can 
only allude to it en passant now. 



H1BERNIA VENATICA. 295 



XX. 

"The earths are open : will he reach the cover? 
Who-whoop ! he sinks exhausted ; all is over ! 



Larracor Fine evening run from Pratt's Gorse "Laragh" Kill near 
Killakee A field squandered. 

FRIDAY, the i6th of February, made its advent in white rime and 
some little congelation of the plasters of mud and clay which the 
recent open weather had spread about most liberally. By nine 
o'clock, or a little after, with the evil omen of a very vivid rain- 
bow, down came the rain and sleet with a will, and so cold that 
snow seemed about to succeed very quickly. However, after one 
outburst of the sleet and rain, the sun shone forth, the clouds 
disappeared, the horizon extended, and for seven hours we had 
the treat and novelty of a gloriously fine day, with a bite and sting 
in the air all the time, which might, or might not, bode the most 
burning scent or its total absence, for in such temperature there is 
seldom any medium. 

The meeting-point of the Meath hounds was Larracor, by the 
cross-roads, one of which leads to the small church and parsonage 
which the genius of Swift has immortalized, and the presence of 
Esther Johnson (Stella) has embalmed in the romantic passages 
of Irish story. Coming down Braemount Hill, the fine valley of 
the Boyne seemed spread out before one, and the turreted Trim, 
with its chain of castles and fortalices carrying one back to the 
Plantagenet times, did not seem more than a mile distant, though 



296 HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 

really, I believe, a good deal further off. It was my case to have 
ridden a long distance to the meeting-point, and the severity of 
the earlier hours probably made me hurry over those long, weary 
Irish miles at better pace than usual, for I found myself the first 
in the field, with ample leisure to survey a large troop of as neat 
and well-appointed pad-grooms and second horsemen as any pack 
within my experience can show. Here are two fine capital weight- 
carriers sent on by Lieut.-Colonel Fraser for Lord Sufneld. Lord 
Howth's second horseman is here a good omen, as his lordship 
has been compelled to be an absentee for some weeks now, owing 
to strains from a severe fall. Two fine, powerful horses, belong- 
ing to Mr. Brown, of Elm Grove, catch the eye at once a bay 
and a chestnut ; Lords Rossmore, Langford, and Captain Candy's 
hunters will bear full inspection and criticism ; so will the Hon. 
H. Bourke's, Major-General Herbert's, and Mr. Trotter's. But 
time is up ; the master's cart and the well-known chestnut pull 
up ; ten minutes is devoted to the day's programme, the exchange 
of news, and gossip. Then, late or early, punctual or tardy, no 
more time is given, and something like a hundred or a hundred 
and thirty mounted men, a few carriages, and half-a-dozen ladies 
are set in motion by the mot cTordrc of Mr. Waller "Moneymore." 
I should think it was a short mile from the assembling-place, a 
natural gorse, apparently assisted much by care and inclosure. 
While the pack are busy questing about, let us glance at our 
entourage. The usual Meath men are here in fair force ; some 
Ward Union pursuers have thrown in their lot with fox-hunting 
to-day ; from Kildare come Mr. Forbes, the master-elect, Captain 
Davis, Mr. Maher, and one or two more ; while a young lady, 
who went remarkably well last Meadstown day, Miss Colgan, 
appears to be piloted by the last-named gentleman, who seldom 
rides a bad hunter. Captain Kearney represents the Castle staff; 
Lord Suffield, expected, does not turn up, but the Hon. Mr. 
Harbord, his son, is to the fore. 

The hounds have found. There seems a scent in covert ; a 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 297 

hat is raised. There he goes over a fine old grass pasture which 
rides as firm and strong and consistent as a payement, which in 
these times of slough and slush is a rare delight and joy. A 
comparative stranger to this part of royal Meath, I cannot pre- 
sume to say where our little red rover is bound ; for all I know 
is that, after a field or two of nice galloping, we turned to the left 
and met a large double really a model fence, and such 'as you 
would choose to break a colt over. But, whether the taking-off 
was soft, or men hit upon bad spots, there were flashes of legs 
and arms in the air, empty saddles, Lords and Commons on the 
bank or in the ditch ! Another bank follows presently ; it is not 
so formidable as the first, but it leads to certain curiosities in 
horse attitudes worth a study. People have now shaken into 
their places. There seems a green perspective in front, when the 
hounds throw up their heads ! The fox has been apparently 
headed at a staked gap by a herdsman, and has gone to ground 
in a burrow in the middle of a large field. Tobercur is the 
place's name, I hear. Moneymore is so good a gorse that we 
go back there on the off chance of a second find, but in vain ; 
and now we are passing the extensive park and square ruins of 
Dangan Castle, the ancient manorial seat of the Wellesleys, and, 
turning down a lane-way, find ourselves presently at the Bullring 
Covert, consisting of two or three little well-gorsed hillocks, with 
some rather swampy land under them. The hounds take pos- 
session of the hill ; we maunder about through the swamps. 
There is no tauromachy, but the conjugation of the verb iriirTia is 
thoroughly illustrated in every mood and tense ; for there are 
some two or three well-known fences doubles, guarded by full 
ditches on either side which must be got over if our motto be 
old Blucher's, "vorwarts!" Harden your heart, my noble 
sportsman ; vacillate not, nor waver ; you will certainly get over 
or in ; why not tempt your fate early, ere the banks become more 
rotten and more greasy by the wear of many scores of hoofs ? 
The fences are contemptible to look at ; but anything is serious 



* 
298 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

when the take-off is more than doubtful. The most conspicuous 
victim within my purview was a very smart second horseman, 
who got two baths in about as many minutes ; the first time you 
saw a cockade flash in the light, then a column of water, that 
Trafalgar Square might be proud of, rising from the base of 
displacement ! The first lot of men over got on a knoll, and 
formed a critical galley of onlookers, till it really became an 
ordeal to face, specially with a baulking horse. We are now by 
Rahinstown (Rainstown by pronunciation) Gorse, a sure find, 
judging by past experiences. To-day 'tis sure and quick ; and 
even on this light land scent seems to be blazing, as the pack, led 
by a very neat Belvoir-like hound, Playmate, dash down a large, 
newly laid-down bit of grass, and top a hill, disappearing over a 
big bank. It is catchy, however ; for after another field they are 
at fault, and Goodall brings them back to the bottom of the hill, 
and hits off the clue very happily. It leads on first by the edge 
of a wood, then across it to the Summerhill road, then follows a 
slow drag into the Bullring Gorse, with a repetition of the 
identical fences, and much the same scenic tableaux. Here we 
lost our fox, and trotted on to Summerhill in quest of another ; 
but the main woods were being thinned, I believe, so we only drew 
one covert without result, and here we are en route to Garradice 
or Pratt's Gorse, a very thick fox-haunt, and one which takes 
much drawing, small as it looks. The find is immediate ; the 
exit is not quite so quick. Our field is now reduced to some 
forty or fifty, and at the telegraphic "Gone away !" every one sets 
off, best pace, towards Summerhill ; but in a very few minutes a 
greasy double has compelled a considerable slacking of speed 
and steam. The fox has turned towards Larch Hill, run through 
a portion of it, and then walked back to the gorse he came from. 
The latter part and any further sequence I did not see, having 
found the practicable spot in a large quick fence blocked up by 
the hunter of a hard-riding Saxon his third fall, I think, that 
day and not caring to go a considerable round at this late hour. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 299 

But I should have gone round ; purblind mortals that we are, how 
can we forecast the ways of' foxes, and the eventualities of a run 
which may appear to open most unpromisingly in its earlier 
chapters ? It would appear that our little division went too far 
to the right, and that the fence I have alluded to was simply a 
field beyond the legitimate course. Hence these tears ! The 
fox only skirted Larch Hill, then ran by the edge of the canal 
for some distance, crossed it somewhere near Ferns Lock, and 
raced away at the far side over a perfect line of vale country, till 
he had well-nigh reached Ballycaghan Gorse (the Kildare fox 
covert). Headed here by a hedger, as I am told, he turned back, 
recrossed the canal, making his way over the grassy reaches of 
Dollanstown and Drumlargan, by Pratt's Gorse, till he got once 
more into Larch Hill ; and when hounds were stopped, owing to 
the very late hour and fading daylight, he was holding on for the 
Mullagh Hill, en route probably to Culmullen. One hard-riding 
man, who persevered to the sweet end, assured me it was about 
the best thing he had seen this season. The field at the com- 
mencement of it was very much reduced from its morning volume ; 
by the wind-up it was very small and select. Among the stayers 
were Lords Langford and Rossmore, Mr. Trotter, Mr. Forbes, 
Mr. Purdon, Mr. Dunne, and, I think, Captain Candy. I hear 
the timers made the run one hour and a half; slow on the whole, 
but with fast bits throughout. 

On Saturday, the i7th, to pursue our chronicle, the Kildare 
hounds met at Donadea Court House. It is the portal to a very 
fine country, but not particularly convenient for railway travellers, 
as it is some five or six miles, if not more, from either Sallins or 
Kilcock stations, the best ways of getting thither from Dublin 
or Westmeath. A dripping night preluded a most lovely day 
grey and overshadowed, and not too gaudy to hope for splendid 
results in the way of sport. What was the sequel of great expec- 
tations my tale will unfold presently. I said it was a lovely day, 
with a sense of spring and change and life in every pulse of the 



3 oo HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

mild air, in every note of the musicians of the grove, thicket, 
and hedgerow. The ladies evidently thought it so, for they 
mustered in very great numbers, and stayed out till the finish, 
enjoying the rare climatic luxuries with great apparent zest ; they 
nearly formed a small field in themselves. Besides the regular 
Kildare people, the visiting list comprised Lords Langford and 
Rossmore, Captain Candy, Mr. Fowler of Rahinstown, Messrs. 
Hone, Purdon, Dunne, Chapman, and M'Gerr, from Meath ; from 
Dublin came Lieut. -Colonel Forster, Captain Lascelles, Mr. Usher 
Roberts, Mr. Davis, the Hon. L. White, Mr. Cross, and Mr. 
Wade Prosser; from Newbridge appeared Major Dent and some 
officers of the 7th Dragoons, Captain Hanning-Lee, A.D.C., 
Mr. Knox, R.H.A., and one or two brother officers. No fox 
appeared in Donadea or Mount Armstrong, and stony roads had 
to be trotted over for not a few miles till Cappagh was reached. 
Scent, judging by the melodious symphonies of the pack, was 
very good, but it mattered little to the hard-riding division out. 
Who-whoop ! who-whoop ! and the tenant of Cappagh Gorse is 
becoming incorporate with the Kildare pack. Ballycaghan Gorse 
remains, in all its extent and certainty of holding. Alas ! the 
long line drawn up at a respectful distance learns in twenty 
minutes or so from the bugle call that another fox has paid the 
penalty of lingering too long in his gorsy home. Courtown has 
been staunch in holding foxes this season, but Courtown has no 
vulp life within it to-day ! I did not wait to see Painstown 
run through, as from its limits it must be a very uncertain 
haunt. 

On Monday, the igth, the Ward Union stag-hounds, reached 
by a special train from the Broadstone terminus, attracted a fair 
field to Batterstown station. As bad luck would have it, some 
repairs were going on here, which necessitated a move for the 
horse-boxes on to Drumree station, a couple of miles further down 
the line. To meet the situation, the deer of the day was enlarged 
about a mile from Culmullen House, which gave all time to 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 301 

assemble. A beautiful grass country faced us, but the deer had 
been coursed ; so her track was most devious till we crossed 
"the Hatchet" road by Ribstone, then it was straight through 
Ballymaglasson to Baytown Park, thence in view to Vesington, 
where the capture was made. The run was in a downpour of 
rain, to which succeeded a wind and rain storm, as predicted 
by the meteorologists in New York and telegraphed as coming. 

I had not space to do justice, or even to epitomize, a few days 
of fine sport recently shown by the Louth hounds in my last letter. 
Let me now give a. precis of their performances. 

On the 5th they were at Barmeath, found at once, and sent a 
fox to an unknown sewer in the park. From Charleville a fox 
was taken very fast for fifty minutes by Dunbar and Dromina into 
Painstown, where he was dead beat; but Mr. Filgate was un- 
willing to kill in the covert, so he gave the fox a vStart, which he 
used to good purpose in getting to the open earths at Rathaskar. 
One hour and seven minutes in all. 

On the 8th, after killing a fox at Harbourstown, they got well 
away with another by Snowtown, hunting him for forty-five minutes 
by Naul and Stedalt. From Gormanstown, where several foxes 
were on foot together, one took to the metals, with hounds in 
pursuit ; a train was following in their wake. The situation was 
awful for a huntsman and master, but no bad result followed. 

On the loth they were at Collon, put a fox to ground, then 
had a lot of woodland work for an hour, and a ring in the open 
with another. From Lisnaboe they ran a fox very hard for fifty 
minutes, but had to whip off on Meath Hill at five o'clock p.m. 

On the 1 3th, meeting at Mansfieldstown, they visited Brag- 
ganstown, where a lively fox started off before the pack, running 
by the Clyde river to Mapastown, and then, turning to the left, 
into Guddestown Gorse, where he did not hang a moment, but, 
passing over Roodstown Hill, crossed the river Dee, held on 
through Stakillen, and just beat the pack to ground in the old 
mount behind the town : forty- five minutes, extremely good. 



V 

302 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

A brace turned up in Drumcashel, and the day wound up with a 
racing fifteen minutes and a kill from Lisrenny, scent serving very 
well. 

On the 1 6th they were at Glenmore, where they found a good 
starter, who ran a circuit by Flattens to Kearn's Glen and back. 
His next excursion was the White Mountain by Duleek, over the 
rails by Caulstown and Peamore to the station at Drogheda ; next 
followed a long check at Ball's Grove, and then the chase led by 
Rathmullen into Old Bridge, back to Glenmore, where a friendly 
hand probably let him in. Two hours and fifteen minutes. 

On Tuesday, the 2oth, the Kildare hounds who began the 
week rather infelicitously at Eagle Hill yesterday, finding a fair 
sprinkling of foxes all round Martinstovvn, but no driving power 
to make them dash into the open for dear life's sake met at >_ 
Naas, the ancient capital (so says venerable tradition) of the kings 
of Leinster. To-day it was turned into a quasi-alfresco durbar, 1 
to meet the hounds 'tis true, but also to meet H.R.H. the Duke 
of Connaught, who was coming, so said fame, from Moore Abbey, | 
Lord Drogheda's residence, for this rendezvous. Naas and its ? 
neighbouring meets have proved, so far as my experience this * 
season goes, very faithful conductors of rain, hail, sleet, snow, 
storm, and tempest, and all things most inimical to hunting and 
hunting men and horses. I can hardly recall an exception or 
extenuating circumstance to this grave atmospheric indictment ; 
and, to engrave the facts more permanently in my memory, it was 
my lot on every occasion to have to ride or drive the best part of 
a score of miles to the trysting-place. 

The night 6f the igth was fearfully stormy and wet, and I fear 
will be sadly calendered in many memories of sea-faring folk on 
our coasts. Even on land, there was a certain amount of flotsam 
and jetsam strewed about roads and fields, in the shape of trees 
blown down and branches snapped off by the violence of the 
gale. At eight o'clock on the morning of the 2oth everything was 
very still and serene, though bitterly cold, and there was every 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 303 

prospect of a dry, bracing day. In an hour or two everything 
changed. A biting wind from the north-west drove discharges 
of rain first, then sleet, then a combination of sleet, snow, and 
hail on the wayfarer, who was fortunate indeed if he were not his 
own coachman. The meet of the county pack was advertised for 
11.30 to enable railway people from Dublin, Carlow, and the 
Queen's County to arrive in time ; the state of the weather and 
these intermittent tempests made it well-nigh noon ere the caval- 
cade formed opposite the Royal Hotel into a sort of procession 
en route to Osberstown Gorse, about a mile to the westward. It 
was no small one, maugre the inclemency of the skies and the 
piercing, marrow-chilling cold. Ladies ! They braved it in right 
womanly fashion in pony-carriages and on horseback, and I can 
aver that some provincial packs would think they had a fine field 
out in the amazoned squadron alone. Among them were Mrs. 
Tynte and Miss Tynte, Mrs. Moore and Miss Moore, the Countess 
of Huntingdon, the Hon. Miss Lawless, the Misses Beauman, 
Mrs. Langrishe, Mrs. Falkiner, Miss De Robeck, Miss Pratt, 
Miss Kilbee, Mrs. Bagot, Miss O'Kelly, the Misses Owen, Mrs. 
Lukin ; while driving were Lady Annette La Touche, Mrs. Wake- 
field, Lady Maria Fitzclarence, Miss Burton and party, Lady 
Margaret Bourke, and Mrs. Ward Bennett. Among the many 
visitors were H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, the Earl of Hun- 
tingdon, the Hon. B. Fitzpatrick, Major Billington, Captains 
Bloomfield, Mills, Ward Bennett, Ellis, and one or two more 
Inniskillings ; Mr. Wardrop and officers of the 3rd Dragoon 
Guards ; Major Dent, Captains Day, George, Brooke, and others 
of the 7th Dragoons ; Mr. Knox, Mr. Hibberd, and other Horse 
Artillerymen; Captains Hanning-Lee, Graves Sawle, and J. 
M'Calmont, A.D.C., Captain the Hon. T. Scott and officers of 
the Rifle Brigade, and Captain G. Fitzclarence, R.N. From the 
Queen's County came Mr. J. G. Adair, Mr. Skeffington Smyth, 
and Mr. Webber ; from Dublin, Mr. Power and Mr. Rose ; and 
from Cavan, Mr. Humphreys. 



3 o 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Osberstown Gorse looked as fine a fox-haunt as usual, but it 
did not hold a fox to-day for us, or if it did he would not break 
a circumstance which I dare say relieved the minds of the owners 
of the widespread pastures around it, for they were in a state of 
semi-morass and partial slough already ; so we moved on a couple 
of miles further, really almost backwards to Punchestown Gorse, 
which, like Othello, has done the state some service in this year of 
grace I mean the hunting state ; nor did it fail us at our need to- 
day. In a quarter of an hour we were following our pioneer over 
the field which leads to the grand stand, quite prepared, of course, 
to hunt any amount of foxes with the first four or five couple of 
hounds that emerged from the gorse. There is no hurry to-day. 
The hounds keep moving on, but that is all ; and the fox has not 
had much of a start. In a couple of fields, near the Furry Hills, 
we are checking ; then, in a small bit of plough, a rustic shows us 
the fox's path. On, nearly straight, up the several tiers of hills 
which the eastern range throws out as spurs. The field breaks up 
into three or four columns, and so, working on over small banks 
and an odd bit of timber, sometimes behind the toiling pack, 
sometimes before it, we arrive at Elverstown's fine gorse, and the 
well-known hills and ravines thereto pertaining. The delay here 
is very brief, and the hounds send their fox handsomely through 
it up the opposite hill, bound apparently for Glending or Rusboro', 
vt& Slieve Rhue. A snowstorm came on apace here, and shelter, 
if procurable, seemed more sensible than slow pottering. If the 
hounds had the gallop of the season after this, I can only speak 
and write of it from hearsay ; but if others have eyes and eyelids 
fashioned like mine, they could not see fifty yards in front of them, 
much less ride straight in one of the blinding hailstorms which 
succeeded by-and-by. I believe there were falls over the small 
fences we crossed to-day. I only saw one which looked ugly at 
first Rawle, the first whip, seeming to be under his horse, which 
fell at an up-bank ; but, in reality, I fancy there was no danger. 
I hear this excellent hunt servant (many will endorse this record) 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 305 

is leaving Kildare at the end of this season. He will be missed 
much, for his civil, obliging, and respectful manner have won him 
many friends. I do not pretend to be a competent judge, but I 
certainly thought him, so far as my observation went, a fine patient 
horseman, with dash when wanted, and well up to his work. 

Wednesday, the 2ist. The Ward Union hounds had a 
celebrity before them to-day in the red deer Laragh. The meet 
was at Rathbeggan, the enlargement at Porterstown, and a sheep- 
dog diverted Laragh from his original purpose, sending him over 
the terrible Bush Farm, which some wise men avoided, while 
others, hoping for open or unlocked gates, found that jump they 
must to get out, and the catalogue of catastrophes was, I hear, 
a long one. Thence the line leads on across the metals of the 
Meath Railway to Ballymaglasson, by Blackhall, and apparently 
for Kilcloon ; but Laragh turned sharp to the right here, throwing 
out some of the field, and ran over a beautiful and rich pasture 
vale through Little Blackhall, by Colistown fox covert and the old 
castle of Mulhussey, to Mr. M'Gerr's farm; thence the track 
wavers towards Larch Hill, but hardly touches it, holding on for 
Kilmore and Summerhill, through the park, through the bit of 
peat moss, and on to Rahinstown, where Laragh was taken ; the 
watches made it one hour and forty-five minutes. 

The hounds ran unchecked, I think, the entire distance. The 
field got a momentary respite at the peat moss, between Summer- 
hill and Agher, but the hounds were not stopped, running the 
entire circle. 

I should not like to walk the distance for a bet much under 
fifteen miles ! It would be very hard to discover a sign of plough, 
not only in the line, but for miles near it. Some fourteen finished 
where many began ; nor do I profess to maintain that these four- 
teen were tied to the pack for all the chase. Lord Langford, 
Mr. Kelly, Mr. Thompson, and Mr. Trotter had. a good view 
throughout, and so had an ecclesiastic. 

Scent and sport, and stout foxes, combine to help the Wexford 

x 



306 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

hounds, of whose performance recently I gave your readers 
a slight sketch in my last letter, if my memory serves me truly. 
To continue their history : On the 2gth they met at the Island, 
but did not find there, nor yet at Castle Talbot. The next draw 
was Mr. Maher's new covert, the Scough Bush, and a lucky one it 
proved, holding two, one of whom was brought a very wide ring, 
which occupied nearly an hour and a half. In his second de- 
parture he was joined by another fox, which did not improve 
matters ; one was run to ground after two hours and fifteen 
minutes. 

On the 5th inst. they met at Solsboro', and, without finishing 
the drawing of the covert there, adjourned to a sedgy bottom near 
Monague, where a fox (a celebrity, too) was said to resort and 
truly, for the pack started on capital terms with the outlier, and 
took him straight away for Booly Hill, a seven-mile point. Here 
there was a long check ; then the line, when hit off, led towards 
Ballycarnen, but a sheep-dog came on the scene here, and spoilt the 
almost inevitable finish to a fine run of one hour and ten minutes. 

On the 7th the meet was Ballysop, and the pack were con- 
tinuously hunting for two hours and forty-five minutes, changing 
foxes three times, once, at a critical time, at Stokestown. 

On the 1 2th they were at Wilton Castle, Colonel Alcock's 
beautifully wooded residence, and, to begin with, had one hour's 
covert work there. Their second fox turned up in Ballybrennan, 
and the hounds, getting off close to him, hustled him away in the 
teeth of the wind by Ballymacasey and Courtnacuddy Plantations, 
thence to Castleboro', Lord Carew's residence, on to " Kelly's 
Brow," where, running from scent to view, they rolled him over 
after a race of thirty minutes' duration. 

The Kildare hounds were at Kingswood on Friday, the 2ist 
inst. I do not think that there was anything very exceptional or 
worthy of special notice in the fact, or in the tumultuous gathering 
together of an enormous crowd of the most heterogeneous 
character at this most uninteresting rendezvous, for this is de rlgle 



HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 307 

at Kingswood ; but what was perhaps peculiar and exceptional 
was the loveliness and dryness of the day, which succeeded a 
night of rain and storm a fact attested by the sea-gulls, who were 
contending with the crows for the early worm as one rode to the 
meet Like the marines, these sagacious birds seem equally at 
home on land and sea; and, to look at a huge flock of them 
walking about picking up their breakfasts in a green field, you 
would never fancy them equally at home in " the cradle of the 
deep " (whatever that poetic phrase may mean) or in the trough of 
a yeasty sea. Yes ; there was another feature in the programme, 
no doubt most welcome to the ball-goers, and that was that 
the meet was put off till 11.30 a.m. I should require more 
columnar space than you could allow me were I to attempt a 
catalogue raisonn'ee of a tithe of the people who filled the road for 
half a mile, perhaps more. Mr. O'Reilly's coach, fairly freighted, 
caught the eye ; so did the business-like team of the Inniskillings, 
and Lord Clonmell's gay steppers. Colonel Sarsfield Green's and 
Captain and Mrs. Playfair's phaetons were much en evidence as 
they were drawn up by Mr. Walsh's house, to whose "interior" 
the fraternity of sport seemed a passport which required neither 
endorsement or vise. Let me mention a few of the strangers who 
honoured this tryst, commencing my list with H.R.H. the Duke 
of Connaught, who was, I think, staying at Bishopscourt (Lord 
Clonmell's) with a large party, which included Lord and Lady 
Listowel, Captain and Lady Maria Fitzclarence, Colonel Fraser, 
V.C., Mr. Horace Rochfort, etc. Captain Fitzgerald, the Duke's 
equerry, has been kept from the hunting field for some weeks by 
an accident, and to-day was watching proceedings from the 
pleasant eminence of a Malaga pony, who was one of the neatest 
and smartest I ever saw. If Malaga can export ponies of that 
stamp as well as raisins, I should think the fact would soon help 
the Customs dues, as polo would be sure to become generally 
popular again if men knew where to get the right sort of con- 
veyances at reasonable rates. Among the ladies riding and 



3 o8 HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 

driving were Lady Wallscourt, Lady Maria Fitzclarence, Lady 
Annette La Touche, Mrs. Forbes, the Misses Higginson, Mrs. 
Spencer Lindsay and Miss Lindsay, Miss O'C. Morris, Miss 
Champney, Mrs. Langrishe, Mrs. Bagot, Mrs. Franks and the 
Misses La Touche, Miss Walsh, Mrs. Moore, Miss Kirkpatrick, 
the Misses Beauman, Mrs. and Miss Tuthill, Mrs. Dent, the Misses 
Townsend but I cannot go on swelling the list. Sufficient to 
say that Dublin was there on horseback, and that the Garrison 
contributed a great many of the Rifle Brigade, the Inniskillings, and 
the 3rd Dragoons. The Staff was represented by Lieut.-Colonel 
Johnson, Captain Graves Sawle, and I know not how many more, 
while Newbridge and the Curragh, if not in great numbers, were 
strong in Major Dent of the yth Dragoons and Mr. Knox of the 
R.H.A. From Wales came Lieut.-Colonel Henry Lindsay to his 
old hunting grounds. 

I will not recapitulate the inevitable and dreary features of the 
drawing of Belgard Gorse, unseen as it is within a high old deer- 
park wall the wandering about in groups in a couple of ploughed 
fields outside. The plough was drier than usual, and the fox more 
accommodating than his wont, for he broke quickly enough, and 
ran across Dr. E. Kennedy's fine lawn. The one hole of exit in 
the wall was jammed, as usual ; but the fox did not run his usual 
track perhaps it had become monotonous. He turned round 
Belgard, and trotted over that beautiful bit of level vale which 
separates the gorse from the mountains. There was no scent to 
press him, so he made a leisurely ring by the Rev. Mr. Robinson's 
place here I saw the hon. secretary of a fashionable hunt in what 
looked for the moment a position of peril and got into a drain 
not far from his starting-point. 

On the 22nd they met at Gormanstown Chapel, centre of a 
fine bit of surrounding country. From Hatfield Gorse they had 
a slow run by Tober to Grangebeg, where scent, which had been 
flickering, failed altogether To this succeeded another slow 
potter from Cryhelp mountainwards. The evening gallop of thirty- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 309 

five minutes from Copelands was, I hear, of very different cha- 
racter fast and sustained. The Duke of Connaught was among 
the field, which was a large one. 

Sport continues very good in Westmeath. I think I sent your 
readers an outline of a fine day's sport on the 1 2th, when they met 
at Gaulston Park (Lord Kilmaine's), and hunted two foxes over 
fine lines the first by Lemon Grove and Enniscoffey, by Violets- 
town and Clonmoyle, till he was killed after a brilliant thirty-two 
minutes, which beat the field, at Plattstown, near Mullingar. 
While he was being broken up a second fox went away from a 
hedgerow, taking them to Gaybrook, where he hung a bit, thence 
over Bush Hill, through Dunboden and Morrogh, till he ran them 
out of scent. 

On the 1 4th they were at Mosstown, and unfortunately chopped 
a fox in the stick covert. From Lunestown they raced into a 
second as he was gaining Glencara Covert, and had a slow hunting 
ring from the last-named fox-haunt by Mount Dalton. 

On the 1 6th they found foxes abounding at Cooksboro' and 
Knockdrin, but scent was too feeble to do much good with them. 

On the i Qth they met at Gartlandstown Bridge, and found a 
brace at Knock Ion, but could not do much in the way of hunting 
them. Hope's Gorse held two, one of which was sent along by 
Barbavilla to Clondaliver, where he got to ground. The last few 
minutes of this race were fast v The Crooked Wood supplied a 
fox, but he got to ground quickly. 

On Wednesday, the 2ist, they met at Rathconrath, and found 
nothing in Justown Gorse but a stale drag. Glencara held a good 
fox, and they raced him into Grieve without a check, leaving 
Lunestown on the left ; here he hung for a short time, then broke 
for Jamestown, crossed the railway pointing for Ballyhast ; but, turn- 
ing leftwards, he was presently rolled over in the open by James- 
town Bridge, after one hour and five minutes. Some slow hunting 
from Lunestown towards Crissaun filled in the rest of the day. 

The chief events of the past week I mean in our little 



310 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

microcosm of hunting have been a capital day's sport on 
Thursday last with the Meath hounds, when they met at the 
master's park, Allenstown. I say a good day's sport ; for there 
was a bill of fare for all, and suitable to all tastes. Any amount 
of hound work in the forenoon about Allenstown, in the shape of 
a protracted chase, which ended in marking their fox to ground on 
the banks of the railway between Ballybeg and Kells. Then there 
was galloping, jumping, and hunting to please all in a good bit of 
twisty run from Rathmore Gorse to Tullaghnogue, through it, on to 
near Meadstown, till the fox ran them out of scent near Kilbride. 
Philpotstown was now drawn by way of a wind-up, and a most 
thoroughly successful one it proved, its tenant giving what some 
consider the run of the season ; but as the run of the season, unless 
it be so exceptionally brilliant as to overshadow all possible com- 
parison, is a very debatable point, a Pandora's box among the 
hard-riding division, I will only say that men whom I consider 
very competent judges (for I did not see it, unfortunately), laud it 
as a very high-class performance. Tullyard was the first covert 
touched till they came to Trim station, and here there was a check 
for a bit, the fox having entered a sewer, from which he was 
presently ejected ; and from this point he was hunted along the 
river Boyne up to the New Haggard Mills, where he turned for 
Trimleston Gorse, and was not disturbed in his sanctuary. 

Mr. George Brook's harriers had a very pleasant day's sport 
in the fine country near the Mause border land, or rather on the 
confines of Meath and Kildare ; but the run that I hear most 
talked of was thirty-two minutes with the Bellinter harriers when 
Mr. Preston brought them, in compliment to Lord Rossmore and 
his party, to the neighbourhood of Culmullen, and -ran a straight- 
necked hare to Kilcarty Gorse. Of the Bellinter uniform I think 
I have written before. On this occasion Lord Rossmore and his 
sister, the Hon. Mrs. Candy, and I know not how many more, 
turned out in the green livery of his lordship's private pack. It 
was " the wearing of the green " on a grand scale ! 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 3 n 

Having, owing to an accident, to leave Kingswood and its 
neighbourhood after the first run yesterday, I only learnt the 
events of the evening to-day (Saturday). They were on this wise : 
The Belgard fox left his drain of his own accord, the hounds were 
clapped on to him, and a fair hunting run of many tumbling 
incidents, and thirty minutes, ending at the inevitable Greenhills, 
was the result of this meritorious proceeding on his part. Then 
followed a long jog-trot to Loughtown, Miss Gould's Gorse (some 
particulars about which I wrote a few weeks ago), the field being 
considerably reduced in numbers by this time. A secluded spot, 
a run from it, if it be tenanted as it has ever been in my ex- 
perience, is almost inevitable. This evening's chase was an 
exceptionally good one ; I can only glance at it just now. From 
Loughtown to Gastlebagot is about two and a half miles over green 
fields, thence to the Garter stables on the Naas road some two 
more. Thence over the old Tallaght racecourse, a beautiful track, 
to a point near Killakee I believe the exact spot is Mount Pelion 
and here they rolled him over, after a fast hour and ten minutes. 

On Saturday half Ireland that affects hunting met the Meath 
hounds at "the Hatchet." Fortunately, the third covert drawn, 
Pratt's Gorse, was a success, and its fox led the huge field at a 
break-neck pace for some three miles over a very stiff grass line 
to Moynalvey cross-road, when he disappeared, and was wholly 
unaccounted for. Beltrasna Gorse, the fourth visited, was also 
tenanted by a good sort of fox, who broke with the very slightest 
pressing, and ran a beautiful line to the Summerhill road, thence 
to the verge of Larch Hill, to Mulhussey Gorse, through it, and 
into Colistown Covert, where a considerate earth-stopper or 
covert-keeper let him into the newly made earths. 

H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught was out to-day, and going 
well ; so were several of the strangers present ; and if, after to- 
day's experience, they sigh for greater pace or wider fencing, I fear 
they will share the fate of the tres difficiles, who are rarely pleased 
and never contented. 



3 i2 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

I crave space ! I believe I have occupied much ! Like 
Oliver, I ask for more. The theme justifies it the stoutest and 
straightest fox that has stood up this season for twelve statute 
miles before a gallant pack ere he met his doom ! I will con- 
dense as much as I can, merely remarking that a very high 
tribute was paid to Irish hunting and Irish country last Friday 
by an old Staff-man a good rider and a feather weight, who sees 
some of the best things in England, and speaks with some 
connaissancc de cause. He saw the first run from Belgard well, the 
early part of which was execrably slow, owing to a difficulty in 
getting the hounds over the park wall ; the second part was over 
a good line at steady pace, but not what would be called a very 
good line. Yet so enraptured was my friend by the country and 
the pack, that he wrote to me to say it was about the best thing 
he had seen this year. Now, when the Belgard fox was disposed 
of . subterraneously, many went home, Dublin being temptingly 
near; others never saw it, having gone on to the vicinity of the 
second expected draw (bad form always), and, after waiting there 
some time, got tired of the process> and made a short day of it. 
So it was well-nigh four o'clock when Mr. E. Mansfield put the 
hounds into Pea Mount, when two foxes were on foot. Five 
couples broke with one ; the rest followed presently over the 
road, which the hero of my tale (the tale of a brush) crossed 
resolutely undaunted by the Lords and Commons, the fair women 
and brave men who lined it. His point was Killakee ; from this 
he never swerved, kept the middle of the large grass pastures he 
crossed en route, and never ran fence or hedgerow even when 
sinking ! Through Castlebagot he sweeps, never diverging to the 
inviting gorse two fields to his right ; hounds carry a great 
head, and there was never a check or pause till the Garter stables 
are reached. Here the fox had been slightly turned by two 
rustics, but the pack swung on to him directly, crossed the Dublin 
road, and never dwelt an instant till a ploughed field was reached ; 
then there was a momentary delay, and most of the field retired 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 313 

homewards. The line, however, was very quickly recovered ; the 
fine grass lands of Kingswood are raced over, Belgard Gorse, 
close by, being wholly ignored by our fugitive ; and now the 
Dodder is reached (and, to mark the locality, I may say the old 
Bawn Mills are on the right of our track). The far bank is 
guarded by a high wall with one single practicable spot, and that 
is wired. In vain does a gallant and hon. major, like another 
Samson Agonistes, shake the supports ; they will not yield. And 
now comes up Will Freeman, with a horse lent him by Mr. W. 
Blacker, who unselfishly gave up pursuit (second horses had been 
missed) ; but his trusty wire-cutter is not in the saddle-tree. 
Mr. Percy La Touche, Mr. R. Walshe, jun., and a stranger, got 
over lower down, but are again wire-caged. Somehow or other, 
these wire coils are got over or round by something short of a 
dozen men, among whom were the master, Mr. Mansfield, Major 
the Hon. E. Lawless, Mr. Percy La Touche, Mr. R. Walshe, 
Mr. R. Kennedy, the huntsman, and a visitor or two. Light was 
waning fast, when shouts of exultation greeted the ears of this 
small band of strugglers. Two countrymen had seen this good 
fox rolled over in the open. For line, straightness, and decision 
I do not think this hunting episode can be surpassed in these 
three kingdoms this season. In the twelve miles I hear only a 
single heavy-riding field was crossed, and when the Dodder 
difficulty was reached the riders saw a single hound, thirty yards 
in front of the pack, racing like a greyhound. The hounds, I 
should add, were only " touched " once. For a comparison men 
go back to the great Laragh run of fourteen Irish miles, ending in 
a kill in the heart of Meath, which happened years ago, when 
Lord Mayo, then Lord Naas, was at the head of the pack. 

Sport has been again propitious to Louth ; a good twenty-two 
minutes on the 2ist, from Skedog, by Shalip and Drakestown, to 
ground in Carracon ; twelve minutes fast from Tenure to Collon, 
to ground ; and forty-five minutes afterwards into Townley Hall, 
where the fugitive was bolted. 



3 i4 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

On the 23rd a racing seventeen minutes from Ballymead, by 
Tilltown, Smithstown, and Rockbellew, to Corfe Hill, where they 
rolled their fox over. Then a find in Greenhills, a ring, and a 
scurry by Irishtown to Gormanstown station, where the fox took 
to the line, and the pack were stopped with difficulty when the 
mid-day train from Dublin was just behind them. Curious, that 
much the same thing occurred on the 8th inst. ! They had had 
forty minutes up to this of very good hunting. 

From Cork come reports of fine sport. The best chase was 
from Castle Lyons, but " good things " emanated from Lisgrimlan, 
Newtown, and Dunkettle. The committee propose continuing 
the status quo next season, if no suitable master turns up in the 
mean time. But the bait of eleven or twelve hundred a year for 
three days a week, with hounds, kennels, lodging, etc., found, and 
a country kept, seems far too tempting to allow me to think that 
the United Hunt will remain masterless much longer. Mr. T. 
Montgomery and Mr. Morgan Smith, who met hunting accidents 
lately in these regions, are progressing most favourably. 

I have omitted perforce several days' hunting in Meath, 
notably the iQth, when, after killing a brace of foxes at Bellinter 
and Dowdestown, they ran one to ground from Lismullen, and 
stopped the pack when hunting their fourth fox. Other hunting 
episodes I must postpone or pass over. 



HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 315 



XXI. 

" 'Tis a fine hunting day, and as balmy as May, 
And the hounds to the village have come." 



' ' The Hatchet " Beltrasna burst Swainstown Carlow and 
Kilkenny Maynooth. 

I HOPE I shall not raise a tempest of indignant contradictions 
when I say that the hunting grounds of Ireland par excellence 
such as, I think, any stranger unaffected by local prejudices would 
choose are the two great valleys of the Liffey and the Boyne, with 
their many tributaries, such as the Rye, the Nanny, the Hurley, the 
Blackwater, the Tolka, etc. No part of Ireland, I think, presents 
such wide horizons of level pasture lands, unbroken by mountain 
ridges or marred for hunting purposes by interjections of peat and 
bog. A cattle tract mainly, the holdings are far larger than in 
other parts of the island ; and as are the holdings, so are the fields 
and the fences which bound them. Some three or four lines of 
railway only, at intervals of ten or a dozen miles apart, cut through 
these valleys. The land is far too valuable to be covered with 
much timber, so that, dotted as it is with good gorses every three 
or four miles, fast gallops seem to be a corollary from the situation 
itself. Of course this very wide area is not equal in all its parts 
for hunting purposes ; round a few favoured spots parks and villas 
cluster, with their plantations and shrubberies. 

A railway or canal spoils the perfect symmetry of another 
locality. The spot to which I propose to transport my readers 



316 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

to-day has no such vices of situation. A solitary thatched public- 
house, of the genuine old Irish peasant architecture of the better 
type, much frequented by hauliers on their journey from Dum- 
boyne to Summerhill, or from the latter place to Dublin, it stands 
quite alone on the roadside, commanding some cross-roads, sur- 
rounded on all sides by acres upon acres of the most luxuriant 
and level pastures. The shriek of the locomotive whistle is heard 
at a respectable distance of five or six miles ; Maynooth, the 
nearest village, is five miles off. The parks of Carton and 
Summerhill flank it, but at a long distance ; while the woods of 
Killeen and Dunsany Castles are fully six or seven miles to the 
north'ard, I should say. Such are the surroundings of " the 
Hatchet," where the Meath hounds met their clientele and the 
general public on Saturday, February 24th. A dark, gloomy 
morning it was too ! the rain coming down copiously, while the 
sombre, murky horizon seemed to portend a continuance of rain- 
fall for the entire hunting day. I believe the assizes had some- 
thing to do with the fixture, and its substitution for some other. 
Whatever cause, remote or proximate, led to its insertion on the 
Meath card, let us be thankful for the alteration. Let us hope for 
a repetition, if it leads to such pleasant results as were vouchsafed 
us to-day. 

Yesterday's meet at Kingswood was, if we look at it in that 
point of view, a splendid homage of the polloi, leavened by a fair 
proportion of the aristoi, to the majesty of hunting a willing 
offering of the crowd at the shrine of the great goddess Diana. 
To-day's meet was far smaller and more select ; there was no 
railway invasion, no procession of coaches and carriages like 
a rehearsal of the Park, no ambiguous sportsmen and sports- 
women; none of the pic-nicing out-for-the-day element. It was 
all hunting pure and simple, with the exception of two or three 
carriages which drove to the trysting-place, and disappeared soon 
afterwards. There was a small army of pad-grooms and second 
horsemen, with their charges, round " the Hatchet ; " and in this 



HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 317 

department of hunting I must say no county in Ireland within my 
ken at all approaches Meath as it is this season. The rain began 
to moderate about half-past eleven, the easy hour of assembly, and 
by the time we were fairly under way to the first draw Colistown 
the day had not only become fine, but had toned down into an 
atmosphere very warm, pleasant, and promising. Colistown is 
very young of growth, and to-day 'tis empty ; so is the next gorse, 
Mulhussey, overlooked by the quaint ruins of a semi-ancient keep. 
The third, Garradice or Pratt's Gorse, brings us a fox, who, 
spite of the thick jungle in which he kennelled, broke away with 
very little pressing, and began a course towards Summerhill, 
introducing us to an initial double, overgrown with gorse and 
briars, where Lords and Commons and their mounts were strug- 
gling away presently in what Geoffry Gambado calls hippopiptic 
attitudes ; but this reminds me that I have not said a word about 
the personnel of our fields. As we were going to Colistown we met 
the Bishopscourt break and its four horses, in which were H.R.H. 
the Duke of Connaught and Captain Fitzgerald, the Earl of Clon- 
mell, Colonels Fraser and Forster, Lord Listowel, Mr. Percy La 
Touche, Mr. D. Mahoney. Kildare found representatives in Lord 
Cloncurry, Mr. C. Hamilton, Mr. E. Mansfield, Captain and Mrs. 
Davis, Mr. W. Forbes, and others. The Queen's County sent 
Mr. and Mrs. Adair; Westmeath its former M.F.H., Mr. Mac- 
donald Moreton, and Captain Roden. The Culmullen party 
contributed Lords Rossmore and Francis Lennox, Captain and 
the Hon. Mrs. Candy, and Miss Lloyd. War's image would not 
be perfect without a major-general, and here is Major-General 
Herbert, with about, or even more than, half-a-dozen aides-de-camp 
of the Garrison and Castle, including Captains J. M'Calmont, 
Lord Clanmorris, Captains Beecher, Colthurst, Crosbie, Pratt, 
Saunders, and Kearney. The Inniskillings contributed Captain 
Ward Bennett and others; the 3rd Dragoons Messrs. Dundas, 
Wardrop, and Yatman ; while from the metropolis came a number 
of Ward Union men, Messrs. Coppinger, Hone, Thompson, and 



318 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

Jameson ; and Cavan sent a master of stag-hounds in Mr. Hum- 
phreys. Needless to say, Meath was in the field in great numbers, 
including the strangers within its gates, who had become glcba 
addicti from the love of hunting, such as Lord Howth, Mr. 
Dunville, Colonel Fraser, Captain Peter Lowe, etc. Without going 
further into names, I think I have said enough to satisfy the most 
sceptical that this was a very representative assemblage of hunting 
men as good a gallery of experts as any M.F.H. could wish for. 
Forty or fifty men well over the frowning double I have alluded 
to, with huge green fields in front, the prospect before us is very 
pleasing. But what is this ? The hounds recross this unpleasant 
barrier, and we must follow them, for there seems no pleasant path 
round it. The hounds are running, straining, sailing, whatever 
metaphor pleases you best ; but certainly they are going very fast. 
A few small inclosures past not the least of the Meath type 
and we enter the lands of Clonlyon, Mr. Purdon's residence, and 
then come four or five large fences, productive of a certain amount 
of grief. We are now at Moynalvy cross-roads, of Ward Union 
celebrity. We have come very fast for a couple of miles, or 
perhaps more ; but we have lost our fox, who either lay down or 
ran the road towards Summerhill. At any rate, casting forwards 
or casting backwards avails nothing ; so we trot on to Beltrasna 
Gorse, where a few acres of strong covert, set in a grass prairie, 
afford promise of a good gallop, so only a good fox be on the 
premises. Away he goes, the red rover, pointing probably for 
Garradice, where we have just been, and away we go as fast as 
spurred horses can take us to the big dyke or brook which inter- 
venes 'twixt us and the pack. It is wide enough, but has sloping 
banks, and that means much to a trained Irish hunter. I heard of 
a subsidence or two one certainly but I saw none. There is 
a momentary pause on the far side, but only of a few seconds, and 
then, led by a black-and-white bitch, the pack are presently 
stretched at their very best. Soon we come to a road with rather 
a drop into it, and the way out appears to be over a small wall ; 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 319 

so think the field who are up, and of course a few seconds of 
delay are scored to the bad. Mr. Trotter, on our left, has avoided 
this by picking his path over a quickset fence, and a lead of more 
than a field is the consequence. Then comes a second road, and 
in the adjoining field a very high up-fence ; and now hounds 
s\ving a bit to the left, giving the less advanced, who had not 
diverged to the right too far, a considerable pull. Now we are on 
the verge of Larch Hill lands ; but the hounds won't favour us 
on the right a bit they are hugging the left all the way. It has 
been a race up to here, and not a slow one at all ; and now comes 
the ugly feature. In a beautiful valley between the undulations of 
the Mullagh and Larch Hill is a bit of rather swampy land, and 
through this flows or stagnates a drain of uncertain bottom 
and depth, with a high rotten-looking bank on the far side. It is 
only pleasantly jumped or scrambled over in one or two spots, 
I think ; if these are missed, a flounder or fall is almost inevitable, 
and men and horses did both. Less than a dozen, I believe, got 
over satisfactorily. Those who knew the topography generally 
avoided it, I fancy, as it was not hard to do before you had ridden 
to the swamp. The line is now on to Mulhussey Gorse, when 
a check occurs ; then on to the neighbouring covert of Colistown, 
which we had visited ineffectually that morning. Who-whoop ! 
who-whoop ! The main earths here have been considerately 
opened by some fox friend ; our run is over ; but for four miles it 
was as fast and sustained as could be desired, the last hounds 
never able to come up to the leaders. To see anything at all you 
must ride ; so I think nearly everybody rode and, if they rode at 
all, rode hard, for the fences were large and the pace was very 
good. Two ladies went well part of the distance. A lady on 
a clever strawberry roan hunter was brilliantly carried for some 
time, and was quite in the front rank. H.R.H., undeterred by 
rather an unpleasant collision the day before, was going brilliantly, 
and what helped riders much was the fact of the inclination of the 
ground being in their favour. 



320 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

On Monday morning, those who kept country hours shall 
I say hunting hours ? saw a sheen of white crisp snow over the 
face of nature. It had rained and blustered through the night, 
and towards morning snow took the place of rain ; but an un- 
wontedly gorgeous sun was riding in the heavens, and long before 
noon the day became like that "lusty winter" which Adam, the 
pattern old-time servitor in " As You Like It," likened his age 
unto "frosty but kindly." The Ward Union men, whose 
previous Saturday was not so brilliant in its events as recent runs 
almost warrant one in expecting, mustered in considerable force at 
Culmullen, and, enlarging near the house, had a very fine run 
at fair pace past Mulhussey Castle, and on to Newtown, near 
Kilcock, where they gained a view and pressed their deer so hard 
that he bounded on to the roof of a cottage, from which curious 
eminence he was dislodged by the exertions of a popular captain, 
lately in command of a troop of the 8th Hussars, giving a capital 
run afterwards by Moyglare and Maynooth altogether voted by 
the company out a fine day's sport, and in a country where even 
moderate sport is more enjoyable than faster and more spirited 
gallops elsewhere. 

On Tuesday the snow of the previous day was replaced by a 
hard white frost and rime everywhere. The wind was northerly, 
and "most forbiddingly keen;" but there was promise of a very 
fine day, and so it turned out. The Meath hounds were at 
Swainstown, a meet whose surroundings I have already attempted 
to describe for your readers ; and, as they have not changed in the 
least, I will only add that the picture most appreciated apparently 
by crowds of cold and hungry hunters was not the panorama of 
wood, vale, and hill, which the sun was lighting up just now, but 
rather a warm interior, such as Dutch painters delighted in : the 
gleam of silver, contrasted with the ruby, golden, and brown tints 
of waning decanters, and the glow of a comforting fire. Mr. and 
Mrs. Preston, the hosts, bid the many visitors a hearty welcome, 
and the large party from Dublin and its Castle, including Lord 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 321 

Randolph Churchill, Lieut-Colonel Forster, Captains M'Calmont, 
Colthurst, Becher, Beresford, Kearney, Graves Sawle, etc., seemed 
to appreciate the welcome quarter of an hour after their frigid and 
slow journey by train thither. It was a large meet, and a very 
pretty meet, and a good many men from other hunts attended it. 
The show of purple and white leather was creditable. The dis- 
play of fur and furbelows proves that what they call in the papers 
" the female vote " in Meath is given to fox-hunting. We cannot 
now dwell on these interesting themes; the hounds are drawing 
Swainstown Woods, but they draw them to-day in vain. We now 
come by a short cut a long one to a gallant captain who parted 
with his mount at an up-bank which had to be jumped willy-nilly 
to the fine wooded reaches of Killeen and Dunsany Castles, 
extending our researches even to the hill of Glaine, which seemed 
full of foxes last time we were here. To-day they have migrated 
lower down apparently, for out of one of the Dunsany plantations 
jumps a vulp, crosses the Meath line, and sets the large field in 
rapid motion to the nearest bridge, then up the grassy hill of 
Glaine, from which the eye catches sight of a fine hunting country, 
open and woodless. We are not to traverse it to-day, for our fox 
turned back to the woods very soon, and was lost or put to ground. 
Killeen Woods and Killeen Gorse do not hold to-day ; so, passing 
through Smithstown, we come to a well-shrubbed clump of trees, 
known, I believe, in hunting diaries as the Gerrardstown Laurels, 
and these soon quivered with music. The hounds started, I think, 
very near their fox ; they ran him merrily and musically over a few 
very wide grass fields in the wind's eye, but he got to ground in 
a rabbit burrow. Our next fox turned up in Gerrardstown Gorse. 
The short spin had put the horses' coats straight I mean down, if 
nothing else. There was very little fencing ; but at a blind place 
a raking bay mare, whose fine striding action I admired, gave a 
good sportsman a nasty fall, and very nearly a mouthful of teeth. 
From Gerrardstown followed a pottering ring, remarkable in 
nothing save in one rather newly constructed double towards 

Y 



322 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

Reisk Gorse, which I would advise your readers, if ever in these 
parts, not to attempt unless they are on a hunter of some ex- 
perience. Whether scent improved in the next exodus of this fox 
from Gerrardstown, I cannot say, as I had a lame horse, and a long 
walk before me. I should think not ; for in those splendid grass 
fields, which we acupunctured plentifully with our hunters' hoofs 
it is said to be a good cure for moss in land scent ought to be 
present, if at all existent. I heard that they went on in the evening 
to Corbalton, found a fox there, and took him along very sharply 
into Gerrardstown. The distance is not very long. 

Baytown was the meeting-place of the Ward Union bounds on 
Wednesday last, and the cross-roads next the house which bears 
the high-sounding title were full of black and red horsemen, 
moving about from a quarter past one o'clock. Among them were 
not a few of the Meath fox-hunters, including Mr. Trotter, Lord 
Rossmore, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Lord Langford, 
Miss Loyd, Mr. Murphy of the Grange, and the Messrs. Hone ; 
while from Kildare came Lord Cloncurry, Captain and Mrs. Davis, 
Mr. Hanaway. The Garrison contributed a small detachment of 
the Rifle Brigade, Captain Bagot, the Hon. L. White, Mr. Cross, 
etc ; while the Guards, the Inniskillings, the 3rd, and the Staff 
were represented. Add a large assemblage of the regular Ward 
Union men, who seldom miss a day with this pack, and it will be 
seen that Mr. Turbitt, the acting master, had a very fair-sized 
army to command. The day was voted generally the most 
decidedly unambiguously fine day which the season has vouch- 
safed us so far. There had been a sharp frost of white complexion 
during the night, and, indeed, during the entire day it was freezing 
hard in the shade ; but the air was light and buoyant, the sun was 
darting his rays all round, and the vault of heaven was high. A 
thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, and the surcharged fields were 
rejoicing in the dryness and absorption of the superfluous 
moisture which has pressed on them all the year. Trotting past 
Vesington the general point of enlargement for a Baytown meet 






HIBERNIA VENATICA. 323 

we come in a line with Crookstown, and here the hounds were 
put on, and commenced running fast towards Mr. Barry's farm, 
then across the Dunboyne road towards the parsonage of Rath- 
regan, and on to Mr. Allen's grass expanses. Presently we view 
our red deer encircled by a pack of furious colleys, with a terrier 
among them. It seems she had been harried since the start by 
these brutes, and every field she crossed seemed likely to swell the 
number. Of course this spoilt the run, just as we were emerging 
into a lovely bit of country, and a capture was luckily soon made. 
Now, granting that one colley, say two colley dogs, are a necessity 
to every grass farm, surely the herds might be enjoined to keep 
them at home in kennel or by their sides during the hours when 
the stag-hounds are likely to be in the neighbourhood in the 
neighbourhood, at any rate, of the enlargement The owners of 
the farms are, I believe, most favourable and friendly to the Ward 
Union hounds. As for a good red deer, I know no public cha- 
racter so popular in this part of Ireland. The fox has no chance 
with him. Every one is on the qui vive about his movements 
where he ran, where he was taken, etc. Every child along the 
roadside "interviews" you on the subject as you ride homewards; 
in fact, for an hour or two I think the stag of the day almost 
divides popular honours with Mr. Butt (I mean no pun). Why, 
then, cannot a very little care and forethought obviate these 
recurring cur crusades? The first deer secured, a second was 
enlarged on the far side of the Meath line, near Parsonstown 
Manor. I think the law given was short, for scent seemed very 
good indeed, and away we followed a racing pack in a line nearly 
parallel to the metals up to a point near Kelliston Bridge, when 
we turned to the right, ran through the lands of Johnstown, and 
presently found ourselves in the village of Dunshaughlin, where 
our quarry had jumped into a yard, and was unable to get out of 
the trap. After some few minutes' breathing time she was enlarged 
again, but a black greyhound coursed her, and turned her back into 
the village ; so that this run too was marred, as it was beginning to 



3 2 4 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

warm into something good. For two miles or thereabouts hounds 
ran very sharply over a beautiful line, which a Warwickshire man 
who was in the field appreciated very much. 

Turning to the Kildare side of the country, the county pack 
were at Ballymore Eustace village on Monday, and devoted its 
earlier hours to hillside coverts. Hollywood was the first draw, 
and a good fox broke from it at once, and ran upwards, taking the 
field up a sharp hill not pleasant riding to some good, sound, 
healthy table land, and thence on to the Scalp Mountain, which is 
the refuge of all foxes for miles around, as the rocky fissures and 
holes among the boulders cannot be stopped. 

From Blakestown, another hill covert, there was a find and 
departure; but the fox, after breaking, was headed back by a 
countryman into the jaws of the pack and killed prematurely. 
Elverstown held, and gave the pack plenty of covert-hunting for 
nearly half an hour. 

A friendly controversy has recently been going on in one of 
the Dublin dailies respecting the scale of hunting expenses. 
Anthony Trollope put these down at $ a day for men with 
one horse out, ;io for those with two. A writer in the journal 
I refer to, who speaks in a tone of experience and knowledge of 
his subject, puts them at not less than 6, probably more. 
That this should be the verdict of an Irishman seems strange, 
considering how much cheaper were all 'hunting arrangements 
formerly in this country than in the sister isle. Now I think the 
balance of economy is in favour of England, while the balance 
of sport is in favour of Ireland. As a specimen, I may quote one 
item common to all countries horse shoes, for which my smith, a 
country smith too, charges me $s. 6d. a set. I should not pay so 
much in the country in England. With regard to exact estimates 
of hunting expenses, it is very hard to frame them precisely, unless 
men sell off their studs annually, and then the average ought to be 
made over a period of, say five years ; for luck is a very potent 
element in the matter, and in an open season like the present, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 325 

wear and tear of horseflesh will be a very serious item. What 
adds to the uncertainty of all figures in these estimates is the fact 
that men have such different ways of hunting. The same horse 
will come out twice a week with one man, while in another's hands 
the stud groom may find once in ten days more than an average 
per season. One man will give 70 or^So a year to a valet to 
do work which another will get done equally well for perhaps 10. 
Some optimists in horseflesh will find a margin for their menus 
plaisirs after paying corn bills, etc. ; while others, with less of 
commercial genius and a slight lack of inventive romance, will 
find a difficulty in selling their horses at all at hunter-like 
figures. 

On Monday H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught left Bishopscourt 
for Bagnalstown, in the county Carlow, for the purpose of having a 
day with Mr. Watson's most perfect and perfectly hunted pack of 
fox-hounds. The meet was at the railway station of Bagnalstown, 
and the master, Sir C. Wolseley, Captain M'Clintock Bunbury, 
Mr. Stewart Duckett, and a few more members, were in waiting to 
welcome the Duke, while all classes cheered him enthusiastically 
as he arrived at the meeting-place. These loyal demonstrations, 
and the fact of flags having been placed on the very covert fence, 
were dead against the chances of sport ; so when Kilenane was 
drawn, it happened that the tenant had set out for Shankhill half 
an hour previously, and, making use of his start, beat the hounds 
out of scent. Flagmount and Castlewarren proving blank, they 
went on to Claragh, from which they raced a fox into Flag- 
mount, hustled him through it, and pulled him down in the open 
after a good thirty-five minutes, which the Duke riding the winner 
of last year's Sportsman's Race here saw very well all through. 
This closed the day's proceedings, as Mr. Watson had been draw- 
ing away from his own country. 

The next day this pack were in a totally different part of their 
territory the Island side as opposed to the Carlow. They met 
at Kildavin, and drew on towards Newtown Barry, but did not 



326 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

find till they reached Coolgorragh, when a real good fox started 
off from Tombrick Wood ; but turning to the right, ran right off 
to Mount Leinster, where he saved himself among the rocky 
crevasses. It was fifty-five minutes, with only one very brief pause, 
and those who rode the whole of this fine run might be, I believe, 
literally counted on one hand. They were the master, Mr. Beau- 
champ Bagenal, Mr. and Mrs. West, and Mr. Stewart Duckett ; 
others saw parts of it only. 

From Carlow, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught moved an 
easy stage it is to Kilkenny Castle, where he was the guest of 
the Marquis and Marchioness of Ormonde. I regret much that an 
accident has prevented my seeing some very picturesque phases 
of fox-hunting, such as were presented here in the court-yard of 
Kilkenny Castle a volume of Irish history bound in stone, where 
an historic past is linked to a prosperous present : a brilliant and 
representative assemblage a famous pack, which has not suffered 
in Colonel Chaplin's hands, smart hunt servants, and pheno- 
menon of phenomena ! gorgeously fine weather to light up and 
glorify the panoply of purple and fine horses (fine linen, doubtless, 
too), which the occasion presented. Knockroe produced its fox, 
who ran a nice line to Tullaroane and back again, and once more 
to Tullaroane to ground. Killeen, too, was tenanted, and gave 
a sharp scurry. There were some casualties : Mr. Stannard, I 
hear, broke his arm ; Mr. Shine his horse's neck. 

On Thursday the Kildare hounds met at Bolton Hill, the 
extreme verge of their country and conterminous with Carlow, 
which usually helps to swell the assembly here. To-day the 
menace of frost and the splendid festivities of Kilkenny Castle 
made the ranks of pursuit extremely thin, Mr. B. Bagenal being 
nearly the single Carlow man present. Three foxes turned up 
in Hobartstown Gorse, one of which ran first towards Castle 
Dermot, then bent towards Sheriff's Hill, and led his field over 
a most intricate line to the hill of Mulla Crennan, through the 
plantations of Kilkea Castle, to be killed just outside, after fifty- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 327 

five minutes of good hunting, twenty-five at express pace. Sheriff's 
Hill furnished a second fox, who was lost at Corbally Hill; 
Spratstown a third, who after " backing and filling " between his 
own and Mat Conran's Gorse, ran fast to Ballintaggart Gorse, 
where night probably saved him. A very good day's sport for 
Fluellen's day, and I wish the 23rd Welsh Fusiliers (Colonel 
Mostyn's battalion) had seen it. 

Saturday, the Kildare hounds met a very fashionable assem- 
blage in Maynooth, to which historic and ecclesiastical and now 
academic town, I have before introduced my readers. A long 
special hunting train from Dublin, laden with horse-boxes, their 
owners and grooms, filled the main street of Maynooth with such 
an array of beauty, rank, and fashion, as the feudal old keep of 
the Geraldines has not overshadowed for many a day. Among 
the visitors were H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught and his equerry, 
Captain Maurice Fitzgerald, Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill 
and Lady Rosamond Churchill, Lady Wallscourt and Lady E. 
Stanhope, the Earl of Cork and Lady D. Boyle, Lord Clanmorris, 
Lieut. -Colonel Forster, Captain Beresford, Captain T. M'Calmont, 
Captain Kearney, Captain St. G. Colthurst, Captain Graves Sawle, 
Captain Crosbie, Captain Bagot, Captain Lascelles, Lord Ross- 
more, the Hon. L. White, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy and 
Miss Loyd, Colonel Fraser, V.C., Mr. Dunville, Mr. Rose, Captain 
and Lady Maria Fitzclarence, Lieut. -Colonel the Hon. C. W. 
Thesiger and Mrs. Thesiger, Captains O'Neal and Mills, Mr. 
Thompson and Mr. Ellis, of the Inniskillings ; Major Dent, Captains 
Brooks, Day, and other officers of the yth Dragoons ; Captain 
Hibberd and officers of the R.H.A., Royal Engineers, and Rifle 
Brigade; Lieut-Colonel Rich, R.E., Mr. Usher Roberts, and 
pursuers from Kildare, Meath, and I know not what other quarters, 
and it will be gathered that the meet was simply immense and 
overflowing. Sport was not in proportion a mere ha'p'orth of 
bread in an intolerable quantity of sack. Taghadoe was drawn 
blank; Cullen's Gorse was tenantless. Carton gave us a brace, 



328 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

one of whom was sent along through the park, over the wall, and 
then for about a mile and a half over a charming bit of vale 
watered by the Offalis, where the ladies specially Lady D. Boyle, 
Lady Rosamond Churchill, and Lady Randolph Churchill sent 
their hunters along over some very inviting singles with good will 
and the happiest results, till our fox re-entered the Duke of 
Leinster's and his own park, to be again hunted through its long 
length, hustled over the boundary wall, and killed in a somewhat 
sensational fashion by some old ruins. A magnificent fox ; Lady 
Rosamond Churchill possesses his brush. The Hon. Mrs. 
Barton's beautiful grey hunter gave her a very shaking fall, and 
a Pytchley man was turned over by wire "couchant," but not 
hurt. Castletown gave us no sport. Fearing to occupy too much 
space, I have only given an outline of the day. 

The Louth hounds were at Pepperstown Cross on Monday, 
and drew the coverts of Ardee House, Clonbracton, Churchtown, 
and Rathony, with the result of a find in each, a slow run, two foxes 
sent to ground, and several horses cut from the stones so prevalent 
in the banks here. The master had five thus wounded, though 
none were very seriously injured. 

On Friday, the 2nd, they were at the Naul, and a run which 
looked very promising from that cover ended abruptly in a sewer, 
overlooked till to-day. From Mullahone they had the same 
mischance, but Knockbrack gave them a fox, who went off by 
Walshestown, and then circled back, beating the pack by getting 
into a rabbit burrow: a very sharp gallop of twenty-three 
minutes over a beautiful country. The day in its afternoon hours 
was so persistently wet that no one asked for further draws. 

On Monday, Bective, on the Boyne, the hunting residence of 
Lieut. -Colonel Fraser, V.C., was the scene of one of the prettiest 
lawn meets I have witnessed for some time, perfect in all details, 
and most fashionably attended the Marquis of Waterford, Lord 
R. Churchill and the Ladies Randolph and Rosamond Churchill, 
Mr. and Mrs. Dunville, the Earl of Cork and Lady D. Boyle, 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 329 

Lady Stourton and party, General Herbert and party, Captain and 
the Hon. Mrs. Candy, the Earl of Howth, Lords Rossmore, 
Langford, and Listowel, Captain and Mrs. Chaine, Major and 
and the Hon. Mrs. Donaldson, Lieut. -Colonel Forster, Lieut- 
Colonel Johnson, and Captains Colthurst, Kearney, J. M'Calmont, 
Norris, and Beecher, A.D.C.'s, being among the visitors. The 
day was beautiful in its early hours, and the fox turned up 
opportunely in Churchtown, running to Philpotstown. Of the rest 
of the day I cannot speak now, having hurried off to see a meet 
of the Ward Union hounds at Culmullen cross-roads, which pro- 
duced two runs : the first, very promising and over a beautiful 
line, was spoilt by the inevitable colley pack ; the second was a 
very good one from Kilmore via Culmullen House. 

The latest interesting items of hunting news in Ireland, which 
I can only allude to here, are First, a capital hound run in the 
Queen's County on Monday last, when the pack met at Corbally, 
found there, and blinked the entire field and staff by slipping off 
on the far side of the thick hedgerow, running their fox to ground 
near Orchard, after a very fast seven miles over a good line; among 
the field out were Lord Egmont and Captain Hare, master of the 
Duhallow hounds. Secondly, a magnificent meet of the Ward 
Union hounds at Dunboyne, on Wednesday, the 7th, followed by 
a very fine ring over a charming country, which Lord Cork, the 
late Master of the Buck-hounds, saw right well. 



330 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 



XXII. 

' The backward crowd are still the first to chide ; 
For all can censure when but few can ride." 



Maynooth and its multitudes Bective beatitudes Mr. Murphy Long run 
from Dunmurry Dunboyne and the Ward Hounds. 

" THE everlasting hills ! " say, rather, the everlasting rills ! One 
day, or rather one morning, of snow, two of white and one of 
black frost, and there seemed a possibility of hunting being in the 
same parlous case in this Green Isle as our letters from the mid- 
land shires tell us of as depressing the spirits of pursuers in the 
land of the Saxon ; but Friday solved the problem for us in a 
deluge of rain, and by Saturday the familiar features of water in 
furrows, and small lacustrine systems over the vale, greeted the 
eye of survey in its early sweep of the horizon. A gloomy, 
penumbral, overcast morning it was ! the west seemed rain-laden. 
Soppy leathers and soaked tops seemed our inevitable portion. 
The Kildare hounds were due at Maynooth at 11.30 a.m. on 
Saturday, the 3rd instant. It was known or surmised that H.R.H. 
the Duke of Connaught was coming out to join them. Quelle 
pauvre chance for the hundreds bound to attend this great hunting 
function ! the legions of ladies, \ the cohorts of captains, the 
phalanx of pursuers from every corner of Ireland. Here my 
alliterates break down ; for, if my memory serves me aright, the 
gentlemen-at-arms who formed the famous phalanx were on foot, 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 331 

and cavalry was our order in Maynooth. Now dress plays no 
small part in a great hunting function such as to-day promised to 
be, and the pride of purple and the flash of Propert's properties 
suffer considerable diminution when exposed for hours to a dilu- 
vial downpour. As for ladies, I suppose, if the weather be in- 
ordinately bad, the -majority of them, at least those under 
chaperonage, will stay at home very wisely ; but if the day be 
simply chequered and ominous, I suppose the question matinale 
will be, is it the thick habit or the thin, the tall hat or the round, 
the covert coat brought or the covert coat left at home ? To-day 
it was evident at a glance that the important question had been 
put and answered in very different fashions. One or two well- 
known pursuers made the dirtiest weather of it, so far as the 
outer man was concerned ; some compromised ; not a few put 
their-faith up to "set fair," and dressed accordingly and they 
were right. By n a.m. every trace of gloom and inky skies had 
vanished ! The air was soft and velvety, a sun worthy of July was 
darting out warm rays all round, the perfume of the gorse blossom 
was abroad, crows were busy house-building; spring had burst 
upon us suddenly, in a fashion more like a Canadian latitude than 
our own ! Some twenty horse-boxes came down from Dublin 
alone : from Newbridge and the Curragh came a strong body of 
cavalry. Lord Howth had mounted Lord Cork on a very clever 
hunter, while Colonel Fraser had lent a very perfect chestnut, the 
winner of the Light-Weight Red-coat race in Meath last year, to his 
daughter, Lady D. Boyle. The Carton party was a large one. 
" The Castle " contributed well-nigh a score of lords, ladies, and 
ministering captains to the gay scene ; and, to sum up, the paral- 
lelogram formed by the ruins of the Fitzgerald fortresses on one 
side, the college of St. Patrick on the other, and some modern 
houses for the third and fourth, was choke-full of the rank and 
fashion of Ireland civil, military, and political. 

Mr. Mansfield was not long in setting his cavalcade in motion ; 
and, trotting for a mile or two, we turn into a lane-way, both deep 



332 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

in clay and mire, which leads to Taghadoe Gorse. The field out- 
side the gorse is of a consistency which Hendon might rival in 
squelchiness, but very few other places I wot of. Taghadoe is 
blank, as the trumpet proclaims, and we move on, in two or three 
columns, by different routes, to Cullen's Gorse, about a mile or 
more distant, with some interludes of jumping and tumbling of 
which I saw an illustration presently in a very dirty coat and a 
hat wrinkled like a top-boot of fifty years ago. Cullen's Gorse is 
approached by a sort of fosse road full of holes and inequalities ; 
and here I heard that the Hon. Mrs. Barton's grey hunter came 
down heavily, and dislocated her wrists or elbows : I did not see 
the accident myself. There is no fox on the premises, so fox- 
haunted in the early season. So we move back to Carton, the 
splendid park of the Dukes of Leinster, which yields a rich 
harvest of beauty of scenery and architecture to the eye as it 
wanders over the spacious reaches of wood and water, river, lake, 
still pool and foaming cascade, hill and dale, inclosed by a wall 
not much less than eight miles in circumference. Besides the 
woods, there is a small bit of gorse and fox covert on a sunny hill- 
slope over-hanging the river Rye, and here we found a brace of 
foxes at once the dog, one of the finest specimens of sleek, 
well-fed, well-grown foxhood that could be seen. Away he goes 
most obligingly, en evidence over the turf, setting the multitude into 
a gallop. His mask is pointed for Moygaddy, and it is on the 
cards that he will not stop till he has reached the Meath coverts 
of Mulhussey or Colistown. The wall I have alluded to is very 
high, and, though pierced by many gates, the gate in our path 
was by some oversight locked, and the key is not forthcoming. 
" Love laughs at locks," says the song ; so do fox-hunters too, and 
a key was soon found that gave an exit. Presently our fox, who 
has, owing to this delay, been left to his own devices, tries to steal 
back to the park, and is viewed in doing so from the road. The 
hounds are soon clapped on, and are carrying the line over some 
rich grass fields, through which flows the river or brook Offalis 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 333 

a small stream, but presenting few jumpable spots, dammed up 
in others, and altogether a watery barrier of some moment. How 
some fared I know not ; I heard of seven bathers in one part 
alone. The lot I had cast in with, led by a local pilot, Mr. Chap- 
man, found an easy ford, and got over nicely and drily ; then, 
after a flying fence or two, crossed the Dunboyne road, and pre- 
sently pulled up at the Leixlip gate of Carton, to find the fox had 
re-entered the park, run through his gorse, essayed another ven- 
ture into the country ; but the hot day and his high condition 
were against him, an old ruin looks most inviting, so he creeps in. 
Freeman and the first whip climb up and actually handle him, but 
he slips away, only to fall into the jaws of the pack. The brush 
is presented to Lady Rosamond Churchill. Who-whoop ! who- 
whoop ! There ought to be much joy among the hen-wives 
around ! Our next visit was to Castletown, but it produced no 
sport. A beautiful day, spent among scenes of great beauty, in 
pleasant company : who shall say that this, too, is not one of the 
pleasant sides of hunting cub-hunting, if you will a white-waist- 
coat day, if not a red-letter one ? Captain Saunders narrowly 
escaped an accident from concealed wire : as it was, it turned 
man and horse over, and left its mark on the saddle-tree ; but he 
was in the act of jumping into a road, so had very little or no 
"way on," hence the immunity ! Let me also state in all fairness 
that this side of Meath is hardly ever run over by fox-hounds, 
though of course it is liable to an inroad any day from the Meath 
coverts of Colistown and Mulhussey as well as from the Kildare 
side. Harriers, however, hunt all round here, and wire is nearly 
as dangerous with hare hounds as with their bigger brethren. 

Monday morning glistened with rime in its matutinal hours, 
your scribe and chronicler being about early, pricking down to 
Bective on the Boyne, to assist, if we must use the idiom of the 
Gaul, at a lawn meet at Colonel Eraser's residence. I know few 
rides which are likely to impress a stranger with a more vivid 
sense of the scope and quality of the best Irish hunting grounds. 



334 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

The native, from the habit of seeing the grassy panorama spread 
weekly, perhaps daily, before his eye, fails to realize its grandeur 
(in a hunting sense) ! but let him come from, say, the shires, and 
take this very ride of perhaps fourteen or fifteen English miles, 
and then let me hear his verdict. I recollect travelling over a 
portion of this country with the master of a crack pack of fox- 
hounds on the Navan line, and his remark to me, after a spell of 
gazing out of the window at the surrounding grasseries, was, 
" Why, one would think a fox should never be lost here ; " but 
foxes are lost here, as in other countries, and I do not pretend to 
arrogate for Meath superior scenting qualifications to other hunt- 
ing territories. Those best informed give the preference to several 
other districts less pleasing to the eye. What I do say is that a 
finer hunting perspective is gained here than in any land I wot of 
short of the Western prairies. Passing by Baytown Park, Vesing- 
ton, Rathbeggan, we come to J5afterstovm which really seems a 
misnomer, and that the true reading should be Butterstown for 
a land ready to overflow with milk and its compounds. Passing 
over one or two little elevations, called " hills " in this vale land, 
such as Piper's Hill and Cross Keys Hill, and leaving the Grange 
and Kilcarty to our left, neither of them wooded enough to detain 
a fox more than a few moments, we come to Kilmessan station. 
The train has just landed its freight, human and equine, and it 
is evident that Dublin means to contribute largely to the gay* 
gathering at BeCtive this forenoon. Pass we on now to the bridge 
over the Boyne, eagerly scanned by salmon fishers, glancing 
at Bective Abbey and its ivied cloisters ; a turn brings us in a 
minute or two to Colonel Eraser's pleasant hunting box, under the 
very windows of which the tawny flood of the Boyne water seems 
to be continually passing seawards. I said the day was fine and 
frosty, and towards eleven o'clock a cheerful sun lit up the firs and 
laurels, the cohorts of carriages, and the legions of led horses that 
had taken up, or were taking up, positions all over the grounds. 
Accustomed to very plethoric meets, this strikes me as exceeding 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 335 

ordinary limits, spite of Sandown and Croydon attractions, while 
the mere sight-seeing, pic-nicing, outing element is most con- 
spicuously absent. In the brief postscript I added to my last 
week's letter I mentioned, I think, the names of a good many of 
the principal visitors, including the Dublin Castle party, the aides- 
de-camp in waiting, and the aides out of waiting. The science 
of venerie and woodcraft was illustrated by such representatives 
as the Marquis of Waterford, the Earl of Howth for fox- 
hounds, the Earl of Cork for stag-hounds, Lord Rossmore for 
harriers. Colonel Fraser, the host, was quite the Marquis de 
Carabbas, as far as horses went, as his stable seemed to be requi- 
sitioned for all weights and all colours. Whose is that very neat 
corky grey that Lady D. Boyle seems so happy on? Colonel 
Eraser's. Whose is that lengthy blood like chestnut, Famous, that 
carries Lady Rosamond Churchill so easily? from the same 
stable, of course. How many he mounted besides Lord Water- 
ford and Lord Listowel I cannot now say, merely remarking that 
the man would be fastidious who would decline a mount on the 
clever old-fashioned grey that he rode himself. A bright, beauti- 
ful scene, with the pack in the foreground, shepherded by Goodall 
and his staff. Every one seemed to have kept picked horses 
for the festive occasion, or else the average in Meath must be 
unusually good for the time of year. Time would fail, and space 
forbid, my dwelling on even the most noticeable features on 
Captain P. Low's most perfect little equipage ; on the Hon. Mrs. 
Donaldson's badger-coloured Little Wonder ; on many horses of 
fashion and reputation ; of the many objets d'art in Bective to 
please the cultured eye ; of the objets gastronomiques to please a 
more imperative and clamorous sense ; of subtle essences and 
petits verres; of two quaint foxes the gardener had designed in 
red sand ; of the care the gallant colonel had shown for the 
hungry, thirsty crowd of pedestrians whom such a meet must 
attract. All this I must pass by, as the gay cavalcade is already 
in motion ; and, strangely enough, we are passing by the belts of 



336 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

woodlands near the Boyne, and are trotting on towards Navan, 
never pausing till we pull up at Churchtown, from which it will be 
recollected by your readers we had such a fine gallop a few weeks 
earlier in the season. A very small parallelogram of fir and gorse 
is Churchtown, and not many hundred yards from the road ; so 
that 'tis not surprising that, on a dry, cold, crisp morning like this, 
ringing hoofs and grinding wheels should have scared away any- 
thing but a very sleepy, surfeited, and lazy fox. The trumpet 
sounds, and we are going somewhere else, when somebody brings 
word that the tenant of Churchtown has been viewed stealing 
away a few minutes ago. The hounds are on his line in a few 
seconds, and tell us, in language not to be mistaken, that he is 
not long in front. Philpotstown is but a few fields distant, and 
thither they hunted him fast. Having made arrangements to join 
the Ward Union hounds at Culmullen cross-roads at 1.30 p.m., 
and, as there was an interval of nearly ten miles between the 
places, I was obliged to leave our fox at this interesting crisis to 
his fate, and, facing a fierce hailstorm, that possibly saved the 
fox's life, trot on to Culmullen, reaching it just in time for the 
enlargement of the first red deer a few fields below Culmullen 
House eastward. There is a beautiful grass valley on either the 
northern or the eastern side of the little dividing range on which 
stands Culmullen House. Our deer plunged down eastward, but, 
unfortunately, some colley dogs had determined not to wait for 
the onslaught of the pack " the regulars " so they chivied the 
unfortunate quarry from the post. A charming line, for about 
a mile and a half; the pace was very good, and sustained, till a 
boundary fence of unjumpable calibre seemed to turn the deer as 
well as her pursuers. Soon after this she ran past " the Hatchet " 
in view, turned back, made a short ring almost over her foil, and 
was taken safely at " the Hatchet." 

The next enlargement took place beyond Kilmore Parsonage, 
and was far happier, the deer crossing some heavy-going grass 
fields, rather widely dyked, and then running nearly up to Cul- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 337 

mullen House, where the field, who were getting the worst of it, 
had a turn in their favour. He then swept down the vale, and 
made Dunsany Park, where he was secured : fifty minutes very 
fast over a grassy line, no checks and no pauses. For further infor- 
mation I would recommend a consultation with Messrs. Hone and 
M'Gerr, who know all about it. I was amused at the remark of a 
rustic who had secured two loose horses, whose riders did not show. 
" Bedad, I can sell a horse now ! " They were a good-looking pair, 
and, spite of the evidence of a fall, would not have been a bad 
investment for a few ponies, I think, if the title would have stood. 

Apropos of good horses, it is gratifying to one's " guesses at 
horse truth " to find that Sultana and Abdallah, the two winners 
at Sandown last week, were honourably lauded in The Field on 
the occasion of a brief visit to Mr. Burton Persse's stables and 
kennels at Moyode Castle a few years ago ; but it requires no 
prophetic mantle to cast a good chasing horoscope for the progeny 
of the Arab Maid and Thomastown. 

The sequel to the "day's doings" in Meath (I mean the 
5th inst.) was a long desultory sort of run from the inexhaustible 
Rathmore the piece de resistance for Meath's M.F.H.'s by Tul- 
laghnogue, Meadstown, and Kilbride, neither straight nor fast, 
but, as I can say from experience, over a country abounding in 
fences of large proportion, almost the largest. Men thought them 
serious ; the ladies skimmed over them, I am told, with an aplomb 
all their own, the result of fine hands and great faith in their 
mounts a faith which was not impaired by catastrophes. I also 
heard that Mr. Trotter's pas seul (if I may use the term) over 
most repelling-looking timber deserved the reward of a lead of 
twenty-five minutes in the fastest burst of the season, which, 
however, did not come off. 

But the day must have been saddened to many, if not all, by 
a fearful accident which befel Mr. Murphy, of Braymount, a veteran 
sportsman, whose years had only brought him increase of friends. 
I did not see it, so can only report from description. He was 

z 



338 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

riding a three or four-year-old, who plunged or bucked, and 
unseated his rider by a gateway. With the instinct of an old 
sportsman, he held on to the reins when down, though begged to 
let them go, and his horse, probably thoroughly frightened, kicked 
him about the head and face till he was desperately wounded. 
Two hard-riding Saxons who were near (Captains Candy and 
Norris) did all that care could do till professional assistance 
arrived, and now, I hear, the doctors hope for the best. 

Kildare is a meet which most Kildare men hold in little love 
or esteem, and when it comes on the roster in due course some 
are apt to develope suddenly extraordinary business aptitudes, 
while others take the occasion of visiting a neighbouring pack, 
running up to town, or wiping off arrears of correspondence ; 
and yet it is never a blank day, or without three or four foxes 
turning up somewhere ; and when there are foxes and miles of 
almost uninterrupted light grass all around, a fine run is always 
possible. The desagremens of a Kildare meet are mainly the 
certainty of the presence of a crowd of pedigree horses, rather 
free of their hind legs, who are being " entered to fox-hounds," 
and perhaps "qualifying" for hunters' races. Then, though 
foxes abound, wild straggling gorse, clothing miles of hill ridge, 
abounds "more, and after a few days' experience the ascent and 
descent of these steep pitches become monstrously wearisome to 
man and horse. On the other hand, it may be pleaded that the 
four or five miles' gallop over the Curragh on the way to the meet 
is worth any journey ; that many masters in England and Scotland 
would rejoice greatly if the Dunmurry range and the neighbouring 
vale were added to their territory ; that, in fact, the despising of 
Kildare and its hunting possibilities is mere fastidiousness result- 
ing from a surfeit of good things ; that the presence of platers is 
a necessary evil, which may be turned to profitable account during 
the coming season ; and that one stiff bank or two or three hours' 
cub-hunting will weed the field of the entire company. As the 
bard said or sang 

" Non nostrum est tantas componere lites." 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 339 

Suffice it to say that on this particular occasion Kildare was very 
popular among soldiers and civilians, who swelled the numbers 
of the field to most unwonted proportions. Conspicuous among 
the former was Colonel Bray, of the 4th of the line, on his good 
Arab hunter, at the head of a number of his brother officers. 
The day began rather badly at Dr. Chaplin's Gorse on the south 
side of the Curragh ; it held a fox, and when he broke some 
impetuous men made a short cut through a viaduct, over which 
the metals of the Great Southern and Western line pass, headed 
him back into the jaws of the pack, and so lost their possible 
gallop. Two men, I hear, misjudging the height of this viaduct, 
got very nasty falls in passing through. The next move was to 
Dunmurry Hill, where four foxes were on foot together. One 
was hunted to the Green Hills and back twice, when he broke 
in the opposite direction, brushed by Dunmurry House (Mr. 
Medlicott's), by a hill known from its conformation as " the Chair 
of Kildare," then ran over a bit of swampy land, where much 
grief of the watery order followed, right up to Morristown Biller, 
Mr. Moses Taylor's residence, passed through his grounds, over 
the Newbridge racecourse, till I hear the hounds, hunting most 
perseveringly through small inclosures with waning and flickering 
scent, rolled him over at last. This was perhaps the longest run 
ever known from Dunmurry. To the lovers of recurring jumps, 
not too large, it was indeed a perfect treat in the way of riding. 
The Duhallow run with an outlying fox through Ballygiblin, and 
straight on to Roskeen, when he beat the pack to ground, is 
spoken of as a very fine pursuit, and fast. I forget the date, but 
it was on the day they met at Aughrim. 

I had written this paragraph from the data of a friend, who 
had to catch a train and was not able to see the finale. I have 
since ascertained from one who rode this long run from beginning 
to end, and saw everything, that after his tour over Pollardstown 
and Mr. Moses Taylor's lands, the fox tried some earths at the 
rectory of Morristown Biller, crossing the Great Southern and 



340 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Western line to do so. They were sealed ; so he recrossed the 
railway track in view, close by the Newbridge railway station, and, 
finding no haven or shelter near here, he boldly set out for the 
Hill of Allen, some four miles distant, which he reached in front 
of the pack scent, which had been of the lowest all day, dying 
away to nothing as a sleet storm came on. Those who saw the 
dog-pack at work over this long nine miles (Irish), or rather more, 
which took more than two hours to accomplish, laud the per- 
formance greatly. Ir was this same pack who, under better 
auspices, killed their fox handsomely last Friday week after the 
run of the season, and after some ten miles of pace, which told 
out every hunter in the field. 

On Tuesday the Meath hounds had what a Leicestershire man 
called a capital forty-six minutes from Bengerstown Gorse, one of 
their best strongholds of foxes. 

I sing the stag ! call him any opprobrious name you please 
calf, jackass, what you will. After the enormous levee in his 
honour to-day, I at least supposed to be a veracious chronicler, 
one who at any rate aims at veracity and accuracy, if he cannot 
at all times attain to it feel bound to speak of the Ward Union 
quarry with the respect due to the motor of the finest, most 
fashionable, and largest array I have yet witnessed in Ireland 
a gathering which Englishmen who were out looked upon with 
amazement, and which a pursuer from the shires whom I talked 
to on the subject thought a very magnificent display. I am not 
prepared to give you a catalogue of names, a list of the riders, or 
an enumeration of the rank and fashion that peopled the coaches, 
phaetons, T carts, and outside cars which are not quite extinct in 
our island as yet ; but I hardly fancy that since the time of 
Henry VI. (and that includes a long cycle) Dunboyne has ever 
been the theatre of so splendid an assembly as graced its some- 
what squalid market-place and fair green to-day. A resume of a 
few of the " proceres " is all I can attempt here, as, to begin with, 
I am sure my eye did not take in half the comers. Of the crowd 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 341 

I saw, I doubt whether I knew more than, or as much as, two- 
thirds ; and, of these two-thirds, it would require a more faithful 
memory than mine to give a list at all approaching accuracy. 

Ab Jove principium I Our Jupiter is H.R.H. Colonel the 
Duke of Connaught, mounted on Black Knight, and attended by 
Captain Maurice Fitzgerald, his equerry, and a number of the 
officers of his battalion of the Rifle Brigade, including Captains 
Lascelles and Bagot, Lord Clanmorris, and Mr. Wade Prosser. 

The Castle party were expected, but something a Drawing- 
Room imminent, I believe prevented their attendance. The 
Staff, including Captains Kearney, Norris, Colthurst, Graves Sawle, 
Michel, Crosbie, etc., were out Mr. Morrogh, looking none the 
worse for his leg so recently smashed, was out on wheels, and so 
was Mrs. Morrogh and party. Eight coaches, fairly and darkly 
freighted, made one think we had jumped into May and the 
Magazine ; but one look at the thatched cottages, not to speak of 
a " dunderin', thunderin', rantin' " blast, laden with hail and sleet, 
brought me back to March and Dunboyne. Among these drags 
were Mr. O'Reilly's, Mr. Turbitt's, the Inniskillings', the 3rd 
Dragoon Guards', Captain Saunders's, Sir J. Power's, Mr. Close's. 
Among the visitors were Lords Cork, Listowel, Langford, Clon- 
curry, Maurice Fitzgerald, and Rossmore ; Captain and the Hon. 
Mrs. Candy, Captain Tuthill, Miss Tuthill, and Miss Tynte, 
Captain and Mrs. Chaine, Mr. and Mrs. Dunville, Mr. and Mrs. 
Rose, Lieut. -Colonel Forster, Lieut-Colonel Fraser, V.C., Mr. 
Trotter, Captain P. Low, the Messrs. Hone, Mr. Chadwick, Mr. 
Murphy, Sir J. Barrington, Captains Ward Bennett, Heaviside, 
and Mills ; and Messrs. Ellis and Thompson, of the Inniskillings ; 
Captain Parke, Mr. Massy Dawson, and officers of the 3rd 
Dragoon Guards; Lieut. -Colonel Sarsfield Green, R.H. A.; Captain 
Saunders, Mr. Waldron, and officers of the R.H.A. and 7th 
Fusiliers ; Captain P. Butler, Mr. M'Farlane, Mrs. Maxwell and 
Miss Hamilton, Mr. and Miss Hussey, Mr. and Miss Coleridge, Mr. 
and Mrs. Jameson, Captain Saunders, and Dr. Swan. How many 



342 HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 

hundreds (or thousands?) were assembled cannot be now told. 
My groom, a west-countryman, says he thinks he has seen as large 
gatherings in the Duke of Beaufort's country, when perhaps 
Gloucester, Bristol, Cheltenham, and Bath swelled a single meet ; 
and for my own part I have lively recollection of a huge gathering 
at Badminton on an occasion when his Grace of Beaufort wished 
to have a quiet by-day for his guest the Prince of Wales, but which 
swelled into something enormous by luncheon-time. Lord Cork, 
whose recollection must embrace some very large assemblies at 
Maidenhead thickets and in the Harrow country, told me he 
thought the crowd compared in numbers with those he recol- 
lected when Master of the Buck-hounds ; but in point of horseflesh 
he decidedly gave the palm to the Ward gathering. There was 
hardly a horse out that was not a hunter of some calibre, light, 
medium, or heavy ; hardly a man was riding who did not mean to 
see some of the fun which, judged by the carriages, looked like 
an early rehearsal of the Derby if he could not compass the 
whole. I should have stated that the meet was originally printed 
on the card for Norman's Grove ; but Dunboyne was selected, I 
suppose on account of its stable accommodation and greater 
capability of holding the aggregation of carriages and horses ; 
fortunately, perhaps, for greater numbers were not desirable by 
any means. The assizes are going on now in Ireland, while 
Croydon has drawn off not a few of our regular hunting men. 
But we are at last in motion, leaving Dunboyne behind, crossing 
the Navan line, and in half a mile or so we turn into a green field, 
where the mixed multitude of red and darker colours take their 
places, for in a minute or two the pack will be laid on. Just now 
they are very quiet in a corner of the field by Charley and Jem 
Brindley's horses, a pair of greys Charley's being the celebrated 
grey huntress of six or seven seasons, fresh as a four-year-old and 
blooming in condition. Away they go, with a crash of melody, 
while in a few seconds we are partially jammed in an opening in 
a quickset hedge large enough for several carts, or the coaches and 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 343 

six which drive through Acts of Parliament, but not for this crowd 
a field can be easily lost here. I think I lost more. There is 
a magnificent prospect before us green fields, no woods or 
plantations all open, undulating country ! Nothing big has been 
jumped yet. Presently we come to the brook I think the 
Pinkeen Brook known here as the Caulstown River, margined by 
a slight bank with a considerable drop on the far side. A number 
have got safely over, for I see them a field ahead, and going fast. 
I believe C. Brindley, Lord Langford, and a host more got down, 
or well-nigh down, at it. My immediate predecessor, a south- 
country lord, is on his back grasping the reins, but happily on the 
right side. I hardly know him indeed, I haven't the honour at 
all but an introduction is not necessary in these struggles ; so, 
landing safely, I hope he ain't hurt. "Not the least, but my horse 
can't jump one bit." It was a widish experience, and perhaps 
his hunter was more used to banks and walls in the land of his 
practice. On we go. It would be uninteresting and mere sur- 
plusage to tell the townlands we pass by and through. We have 
galloped by two farmsteads, and already some of us have strange 
phenomenon ! picked our way over a bit of plough. The Fairy 
House grand stand is a landmark to our right, and now we cross 
the road over which so many thousands will probably be travelling 
to the Ward Union races next Easter Monday. There is a slight 
dwell here, and hunting slackens for a field or two as we pass 
Porterstown Farm. Presently I see a collision at a deep ditch, 
in which Mr. Murphy, of the Phcenix Park, who was going well 
up to this, is an undeserving victim to weight and the vis major 
not drowned, however, for I see his head, caput extulit undis, 
appearing on the bank and able to tell of his knock-down. The 
place in this fence thus blocked, Colonel Forster happily lights on 
another, and leads us over gaily on his very hunting-like and clever 
grey mare. We have left Ratoath behind ; hounds are sailing 
over wide green fields ; fences, if large, are not intricate, and now 
we come to a road with a narrow cut leading into it, when I see 



344 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

my immediate predecessor, or the flash of his boots, in the air, his 
horse's head gently pillowed on the far bank, the body seemingly 
in the water. Over the road, over two or three very large fields, 
and one biggish brook if the right place was not hit. I see some 
trees to the right, which I think belong to Lagore; some wide and 
rather steep fences meet us here, and require considerable energy, 
for we have been going nearly thirty minutes over this big country. 
I see a very heavy man Mr. Meldon, brother to the M.P. for 
Kildare taking them straight and well on a powerful chestnut still 
full of go. But now we are at Dunshaughlin Poor-house, well known 
to fox-hunting Meath. 

The tide of hunting slackens again a little, as our quarry 
has crossed the road five minutes in front, as we hear from a 
rustic on a bank. And now the hounds are running once more, 
leading us over that very bit of country which was the track of 
the long-winded, stout fox, the hero of the great Dunshaughlin 
run a few months ago (I wish I could write weeks], over the very 
same big, safe, but very large double, which a loose horse does in 
grand style beside or in front of me. A great sedgy wide-topped 
bank. I believe a fox was lying basking on it, for Mr. Meldon 
presently views one away, and the hounds notice him too for a 
bit, faltering in their discrimination of odours. Then we work on 
into a small clump of trees, protected by a deep ditch, and a bit 
of quickset, which requires jumping; and here the Duke of 
Connaught's good black horse came down, after carrying his 
rider right well up to this point. Now we are on the verge of that 
campo abominato (so far as fences are concerned), the Bush Farm ; 
some few enter it, the majority keep outside of it in a bight of 
land between the well-wired brook which protects this farm and 
the Navan line of rails ; hounds race on. At one time it looks as 
if they would cross the metals, and a gate is handy here ; but no ! 
they turn provokingly to the left, and we are on the wrong side of 
brook and wire a fair number who have persevered to this point 
of a chase which has well-nigh run out the sands of a full hour- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 345 

glass. The wire looks menacing, and the brook is of uncertain 
depth and bottom. In two places where cattle have gone to drink 
in summer the passes are barricaded up with solid trees, morticed, 
so to speak, into the adjacent banks. In vain to pull at them 
they are solid as the Monument. Lots of volunteers get into the 
stream and 'tis something to learn that 'tis not deep, and that the 
bottom is not boggy. Lord Cloncurry, wading in valiantly, pulls 
down one section of wire for us ; but horses, perhaps rather jaded, 
instead of jumping at or on the far bank, are fain to jump in and 
stay there so this place is choked up. Lower down, where this 
bight of land ends, I hear Lord Rossmore galloped down, put his 
horse into the stream, and cleared the solid timber fully four feet, 
I think, or more, judging from horseback, and got away in grand 
style. No one else was able to follow him, and I hope he caught 
the hounds for his own and his hunter's gallantry. Meantime we 
discovered a half-jumping, half-scrambling pass, and so we got 
clear. After galloping over a couple of fields, we land on the 
Dunboyne road near Woodpark, and learn that our quarry has 
run the road for a bit, and most opportunely for some who had 
long since given up pursuit and were wending their way home- 
wards. The remainder of the run was principally road work, and 
I believe the chase extended beyond Kilrue, so that to-day's deer, 
if none the worse for his exertions in getting over some fourteen 
or fifteen miles of country and road, may be expected ere the 
season closes to stretch many a good hunter, and call on his 
stamina and staying powers to their utmost limits of tension. I 
see the Dublin dailies, or rather the leading one, make the run not 
only a very fine one, which it was, and over a superb country ; 
but a very tornado for speed, which it was not. Hounds ran 
merrily over a county which ought, if we dare predicate anything 
about so uncertain and unknown an element, to be a superb 
scenting line ; but hounds, this notwithstanding, dwelt three or 
four times two of them, 'tis true, were at roads and the mere 
fact that four or five heavy men who started indifferently caught 



346 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

the pack by fair riding, and stayed with them, tells its own tale. 
Therefore, in one respect I agree with the verdict that, " as to the 
hunt itself, no finer one ever has been since that memorable one, 
some five years ago, when Lord Spencer took his English tenantry 
across, paying their expenses, and supplying them with drags and 
lunch at Dunboyne." As a chase, I have seen many with this 
pack that, in the criteria or elements which make up a fine run, 
rank in every way higher. Several ladies rode parts of the run, 
and rode right well. The roan horse so conspicuous on " the 
Hatchet" day in Meath went as well to-day for several miles. 
Another lady on a grey, going in her usual style of brilliancy and 
directness, met with a misadventure at a bank ; but the grey that 
stayed on jumping beautifully all through, carried Miss Hussey, 
and I should think to that lady's thorough satisfaction. Lord 
Cork, who was riding a good bay, a hunter of Lord Howth's, saw 
the run admirably, and was pleased, as the most fastidious must 
have been, with his Ward Union experience. Pity it was, perhaps, 
that the Drawing-Room at the Castle prevented several ladies 
from " assisting" at the gathering. For my own part, holding that 
a perfect horsewoman of the right calibre, when well mounted, is 
a beautiful sight as she skims over the country, I maintain that 
Lady D. Boyle's absence from Dunboyne to-day marred the 
symmetry of our play of our opera, shorn, as it was r of a prima 
donna assoluta. 

On the same day much about the same hour Mr. George 
Brooke's harriers were discoursing beautiful music in the undula- 
ting pastures round Hortlands and Newtown, and the flatter lands 
near Donadea. It is no small praise, no little tribute of incense 
to their owner and master, to record that one or two of the hardest- 
riding men in the community elected this pack in preference to 
the Ward Union hounds, when both were equally accessible. Such 
is the fact, however, and their enterprise and contempt of rank, 
fashion, and numbers were duly rewarded. 

If time allows me, I will certainly pay an early visit* to the 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 347 

neighbourhood of the Bush Farm, to take the true dimensions of 
the timber jump which Lord Rossmore's black hunter carried him 
over yesterday, including the water and slush (if any) at the 
bottom. This horse had made himself a splendid reputation in 
the hands of his late owner, Mr. M'Gerr; but few things attest a 
big heart more thoroughly than facing a solid barrier of wood, out 
of water, after a run of eight or nine miles. Glancing at the 
obstacle from horseback, I may have over-estimated the height, 
but I hardly think so. 

The Meath hounds had a very large " Drawing-Room " or 
" Castle " meet at Woodlands, on Friday, the brilliancy of which 
was somewhat chequered by a dubious and damp morning. How- 
ever, as it was, there was a goodly gathering of rank, fashion, and 
numbers. No sport resulted till Kilrue was reached late in the 
evening, when a fox broke away in sporting style, never hanging 
for an instant, and gave the diminished field a very brilliant fast 
gallop almost to Oldtown, coastways five miles I should think, 
perhaps more done very fast, specially the early stage. 

In sending off an account of last Wednesday's proceedings 
with the Ward Union hounds, I omitted to mention a number of 
particulars and incidents, fearing to overcrowd your columns. So 
the brilliant cannon made on Charley Brindley and his grey mare 
by an impetuous, unrestrained horse and horseman, which lodged 
him in the pocket of a deepish brook, and the untimely fate. of a 
promising steeplechase mare, the property of a noble and popular 
lord, were unsaid and unsung. The sequel of the latter contretemps 
deserves a passing allusion. She was ridden by Clarke, the trainer, 
a most careful, judicious man, and his lordship's answer to a letter 
from him, full of sorrow for the accident, was characteristic : " If 
you are not hurt, Clarke, I'm rather glad than otherwise, and 
should not grieve much if a similar fate befel two others in training 
for chasing/' by which I gather that the peer has trained off racing 
and chasing the theory and science of which he thoroughly under- 
stands. I should also have stated that the deer of Wednesday was 
a celebrity Enfield. 



348 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



XXIII. 

" 'Mid lowering skies, o'ercast and tinged with red, 
Sol, slowly rising, quits his ocean bed." 



Woodlands lawn, meet at Kilrue Bellinter harriers Dunshaughlin Reisk 
Gorse Mr. Preston's stables and pack Louth. 

EARLY rising must be an admirable discipline, seeing it is so full 
of mortification, not only to the flesh, but also to the spirit. I 
have ceased to wonder that those happy few who have attained to 
these pinnacles of virtue and good habits, should wear a some- 
what Pharisaic air, and look down on the less gifted denizens of 
Sleepy Hollow and dear Dreamland ! Well may they enlarge the 
phylacteries of their admonitory prosings. They have the start of 
us. They have caught the early worm ! They may talk to us 
weaker vessels in a stern ex cathedra tone. It is always unfortunate, 
I think, that nature should not be propitious unto those who, 
lethargic by habit, temperament, and weakness of will, make 
occasionally a mighty spasmodic effort to shake off dull sloth, and 
so on. On Friday morning nature was not in a pleasant mood to 
commune with. There had been a continuation of what one may 
call the light flying frosts of the last week. Then succeeded an 
abortive snowstorm, which slided imperceptibly into sleet. And 
then, lastly, the genius of Ireland vindicated herself. Hibernia 
Plorans wailed much and long, and draped herself in a sable livery 
of inky clouds. Under these circumstances, many hundreds to 
whom a meet of the Meath hounds at Woodlands is a. jour f trie 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 349 

in their annual calendar, set out for the trysting-place. An itinerary, 
which I should think veracious, tells me the distance to Woodlands 
is about seven miles from Dublin, in a nor'-westerly direction if 
so, they are the briefest miles I ever travelled more like the 
French kilometer, to my thinking, than the drawling, never-ending 
mileage of this island, which I should think, Fin Ma Coul, or some 
giant of their days, invented for his own behoof. 

" Those Irish miles, those Irish miles, 
O how their slow-pac'd measure riles ! " 

Woodlands itself is approached by two routes from the metro- 
polis, the lower one winds in and out with the sinuous gliding 
Liffey, which it borders, and from it a capital view is obtained 
of a land flowing with strawberries and cream (in summer), the 
sunny slopes and terraces extending from the upper ground by the 
Phoenix Park, right down to the river's edge, or rather the road- 
side ; the other is more enjoyable if you are riding, for it leads all 
through the Phoenix Park grandest of all city parks; to which the 
Bois, the Central, the Prater, the Prado, the parks of Hyde or 
Regent are mere toys ; and here you can indulge your hunter or 
covert hack with a series of half-mile spins over short old turf, just 
now in the primest "going" condition, to which advantage you 
may add the fact that it seems considerably shorter. It was not 
my fate to approach Woodlands by either of these picturesque 
routes ; and coming suddenly into the park avenue from a country 
by-road, I confess I was surprised at the amazing vehicular pro- 
cession that was converging towards Lord Analh/s fine castellated 
mansion, which, besides its great intrinsic beauties, has a special 
interest to many a good sportsman and hard rider on either side 
the Channel, in that it is indentified with Colonel the Hon. 
Charles White, now, to the regret of many grievously ill and 
forced to seek health under southern skies (his nephew, the Hon. 
L. White is out to-day). The Earls of Carhampton once owned 
this splendid park, whose hanging woods, wilderness of gorse, 



350 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

lakes, and cascades, make it full of charming and most varied 
vistas of beauty. It was then called Luttrellstown, and there is 
a room in the castle in which 'tis said King John slept. Who 
lorded it over these broad lands prior to them, 'twere hard to trace 
now ; for the panorama of history shifted its scenes very quickly 
in this neighbourhood, and Roderick O'Connor, the last king of 
Ireland, and General Monk to come to later times were busy 
with their men of war about here. Tradition points to a flour mill 
under Woodlands as built on the site of one which went by the 
name of the Devil's Mill, as having been erected by Shitan in the 
dark hours of a single night. Whom have we here ? nay, rather 
whom have we not? The park of 700 acres seems peopled. Dublin 
is equitant and on wheels. I cannot attempt anything like even 
an outline of the company c'est plus fort que mot. Conspicuous, 
however, on the greensward was the viceregal brake, with its four 
stately brown horses and smart outriders. It held a large party of 
ladies, among whom were the Marchioness of Drogheda, Lady 
Powerscourt, Lady Dorothy Boyle, Lady Mildred Coke, and Lady 
May Coke. There were aides-de-camp in waiting and aides o\it of 
waiting. The Duke of Connaught did not show, but his equerry, 
Captain Fitzgerald, \vas here, and I think he had mounted Captain 
Crosbie. The Earl of Huntingdon has given himself a day's leave 
of absence, and is surveying the Meath bitches from the back of a 
very smart cob. Lord Rossmore has come from Culmullen ; 
Lord Langford from Summerhill ; General Seymour is here from 
the Curragh. The Inniskillings form a small field in themselves. 
Their colonel, the Hon. C. W. Thesiger, and the senior major, 
Billington, being both out ; Captain the Hon. T. Scott, Lord Clon- 
curry, Mr. Charles Hamilton, General and Miss Irwin, Mr. Bellany, 
Mr. Bayley, Mr. Love, Captain and Mrs. Davis, and several more 
hail from Kildare. The horse talent of the metropolis is represented 
by Messrs. M'Grane, Manly, M 'Donald, Hillier, Murphy Gavacan, 
and I know not how many besides; while Mr. Schawel, of Vienna, 
is ready for sport or business if so be his quick eye can see any- 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 351 

thing good enough for the kings and kaisers of his clientele. The 
Ward Union men are here in force, for they have no stag to chivy 
to-day, having had a most prosperous by-day near Navan yester- 
day, when Mr. Turbitt's drag-hounds and a few couple from Ash- 
bourne found a truant stag at Dunmoe, and hunted him hard for 
thirty-seven minutes, till he was fain to take refuge in Stakillan, 
where he fought fiercely before he yielded his liberty to Jem 
Brindley and his assistant ; nor should I forget the fourth estate 
and its representatives. 

" The ' special's ' eyev in a fine frenzy rolling, 

Doth glance from heav'n to earth, from earth to heav'n ; 

And, as imagination bodies forth 

The form of things unknown, the special's pen 

Turns them to copy, gives to airy nothings 

A local habitation and a name." 

The coverts of Woodlands are run through, but if their fox has 
not seen the list card, as some aver foxes do, he has heard the 
grinding of wheels for three-quarters of an hour, and the prancing 
of innumerable horsemen ; so he has vacated their haunts, and we 
too now pass on to Hollywood Rath, three or four miles distant 
often a sure find, to-day foxless, but not foodless or wineless. 
Here a fresh array of sportsmen turn up men whose experience 
told them they were not likely to have the run of the season from 
Woodlands. The day brightens, the air is warm and muggy, and 
altogether things look far more like hunting in comfort than 
a couple of hours ago. Ballymacarney is our next point of in- 
vestigation a splendid gorse, but requiring a great deal of 
drawing. The last time we were here " we made ante-chamber," 
as the Gauls say, to a most reluctant home-sick fox for an hour or 
so, who mocked us at last by emerging for a field or two, and 
then retiring to his fortress. That day the weather was fearful. 
To-day the waiting was very bearable, the air was so spring-like, 
and the hounds were so full of tongue in the gorse that every 
moment we expected the signal, and it does come at last a bank 



352 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

and ditch are jumped or crept up, and two fields are galloped over, 
when our fox is viewed stealing back. There are a good many 
footpeople between him and his gorse, and they do all they can to 
cut him off; but his point is made good notwithstanding, nor will 
he leave even after half an hour's more dusting through the thicket. 
His vixen has come back too, and here they mean to stay. Like 
MacMahon in the Malakoff, id je suis et fy reste was the watch- 
word of each, and they carried it out, wearing out our master's 
patience. Half an hour more sees a long train trotting along the 
well-known causeway to Kilrue Gorse, which is looked upon as 
a certain find ; nor did it either disappoint or detain us ten 
minutes. Away they flash in purple and white and black over the 
green fields towards Kilrue ruins long before the tail men (of 
whom I was one) get into the covert field. To gallop back over 
the causeway and cut in with them, if they turned to the right, 
seemed the wisest course. I tried it, with bad effect, my horse 
slipping on the greasy stones, and giving his rider and himself 
a wrench. The ruins are past by a select few now, but no sign of 
hounds or horsemen is visible. I see some footprints, so galloping 
on, jumping a few singles, at last I get near them in Fleenstown ; 
but I have gone too fast to put on an extra spurt here, and they 
seem going faster than I can now. Some larch-covered little 
knolls appear on the left hand ; will the fox try them ? How 
selfish it is, doubtless, to long for a check ; but how fervently we 
pray for one ! None, however, is forthcoming, and the Ashbourne 
road is now reached ; a small hedge and ditch leads out of it into 
a large grass field known as the Moated Field, down its length 
we gallop, jump into, or gate it into, a by-road, pass by the chapel 
of Donoughmore, follow Macadam's pathway for a few hundred 
yards, jump a stone-faced bank, to find ourselves in a valley 
through which flows a stream known as the Broad Meadow Water, 
which seems to have two or three branches. The first is wired, 
only the strands have been pulled down in a convenient spot, the 
next requires force, and causes delay, and now fording the brook 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 353 

we wind up a furzy glen, over which I watched stag-hounds hunting 
beautifully some six or seven weeks ago (the scene just looking 
like a fox-hunt) on to the table land ; above this there is a check 
of a few moments. This is Greenoge, very familiar to Ward 
Union men, and then fast and slow the line leads on to Fieldstown, 
and, I believe, close to Oldtown, where the pack were stopped, 
owing to the late hour and distance from the kennels. A stone- 
faced bank just at the end emptied one or two good saddles ; .but 
of this latter part I cannot profess to give any account, having 
stopped near the wired brook, finding my horse very lame ; nor 
did I see any of the run, save in a diminishing- perspective. I 
fancy, though not very long (five or six miles), it will be held 
a very good one, and I think the bit from Kilrue to Donoughmore 
Chapel, or even to the furzy glen, was brilliantly fast. Some 
fifteen or eighteen men alone stayed on to the close out of the 
vast number at the gathering point, among them the master, 
Mr. Dunville, Lords Rossmore and Langford, Mr. Trotter and 
Messrs. Butler, Chapman, Loyd, Rose, Bayley, Thunder, 
M'Donough, Captain P. Butler, and Mr. Kennedy. Curiously 
enough, the following day found some of our party pursuing 
a flying stag in much the same tract of country ; for, on Saturday, 
the icth inst, one of the most gloriously fine days we have been 
vouchsafed hitherto, the Ward Union hounds went forth from their 
kennels to meet a large throng of carriages, coaches, and riders 
by the ninth mile-stone on the Dublin road. When I say coaches, 
there were possibly two or three, but I can only speak from 
observation of one, that of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, which was 
pretty fairly filled ; but of riders there was a very large number. 
The programme of the day was to enlarge the deer (a red one) 
close by the kennels ; so we rode right through the yard at 
Ashbourne, and in the very next field the hounds started off at 
score, as if they were going to take us to the village of Bally- 
madun; but a sharp turn at right angles brought us to a road 
where there was a delaying fence ; across it, and over about a mile 

2 A 



354 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

or rather more of sound grass lancj, very irregularly fenced. Soon 
after this we gained a view near another road, the boundary fences 
of which had a depleting effect on our plethoric field ; and then 
we got into rather a nice bit of grass country, which for this year 
rode marvellously light and springy; now Oldtown village being 
passed on the left, a beautiful tract of light grass trends on 
seawards, Lambay Island rears its tall form out of the ocean right 
in front of you ; and to tell you of your whereabouts, supposing 
you are somewhat de payst, like myself, the white steam from 
a locomotive floats away on the thin air current, and this proves 
that we are on the verge of the northern line. At this point 
I retired from the fray, having the prospect of a very long ride 
homewards ; but I learnt next day that pursuit was carried on with 
unslackened vigour to a point near Balriggan, double the distance, 
and a good deal more than I had travelled myself, and that about 
twenty-five saw the finish right well, among whom was a Louth 
lady, whose steering in a very intricate country (to use mild 
language) elicited much praise from my informant. 

Friday was, I hear, very propitious to a small field of about 
thirty, who met the Bellinter harriers at Scurlockstoun, a place not 
far from Larracor, of fox-hunting and Diaconal celebrity. Fortu- 
nate in meeting a stout hare at once, a traveller possibly, they 
took him or her on by Miltown and Bragganstown to Kilcarty, 
thence into Dunsany Park by the Black Lodge, as 'tis called, and 
there a fresh hare interrupted the even tenor of the pursuit for 
a few minutes ; but the mistake was soon righted, and the 
bitches drove their quarry on to Batter John, and then to Kilteel, 
which place proved fatal to this good hare's powers of endurance. 

Few of hare pursuits have exceeded this run of Friday last in 
brilliancy this season or any other season. Those familiar with 
the country make this chase about eight miles, done in a little over 
the hour; and men whose experience ranges over many packs 
extol it as a very fine performance. On the map it measures well, 
and confirms the statements made about its distance. On the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 355 

whole it was a white-stone day, if not the very whitest in the acta 
of this beautiful pack. They had some more hunting in the 
evening, but not worthy of record. 

My programme for Monday, the i2th, was, I confess, an 
ambitious one, involving much travelling, and depending for its 
fulfilment on a happy combination of circumstances. 

The Meath hounds met at Bellinter ; a lawn meet, sure to be 
fashionably and numerously attended ; and where detaining in- 
fluences, in the shape of a self-imposed necessity of visiting a 
beautiful interior and possibly wandering on to the breakfast-room, 
promised at least a quarter of an hour's law. My wish and 
intention was to visit Bellinter early, spend some time in the 
kennels there, join the Meath hounds, and see the first page of its 
day's diary carried out in action ; then, cantering along some five 
miles of turf sidings, reach Gerrardstown Gate in time to cast my 
lot in with the Ward Union hounds, who were told off for that 
fixture at 1.30 p.m. The precise punctuality of the stag-hounds 
was the rock ahead, on which I feared my intentions were likely 
to founder. As it fortuned, I may say, like the Yankee young 
lady when asked how she liked a certain very grand concert, " I 
guess there was nary a hitch in the machinery." 

Beginning with the morning, nothing could well have been 
more discouraging. A gale, rain-laden, was blowing hard from the 
west, and the vestiary barometer certainly pointed to overalls, 
leggings, and a rough-and-tumble plough-country get-up. By 
7 a.m. things mended a bit, and faith in the shepherd's saw, "rain 
at 7, fine at n," was a flattering unction to cheer one on the long, 
straight, and somewhat dreary road between Dunboyne and Bel- 
linter ; which, however, if tradition be reliable, is rich in points of 
historical interest and illustration of the earlier annals of our island, 
civil and ecclesiastical. As our early friend and foe Horace says, 
Sed non nunc erit his locus. Bellinter has been happily reached, 
the kennels and stables there visited, of which we will hope to 
say something by-and-by. Just now the signs and tokens of a 



3$6 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

populous meet fill the eye and absorb our attention; a word or 
two of preliminary description will clear the way. Bellinter, Mr. 
Preston's residence, is a fine square stone building, with wide 
wings, entered by a rather long flight of handsome steps. I 
should think it dated from the era of the earlier Georges, and was 
the country seat of the Lords of Tara, whom Mr. Preston repre- 
sents. The views to the south and west embrace the Boyne and 
its valley, with Bective just opposite the breakfast-room windows. 
In front is a very spacious court-yard, and beyond it the level 
park, girt by a wide belt of old timber, while in its centre is a 
private racecourse marked out by white posts. Tara, of poetic 
fame, which Moore's threnody has made a household word to so 
many, rears its gentle elevation just beyond the park; while, 
fringing the Boyne, a little beyond Bellinter, are Ardsallagh and 
Dowdestown demesnes. The court-yard is now choke-full of 
carriages and led horses ; two strong currents are setting ' in 
opposite directions, one to the buffet and breakfast-room, the 
other outwards. Among the absentees for several weeks from 
the Meath hunting field was the Marquis of Headfort he is here 
to-day and so are Lords Howth and Langford, Lady Wallscourt 
and Lady E. Stanhope, Lieut. -Colonel Fraser, V.C., General 
Herbert and party, Lady Stourton and party, Mr. Trotter, Mr. 
Howard, Captains Kearney, M'Calmont, Smith, Davidson, Colt- 
hurst, and Lowe; the Messrs. Tiernan from Louth, and any 
number of Meath's sons and daughters, including Miss Waller, 
Mr. and Mrs. Garnett, Major and the Hon. Mrs. Donaldson, 
Major and Mrs. Johnson, Mr. and Miss Winter, Mr. and Mrs. 
Briscoe. The half of an hour I hoped for has been thinned to well- 
nigh thirty minutes, pleasantly spent I am sure by many and most 
of our assembly, for the day has changed for the better, and is now 
rainless and comparatively still. A fox is found in the woods 
near the Balsoon Gate very quickly ; he very considerately swings 
past the house of Bellinter and the Kennel Woods, giving the lady 
gallery a good view of the proceedings ; circles round to the 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 357 

Lismullen entrance, and, crossing some water meadows, re-entered 
Bellinter, and in his second exodus beat the pack out of scent 
near Killmessan station. Dowdestown was the second draw, and 
I left them approaching its confines having a very scanty margin 
of time left for my canter to Gerrardstown Gate. Before leaving 
Bellinter, let me record rather a smart riposte of a noble lord in 
the field to-day. There is a colony of peafowl at Bellinter, who 
seem to increase and multiply exceedingly, spite of the foxes in 
their vicinity. Bad tenants for villas and places on a small scale, 
they are beautiful as a garden in motion when they have ample 
scope and large buildings to set them off, as here. To-day I saw 
no peahens about, so I suppose they were better occupied ; but 
the peacocks were strutting about everywhere, and spreading their 
tails out like fans. A certain light cavalry captain, whom we look 
on as the glass of fashion and mirror of sartorial neatness, whose 
appointments are always faultless, whose horses are most work- 
manlike, suddenly rode into the stable-yard, and, like Japanese 
fans, outspread I know not how many peacocks' tails, to the 
confusion and terror of a handsome young horse he was riding. 

He had just finished his peacock story, when Lord cut in 

with, "They were jealous of you, P.! depend on't, they were 
jealous of you ! " Before setting off for Gerrardstown presently, 
I should mention that this pack had a capital hunting run yester- 
day from Balrath, two rings round the huge fields of the place, 
then a break into the country leading on towards Rathmore, then 
a turn into Allenstown, and a finish at the Hill of Faughan. 

A very liberal road is that leading from Lismullen (Sir J. 
Dillon's) Park to Gerrardstown Laurels fox-covert, with good 
sidings, on which you might almost train a chaser. Their pre- 
sence enabled me to be in ample time for the stag-hounds, with 
five minutes to the good to change horses and look about. A 
large meet it was, but almost exclusively of horsemen, for the 
carriage element was conspicuously absent. I shall not give a list 
even of the notables I can recollect, merely remarking that the 



358 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

3rd Dragoons and Inniskillings were in strong force, and that 
the hard-riding element was prevalent. In a few minutes we learn 
that our object to-day was to catch, if possible, a truant deer, who 
had been at large for many weeks and had wandered off from 
Moyglare to Kilbrew, where he was last seen. The deer cart 
was in attendance in case we missed the outlaw, so we may be 
said to have had two strings to our metaphorical bow. Pleasant 
paths through wide pastures led us to Kilbrew ; and we had just 
reached the rustic bridge which spans the brook by the stick 
covert and plantation, when Charley Brindley's quick eye caught 
a glimpse of our deer just outside the grove of trees. Hounds 
were clapped on at once. We have a mile or so of grass gallop- 
ing, without any special necessity for jumping, as there is, strange 
to say, a line of open gates for the entire distance. Then we get 
among inclosures. Hounds are running fast, and we are con- 
fronted soon by a very large bank and brook, which a steady, 
well-trained, and rather sticky horse would do far better and safer 
than a bold, high-couraged, flying hunter, for it seems too large to 
cover at a single spring. Presently I see Mr. M'Gerr on the far 
side of it, with the pack all round him. I fear his intrepidity was 
but ill rewarded, as I think the move only led to an even more 
difficult and bigger obstacle. We who decline to follow his lead, 
have the alternative of a quasi ravine, which cannot be jumped, 
and can only be descended by a sort of Toboggining process, 
with which horses in this country should and ought to be familiar, 
ere they can be termed " hunters." Jem Brindley gets over this 
chasm first ; some wait for their turn, others gallop round, to cut 
in presently. After a mile or two we are trotting through the 
main street of Dunshaughlin, our deer having skirted it to the 
left, crossing a bit of swampy land, not quite safe for riders, I 
fancy. Then we gallop across the lands of Newtown, cross the 
Navan line, and are streaming away, apparently bound for Piper's 
Hill ; when we find that our deer has turned to the right, run over 
the shoulder of Cultromer Hill (a very small elevation it is), and 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 359 

dipping into the valley, has crossed the by-road from Culmullen 
and Batterstown j thence it is about a mile or a mile and a half 
over an easy grassy line to " the Hatchet," where he turned sharp 
to the right, was pursued to Mulhussey, though not at express 
pace, and here, owing to some wrong information from a native, 
acted on by the staff, the clue was totally lost. It was, in my 
opinion, a very fine pursuit over a splendid line, the which, if a fox 
could be induced to travel twice in his lifetime in front of a pack, 
he ought to be made free of every hen-roost and pheasant-covert 
in the county. What prevented the last five or six miles of it 
being quite first-class was a fact which I only learnt the day after, 
namely, that two or three hard-riding men, whose experience ought 
to have made them more considerate to their fellows, and whose 
riding prowess requires no new proofs, having been temporarily 
thrown out by some mischance or other, met two couple or so of 
the hounds who were leading a long way ahead of the body of the 
pack, by a road or railway bridge (I forget which at the moment), 
and incontinently went away with them, to the detriment of our 
line, who were with the main body of the pack some fields in their 
rear. They took on their deer a mile or two further than the 
point where the pack threw up by Moyglare and the Police 
Barrack till " the Duke," whom I should have introduced 
formally to your readers before this, took to a stream and became 
thoroughly master of the situation. 

I learnt the day after that by my rapid spurt to Gerrardstown 
Gate, I had six to four the best of the fun, the Meath proceedings 
having been marked by mediocrity and tameness. Lismullen 
foxless to-day (for a wonder) ; Slator's Gorse tenanted 'tis true, 
but by a most domestic, nostalgic type of fox ; while the hunting 
from Walshe's Gorse, towards Somerville, backwards and forwards, 
though edifying to hound men, was not sufficiently animating to 
please a field so fastidious as the Meath. 

Vento rubet aurca Phoebe I This a certain gentleman rendered 
" Phoebe blushes for the wind." Very true and literal no doubt; 



360 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

hardly, however, explanatory of the poet's idea, which I take it 
was that when wind was imminent the golden orb of the moon 
became suffused with red ; for the present, however, the literal 
version will suit our meaning best, and we will hope that Phoebe, 
none other than Diana of the chase, has incarnadined her brows 
and bowed her classic head at the tumult of rushing winds and 
passionate gusts which have prevailed for many hours, with hardly 
an interval of pause or respite. There have been showers, but 
not heavy enough to lull the wind force, and 'tis needless to 
remark that the plague of winds has been most hostile to hunting 
(by the way, the New York Herald foretold it most accurately). 
On the morning of the i3th inst. the wind, which had been on 
the riot all night long, did not appear in the least subdued or 
worn out, but there was a black horizon all around, which looked 
as if rain would be our portion ere many hours, and rain of the 
heaviest kind. As the day wore on, however, the rain menace 
disappeared, blue became the ruling colour above, the sun shone 
out quite in strength at intervals, and but for that almost ceaseless 
leonine wind, we could have said many pleasant things about the 
day and its dispensations. 

The Meath hounds were announced as meeting at Dun- 
shaughlin on Tuesday, the i3th, a non-hunting Ward day. A 
state ball at the Castle on Monday night has in itself paved the 
way for a large accession to the ordinary Meath field, for the only 
rival is the Kildare meet at the flag-staff, Curragh Camp ; neither 
comparable in distance, convenience, country, nor surroundings, 
and moreover more dangerous (to hats at least) in such wind- 
storms as we are now experiencing. My Dunshaughlin expe- 
riences do not carry me back very many years; but certainly 
I never saw a smarter meet in the county than to-day's, and the 
lateness of the hour of drawing high noon enabled one to take 
leisurely surveys of the gala field. H.R.H. the Duke of Con- 
naught is to the fore with his equerry, Captain M. Fitzgerald, 
Captain Bagot, and officers of the Rifle Brigade. The 3rd 



HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 361 

Dragoon Guards send Captain Parke, Mr. Hartigan, Mr. Ward- 
rop, and Mr. Dundas, the latter none the less cheery though His 
Lordship did not win the International at Croydon, as many 
hoped; of the Inniskillings are Captains Bloomfield, Mills, Mr. 
Ellis, and others. There is what the Yankees call a "ring" of 
ladies, which term the pleasant gossiping author of " The Two 
Americas " explains by supposing that " 'tis because there is no 
end to them." From Louth, Dublin, and Meath do they muster, 
beautifully mounted for the most part, and faultlessly appointed ; 
among the district visitors or visitors to the district being Lady 
Macnaughten, the Hon. Mrs. Donaldson, Mrs. Osborne, the 
Misses Smith, the Misses Gradwell, Miss Coleridge, Mrs. Green- 
hill, Miss Hussey; Major-General Herbert is here with Captain 
Crosbie ; half the Dublin staff is in the field, and not a few Ward 
Union pursuers. Kildare contributes its quota. Lord Howth 
shows his loyalty to hunting by turning his back on his salmon 
fishing in the Blackwater and Boyne, where his keeper killed a 
35lb. fish yesterday or the day before (I forget which). Lord 
Rossmore has done his friends a kindness by giving convincing 
proof that he is still sound in wind, neck, and limb, though the 
two latter have been so frequently imperilled of late. Fair 
women, brave men, good horses; give us now but a resolute 
point-making fox in the Poor-house Gorse, and we shall be con- 
tent in spite of this tempest, which makes us keep our heads at 
a most unpleasant angle, lest a capful of wind should make us 
hatless for the day. While on the subject of hats, I may mention 
that a gentleman of the 3rd Dragoons showed a noble disregard 
to his headgear yesterday when hunting with the Ward Union 
hounds, for he lost his somewhere about the first large fence, and 
rode some eight or nine miles in the best style without it. To-day 
the most sensibly dressed head I saw was a young gentleman's, 
who wore one of those old-fashioned sort of travelling nightcaps 
which tie under the chin and cover the ears well. I suppose his 
hat had been blown to foreign parts early in the day. The 



362 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

Poor-house Gorse was soon vocal, but whether a dog or vixen 
was chopped there I cannot say. A few fields reached, fortunately 
by open gates, bring us to Lagore. We search its clumps of 
trees, but search in vain, so the body Venatic m.oves on in long 
file to the Reisk Gorse. Here the find was quick as a flash of 
thought ; the departure nearly as rapid. Green fields of large 
area ; open gates worthy of Saxondom ; a dip down into Kilbrew 
valley; a brook and jump if you haven't patience to go for a 
bridge ; three or four wide grass fields (on ground with the 
inclination dead against you) ; then you reach a road, cross it, 
and run parallel to it for a few fields ; then a return over the 
same grassy hill and valley, a wide-sunk fence to jump, or avoid 
if you can, and you are at the ruins of Kilbrew House, which, as 
the Yankees say, must have been " quite a place " in old times ; 
the offices are in semi-ruin, the old garden wall is in fair order. 
The hounds hunt up to the latter, and there all trace of our fox 
vanishes mysteriously, and no casting regains the clue. He must 
have lain down somewhere while the pack, who had been driving 
at tremendous pace, flashed over him ; for fifteen minutes hounds 
ran extremely fast, and scent seemed superb. The remainder of 
the day may be dismissed in a line or two. Corballis, Corbalton, 
Gerradstown, blank ; some larking and tumbling about, in which 
a noble peer was the choragus; an early dispersion trainwards 
and homewards. Much of the gossip I should say horse gossip 
of hunting fields is now about the imminent Red-coat races 
which loom in the nearer and remoter distances : remoter in 
Meath, where the friendly contest will come off towards the close 
of April ; nearer in Kildare, where the date is fixed for, I think, 
the 4th proximo. I understand H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught 
will be an actor in the latter, and I fully expect to see one, at 
least, of his hunters play a prominent part in the light-weight 
class. In addition to these prizes for hunters, who are still in 
possession of the attributes of soundness and freshness (not " the 
wild freshness of morning "), I understand that there will be a 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 363 

repetition on a better scale of the spring one-day meeting at the 
Maze, which gave so much pleasure last year to multitudes from 
Belfast and the surrounding district, combined or falling in with 
the Killultagh harrier Red-coat races. Lord Cole gives a valuable 
cup for genuine hunters carrying 1531. each, two miles on the 
flat; Lord E. Hill's generous patronage is directed to a lighter 
class of hunters. Altogether there seems every reasonable pro- 
spect of the hunting season of 1876-77 expiring brilliantly, and 
not waning into inanition. 

The capital invested annually in hunting in our islands now 
amounts to millions. I leave statisticians to squabble over the 
precise figures, as in such magnificent proportions a few thousands 
more or less does not matter much. My second postulate will 
be conceded freely, I fancy, by men of experience and common 
sense that is, that hunting over grass is the cream of sport for 
men, hounds, and horses. Hunting over ploughs and clays is in 
comparison but mudlarking an inferior pastime, slower and less 
spirit-stirring 

" As sunlight unto moonlight, or as water unto wine." 

It is far more expensive in the wear and tear of horseflesh, far 
more injurious to the farmer ! Having laid down these axiomatic 
platitudes, let me state that in a very short run in Meath on 
Monday with the fox-hounds my horse never trod a bit of plough, 
nor did he ever leave turf in the afternoon in a run of some eight 
or nine miles with the stag-hounds (half a mile or so of voluntary 
road work being excepted). During a long, desultory, bad day 
with the Meath fox-hounds (yesterday), relieved only by a twenty 
minutes' gallop of great pace and brilliancy, your scribe cannot 
recollect having been off turf for a moment, running or drawing. 
These are pregnant facts, and your readers may possibly find 
profit in their application. 

' ' Fill high the bowl with Samian wine ! 

(Bordeaux for choice) 
A land of plough shall ne'er be mine ! " 



364 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

Wednesday, the i5th, was ushered in with showers and wind, 
but the afternoon was beautifully clear, crisp, and enjoyable. 
Those who went, like myself, to meet the Ward Union hounds at 
Rathbeggan had their journey for nothing, as the pack did not 
meet, in consequence of the death of Mr. Maxwell, of Cruise Rath. 
Known personally to many of the readers of The Field, and, I 
believe, loved by as many as knew him a master of harriers 
within a few miles of such a metropolis as Dublin, where land is, 
of course, much enhanced in value for dairy and grazing purposes, 
his hounds were always welcomed with whatever field they brought. 
A number of friends recently presented Mr. Maxwell with his 
portrait, surrounded by a few couple of his favourite hounds, 
sitting on his most confidential hunter. 

Those who aver that Ireland is not a country where finish is 
appreciated, ought to visit the kennels and stables of Bellinter, a 
place to which I have already introduced your readers in this 
letter. Overlooking the Boyne valley, with drainage naturally 
good and perfected by care, the most fastidious might spend an 
hour or two here without finding out, save through the ear, the 
presence of twenty-five or thirty couple of hounds in their benches 
and lodgings close to him. A laurelled walk of a few hundred 
yards leads to them from the house, and two well-burnished 
brasses, with " Kennels " and " Letters " on a postern, arrest the 
eye at once. No need for whip or overcoat, as Suter, the hunts- 
man, draws each bitch ; she " suffers herself to be admired," then 
proceeds leisurely to the next lodgings, or outer court, to join the 
other objects of criticism. Mr. Preston has been years in getting 
this pack to its present high standard, and many of the smartest 
fox-hound kennels have sent him drafts after drafts of their smaller 
hounds (bitches), and these have been weeded and weeded till 
none but the best and fittest remained. Hence they are harriers 
by profession, but fox-hounds of the purest pedigree by race ; and 
so well have they entered to hare, that few packs in Ireland can 
show more trophies this season. Naturally their pace is very 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 365 

good, or men like Lords Howth and Rossmore, Captains Candy 
and Dundas, would not throw in their lot with them very 
beautiful singly, it is as a pack they should be seen ; so I will 
only remark that the Carlow and Island Brilliant of three seasons' 
experience, Bella of one, the White Rose, the Black Sociable, 
with Wistful and Priestess, struck me as gems. After a glance 
at the benches and their occupants, you will find a very comfort- 
able sitting or smoking room, writing materials, sporting prints, 
and no " compound of vile smells " to affect enjoyment. In Suter, 
Mr. Preston has a most able adjutant. The stables are full of 
hunters of the highest class and type blood, bone, shape, and 
performance being qualifications without which no horse enters 
these boxes, or, if an impostor finds his way there on false pre- 
tences, he is very soon eliminated. Grey is Mr. Preston's 
favourite colour, hence the fact that the boxes are full of greys, 
and that only a single bay catches the eye as you go round. A 
very singular-looking horse he is too, some seventeen hands high, 
with shoulders so far thrown back that the saddle space seems, 
if possible, too small ; once, however, you see him move, the 
perfection of the machinery is apparent, and a gallop on him is 
like rushing through the air in one of Howard's easy chairs. Snow 
Queen is conspicuous for her length, everywhere combined with 
power; her fired hocks do not impair her looks one bit. Star 
Shower is stronger and compacter, perhaps, and more suited for 
choice to a high-banked country. Lazy Larry saw service in the 
south among stone-faced banks, which left their marks on him ; he 
is a grand weight-carrier. One or two greys that Mr. Preston 
drafted recently are very high-class horses ; one of them, Fairy 
Queen, has raced very fairly, and will probably do so again. The 
stables, forming the left wing of the house, with their Titanic stone 
pillars and high vaulted roof, look as if they had been built by 
one of the Moguls for his white elephants, so solid are they and 
capacious. 

Defective earth-stopping spoilt promising sport in Louth. On 



3 66 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

the 6th they met at Collon, but the fox of the place got too good 
a start for the scent which prevailed. Skedog gave them a very 
good eighteen minutes by Shanliss and Drakistown to Curracon, 
where the fox went into a burrow. Digging produced a brace 
a dog and vixen, and a few precious moments were lost in putting 
the pack on to the former, who occupied them till nightfall. From 
Townley Hall they had a sharp twenty-two minutes to Rossine 
on the Qth ; a Louth fox was killed at once. Mellifont furnished 
a brace. They went away well with one over Louth Hill into 
Townley Hall and through the park, when he, too, got into a 
burrow. The Curraghmore hounds seem to have had another fine 
gallop from Rathgormack on the i3th, and a shorter one from 
Ballyneil in the afternoon. 

The Kildare hounds, after a week of very poor sport, had a 
capital run from Gingerstown Gorse on Tuesday, to which I must 
refer in my next. 

The Westmeath hounds, after a moderate morning, had a most 
animating and exciting gallop from Galston Park on Monday, the 
i Qth, particulars of which I must send you in my next. 

The Ward Union hounds had a capital second run on Patrick's 
evening from Ashbourne to the Naul, and a very pleasant circular 
gallop on Monday. Space prevents my enlarging on any of them 
here. 



HI BERN I A V EN ATI C A. 367 



XXIV. 

' ' Ah, how shall I in song declare, 
The riders who were foremost there ? 
A fit excuse how shall I find 
For every rider left behind ? " 



Trim and Trimlestown Mullingar meet Bellavilla Bill Ryan The 
dancing 6th. 

" THE third day comes a frost, a killing frost," says England's 
great Cardinal through the mouth of Shakespeare, and the words 
are apposite to our present situation here ! We have had a few 
light, beautiful days, too crisp and gaudy perhaps for hounds. 
The country has dried up with a rapidity perfectly marvellous, to 
the great joy of husbandmen. The. brimming rivers have shrunk 
back to their old bounds. Dry leathers and tops immaculate 
have rejoiced the hearts of valets; broader horizons have ex- 
panded to our view. The grass lands have cast off their slough 
of winter and autumn, and glittered once more in emerald hues. 
It almost seemed like a new heaven and a new earth inchoate, 
warm with the breath of Favonius, and vocal with the spring 
carolling of myriads of birds ; when a change a portentous 
change came over the face of nature. On Thursday late 
travellers were buffeted sorely by pitiless hailstorms. Then came 
a sharp frost, and at 7 a.m. on Friday snow was falling fast. The 
Meath hounds were proclaimed in Mr. Kelly's Hunting Calendar 
as due at Trim station on Friday, the i6th inst. Road or rail, 



368 HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 

which will you choose? Both are almost equally convenient. 
For my own part I chose the paths of Macadam and a good hack ; 
but then I was starting some nine or ten miles (Irish) on the Trim 
side of Dublin. The denizens and occupants of the gay capital 
naturally chose the latter, and a very large convoy set out from 
the Broadstone terminus about 9 a.m., setting down its load at 
Trim a little past n o'clock; and, as the distance is just about 
twenty-five miles, the shareholders of the line have no right, 
I think, to complain that their engineers take pattern by Jehu, 
and drive furiously or at a reckless pace. By the time I had 
hacked nearly half the distance, the snow ceased on the plains ; 
but in front the Cavan hills were well powdered, while behind the 
eastern barrier of mountains gleamed one white mass of ap- 
parently newly fallen snow. Presently the sun shines forth in 
strength, and " Hark, hark ! the lark at Heaven's gate sings." 
Bleating lambs, flushes of primroses, blossoming gorses, caucuses 
of crows, an odd sower going forth to sow these and a 
thousand other things tend to remind us that Spring is upon us ; 
that the pastime of princes will soon be suspended by natural 
causes. Be carpe diem our motto now, or we shall regret, with 
the unavailing regret of vacillators, our lost opportunities. We 
are now in Trim, under the shadow of its feudal fortresses, yet 
reminded by an air of pervasive comfort and bien-ttre that the 
Trimmers (I don't know what other title to give them) are not 
content to live in a storied past, but have due regard for present 
comfort and prosperity. The aspect of one or two of the peopled 
streets shows us that a great many are like-minded with ourselves 
as to seizing every hunting opportunity that presents itself. The 
flash of purple lights up the vistas, and beauty equitant and 
beauty charioteering are gladdening the ancient city. Whom 
have we here ? Heading the squadron of arrivals from the station 
comes his Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, mounted on 
a clever-looking bay horse, who, I believe, won first-class honours 
in the southern show-yard at Cork. His equerry, Captain Maurice 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 369 

Fitzgerald, rides the " Kearsley roan," who has proved himself at 
home in all parts of Ireland. Next comes the Marquis of 
Ormonde from Kilkenny, though, I fancy, not further than from 
Dublin this morning ; he is riding a very symmetrical grey belong- 
ing to H.R.H., who distinguished himself last year by winning 
the Carlow Red-coat race for his then owner, Sir Clement Wolseley, 
in hollow style. He does not belie his ancestry, paternal or 
maternal ; the latter Arabian, the former derived through Lord 
of the Isles. Here is Lord Randolph Churchill ; while Lady 
Rosamond Churchill is again mounted on Colonel Eraser's chest- 
nut winner, Famous, and another lady steers his grey cup winner. 
Here is Colonel Eraser's yellow brake and most serviceable team, 
with the well-known roan wheelers, well handled among those tor- 
tuous streets by Capt. Chaine, late of the loth Hussars. Of course 
it is full ; so is Lord Howth's carriage, which comes in view now. 
Mrs. Dunville's pair of brown horses represent perpetual motion, 
for they seem to follow the hounds everywhere, and to thrive on 
excitement. Lord Clanmorris and his sister, the Hon. Miss 
Bingham, are riding two charming chestnuts. Lord Rossmore 
is on one of the same colour, of rare power and type. Captain 
Colthurst follows colour with a smart mare that has paid her way, 
racing very handsomely. Mr. Hone rides a brown mare that 
I hear the foreigners covet greatly, and I admire their good 
judgment Captain Beecher rides a handsome son of William the 
Conqueror's. Captain O'Neal is riding Jonah, one of the neatest 
sons of Outcast to be seen, a large winner between flags, and a 
very perfect light-weight hunter. Mrs. Hanley rides a very fine 
bay horse. The Messrs. Carew (three) are always admirably 
mounted, and so is Mr. Brown, of Elm Grove, and Mr. Rose, 
from Limerick. Captain Chaine rides Regalia, a very handsome 
chestnut from Colonel Eraser's stable. I have mentioned a few 
celebrities among horses and their riders to give an idea of the 
character of the meet, which, though a large one, was not by any 
means a monster one, or over populous. Meath mustered strong 

2 B 



370 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A, 

there; so did the Dublin Garrison, represented by the 3rd 
Dragoon Guards, the Inniskillings, and the Rifle Brigade; while 
Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Westmeath, Kildare, and I know 
not how many more counties took part in the fray. The hands 
of the town clock were nearing their junction at noon when we 
set forth, bound for Moneymore Gorse, to which I have before 
introduced your readers ; full then it was empty now. So, 
passing through a gentleman's grounds (Riverstown by name, on 
the slope down to the Boyne Water), we come to New Haggard 
Gorse, a small, thick parallelogram, where a fox has harboured 
for two seasons, and has baffled the pack hitherto, never having 
given the semblance of a run. To-day was his first and last but 
I anticipate events. Carefully drawn by Goodall, and with much 
energy, the fox breaks away ; but a fisherman is a lion in his path, 
so he retraces his steps, and it looks as if New Haggard Gorse 
was doomed to be non-productive of sport. However, in five 
minutes he is tallied away in a line parallel to the banks of the 
river, towards Mr. Odlam's large mills. Scent seems much livelier 
than might have been expected, and our fox has -to run a couple 
of circles pretty sharp before he crosses the Boyne, which is deep 
here, I understand, and unfordable. The nearest bridge is at 
Trim, a mile or two distant ; but there is no help for it, so we 
trot round very quickly. When the pack, however, are laid on 
the fox's line, they can make nothing of it barely owning it at 
all. A knowledge of the country makes it pretty clear that he 
has gone on to Trimlestown Gorse, and thither we go too, but by a 
rather roundabout pathway. The hounds have no sooner touched 
this fine covert than they are racing away. The tail men were 
a long way in their rear, probably knowing nothing of the in- 
stantaneous find and as rapid departure. A dwell for a minute 
or two at a big double fence a few fields from the gorse, helps 
them ever so little. Over the double it is, and then away at best 
pace across a road. Who-whoop ! who-whoop ! they have rolled 
him over by a telegraph post I know not on what townland, nor 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 371 

does it signify ; for Trim is very near, and there is the Trim and 
Athboy branch line of railway in front to mark the topography. 
A very sharp burst over a charming line ; it only wanted distance 
to lend it enchantment. A second visit, and Trimlestown pro- 
duced a second fox, who broke in an opposite direction, as if for 
Clifton Lodge; but he was lost in a few fields, which a heavy 
snowstorm of upwards of an hour's duration may account for. 
"Through the hush'd air the whitening shower descends." 

Patrick's Day in the morning generally becomes St. Silenus's 
Night, just as the ballad we recollect in " Don Juan " tells us that 
" Amundeville may be lord by day, but the friar is lord at night." 
However, one very pleasant phase of the celebration of Ireland's 
and more especially Heath's patron saint was a meet of the Ward 
Union hounds at "the Ward." I expected a very plethoric 
affair, but was agreeably surprised by finding only a manageable 
field gathered together, the Kildare hounds at Rathcoole having 
naturally depleted a good deal of the exuberant numbers whom 
the calendar devotes to idleness and enjoyment this day. 

The proceedings began by trotting a mile or two in the 
Ashbourne direction, then turning into a farm to the left hand, 
where the enlargement had taken place. Our deer's strong point 
was speed, not directness. After a short ng she set her face for 
Fleenstown ; then turned round, leaving Kilrue to the right hand, 
jumped the Dardistown Brook, brushed through some wooded 
knolls part of Kilbride lands, I believe crossed a by-road, and 
ran up over a nice bit of flat grass to Hollywood Rath, soon to 
be captured at Dunmickney. The pace, after the preliminary 
ring, was very good indeed. A second red deer was presently 
enlarged by the kennels at Ashbourne, and took us at fair pace 
nearly to Ballymadun village, crossed the road leading to the 
Naul, and touched on Garristown Hill ; then, bearing to the 
right, he made his point as straight as a good fox by Herberts- 
town to Westown, where he committed, I hear, a quasi felo de se 



372 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

by entangling his tines in a mill wheel, and there awaited capture 
and the cart. Having ridden the first part of the run, let me 
speak of that section with a grateful memory. I hear the second 
part was even more brilliant ; by all accounts, Lord Rossmore saw 
it as well as anybody out 

On Monday the Westmeath executive invited all and singular 
to meet the county pack at the barracks of Mullingar, the nearest 
approach to a lawn meet in the vicinity of this midland capital. 
Seeing that no Marquis of Mullingar inhabits a feudal keep over- 
looking the good town in true baronial fashion, and that the lord 
of the soil, Lord Greville, lives at a distance of several miles, 
Mullingar accommodates itself wonderfully to the fitness of things 
venatic. Like Rome in this respect, if in no other, it is ap- 
proached by many roads paths of iron and paths of Macadam. 
Passengers from the west, from Gal way, Longford, Athlone, 
Moate, the King's County, from Cavan, Sligo, Leitrim, Ros- 
common, from Dublin, Meath, the Queen's County, and Kildare, 
find themselves injected more or less simultaneously, at or about 
1 1 o'clock a.m. on the platform of the busy station, and from the 
station to the barracks is but a five minutes' drive in one of the 
many cars ready to compete tumultuously for your patronage. 
I do not speak from, authority, but I am inclined to think that 
if the slowly revolving wheels of the Midland carriages were 
tardier and more stately in their revolutions on one of these 
hunting festivities at Mullingar, a latitude of fifteen or twenty 
minutes would be accorded to the belated, seeing that time would 
not hang very heavily in a well-found mess-room, such as that of 
the ist Royals, now quartered at Mullingar, who have entered 
well to Westmeath and its many-sided sports, and welcome the 
habitues and casual sportsmen with true soldierly heartiness. On 
the present occasion I am bound to speak with respect of the 
exemplary punctuality of the Midland line ; it enabled me to take 
a short drive into the good old town, which, though by no means 
beautiful or picturesque in situation or architecture, yet wears an 



HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 373 

air of solid bicn-ttre and wealth that many more pretentious cities 
might envy. Its banks tell of wealth and commercial enterprise ; 
its handsome ecclesiastical buildings tell of the due appropriation 
of the harvest of commerce and agriculture ; its shops are 
wonderfully good. Gordon's Ulsters (ought they not to be 
Leinsters ?) are, I believe, the great original of that development 
of sartorial comfort; Watson's saddles are proverbial through 
Ireland ; Mrs. Carroll's hotel, the Greville Arms, commends itself 
hugely to commercial men, who are no mean judges of creature 
comforts, and to many scores of hunting and fishing men from all 
parts of the world, who not unfrequently make it their base of 
operations while in Ireland. Mullingar, I fancy, looked at its 
very best this forenoon. A morning severely frosty and over- 
spread with rime had brightened into a very glorious day, with a 
sun positively warm somebody said scorching ; the air was clear 
as in Western America ; and in the translucent atmosphere every 
bit of the surrounding landscape was mapped out before you with 
the most vivid distinctness, as if seen through a magnifying lens. 

Passing through the Fair Green, so well known to amateurs of 
high-class horses, we come to the barracks, which are not a whit 
less ugly or comfortless of aspect than most buildings of the sort 
in Ireland, contrasting so unfavourably as they do with the more 
modern and ambitious-looking poor-houses. There are about one 
hundred horsemen gathered together, and some twenty cars and 
carriages. Conspicuous among the latter is the Ballinagall landau 
and Colonel Cooper's waggonette, on the box seat of which I 
recognize that good sportsman so well known to his friends on 
both sides of the Channel as Joe Radcliffe, the recent owner of 
Salvanos and other good horses. Mr. Montague Chapman, the 
M.F.H., is not out to-day, owing to a death in His family; so 
Mr. R. Malone represents him the Archon of the day, and a 
most popular one ; needless to say, he is well mounted, for his 
horses are celebrities, as they ought to be to fulfil his require- 
ments. The Hon. Mrs. Malone is riding a very perfect huntress, 



374 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

The Creole so called, I suppose, because she is a " coloured 
lady,'' the brown and black and mud stains on her coat giving her 
a rather mottled appearance at this time of the year. A rare 
combination of blood, substance, and activity, I have rarely seen 
a more perfect lady's huntress than The Creole proves herself in 
Mrs. Malone's hands. No meet near Mullingar would be com- 
plete without the portly presence of its hospitable and witty 
banker, Mr. W. Kelly, the life, soul, and promoter of all things 
tending to sport and good fellowship ; and here is Mr. Kelly, with 
undiminished shadow and substance, riding a very fine brown 
horse, who has furnished into a pattern weight-carrier since last 
year. Captain Fosberry is on a grand-stamped son of Hospodar ; 
Captain Grant and Mr. O'Reilly are very well mounted. Half-a- 
dozen of the Royals come out, among them Mr. Stephen Moore, 
well known in his own county of Kildare. There are four or five 
officers of the igth Hussars from Longford and Athlone, among 
whom one recognized Messrs. Flood, Kenyon Stow, O'Connor 
Henchy, and French. Mr. Stow's chestnut, one of Baron Roths- 
child's stud, is a very high-class hunter, and his fencing struck me 
as very neat and effective. Time and space forbid my glancing 
further at the men and horses before us, so I will pass on to my 
first impression of the hounds and staff. For the condition and 
looks of the former, Matthews deserves a tribute of high praise. 
I had not seen them for some months nay, not since last year 
and the improvement in levelness and looks struck me at once ; 
but work is their forte, and I have seen nothing this year more 
effective and capable than this pack. Servants' horses are the 
difficulty, and, to say the least, the weak point of most Irish 
hunting establishments. It appears to me the strong point of the 
Westmeath system. Matthews, the huntsman, was riding a bay 
mare thoroughly up to and over his weight, while her performance 
was very good. The same tale may be told of the mounts of the 
two whips, Mason and Toope. They were fresh, fit hunters, a 
bay and a chestnut, up to their respective riders' weights (one 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 375 

rather over), and not requiring to learn their lessons painfully in 
the hunting field. Among the field was Mr. R. Rennell the late 
master of the pack on a grey cob. 

We are in motion at last rather late, too, for it is wearing on 
for noon when we leave Mullingar behind us, with Lough Ennel 
on our left hand and a thick bit of gorse at its edge Kilpatrick 
our destination. On the last occasion of my visiting this neigh- 
bourhood the white horses were leaping over the perturbed surface 
of this inland sea ; to-day it was a mirror. Then it held a fox ; 
to-day it was blank. Mr. Lyon's park of Ladestown is the first of 
the residences which fringe the western shores of Lough Ennel. 
We drew the Lake Woods in vain, and were, I fancy, about to go 
away, when there was a tally, and every one commences galloping 
in a venire-ci-tcrre fashion. A few follow the flying pack through 
the park. The majority elect a road parallel to them, and their 
choice was a wise one, for the fielders get pounded directly, and 
Mr. Brabazon gives his followers a lead over a nasty drop fence 
into the road we are devouring so impetuously. Turning through 
a gate, we here pass the Belmont and Keolton grounds, and 
emerge into the country, to meet our first real obstacle in a brook, 
not very wide, not very deep, not very formidable in any way, 
save that it had rather bad spots of landing and taking off, and 
saddles were emptied here rather alarmingly fast 

" Good Lord ! to see the riders now 

Thrown off with sudden whirl ! 
A score within the purling brook, 
Enjoying early purl ! " 

One of the whips' horses landed badly, and his rider is on his 
back. An ecclesiastic charges it directly afterwards, on a capital 
huntress of an impetuous turn, and misses his nether limbs by the 
narrowest of margins. After this, for about a mile or rather more, 
our track is over flat grass land, with fair banks and ditches, till 
we enter Dysart, seemingly an old, deserted park, with some good 
timber within its enceinte. The hounds are hunting steadily, and 



376 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

at very fair pace, along a fence or hedgerow parallel to a road 
for, I should think, a quarter of a mile, when up jumps a splendid 
dog-fox before them our quarry as fresh as if he had not gone 
some two or three miles already at great pace. For a few minutes 
now it is a view through the park, till the fox disappears behind a 
hedge, and we lose sight of him. Then follows a mile along the 
lake shore to a plantation, where a dog of low degree inter- 
venes, and our fox escapes through Ladestown to some district 
unknown. Making our way next over a large double, which 
proved that many of the horses out were well-educated hunters, 
we pass by Lynbury, and arrive presently at the handsome park of 
Gaybrook, Mr. Smyth's residence. Here the consensus of all 
hunting men says a find is a certainty. They judge by past 
experience, but to-day they are wrong, as we learn after twenty 
minutes' careful exploration. Galston and Rochfort offer rival 
attractions, but the show of hands is in favour of the former, 
Lord Kilmaine's park, and thither we trot on, basking and coffee- 
housing as we go in the pleasant sunshine. Our leaders have 
gone on very sharply. We, the majority, have taken matters too 
leisurely ; for presently, as I am getting to the point of a friend's 
bon mot or anecdote, a stampede begins. They have found ; they 
are off; so we gallop on in gloomy despair for half a mile or so, 
as the pioneers and the pack have just jumped into a road, pause 
there for a second or two, and resume their flight. A short cut of 
a field or two now puts us on terms with the foremost and best. 
Before us is a red peat moss of many acres ; beyond it Green 
Hills, Captain Dames' sporting residence and kennels. Our fox 
was probably headed here, for, after a loop, he leads us back into 
the road, the avenue to which is over a low gate or a steep bank. 
Here we come near a village, which somebody tells me is Mil- 
town. A double, which looks worse than it really is, delays us a 
moment or two, as it has one better spot in its extent than others, 
which all seem to affect. Then, for two miles or so, with the 
pack a hundred yards or more in front, we have a succession of 




THE HONOURABLE M*s MALONE 



HIBERXIA VENA TIC A. 377 

charming singles, of fair hunting size, that you can race at. Pre- 
sently we leave Enniscoffey church to the right hand, and gallop 
over the broad grass fields of Claremont and Lemonstown. Here 
the Hon. Mrs. Malone and The Creole were going in beautiful 
form till, I think, they turned too much to the left, thinking the 
fox had bent towards Galston again. In half a mile, as horses are 
beginning to feel the severity of the pace, we are confronted by 
a huge rampart a boundary fence, known, I hear, as Tuite's 
Double. It is very high, very safe, and for a fresh horse not too 
formidable. With a tired hunter it is too much to ask take your 
twelve or fifteen stone off his back, and he might jump it Some 
got over at once ; some had to wait and collect their horses ; a 
few men rode it gallantly amongst others Mr. Brabazon and, I 
believe, Mr. Bond ; some found a way round it. At any rate, in 
another half-mile or so, we are standing in various attitudes, lead- 
ing horses about, at the corner of the Gaybrook Wood, into which 
our fox has plunged. All agree that it has been a splendid 
unchecked gallop over a beautiful line. Some say the last run, 
from Galston or Gaybrook, I forget which the run of the 
season was better. All concur, however, in giving high praise to 
our chase of to-day. 

Is it over yet ? Who knows ? Our hunters have now caught 
their wind. Let us see by trotting on to either corner of the thick 
square of woodland. They (the hounds) are " hunting strong," 
says a rustic ; adding something painfully grating about their being 
at or near Mullingar by now. A small party of us, eight or nine, 
now gallop on over some rather holding fields, jump a few fences, 
drop into a road, gallop up a small hill, and there are the hounds, 
not a field off, turning towards us. I believe we are passing 
through Catherinestown. Mullingar is in front; beyond it the 
wooded knolls of Knockdrin Park. For a mile or so we hold on 
at a steady pace, when there is a pause for a second or two, till 
Roadster, who strains back, I believe, to the Fitzhardmg Gains- 
borough, and is a regular oracle, puts his brethren to rights. We 



378 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

pass Clonmoyle, lately the residence of that good sportsman, 
Mr. Joly, long the hon. secretary to the hunt now, alas ! no more. 
Who-whoop ! who-whoop ! An unguarded sewer, at the foot of a 
large double, has robbed our pack of their prey. 

I asked several men about the time of this fine chase. No one 
seemed positive to a few minutes, the find was so quick, the 
departure so sudden and instantaneous. I believe it was under 
an hour ; and the distance covered was, I should guess, about 
eight miles. Who, after to-day's experience, will lay down any 
laws about scent? Light, gaudy, sunny, windless; one would 
have said it must be a bad day. I have rarely seen a much 
better ; and hounds, for the most part, carried a fine head. 

Tuesday was a replica, on even a grander and more gorgeous 
scale, of Monday. The frost (white) was harder and more search- 
ing the sun more potent and pervasive. These were the atmo- 
spheric conditions which gave unusual brilliancy to a Kildare meet 
at Sallins on Tuesday, the 2Oth inst. 

I am sure that, spite of Turks and Egyptians, foreign loans 
and American beef, Irishmen have ordered just as many scarlet 
coats as usual this year ; but somehow they never appear during 
the rainy cycle. To-day a bed of peonies, an army of emperor 
butterflies, was a joke to the splendid array at modest Sallins, with 
its dreary canal and grimy buildings. I should think half the Curragh 
and Newbridge Garrisons were on horseback there men of the 
4th Foot, 7th Fusiliers, R.H.A., Engineers, 7th and 4th Dragoon 
Guards while Dublin contributed an odd Inniskillinger and Rifle- 
man of the Brigade. Among the visitors were Captain and Lady 
Maria Fitzclarence, the Hon. Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Bagot, the Mar- 
chioness of Drogheda, Mrs. Wakefield, Mrs. Moore, Captain and 
Mrs. Sheppard, Mr. Adair, Mr. Skeffington Smyth, Sir James Hig- 
ginson and the Misses Higginson, Mr. Webber, and Mr. Power. 

Mr. Mansfield led us off at once to Bellavilla Gorse, where the 
find was very quick, and the departure equally so. A sharp gallop 
through Longtown ended in a loss of our fox, without any prospect 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 379 

of regaining the clue. We then returned to Bella villa, and found 
a second fox directly, who turned towards Landenstown and the 
canal. We followed over the country till arrested by wire couchant 
but not concealed, over which some lead their horses, some 
rode. Those who sought and found another way were arrested by 
a gate, wired or tied to its post as usual. While we were think- 
ing of how it should be opened, a one-armed sportsman Mr. or 
Captain Burke, I believe rode at it with great intrepidity, and 
smashed it for us. This run ended at about a mile " to ground," 
I think. Landenstown gave us a fox, who also got to ground 
directly. The next move was across country to a wild bit of unin- 
closed gorse Gingerstown by name to which I have frequently 
introduced your readers, seeing that it has been the point of 
departure of more than one sharp run. I must pass by some very 
amusing episodes en route horses much preferring jumping into 
brooks to flying them, and sundry other minor mishaps. We are 
now overlooking the drawing of Gingerstown furze brake, and the 
hounds feathering gaily, from a railway bridge and other coigns of 
vantage. There he goes ! a splendid dog fox ; but how can he 
break through this cordon? How he did effect a passage is to me 
a mystery ; but presently we are galloping away over pasture fields, 
up a lane, till we find ourselves in Yeomanstown demesne, the 
field broken up into skirmishing parties, extending over a very 
wide area. Two columns, however, show considerable coherence : 
one keeps along a road, the other tempts fields and fences, and 
both soon unite. It were uninteresting to jot down the various 
townlands we ran over. The bearings which gives an idea of the 
situation are the Liffey behind us, the Hill of Allen very con- 
spicuous, though at some distance to our left. A mile or two is 
very heavy, swampy going ; then we emerge on to high light-going 
grass land, which rises abruptly from a bit of red bog between us 
and Allen Hill. Then we bear slightly to the right, jump a 
number of nice wide flying fences, and find ourselves in a sort of 
wood, where sundry hats strew the ground, knocked of by the 



380 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

boughs. A ruined house of imposing proportions is on the left 
hand Donore; and if our vulp meant holding on to Landenstown 
and Bellavilla, he was probably baulked at the road, for he turned 
sharp to the right, brushed by Caragh Hill, and won his way to 
Mr. O' Kelly's woods, where, I believe, he got to ground. Osbers- 
town Corse was the next venture. It held as usual, and the path 
of the fox was towards Oldtown, Naas, vid the canal ; then in a 
line parallel to the Sallins road, and back towards the covert he 
came from; a fine day's sport, and most unexpected on such a day 
of glare and glitter. I fancy I am somewhat in arrear in my 
notices of Kildare and its hunting. Let me glance retrospectively 
and briefly at a few of their recenter days. The iS-milestone meet 
was a very large one, and most fashionably attended. Dunstown 
and Harristown proving foxless, the third covert broke the spell 
the Blackthorns sending forth a fox, who was killed after some 
forty-five minutes' hunting of an uninteresting order; the brush was 
presented to Lady Randolph Churchill. A Sallymount fox was 
equally commonplace, but escaped, and so did a gallant major 
whose horse got half-drowned in a bog drain, from which a rope 
brigade extracted him. Silliott gave rather a better-class fox, who 
got to ground, after a fair chase by Two-mile Chapel, in a burrow 
near Stonebrook. 

The Flag-staff meet, Curragh Camp, began auspiciously with the 
pleasant hospitalities of the 4th Foot. The rest of the day was 
spent in vain efforts to hunt an Eagle Hill and a Martinstown fox. 

Tinorin cross-roads day began with dusting a hanging sort of 
fox between the Corse and Hughestown Hill, and killing him at 
last on the Golden Fort side of Tinorin. 

Whitestown produced a fox who got to ground just as a run 
seemed very promising. Copelands being blank, Cryhelp was 
visited, with the result of a late run to the Scalp Mountain, vtd 
Lemonstown Bridge and Rathallin House. 

The Rathcoole meet was a very fine one, but the sport nil, 
principally owing to hounds dividing on two foxes from Coolmine. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 381 

The Monasterevan meet on Monday afforded little or no 
material to chronicle beyond the existence of foxes in the right 
places. 

In Louth, going back to the i3th, the pack did very little till 
they got to Bragganstown, whence they had a slow forty-five 
minutes via Dromisken, and a better twenty-two minutes later in 
the day from Lisrenny to Ardee to ground. 

On the 1 6th they met at Duleek, and killed a fox from 
Gillanstown. Finding a second in Gaulstown, they ran him over 
a favourite Meath line by Ardcarne nearly to Ardcath Chapel 
thirty-five minutes. In the Carnes there were a brace, and the 
pack divided, one division killing a vixen ; the other ran theirs 
through Hilltown, over the Bradda by Beaumont, over the Nanny 
into Mount Hanover, when a snowstorm came on and spoilt a 
good promising run. 

While Kildare was enjoying such exciting sport on Tuesday, 
Meath was engaged at Geraldstown in witnessing or taking part in 
some chases, the nucleus to which was a very handsome cup given 
by Mr. Preston, of Bellinter, for horses within a certain district 
whose owners pursue with his harriers. I hear on all sides that 
the day's chasing was most successful, and much enjoyed. Mr. 
Dunne, to whom I have frequently referred in these letters, was 
the chief winner ; while next to him came Mr. Dundas, of the 
3rd Dragoons, whose name must be familiar to all readers of The 
Field ; while Mr. Kelly, to whom fell the consolation plate, has 
many friends among your clients. I hear champagne flowed 
freely, and all went off well, but for one sad episode the sudden 
death, from heart disease, of Bill Ryan, while on his way to the 
course. A splendid fearless horseman, who had commenced his 
cross-country education in a hunting stable, turning hounds with 
rough unfinished horses, he was one of the best performers I ever 
saw on a somewhat raw, romping colt who wanted riding all round 
the race track, and yet could not be hurried off his staying powers. 
His integrity and respectful manner made him extremely popular 



382 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

in an arena where the temptation to develop different charac- 
teristics is, to many, overpowering. Fame should not be silent on 
the merits of a rider who, with great opportunities, 

" Ingentes oculo irretorto 
Spectat acervos. " 

A spirited fox-chase is no bad precursor to a splendid ball for 
splendour is, I think, the readiest and most effective word for the 
dancing pageant to which the Inniskillings bade their immense 
circle of friends welcome on Tuesday night, at the Exhibition 
Palace in Dublin. If the loth don't, the 6th do dance, and are 
the cause of dancing in others. Not strictly a hunt ball, its 
components were mainly of the hunting guild, from H.R.H. the 
Duke of Connaught to Madam Chose, to whom a cotillon or a 
cramped country are equally welcome. Got up on a scale of 
colossal magnificence, it was a colossal and magnificent success ; 
and this I make bold to state pace the pen-and-ink Peris (perhaps 
at the gate, disconsolate) who have recently been libelling our 
society. The next day the Ward Union hounds gave the dancers 
a splendid opportunity by their meet at Dunboyne : time 1.30. 
The assembly was a representative one, spite of the engrossing 
Aintree on your side the ditch Kildare fox-hunters appearing in 
fair numbers, among them Lord Cloncurry, Mr. D. Mahoney, 
Mr. Rose, and Captain Saunders ; while Carlow contributed Mr. 
Stewart Duckett. The enlargement took place at Nuttstown, 
with a wide drop fence to commence with. This led to some 
baulking, which is infectious among horses on cold days, perhaps 
among men the virus reached myself and hunter and so fast 
was the gallop for sixteen minutes that a check like this put us 
clean out of court and out of sight directly. The line was by Mr. 
Urell's farm, across the Black Bull road, over the Rathbeggan 
river a "ducking pond" to-day to not a few to Batterstown. 
A check occurred here, and then a view was gained; and then 
fast and furious the line led on past Ballymaglasson, past "the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 383 

Hatchet," and on towards Culmullen Hill, beyond which point I 
am unable to give evidence a splendid gallop by all accounts. 

Since sending off my Hunting Notes I have neither seen nor 
heard of anything very brilliant in Meath, Kildare, or Westmeath. 
In my next letter I propose to send you an aper$u of sport in 
Wexford, which has been continuously good. Lord Doneraile's 
hounds had, I hear, a very good day on the 22nd, when they met 
at Miltown, and, after some ringing hunting, found a good sort of 
fox in Boulard, whom they rattled through Shandrum and killed 
in the open near Portlands; while on the same day Mr. Stackpoole's 
harriers entered to stag by the banks of the Shannon. Sir David 
Roche's resignation of the Limerick hounds is looked upon as so 
calamitous to the hunting interests of that county, that every effort 
will be made to induce him to continue to hold the horn for a 
further term. 

On Monday last Mr. Filgate had one of the best runs of the 
season. It began at Charleville with some feinting round the 
plantations ; then the fox broke away fairly for Castle Belling- 
ham, passing through Boliss, Williamstown, Spencer Hill, and 
Kilsaran on the way, hustled through the park ; here he ran 
through Millsdown and Mayne to Greenmount, probably intending 
to find shelter at Drumcar, but headed at the river en route, he ran 
by Annagasson, through Mayne and Millsdown, again getting into 
the garden at the latter place. From this he tried hard to retrace 
his steps to Castle Bellingham, but on the boundary fence he found 
his fate after one hour and twenty-five minutes of hunting pace 
fast on the grass, moderate on the cold fallows, when the hounds 
were brought to their noses. 



384 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 



XXV. 

; Should fox again so stoutly run, 
May I be there to see the fun ! " 



Observation and observations Somerville Fifteen mile stag-hunt ! Captain 
Candy and Culmullen The Ladies Churchill Wexford Galway Kil- 
dare sport. 

" POST Nubila Phoebus " is a saw old and hackneyed as the Latin 
grammar, but as true as the sun himself. Of the rain that rained 
every day, of the floods that invaded valleys and cities, not even 
respecting the home of " the freeborn Englishman " or the home- 
stead of the farmer, we had enough in the very " open " season 
so called, I presume, because the water sluices and supernal 
shower baths were never closed. For the last ten days or so we 
were beginning to forget our drenchings and preen our feathers in 
the glorious sunshine and clear air which each day brought 
regularly in its programme of cloudless skies and widened horizons. 
A new heaven and a new earth seemed to have expanded to our 
eager eyes. The dark cloud curtains which narrowed everything 
to an inky frame were suddenly rolled up or disappeared, and, in 
the beautiful words of Blanco White's sonnet, 

" Lo, creation widened to man's view." 

Light frosts every morning, hot sunshine for two or three hours 
after noon, westerly winds prevailing when there was any wind 
whatever, and, strangely enough, occasional dashes of snow or 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 385 

hail, succeeded by summer-like weather these conditions of the 
atmosphere and thermometer have been ours for far more than 
a whole week. All this reads dead against hunting ; and yet there 
have been some very fine episodes in Ireland's hunting story 
during this period. Scent has been hot and strong for brief 
intervals, and hounds have run fast, while heavy men over fourteen 
stone have enjoyed the novel and unwonted luxury of feeling their 
horses galloping on top of the ground instead of through it. 

It is a fortunate thing that all painful things come to an end 
sooner or later, for things pleasant and enjoyable seem to be of 
very brief duration, hardly giving us time to realize and savour 
them. " 'Twas bright, 'twas beautiful, 'tis past ! " seems just now 
a fitting epitaph for this glorious cycle thrown into one year. True, 
though poetical ! 

Friday morning, the 23rd, was very inviting and genial in its 
earlier hours, which were not under the spell of frost, as its 
brethren have been of late, and a ride of fourteen or fifteen miles 
to the meeting-place of the Meath hounds Somerville, Lord 
Athlumley's fine park could hardly have been commenced under 
pleasanter weather auspices. Soon a few light monitory showers 
presaged the deluge that was to overtake one in a few hours ; but 
the wise of weather signs and portents seemed to think that the 
rain would hold off, for the day's hunting hours at any rate. Soli- 
tary rides at slow pace engender reflection and observation, if the 
air be clear enough to look about you, and you are not absorbed 
in the great business of keeping yourself dry and warm. My first 
observation was of a field of seeds into which I had noticed thirty 
or forty horsemen jumping off the road some three months ago, 
more or less ; and there was every hoof track clear cut as if by an 
engraver's tool. I don't say the damage done amounted to much, 
but certainly some deterioration of the crop ensued from the 
stampede, and I believe " seeds " are nearly the only crop which 
a field must injure by riding over in wet weather; others they may 
injure, such as wheat, for instance, but I know that some men of 

2 c 



3 86 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

experience hold that the injury is generally inappreciable. With 
regard to "seeds," I fancy few men would voluntarily ride over 
them, except under such constraining necessity as keeping near 
hounds when running very fast, or the blockade of other avenues 
to them. Landlords, farmers, and all connected with the soil 
would surely avoid them if possible ; and it appears to me that in 
many cases the mischief arises from a want of perception of the 
crop, which is taken for common grass or fallow, and neglect of 
education in matters rural ; and to such men I address this para- 
graph, feeling sure that all hunting men have the interests of the 
farmers, their best friends and supporters, thoroughly at heart. 
My second was made in passing the grand stand at the Fairy 
House, where the sound of busy hammering was very audible from 
the road. How these stands have multiplied in our island ! A 
hundred years ago, the gallows tree and its pendant ornaments 
were, we read, quite common sights for travellers as they posted 
along armed to the teeth to resist the Dick Turpins and Duvals of 
the road. Surely their absence and the substitution of these 
platforms is some evidence of the march of progress and the reign 
of common sense, though some hippophobists, mistaking abuse for 
use, do tell us occasionally in strong language that the racecourse 
is a stage to Tyburn and other infcrna. My third was made after 
a survey of the splendid hunting panorama presented to the eye 
from Kilbrew Hill. True, in the foreground there was the sur- 
viving timber of a nobly planned park (now nearly ruinate) ; but 
the treeless aspect of the landscape, particularly to eastward, was 
the salient feature which commended itself to the hunting eye, 
giving strong and most direct contradiction to a standard and 
well-written topographical authority (Lewis), which says that " the 
country in general has a very furnished appearance, much re- 
sembling the county of Worcester or Hereford in England." 
Methinks natives of those shires would find it very hard to trace 
a resemblance. We are now at the entrance gates of Somerville, 
11.30 a.m. lien sonnt, and a glance reveals that the meet is a very 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 387 

smart one indeed in all its elements. His Royal Highness the 
Duke of Connaught has patronized Somerville to-day, with his 
equerry, Captain M. Fitzgerald. Lord Cloncurry and one or two 
more Kildare men are to be seen in the crowd, while Louth con- 
tributes a very large array of pursuers in the Messrs. Tiernan, Mr. 
and the Misses Gradwell, Lady Macnaughten, Mr. De Gernon, 
Mr. F. Osborn, Mr. Saurin, Mr. Blake, and many more. Among 
the onlookers are Lady Athlumley and party, Lady Fanny 
Lambart and the Misses Lambart, the Hon. Mrs. Donaldson, and 
Miss Waller ; while among the ladies on horseback are the 
Hon. Mrs. Candy, Miss Cruise, Miss Kearney, Miss Smith, and 
Mrs. Chadwick. 

A long tour round the park ends in nothing foxlike ; so we 
pass on to Walshe's Gorse, in all certain hope and confidence of 
finding its small well-known tenant at home, and awaiting us as 
usual, with the probable result of a gallop by Athcarne Castle, 
some water jumping, and the mysterious disappearance of the fox, 
who has never been known, I hear, to go to ground, and is always 
lost when found (" after being" would be better grammar), leading 
some men to imagine that he climbs a tree after going a certain 
distance, though another theory may be possible namely, that 
he runs along one of the many shallow brooks, and so kills all 
scent. There was no scope for conjecture to-day, for within the 
four corners of Walshe's Gorse there was no fox to be found. 
Crossing a road, we come to Ballymacarvey Plantations, where 
the drying winds have not affected the miry woodland roads, 
leading a noble lord out to-day to say, " Here's a specimen of 
English hunting ; " and not without truth. It is good for Meath 
and Kildare men to meet these squelchy mud-ways occasionally, 
if it were only to make them prize their general absence from 
their territories more highly than they are inclined to. Slater's 
Gorse, a few fields distant, is now searched, and searched in vain ; 
the mid-day malison of the Laureate is on our county. 

" Bad luck to the country ! the clock had struck two ; 
We had found ne'er a fox in the gorses we drew." 



3 88 HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A, 

Luncheons, usually reserved till after the first run, are devoured 
now, for the cold, sleety rain, driven into us by a cutting east 
wind, . provokes hunger. It is, I suppose, about or nearly two 
miles to Corballis Gorse by road. We fielded it, and found some 
very pleasant flying fences en route to keep our horses in practice. 
One of them, a river or dyke, was charged in spirited style by a 
hard-going light-weight, who has won his spurs in the hunting and 
chasing fields of his country; but horse and man did not 
sympathize the latter full of jump, the former full of swerve and 
stop the result was a bath, though a few drops more or less 
to-day mattered little. We are now by Corballis Gorse, a very 
happy-looking kennel. " There he goes ! " says somebody, as the 
fox tries to break towards Corbalton a bad line for the riding 
division : but he has turned back, and made his exit in a precisely 
contrary direction. We on the western side have to gallop fast, 
jump a fence or two, and gain the road; others ride a line parallel 
to it. An intersecting road is crossed, and the green large fields 
of Macetown are all around. But the fox seems to have baffled 
the pack, and, though they work on by Rathfeigh in a hesitating 
fashion, it is hardly hunting. The sport of kings ceases to 
exhilarate under our present conditions no scent, and a needle 
bath of sleety rain making horse and man most uncomfortable. 

Courtown was the fixture for the Kildare hounds on Saturday, 
the 24th, and the fame of Courtown and the railway opportunities 
brought a very smart crowd together a large part of hunting 
Kildare, some Meath men, some four or five of the Inniskillings, 
some of the yth Dragoons and 4th Foot ; while among the visitors 
were Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Mr. and Mrs. Adair. 
The Ladies Fitzgerald and Lord Maurice attended the meet, 
which was nearly, though not quite, as numerous and fashionable 
as the last Sallins gathering. A night of storm and rain was 
succeeded by a very lovely morning, which inspired confidence, 
though lowering clouds in the distance and a watery sun ought to 
have been warning sufficient to bring the usual supplies of water- 



HIBERNIA YEN ATI C A. 389 

proofs and over-alls. Few heeded the portents, however, and, 
if they had long distances to ride homewards, must have put an 
extra stone or so of water on their horses, for by noon the 
rain began, and for several hours Sheridan's line was literally 
true 

" Drip ! drip ! drip ! There's nothing here but dripping ! " 

But I anticipate my tale of negations ! Courtown House stands 
on a slight elevation, surrounded by belts of plantations of some 
extent. It is very pretty to watch the drawing all round, with 
little interludes of sunk fence and other jumping, and much 
galloping over the turf of the park. We had all these fair sights 
to-day, but no fox ; so we jogged on further westwards to Bally- 
caghan Gorse, nothing doubting the certainty of a find. We were 
disappointed again ; nor had we the usual excitement of a fast 
gallop over a mile or two of old turf, with an occasional fence 
before us to relieve the monotony of drawing blanks in our fox 
lottery ; for our master led us some four or five miles round the 
road to Cappagh Gorse, when we learnt that the vixen had been 
let in, and her mate had gone abroad somewhere. Another long 
dreary jog takes us to Donadea Old Gorse, which is foxless. 
Bellavilla, drawn twice last Tuesday, is now the object of the 
inquisitors ; and here I left them, thinking the game hardly worth 
the candle the latter represented by a ride homewards of, per- 
haps, not much under sixteen or seventeen miles. 

The sequel to Saturday in Kildare was as inglorious as its 
earlier passages. Bellavilla drawn blank : a fox found at Osbers- 
town Gorse, and hunted a few fields voila tout I 

On the same day the Ward Union hounds enlarged their red 
deer near the kennels, and had a moderately good run of some 
forty-five minutes or so by Ratoath, Sutherlands, etc. I hear it 
was marred by the customary intervention of curs or sheep-dogs, 
and as I see by the proceedings in the House of Commons that 
there is an Irish gentleman who will not permit dogs to bark or 



390 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

bite, whether 'tis their nature to or not, without condign punish- 
ment inflicted propria manu, I think 'tis almost a pity that the 
fear of such a canicide is not more abroad in this stag land. We 
went home drenched on Saturday ; but such a night ! Prescott 
draws a vivid picture of the noche trisle spent by Cortes in the 
capital of Montezuma. The superlative degree would best 
describe the fearful gushes of rain and the paroxysms of storm 
which greeted our ears continuously. 

" Luctantes ventos tempestatesque sonoras." 

On Sunday morning the aspect of the vale country was about 
the same as in the worst period of this rainy winter every furrow 
choke-full of water, fields in semi- mere, streams turned into swell- 
ing floods, the ditches brim-full, and the roads in places partially 
submerged ; nor was there any sensible intermission of the rain- 
storm till late on Sunday afternoon. 

On Monday the Ward Union hounds met at Dunshaughlin, 
somewhat contrary to expectation, owing to the state of the 
country ; a very large and long special, with a tail of horse-boxes, 
bringing an immense array and a good many visitors to the station 
of Drumree, the nearest point to the trysting-place. The deer of 
the day was known to be a good one. He had extorted his 
freedom some weeks ago, and was only retaken after a very sharp 
pursuit and a stiff battle at the end of it, of which I think I made 
some mention in a previous letter. He was enlarged in a field 
near Rosetown, on the Navan road, and his course lay straight over 
some bottom lands drained by a deep ditch of widest proportions, 
which is no unformidable obstacle to even a very good hunter. 
Thence his path lay through Geraldstown, by the residence of 
Mr. W. Butler, a celebrity in the Meath field and a fugleman 
among the Ward Union men also not very straight now, but rather 
zig-zagging through these wide grass fields, which are strongly 
fenced, and where the practicable or most practicable exit only 
allows two or three to jump together at one time. Thence he ran 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 391 

to the verge of Corbalton, when he swung to the left and made 
Clonastown, over whose broad grasseries scent lay admirably, 
and the hounds carried a capital head. Skreen Hill, a great 
landmark in this flat country, appears very near on the right hand, 
but the line is leading away from it, and now Tara is reached. 
Thence a mile or two of easy slope leads into Bellinter, where 
there is a considerable check, and the deer is for some time lost 
whether from sheep or cattle foil I cannot say when news comes 
to Charley Brindley (who had been" going in his old form on the 
celebrated grey mare), that " a cow had been seen swimming " 
in the broad, turbid current of the Boyne, now, owing to the 
tremendous rainfall, about as wide as the Thames at Hampton 
Court. The pack are brought over the nearest bridge, when they 
suddenly wind their quarry, who was sheltering under an arch ; 
and from this point pursuit recommences de capo, ending at 
Churchtown, of fox-hunting fame, where this brave deer was 
safely taken, and this time somewhat passively nor is this extra- 
ordinary, considering that the distance covered by hounds and 
quarry was not far short of fifteen miles, part of which was 
done at very good pace. Few remained to the end, and one 
or two of those who rode the last three miles were rather 
astonished at finding themselves pursuing again, as they had lost 
shoes and had them replaced in the Bellinter interval. I hear 
the last part of this fine chase was very good, and a view was 
only gained a field or two prior to the capture. I speak entirely 
from the gossip current the next, day in the hunting field, as I only 
saw the commencement of the run from the vantage ground of a 
capital road, to which the pack ran parallel for some time. The 
middle and end of it were far beyond my ken, as, to catch a train, 
I had to turn my back on the galloping multitude. 

The next day the Meath hounds met at Swainstown House, 
the hospitable residence of Mr. and Mrs. Preston, to which I have 
before introduced my readers, as the pack have met here three or 
four times already this season, I fancy. The day was mild and 



392 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

balmy, the assembly numerous and upper ten-thousandish. The 
woods around the house did not hold a fox this morning, neither 
did those of Dunsany Castle or the Hill of Glaine. Culmullen 
was now our point ; but to reach it, save by a very long detour 
which would probably throw you out of everything, sundry large 
fences have to be crossed fences which tax a hunter's powers 
and education. They were all done successfully by the lords of 
the creation and the ladies of the creation, with hardly a blunder, 
a peck, or refusal of any kind a fact which speaks volumes for 
the high class of hunters ridden in this widely fenced country. 
I said Culmullen was our destination, but in point of fact we were 
led first to Beltrasna Gorse, and by a course so strongly obstacled 
that a few of us who were fortunate in reaching Culmullen Hill 
quickly saw a widely dispersed multitude in the vale below us, 
galloping about just as if an outlying fox had been found en route, 
and a run was in progress. Five minutes undeceived us joyfully ; 
for had it been so, we hill men were clean out of its vortex. All 
were shaping their course, as best they could, to Beltrasna, and 
at length the very scattered forces were reunited at its verge. 
The gorse quivers with hound music at once, and away he goes, 
a small yellow fox, running at best pace towards Summerhill or 
Moynalvey. A small watercourse crossed somewhat tediously, 
and a few charming flying fences left behind us, we are on a road, 
and the hounds, who have been grievously overridden and driven 
and rushed, are at fault. Goodall casts to the right, and recovers 
the line in five or six minutes ; but, though we are on continuous 
grass, the start is too good for the scent, and it is slow hunting 
slow nearly as the track of that coleopterous bugbear, the Colorado 
beetle for a mile or rather more, till we find our unpressed fox 
has leisurely gone to ground in a thick scrubby hazel copse at 
Arodstown. Who-whoop ! who-whoop ! a good run well begun 
has been marred by impatience, as have many hundreds before it. 
The day has been warm and delightful up to this point. As we 
were nearing Culmullen a black cloud broke down on us in an 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 393 

avalanche of rain, if I may use the term, so thick was its volume. 
Every stall in the yard was quickly occupied, every shed and 
every roofed bit of building about was full of horses, till the later 
arrivals were forced to shelter under some umbrella-like firs in the 
shrubberies. For the best part of an hour did these torrents 
descend pitilessly. Culmullen House, where Lord Rossmore and 
Captain and Mrs. Candy have their hunting quarters, stood 
admirably the siege and assaults of the hungry, the thirsty, and 
the drenched, larders and cellars proving both well replenished. 
As there seemed no intermission or sign of clearing, Goodall drew 
the wood in front of the house, and forced out of it a good sort of 
fox, who, turning first towards Beltrasna, got headed; then his 
course lay by the House of Culmullen, through a plantation, and 
then down the grassy vale, over a boggy drain we had crossed in 
the morning, up Crosskey's Hill, with a charming line of grass in 
front of us every chance of a fine gallop, had the hounds, who 
seemed to carry a good head at first, been able to press their 
game. This power was, however, denied them by the coy, flicker- 
ing scent, which died away to nothing as a violent snowstorm 
came on, and the fox of Culmullen probably occupied Glaine or 
Dunsany Woods that night. There was a fine show of horses out. 
Colonel Eraser's extensive stables had been requisitioned as usual 
for his friends' behoof, but among them all there was nothing 
I liked better than a brown young horse, by Will Scarlett, that 
carried Colonel Eraser himself. Like many good hunters, he 
hailed from Roscommon. 

Wednesday was gloriously fine a day "redolent of joy and 
youth," to use Gray's imagery with the sounds of spring all 
around us, and a golden sunshine above and about us. The 
Meath hounds invited their admirers to attend their levke at 
Larracor, to which place I have already led your readers more 
than once, so I will only say that its features seemed unaltered 
since my last visit. The Boyne rolled in fuller and tawnier tide 
perhaps ; the neighbouring Trim was more distinct in outline than 



394 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

usual ; Trubly House, where Cromwell is said to have stayed 
before his attack on Drogheda, had a few weeks added to its 
venerable dates. The Bray Mount, at the foot of which stands 
Larracor, was no longer in mourning, as its owner, Mr. Murphy, 
of whose very serious accident in the hunting field I wrote not 
long since, has made a rally for life, which bodes a success as 
unqualified as it is marvellous. 

Owing to a disappointment about a horse, I was not able to 
follow the peripheries of a very fine but somewhat winding chase 
which ensued presently, Shanks's mare proving wholly unequal to 
keeping within either sight or hearing of the fleeting pack, which 
was soon borne beyond the limits of the small knolls and hillocks 
which abound near the meeting-point. Larracor had " blossomed 
in purple and red " very extensively for this festive occasion. The 
meet was a large one, decidedly worthy of the country and the 
occasion, among the visitors being Lady Randolph and Lady 
Rosamond Churchill and a large party from the Castle. Money- 
more was foxless the last time we tried its limits ; to-day it was 
tenanted by a sharp, alert sort of fox, who needed scant pressing, 
and who broke so quickly that I noticed from my hill vantage 
ground the tail men and loiterers, in their approach to the covert, 
being surprised as it were by the sudden stampede of the starters. 
Away they go ! flashing past tree and hedgerow, spread over a 
large area. The land round Moneymore is somewhat low-lying, 
and the first thing I see from my observatory is a heavy pursuer 
on a clever bay, or rather off a clever bay, who had faltered or 
blundered in the soft peaty soil. They part company, and for 
him a horse-hunt takes the place of a fox-hunt. It looks like a 
repetition of the old line to New Haggard ; but presently the fox 
turns to the right, passes through Knightsbrook, brushes past 
Reidstown Covert, and makes the lands of Galtrim, where, I hear, 
the pack checked for some minutes, regaining their destined prey 
by-and-by in a bit of wild gorse on a knoll known as Cuckoo Hill, 
where he jumped up before them, and was hunted on steadily 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 395 

fast and slow, good bits and bad bits by Kilcarty Grange and 
Arodstovvn, till, entering Rock Lodge near Trotter's Gorse, he was 
rolled over in the open handsomely, after a pursuit which gave 
hounds, horses, and men quite enough for one day, and which was 
pronounced by some as the run of the season, which I have no 
doubt in some respects it was. To ride conspicuously well in such 
a field as Meath's is not given to many ; and even when the gift 
and power are there ready and willing, opportunity is often lacking. 
To-day I hear the Ladies Churchill, piloted by an experienced 
Master of the Horse, had the chance offered them, and availed 
themselves of it. 

The Ward Union hounds were at the Flat House on the same 
date, and enlarging near Caulstoun, ran their deer, "the Enfield 
doe," to Rathbeggan, where there was a check by the Glebe 
House. The line then led over Mr. Standish's farm, across the 
river, and along the valley to Mr. Allan's broad pastures at Batters- 
town; then it curved a little towards Crookstown, over Mr. Barry's 
farm, but from that point it led on straight to Mr. Leonard's farm 
at Culmullen ; then it went downwards to the Mullagh, on the 
verge of Jenkinstown farm (where a view was gained), and so on 
to Kilmore, beyond which point there was a second check. After 
this came the last stage of a splendid chase, past Derrypatrick and 
right on to Warrenstown, where a capture was effected, after one 
hour and twenty minutes had been spent in crossing a pasture 
and dairy country unparalleled in our insular hunting grounds. I 
believe if I name Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Waldron, Mr. Rose, and 
Jem Brindley as the best witnesses of the last few miles, I shall 
not have left many out who would have caught the judge's eye had 
he been in situ. 

Strangely enough, the paths of the two packs, Meath and Ward 
Union, were very near each other to-day for a short time, and 
might almost have crossed and clashed. 

I regret that the narrative supplied to me by an eye-witness of 
the close of the " great Dunboyne run," which I sent you as a 



396 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

postscript, either failed to reach you or was crowded out by other 
matter. It is too ancient to refer to now. 

Sir David Roche's hounds had, I hear, a capital run on 
Tuesday week, when they met at Coolrus Gate, and having drawn 
Garryfine blank, found at once at Lisduane, forcing their fox 
through Coolrus Wood, across the valley by Garryfine, and back 
by a parallel track to Lisduane. Here the fox was reprieved at 
the request of the field. 

The Bellinter harriers had another brilliant day recently, a 
good chase round Lismullen Hills, terminating in a quick three 
miles towards Hayes, and crowned by a kill. 

The Kildare hounds met at Branoxtown on Tuesday, and 
had a good forty-five minutes from the Blackthorns by Ardenode 
and Mount Cashel to White Leas, thence to Canny Court, ending 
in Tober Park, the last part rather a potter. Cryhelp held, but its 
foxes would not break, and snow came down apace. On Thurs- 
day, the 2 Qth, they ran a fox very fast for nineteen minutes from 
Narraghmore Wood till he got to ground ; and from Martinstown 
they had a long circular hunting run of some two hours to wind up 
" the day's doings." Turning our faces eastwards, or rather south' 
eastwards, we come to Mr. Beatty's country of Wexford, ap- 
proached from Dublin by what I may call the " Scemmering " line 
of Ireland, which winds about through miles and miles of beautiful 
scenery, mountain, fell, and brawling torrents; while below you, 
at many a curve and angle of the line, is the ever-mobile ocean, 
as changeful of mood and aspect as the cloud-land above and 
around it. 

The Wexford hounds met on Feburary 2 3 rd at Bellevue, from 
whence they ran a fox fast and well for forty-five minutes, first in 
the direction of Blackball, and thence round to Carigmanon, where 
he beat the pack by getting into a drain across the public road, 
and was left undisturbed there. From Donore Plantations they 
had a pretty half-hour after this, killing in the open. On the 26th 
they were in Ballinakeale, home of good horses and foxes (as 



HI BERN I A VENA TIC A. 397 

many of your elder readers more especially will recollect), and for 
the second time this season capital sport found its point of de- 
parture here. The hounds were no sooner in the covert than a 
brace of foxes issued from it into the open, running side by side 
for a mile or more, when they diverged in their paths, and the 
hounds fortunately settled on to the dog-fox, dusting him along 
for some five or six miles, through Wilmount to the verge of Castle 
Bridge, when they entered the beautiful Eden Vale. Here they 
were very near him, but a flock of sheep gave him a second good 
start, when he turned round, faced the wind, and brushed through 
Talbot's Plantations, saving himself in a slated sewer, after a fine 
run of one hour and forty minutes. Needless to say, such a good 
fox was respited for another day. On March 2nd they sent a fox 
along from Courtnacuddy to " The Master's Gorse," when he 
turned back towards home, but was rolled over in the open before 
he could reach it. On the 5th they found a good old fox in 
Carnagh, who, after a ring round the park, started for Tinacarrig, 
brushed through its rocky fastnesses, made Newbarne, skirted 
Collop's Well, and passing through New Castle and Kilbraney, 
got back to Carnagh, when the field interceded for his life. He 
had run for two hours and twenty minutes before the pack. On 
the Qth they met at Wilton Castle, Colonel Alcock's beautiful 
park ; and the dog-pack had hardly entered the park wood before 
a fine dog-fox was viewed across the ride. He hung the woods 
for a few minutes, then started for Bree Hill, tried its earths, and 
finding them closed, made Bellevue, brushing through the bit of 
gorse by the railway. His next point was Galbally, in full view. 
He did not dwell here a moment, but broke away over that old- 
fashioned line to the top of Rahinstown Hill, where he gained a 
few minutes' rest. But the avenging furies are on his track. He 
jumps up in front of them, and for some three miles it is a race 
for life. Black Hall is his point apparently ; but at the foot of 
Barmoney Hill the hounds change from scent to view, and this 
gallant fox is soon coursed down. The time was two hours and 
ten minutes. 



398 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

The following summary of sport in Galvvay for a month will 
show that the East and Midland counties have no monopoly of 
good things : 

On the 6th ult. they began by hunting a vixen from Vermont, 
and had to whip off. Turning then to Abbert, they got off well 
with a sharp fox, who, crossing the road, brushed through New- 
town, and held on for Farm Hill and Rye Hill, entering Monivea, 
where he was rolled over after forty minutes. On the 8th they 
were at Castle Halkett ; found there directly, and ran into their 
fox in a few fields. Currofin Gorse was blank to-day, but Ballin- 
derry sent forth a good fox through Annagh, just beating the 
hounds into Brook Lodge. On the loth, at Pallas, Lord West- 
meath's park, the hunting was more like cubbing, but it ended in 
a kill ; while the day at the kennels of Moyode Park (the i4th) 
was chiefly devoted to hounds' work, the show of foxes being 
most cheering. On the 2oth they were at Athenry, and getting 
on the line of a fox, found too late it was a vixen a serious 
loss in that country. Cooimine, next tried, gave them a nimble 
runner, who led them by Grange Gorse to Cregmore, where they 
viewed their game, and coursed him into a rabbit burrow, the 
judge's verdict on the occasion being " lost by a tail." On the 
22nd they met at Ballinderry, and did not find till they reached 
Eastwell, when the find and " gone away" were almost simultaneous. 
It is a race now over the fine grass farms of Ballintubber, New- 
grove, and Doon into Wallscourt, and on to Dartfield, the pace 
testified by the tailing and loose horses about. The line now leads 
without any hesitation by Kilmeen, up the Hill of Ballydugan, where 
the fox got to ground, after one of the most brilliant runs of the 
season. Seven only appeared in the last stage ; of the seven two 
were ladies. On the 2Qth they were at Monivea, and after some 
park-hunting went on to Belleville, where a brace of foxes turned 
up. After some little delay, owing to the pack settling to the 
vixen first, they dusted her consort along over a nice bit of country 
by Killiskea into Cooimine, forcing him through it into Cregmore, 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 399 

where he found no resting-place either, and was rolled over about 
a mile further on. Strangely enough, the general complaint was 
the excessive heat of this day, which distressed horses and hounds 
greatly. 

The Kildare season terminated with the month, a brilliant 
conclusion to an almost continuously brilliant series of chases. 
The meet was at Ballymore Eustace, and after some hunting at 
Elverstown of no particular interest, a move was made to Punches- 
town Gorse, whose fox led them hillwards at a capital pace, till 
the table-land of Russborough was reached, and he was pulled 
down by Lord Miltown's fine mansion. An evening fox was found 
in Silliott Hill, who was hunted at varying pace, in the figure of a 
horseshoe, till he got to ground in a burrow by the clump of trees 
overlooking Cryhelp. The Westmeath hounds claim a good run 
from Galston, and a second from Dunboden. The Ward Union 
hounds, after rather an unsatisfactory pursuit with their first deer 
on Saturday, enlarged another near Miltown, who ran much 
straighter and better over some three steeplechase courses, to a 
point near Balbriggan. 

On Monday, half nay, two-thirds perhaps of hunting Ireland 
was at the Ward Union meet by the Fairy House, to witness the 
amateur and professional contests over that fine arena. The day 
and its programme were enjoyable in the extreme. There was an 
obbligato review of riflemen (Police) on the course, to awe the 
volunteer riflemen (and women) of the conveyancing order. The 
Meath hounds had a charming gallop of about seventeen minutes 
on Tuesday from Corballis, and the Kildare Red-coat race comes 
off to-morrow (Wednesday). Of these passages more anon, as the 
play-writers say. 



400 HIBERNTA VENA TIC A. 



XXVI. 

"Their spurs wor maid o' siller, and their buttons maid o' brass ; 
Their coats wor red as carrots, and their collars green as grass. " 



Last scenes Rath Gate Corballis Gorse Kildare Red-coat races 
Carlow ditto. 

OUR hunting days are, alas, numbered ! The handwriting on the 
walls proclaims it ! The tapestry of nature on bank and brae 
bear witness to the closing season. Bleating lambs, murmuring 
wood pigeons, nesting crows, burgeoning thorns and shrubs ; the 
very look of the grass fields all warn us that our gallops across 
country must be relegated ere many weeks nay, even days to 
next season. By the handwriting on the wall, I mean (reverently 
be it spoken) the gigantic placards which, usurping every vacant 
wall of publicity, announce the munificent prizes for running 
horses at Punchestown, Fairy House, and such popular chasing 
fixtures. By the tapestry of nature I mean the myriads of prim- 
roses, violets, wild anemones, and such like posies, which make a 
galaxy of every secluded bank. 

"A primrose by a river's brim, 
A yellow primrose was to him, 
And it was nothing more." 

Without claiming any special sestheticism for the hunter of 
foxes, we do maintain that the yellow nursling of the spring does 
mean something more to him than to Peter Bell, or whomsoever 




MISS MYRA WATSON. 






HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 401 

Wordsworth alluded to. It means that for some months to come 
the current of his life will seek other channels, that the groove in 
which he has wedged himself so pleasantly must be changed, that 
the horses who have probably begun thoroughly to understand 
him, and whom he now at last understands, must be either sold, 
or at any rate for some time parted with ; that his pleasantest 
associations must be broken up, at least temporarily ; that, so far 
as hunting goes, he must live in the past and future, but not in 
the present ; but these regrets are becoming threnodic. Carpe 
diem is a better legend than any amount of moralizing ! As yet 
we have a few days before the epitaph of the season can be 
written. Let us utilize them to the fullest extent. The going 
never was better, the serviceable and sound horses are as fit as 
hard work and old beans can make them. Foxes of the worthier 
and more immediately available gender never were fuller of "go" 
than at this moment. Our grass lands will carry scent for months 
to come, peradventure Egypt may still furnish us some corn 
Gilead some balm ! Is it the consideration of these evident signs 
and portents of a waning season that adds such tumultuous 
numbers to the meets just now ? Spite of Parliament, spite of 
racing, and chasing " the blue fever," and the imminent metamor- 
phosis of society from its winter chrysalis form to the full-winged 
butterflydom of April and May, the cry is as of old at Dunsinane 
"still they come." There appears to be no lack of horses to fill 
the gaps made by accidents and the wear and tear of a fearfully 
hard season; the best are perhaps kept in reserve for the Red-coat 
races or hunt cups. But the residuum is still very good, and, save 
the hunt horses, there appears horse power quite sufficient to go 
on for a month or two more. 

I write on the last day of March, which is expiring in all the 
traditionary mildness and gentleness of the proverb ; the day is 
cloudy, but warm. The blazon of recent snow is on the eastern 
barrier of hills. Let us cast in our lot with the Ward Union 
hounds, though it is too much to expect that after a brace of 



402 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

rubrical days the third should rival them in brilliancy. The meet 
is at the Rath Gate, Ashbourne, so given on the card, and rather 
misleadingly perhaps ; for the unentered stranger might picture to 
himself Ashbourne as an old fortified town, with walls, moats, and 
many gates, whereas it is a most insignificant village, glorified 
solely by the kennels and the paraphernalia and staff of the Ward 
Union stag-hounds. Nor is the Rath Gate very near Ashbourne 
two miles, I should fancy, separate them ; and when you get to 
the meet very little sign will you see of Rath, or Gate, or Rath- 
haus ! At some cross-road nearly two hundred people men and 
women on hunting thoughts intent, but far more on riding 
thoughts intent are gathered together, while cars and carriages 
fill up the converging roads. The hounds meantime are grouped 
together on the far side of a difficult fence, safe from the heels of 
hound-loving and hound-hating horses. The deer has been 
enlarged on the left hand side of the straight road which leads 
seemingly to Garristown Hill ; but parasites, in the shape of the 
inevitable and irrepressible cur dogs of the period and parish 
appear on the scene hence the delay of some ten or fifteen 
minutes, which, in the clock-work punctuality of the Ashbourne 
pack, seems considerable. At last hounds are laid on in a field to 
the right of the aforesaid road, but scent seems most languid and 
very unsympathetic with the hard riding men and women behind 
and all around the pack. One field, two fields, perhaps three 
fields crossed, and we come to one of those draining canals which 
so often perplex hunting fields in Ireland. This has turned our 
deer. A lane-way and a road lead us back to the kennels and 
Ashbourne village ; but we pause not here, clattering through the 
single street and on for a quarter of a mile further in the Dublin 
direction till our deer takes to the country again, running across 
by Donoughmore Chapel, towards Robertstown ; then more road, 
then a mile or two of country again, by Palmerstown. Next 
follows a view and a quick return to Ashbourne for about a mile 
and a half, and a capture. A most unsatisfactory run, and quite 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 403 

below Ashbourne form ; which was rather a contretemps, as there 
were a good many strangers out Meath men, Louth men, Staff 
men, and some ten or twelve well-mounted ladies, including Miss 
Hussey, Lady Macnaghten, and the Hon. Mrs. Candy. A portion 
of the run was over the old Ashbourne racecourse. A second 
deer thus became a necessity, and one was soon forthcoming. I 
did not see any part of this gallop, but hear scent improved con- 
siderably as the day wore on, and the strangers had plenty of 
jumping and galloping over good lines, though never at best pace. 
Miltown was the scene of the enlargement, and everything went 
on smoothly and rapidly till the quarry ran into a house or shed 
at Nutstown, causing a delay of some moments. I should men- 
tion that its track up to this point had been over part of what 
once corresponded to the Fairy House racecourse. When enlarged 
the second time, the deer ran to another well-known race track at 
Springhill ; thence on to a third Naptown a private course 
of Mr. Harper's ; and, having crossed it, they held on for the 
Holywood Hills (which were rather a severe trial for horses after 
the gallop they had had) till he succumbed at the Bog of the Ring, 
a place between the Naul and Balbriggan, giving many of the field 
a very long ride home. The country crossed was stiff enough, 
and one or two brooks had to be cleared ; but the larger fences 
caused no mishaps, while the smaller ones put down several good 
horses, as I hear amongst others, one of Mr. T. Butler's, of 
Priestown, who was rather severely cut ; I mean the horse, not the 
rider, who, hard goer as he is, may hope for some immunity now, 
having lost an arm and sustained I know not how many other 
casualties in these frays and forays after stag, fox, and hare. 

There is a vast deal of animal worship in the world still. We 
laugh at the old serpent worship in the East ; at the idolatry of 
bulls and cows in our own dominions ; we despise the Philistines 
for their Dagonism ; the culture of mermen, not mermaidens 
(which, we think, might, under extreme provocation, be pardon- 
able), or laugh at the fancy of ancient spinsters for birds, for cats, 



40 4 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

for plethoric pugs. In Meath our fetish is the fox ; and I regret 
to say rumours reach me of wholesale iconoclasm through poison, 
laid probably for the tribes of wandering dogs who do such mis- 
chief to all kinds of sport in this our island, to game and hunt- 
ing, and now to foxhood. I fancy a little organization and care, 
with due respect to prejudice and feeling, might greatly mitigate 
this very rampant nuisance, which the last dog law has hardly 
touched. 

On Easter Monday the members of the Ward Union hunt, 
their executive and staff, met at the Fairy House at or about one 
o'clock, and there they welcomed the largest, the most fashionable, 
and the most orderly crowd that I think I have ever seen con- 
gregated together on any similar occasion. His Royal Highness 
the Duke of Connaught was an honoured guest, so were the 
Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and a large Castle party. 
Due comments and criticisms on the racing and the gossip 
pertaining thereto will appear, I doubt not, in due course in your 
columns ; so I will only remark that the verdict of the assembled 
multitude confirmed my own individual view of the entire success 
of the day's racing and the harmonious working of the gigantic 
machine. Liberality and organization are the salient features of 
the meeting. The first characteristic attracts the multitudes ; the 
second disposes of them on their arrival. The race track is 
probably much the same as it was a hundred years ago, with the 
same brooks and big ditches intersecting pasturage plains; and 
has been so often crossed by deer and hounds during the season, 
and so often alluded to by me, that it were surplusage to say 
anything more about it now. Falls were rare, as is generally the 
case when the obstacles are large of type. Having said so much 
in laud (it were impossible, indeed, to speak or think of the 
meeting in other terms), let me remind the stewards of the 
apologue of the Roman or Sabine lady who fell crushed under 
the weight of the golden shields and ornaments which the warriors 
piled on her. Popular they have made this meeting; can they 



HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 405 

meet the huge (spring) tidal wave which every year seems to swell 
into greater volume ? The present railway and road accommoda- 
tion is clearly inadequate for the vast numbers. Can they do 
anything in this direction ? As one instance of the inconvenience 
occasioned by the want of sufficient exit accommodation, I may 
state that racehorses who ran in the later chases of the day found 
themselves blocked into the Fairy House fields by a barricade of 
jaunting cars until a very late hour, many having to travel long 
distances over roads bristling with fresh-laid stones in total dark- 
ness, footsore, perhaps, and leg-weary. 

With another observation I shall conclude my remarks on 
the great Fairy House Meeting of 1877. A steeplechase Derby 
Day, if one may compare the third city of the empire and its 
racing festivals (so it calls itself, I believe) with the first. To 
guide, direct, and control, if necessary, the vast streams of 
vehicular traffic which passed and repassed almost incessantly for 
hours between the Flat House and the Entrance Gate, there was 
a fair force of our Irish Rifle Brigade (the police) very much en 
evidence, great-coated, walleted, and armed with their weapons of 
precision and sword bayonets. Had there been a design to 
storm the stewards' stand, to carry off the Lord-Lieutenant and his 
staff, or His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, "to unknown 
caverns vast," and keep them there as hostages till Home Rule or 
the charter of Erin-go-Bragh were formally conceded by the 
estates of the realm, I could understand these semi-warlike 
preparations ; but Irish monster meetings have been distinguished 
for more than a generation for their exemplary conduct and 
peaceable habits ; and it seems to me like " breaking a butterfly 
on a wheel " to use these magnificent warriors, armed to the teeth 
and stiffened by drill and straps to buckram consistency, in work 
of this sort, for which their habits and military instincts rather 
unfit them. The day was warm and muggy, with menacing 
showers (an April heritage), which did not descend. If a Gaul, 
I might say that sundry Pats had been congratulating the Emperor 



4 o6 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

of Germany on his longevity in beery Berlin ; but perhaps the 
inspiration was more native. 

Tuesday's meet of the Meath hounds at Dunshaughlin was in 
one continuous downpour of heavy, soaking, but not the gelid 
rain we have been used to of late weeks. There were a good 
many strangers and visitors at the trysting-place, among whom 
I may name Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, Lady Mac- 
naghten, Sir Thomas Hesketh and Captain Beatty from Cheshire, 
Captain Chaine, Mr. Coppinger of the Ward Hunt, Major and 
the Hon. Mrs. Donaldson, and the Hon. E. Preston, though 
I should add that the proprietors of the last three names should 
be termed rather re-visitors than visitors to these familiar hunting 
grounds. The Poor-house Gorse and its succursal covert drawn 
blank, Lagore foxless, the Reisk appealed to in vain all this 
was a bad prospect for compensation for the dripping and drencing 
rain we were under. The fifth venture proved happier. A fox 
broke at once from the Kilbrew Sticks, ran fast up the old 
park hill, then doubled as quickly back to his starting-point, 
crossing the famous Kilbrew river, which might justly be re- 
christened the Beresford Brook. Three men or four alone stuck 
to the pack at this point, among them Captain Peter Lowe and 
Mr. Dunville. We, the great majority, wandered away, following 
some constantly shifting pilot over the shoulder of the Kilbrew 
Hill, over the line of water meadows and little water jumps, to 
find the pack among the Sticks again ; thence we pottered on very 
unavailingly towards Green Park, till scent died away or was 
washed out. 

Corballis Gorse was our next draw. It is so thickly matted 
that ten minutes may be calculated on here to evict a fox from his 
kennel. To-day he broke instantly, and, being a field behind 
(and this field was, owing to the recent rains, a slough) I had 
to gallop fast in hopes of a check. Macetown Chapel was the 
evident converging point of the starters, or, if not actually the 
chapel, a couple of fields close to it. Nearing these fields I could 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 407 

observe a considerable pause in the proceedings, a grateful check 
we trust, and scent has been so cold hitherto ! A couple of 
minutes revealed the cause of the waver in the line and the check 
to the gallant horsemen. Victor Hugo tells us that the creux 
chemin d'Ohain, which the French Cuirassiers did not take in their 
stride, but toppled into and rolled over one another, was one of 
the causes of the Waterloo disaster. It was no creux chemin here, 
but a mighty bank and small river that barred the way. When 
encountered first it was certainly a big thing in jumps, and one 
or two of our wonted pioneers and fuglemen failed to get over, 
and succeeded in getting in. One of these sportsmen showed 
me an easier path by which, after jumping a small fence, you met 
the bank on far easier terms. Next comes a ravine, a brook, a 
few light springy grass fields, then a fence which horses did jump 
and got over safely ; but a very repelling one it was a newly 
made bank, sharp at the edge, with a huge ditch on the far side. 
Fortunately, this was met at the end of about two miles over light 
grass or falls, and full stops might be anticipated very easily. 
This fence, too, was the termination of our rapid gallop, as it 
covered a sewer, into which our fox crept. I believe the master, 
Mr. Waller, and Goodall were as near the racing hounds as any 
other; and I hear also that a visitor, Sir Thomas Hesketh, saw 
it well also. The sewer referred to was, as many sewers have 
proved, a real nuisance ; for fronting us was a beautiful line of 
light grass, without a chance of crossing plough. I cannot 
describe the sensation of jumping the awkward fence I have just 
referred to, or one's unfeigned gratitude to the good animal that 
bore you easily over it, as I saw a herd's house a few hundred 
yards higher, and near it a gate of passage. 

Corbalton, the next covert tried, gave us a fox in the wood 
near the house and ornamental grounds ; but this wood was 
encircled by a deep sunken fence, guarded by ornamental wire on 
the far side. This our fox struck in his spring, and, as he was 
close to the pack, his fate was instantly sealed. Fortunately he 



4 o8 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

belonged to the sex least necessary just now for the requirements 
of future seasons. What fortuned at Lismullen Sir J. Dillon's 
park in the way of hunting, I cannot relate ; as when boots are 
full of water and stones of extra weight are on your hunter's 
back, it is no time, I think, to increase the nine or ten miles that 
separate him from his gruel and yourself from your hot bath. 

I may mention here that the Meath hounds are being in- 
creased by a draft of thirty couple from Curraghmore, so that, in 
their turn, they will be forced to draft a good many very useful 
hounds, none more than eight or nine years old, and I mention 
the fact as it may be useful to new M.F.H.'s in the formation of 
new packs. 

Wednesday, the 4th, looked, in its early aspect, as if it meant 
to follow the watery ways of its predecessor. By ten o'clock the 
black-cloud walls begin to disappear, and we had full assurance 
of the glorious day we since proved. "Where shall I spend a 
happy afternoon ? " was a question to not a few on the morning 
I refer to. The Kildare Red-coat races were announced as to 
come off that afternoon, while the Ward Union hounds were due 
at Culmullen about the same hour. The scene of the former 
festive gathering was well-nigh twenty miles distant by road, the 
latter being six from my hunting quarters. What made me choose 
the former ? Did distance lend enchantment to the prospect ? 
Was I childish enough to despise the good things close by, 
grasping at the distant and dim and delusive ? My reason told 
me plainly enough that the Ward Union hounds afford a red-coat, 
black-coat, and grey-coat race with the finest opportunities, and 
over peerless country, almost every time they go abroad, plus the 
enlivening strains and presence of a pack of hounds. Oh no ! 
" It was something more exquisite still," as the poet phrases it ; 
the certain reunion of the pleasantest hunting society within three 
or four counties ; a feast of sport and a flow of soul, aided, of 
course, by the liberated gases which France sends to cheer us in 
our melancholy-haunted climate ; royalty, aristocracy of birth, and 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 409 

aristocracy of beauty ; wit, wealth, women ; a recherche pic-nic 
all around you; Ascot and Goodwood luncheons rehearsed in 
early spring. Que voulez-vous de plus my Sybarite of the period ? 
If, with these aids, you cannot get on for a few hours in a pleasant 
atmosphere, I fear you come into the category of those " whom 
pleasures fail to please " " Coldstreams," of whom the poet says 
a hard thing or two. But a word now about the sport of the day. 
A prize-fight locality, the scene of a projected duel these are 
mysteries or quasi-mysteries for outsiders. An attempt was made 
to be equally mysterious about the locus quo of this Kildare 
gathering ; I hardly think it gained its object. The present is, if 
my memory serves me right, the sixth celebration of these red- 
coated games in Kildare ; and it is naturally desirable to vary the 
track occasionally, to prevent local sportsmen from gaining an 
undue advantage over visitors to their hunting grounds. For the 
last four years, and more especially the last three, the course has 
suited its purpose admirably, which I presume to be the testing 
of a high class of hunters their galloping, jumping, and staying 
powers. Why none of the old tracks were chosen or modified, 
I do not profess to explain here ; suffice it to say that, between 
hesitation and dissidence of views, the whole affair ran a great 
risk of falling through, had not the Baron de Robeck, ex-master 
of these hounds, thrown himself into the gap and undertaken to 
provide a course on his own and his friends' estates at very short 
notice. The selection may be briefly indicated as an outer ring 
to the well-known Punchestown racecourse, embracing in its 
extent much of the land run over in the frequent scurries from 
Punchestown, Eadestown, and Elverstown Gorses; the grand 
stand would have been a famous observatory, but I fancy it is 
being painted and furbished up for the approaching meeting, so 
it was not available for spectacular purposes. The ground, how- 
ever, is so undulating that the scarlet riders, though lost occa- 
sionally to sight, were very soon before your glasses again, and the 
last three-quarters of a mile was visible to all. 



410 HIBERNIA YEN A TIC A. 

I did not join the riders, or follow them on horseback ; but 
I walked the track foot for foot, so may criticize it according to 
my lights and ideas. The going was perfect light grass land, 
mossy in places, with two very small bits of plough in the entire 
circuit; yet it appeared to me to want almost every element 
necessary to test a hunter's powers. I was going to say there 
were no flying fences, but I am wrong ; there were two walls to 
be crossed, one a trifle over two feet, the other did not attain to 
that exalted standard. There was a brook also ; but as I walked 
through it almost dryshod, I should imagine horses did not jump 
it either, but ran through it. Flags were placed at intervals to be 
passed on the right hand, but practically in the two or three fair- 
sized banks that occurred, there were but one or two available 
spots ; so that the field hardly ever spread itself out in wide line, 
but followed in almost Indian file, giving the good and lucky 
starters who had handy horses a great advantage. With the 
exception of the bank I have referred to, there was nothing more 
formidable than could be found at Lillie Bridge or the Messrs. 
Blackman's old trial grounds in South Kensington. 

This was very much the case in the last mile, when men who 
had not worked to the front before had very little chances of 
doing so now ; and yet, my animadversions notwithstanding, there 
is little doubt but that in both classes the best horses, or about the 
best, won. From the causes I have mentioned the races were 
much diminished in interest. There was little or no fluctuation 
or excitement. The fences and gaps that had to be done were 
well done by the clever hunters that competed, so that really 
there was little or no tumbling about to speak of. Lord Clon- 
curry, who has generally been in front through the season, 
whether in Meath or in the Ward Union country, won the Welter 
Race for 145!. hunters very cleverly with a really smart brown 
mare. Mr. Brunskill, of the 4th Foot, on Sportsman, ran him 
hard, though his honours, had he beaten his lordship, would 
have been barren, as he disqualified himself by finishing on the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 411 

wrong side of the flag. In the light-weight class Mr. Tynte's 
Sweet Pea won her second Kildare Red-coat race, though coming 
home the pride of place seemed entirely at the mercy of Mr. 
R. de Rose's Green Ribbon, ridden by Mr. Burke, of the 7th 
Dragoons. Will Freeman, the Kildare huntsman, won the 
Farmers' Race on a famous cob of Mr. Bayley's, after a hard 
finish with that determined horseman, Mick Keogh. Mr. Hana- 
way secured the Welter prize with the greatest ease by the aid 
of his chestnut horse, who is also a good hunter over a large 
flying country. The arrangements were admirable, even to the 
cards got up by Mr. Gray, of Naas, with his usual neatness and 
accuracy. 

It will be, I know, a source of sincere pleasure to Lord 
Kilmaine who set out for the East a few months ago to read, 
in the land of tigers and jackals, how his gorse and woodlands at 
Galston keep on sending forth goodjstout foxes to the fray. The 
Westmeath hounds met there on the 29th, and found a leash or 
two of foxes on foot in the wood. One went away to the gorse, 
ran through it, pointing for Simonstown, but, bending to the right, 
made Enniscofley, passed the tempting woods of Gaybrook to the 
left, holding on for Larkfield, ran across Catherinestown, and 
made Clonmoyle to a drain he knew of there, where he was safe, 
after a capital thirty-five minutes over a fine grass line. 

Dunboden (Colonel Cooper's residence) was then drawn. 
The find was immediate, and the fox ran straight through Gay- 
brook at great pace, through Catherinestown, and thence to 
Peattstown, near Mullingar. Here he turned sharp to the left, 
brushed by Lynbury, and gained the shelter of Rochfort, where 
the pack was stopped, hounds and horses having had quite enough 
owing to the heat of the day. This last run was also over a 
beautiful line of grass, and lasted for fifty-eight minutes. I hear 
an officer of the yth Fusiliers got a bad fall and broke his 
jaw-bone. On the 3rd inst. these hounds had a very enjoyable 
thirty-five minutes from Ballinacloon, through Clonhugh, into 



4 i2 HIBERNIA VENAT1CA. 

Ballinagall, where their fox got to ground, scent serving the 
hounds right well. 

I should have alluded to a very handsome recognition of 
Mr. Briscoe's long and most valuable services to all lovers of fox- 
hunting, recently presented to him in the shape of a substantial 
testimonial by his many friends in Tipperary, Waterford, and 
Kilkenny. 

The Meath hounds had a charming evening's sport from 
Beltrasna Gorse on Friday, the 6th inst. I had to leave them 
when they were running towards Summerhill, carrying a capital 
head ; but will hope to give you full particulars of a capital run 
over a charming line in my next. 

The Kildare hunt winds up its season with a ball at Naas, 
the real finish of its sport. " 'Tis true 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis 
true." 

Scent never was better perhaps throughout the season than in 
Louth last week ; and, as a result, Mr. Filgate scored two capital 
runs one on the 4th, from Townley Hall, and another on the 
7th inst., from Tenure, to which I shall revert in my next letter. 
Mr. Beatty has been equally favoured in the south-east ; and a 
fine day's sport from Ballinkeele on the 6th, and another from 
Warren's Gorse on the gth, are added to the good things of his 
season. I shall hope to give a slight sketch of both days in my 
closing letter. 

The Ward Union hounds had one of their finest chases on 
Saturday last with an outlying deer, who, however, succumbed to 
the distance and severity of the pace. Two or three more days 
will probably conclude their season, which is certainly not the 
least brilliant in their annals. 

The Newbridge harriers ran a drag on Saturday last, which 
was a happy thought for the belated dancers of the previous night 
at the Kildare hunt ball. Given a fair scent, this pack can race ; 
and I hear that, over a level grass country, they proved too fast 
to-day for their followers. Pursuers in the United Hunt country 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 413 

(Cork) will rejoice to learn that there is every prospect of Lord 
Shannon's resuming the presidency of their country once more ; 
but it is hard on the Vale of White Horse sportsmen (and they 
are sportsmen) to lose two such masters as Sir W. Throckmorton 
and Lord Shannon in so brief a space, just as field and master 
were beginning to understand each other thoroughly. The Carlow 
and Island and Duhallow hunts have wound up their season with 
a Red-coat race. "Placid Joe" and Captain Bunbury distin- 
guished themselves in the former; Mr. T. Hare, M.F.H., and 
" Cigarette " in the latter. 



414 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 



XXVII. 

" Farewell ! ah, the word must be spoken ! 

To the chase I must bid an adieu ; 
See, here is the terrible token 
A carcass so black and so blue ! " 



Partings and meetings Rahinstown Hunt ball at Naas Skreen Hill. 

" When the bloom is on the gorse, 
Think of summering your horse. " 

THAT is to say, if after a calm, dispassionate review of his 
performances during the season, in which you give him credit for 
his good days, and debit yourself with a due amount of his short- 
comings and failings, for which temper, nerves, impatience, and 
want of judgment were answerable on your part you think he is 
worth the certain expense and risk of keeping through the weary 
months which must elapse ere he will be scurrying over the 
country once more, te duce. I commend the wise saw to any poet 
or poetaster who will write an epic on our lost Earthly Paradise. 
No ! not quite lost yet ; but slipping away from us bit by bit, till 
in a week or two those who remain in the country uninfluenced 
by the "town" maelstrom will feel like the lone one in the 
song 

"I feel like one who treads alone 
Some banquet-hall deserted, 
Whose lights are dead, whose garlands shed, 
And all save he departed." 



H1BERNIA VENATICA. 



he.d one of 



one o 
Mr. R Fowler I h Tr Rahlnsto . *e residence of 



appeared Captains Crosbie 







4i 6 HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A. 

a corps (T elite that, having survived the disasters and mischances 
of a trying season, were as fit for the fray and as competent to 
take their part therein as horses could be for the most part. We 
may pass by the opening passages at Rahinstown. The covert 
there is most tenacious of its reputation for holding foxes, and 
was not below it to-day. But scent lay badly on the cold land 
around, and very little was done with fox No. i. In the mean 
time Aquarius, or whoever the supernal water-bailiff was, turned 
his hose on the assembled sportsmen, drenching them thoroughly 
as they were starting for the second draw of Garradice Gorse, or 
Pratt's Gorse, so called because it was, I believe, presented to the 
Meath hunt corporation by the landlord, Mr. Mervyn Pratt, of 
Cabra Castle, whose services to fox-hunting in Meath and Louth 
are only equalled by the good offices of his brother, Mr. J. Tynte, 
of Tynte Park, to the hunting state in Kildare. It is a long path 
to Garradice, but part of it lay over green fields, whose barrier 
fences had to be jumped by all who proposed to see anything 
further of the day's proceedings. Those who are fond of seeking 
analogies between war and hunting might be tempted to name 
our point of assembly here " the field of the cloth of gold," for 
the sombre green of the matted gorse brake was quite hidden by 
the gorgeous sheet of golden blossom above it. Five minutes ! 
ten minutes ! not a hound note audible ; but the place is a perfect 
thicket, and requires the most patient penetration. At last, when 
almost every one was beginning to fancy that blankness reigned 
here, a fox emerges. I did not view him myself, but his course 
lay over the most tempting of lines towards Summerhill, and over 
a series of four or five of the most inviting single fences that the 
heart of man or horse could crave, while the well-known double 
is left to the right hand. A prominent welter-weight rolls over at 
one of these wide ditches, like a rabbit bowled over while running 
down hill, but, beyond a few bruises, gets off uninjured. For a 
few fields all goes well. The hounds hunt merrily ; then scent 
slackens, but men slacken not. All are full of ride, Dona 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 417 

prccsentis cape l<ztiis horce is interpreted into " This is nearly the 
last day in the open ; ride while you may, and if you are in front, 
don't give way one inch ; if you are behind, press on with 
determination." So the pack were rushed on, and somehow 
I will not say how a promising run was lost. But if we had 
little galloping, every one had his share of large jumping, and our 
pioneers were H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught (on the Lawyer 
horse he is so fond of) and a Miss Williams, who handled a rather 
reluctant mount in really fine style. As the jumping and tumult 
of this gallop manque (tnanque by what means I think I could 
narrate an I would) is now over, let me moralize for a minute or 
for a paragraph, if it so please the reader. It is, I think, about 
a century since Thomson was a popular poet among our forbears ; 
and those who fancy our mode of life has deteriorated laudatores 
temporis acti will do well to read his verses about hunting in his 
time, and the wassail that succeeded a good run in those good old 
days. After dealing with men, the bard turns to the gentler sex 

" But if the rougher sex by this fierce sport 
Is hurried wild, let not such horrid joy 
E'er stain the bosom of the British fair. 
Far be the spirit of the chase from them, 
Uncomely courage, unbeseeming skill : 
To spring the fence, to rein the prancing steed ; 
The cap, the whip, the masculine attire 
In which they roughen to the sense, and all 
The winning softness of their sex is lost." 

Autres temps, attires mceurs, and what would this "bard of 
other days," could he visit us in the quick, think of a modern 
meet at a fashionable rendezvous in Kildare or Meath, where a 
bevy of graceful horsewomen always mingle with the masculine 
crowd, many of them quite as capable of taking their part in a 
quick thing or a real good thing as the best and boldest of the 
stronger vessels? In a very fine run in Meath the other day, 
three ladies were among the few up at the finish ; and that not 
by luck, but by sheer good riding. In Galway I duly chronicled 



4i 8 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

the same feminine prowess, two out of seven being quite out of 
proportion to the numbers of the masculines and feminines riding 
and competing ; while in Kildare's last day of the season a lady 
on a grey fairly outstayed many of the best men out, in a very 
crabbed and intricate line of country. Brilliant and severe that 
day was ! I regret I did not do half justice to it ; but it is too 
late to make the amends now. Beltrasna Gorse was now our last 
hope for repairing the day's dubious fortunes, the neighbouring 
coverts of Mulhussey and Colistown not being generally con- 
sidered certainties ; so to Beltrasna we went, deluged by rain on 
the way. At the covert-side the clouds seemed brightening, and 
it was evident than ten or fifteen minutes would bring us clear 
skies and intermission of the downpour; but the hour was late, 
and not a few were tied to time and social engagements, amongst 
others His Royal Highness. All this notwithstanding, Mr. Waller, 
knowing how scent brightens up after rain, refused to put the 
pack into the gorse till there was a cessation of the heavy rain- 
storm. Thus Royalty bowed to the majesty of sport, if I may 
talk so magniloquently. The sequel justified our master's pre- 
caution. No sooner were the pack inside the limits of the covert 
than a fox broke away, and now the pack get a really fair start 
of a field, and away they go in the direction of Larch Hill, much 
the same line as that taken by a fox from this same gorse on the 
memorable " Hatchet day." On this track, however, our fox does 
not persevere, but, turning to the right, describes a figure not 
unlike half of a capital S, then turns to the left, crosses the 
Moynalvey road, and sweeps onwards over some pasture fields, 
intersected by a few brooks and banks. It is now clearly a race, 
and men are riding accordingly. Lord Howth, who was well in 
front at this point, jumps a bushed-up wall, out of the road I 
referred to, and goes sailing away over the grass land in front. 
In half a mile or so the Dunboyne road is crossed, and here there 
was a pause of a minute or two ; but the line is hit off almost at 
once on the far side, and now for some two or three miles the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 419 

chase goes on, unflagging and unhesitating, till Summerhill is 
reached. Thence the track leads into Agher, and from that park 
into Rahinstown, the meeting-point of the morning. But I hear 
the latter stage of the run was done at a pace little better than the 
crawl to which hard municipal law condemns the Jarveys in crossing 
Carlisle bridge in Dublin. The first part was admirable fast 
over a flying line, and not too long to become tedious or exhausting. 

Among those who saw it well all through, I believe I may 
name the Hon. L. White; while I hear Mr. Sutton reports well 
of his first experience in this fair country with its large fences 
unco' large of aspect at first, but really far safer to a good 
honest horse than their smaller brethren. Besides the heavy- 
weight to whom I referred, Lord Langford got rather a shaking 
fall in this gallop. 

On Friday evening the Town Hall of Naas was the theatre of 
the Kildare hunt ball ; nor was the theatre, which had been 
redecorated for the occasion, unworthy of the groups of fair 
women and brave men there congregated, carpe noctem their 
motto, as carpe diem had been some twelve or fourteen hours 
previously in the undulating grass fields of royal Meath. The 
citizens of Dublin, and, indeed, of Ireland, need not go afield to 
Vienna or Munich for their Tanzmusik, LiddelPs band does its 
spiriting quite as featly as does Strauss's or Gungl's, and the soul 

that is not moved by the concord of his sweet sounds is fit for 

a plough country, for his strains would create a soul under the 
very ribs of death. As usual, Killashee panelled the spolia opima . 
and emblems of the chase into a fine trophy. The wines brought 
present enjoyment without subsequent penitence and remorse to 
the middle man, of whose susceptibilities we are so careless. The 
supper was good, hot, and well served. As for Irish beauty, so 
important a factor in the life of our empire one of its strongest 
pulses it is not like the algebraic x, an unknown quantity; and the 
curious observer may perchance have noticed that the palres fami- 
liarum who were and are the hardest of the hard over the country 



420 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

contributed perhaps the loveliest of the lovely young dancers. 
His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, who seems to have 
inherited the almost ubiquitous gifts of his family, was no mere 
spectator of the gay scene (spectator agenda), and I have no doubt 
that several " plighted youths and maids " found the soft glow of 
wax tapers and the delicious music just as pleasant as " April's 
ivory moonlight beneath the chestnut shade " of the poet's con- 
ception. A charming ball ; we owe much of its happy ensemble to 
the care and energy of our hon. secretary, Mr. D. Maljoney. 

Of lep-racing, the favourite sport in Ireland, there is no end 
just now. On my way to the peninsular games at Baldoyle, I saw 
by a local paper that two meetings of this kind had just been held 
in places of which, with some general idea of Irish topography, 
I had never, that I knew of, heard previously. It is no use 
preaching that these minor contests are injurious to racing as a 
national sport; you might as well initiate a crusade against alcohol 
among licensed vintners, or preach centralization among deter- 
mined Home Rulers. One parish is as good as another, and a 
great deal better ; then why should Kildare have its Punchestown, 
and Ballyporeen be left out in the cold ? The racing at Baldoyle 
was decidedly good and interesting, but the soldiers and pro- 
letarians abounded. The ladies' stand was filled or shall we say, 
with more truth, " graced " by literally the upper ten. Captain 
Bates's fall was a heavy one, and he was struck, I believe, by a 
horse's hoof when on the ground, but no bones were broken, as 
reported. 

Sport continues uninterruptedly good in Wexford. Thus, on 
the 6th, when the county pack met at Ballinkeele, they drew the 
Scough for a good fox, who had been, so to speak, reprieved 
twice. He was at home with one or two more of his fellows, and 
ran to the same rabbit-hole which had sheltered him before : then 
for thirty minutes, very fast, to the drain that had saved him 
on another occasion. From this point he managed to baffle 
the hounds for thirty more minutes, till they ran into him on the 



H1BERNIA VENATICA. 421 

pleasure grounds of Ballinakeele, from which point it is but a step 
to the hospitable dining-room of the sporting owner a step taken 
by many, if not all, to their manifest comfort and refreshing. 

On the Qth they were at Kiltrea Gate, and, after trying some 
spinneys en route, drew Warren's Gorse and a coppice wood blank, 
one hound only opening. The master, not satisfied with the 
result, tried again, and this time more successfully, the dog pack 
pushing out a good dog-fox, who made for Tombrick (a Carlow 
covert), but, before reaching it, turned to the right, brushed by 
Ballydaw, and held on till he made the boundary fence of Holly- 
fort, thence by the back of Movart Church, through Woodlands, 
till he got back to Warren's Gorse, then, running round its extent, 
did not enter it, but faced the mountains before him gallantly. 
He got as far as Mobury Mills, when he was rolled over, after one 
hour and forty minutes of hunting over a good open country, 
fairly fenced. The time up to the first check was an hour, and fast. 

I could only allude to the sport in Louth last week, which was 
quickened by the good scent enjoyed by the pack. On the 4th, 
they were at Glenmore, and found a brace in the wood. One 
they hunted by Slakeen till he got to ground in a well-known place 
very soon. A couple of gorses now tried failed, but Mellifont sent 
out a fox, who turned and pointed for Slane, but got headed, and 
came back over Louth Hill, and on to the ruins of the old house 
at Ardagh, creeping into a sewer leading from them, which had 
escaped notice : a very fast ten minutes. 

Townley Hall furnished the next fox, who took twenty minutes' 
hard hunting in the woodlands before he could be induced to 
break, when he ran a ring by Rossim and Mellifont, and through 
Townley Hall for Louth, getting to ground in a rabbit-hole by the 
banks of the Maltack river, after an hour and seven minutes' hard 
hunting. 

On the yth they were at Moore town, and did not find till they 
got to Skedog, whose fox went away by Keeran and Tinarmore, 
over the top of Drakestown, by Blakestown to Belpatrick, where 



422 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

he got to ground in a small sewer by the roadside, after thirty- 
eight minutes at great pace j bolted, and, given plenty of start, the 
pack ran into him before he could get to Skedog. Tenure pro- 
vided a brace of foxes : one was taken along by Canliss into 
Collon Park, round it, and, getting headed in a bold effort to 
break, he held on past Tenure, till, at a late hour, Mr. Filgate had 
to stop the pack, who were even then full of " go." 

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were spent by many a 
person in the bight of land by Sutton which forms the Howth and 
Baldoyle racecourse let us hope profitably, The hunting pro- 
gramme offered no very great counter-attractions. Nor was there 
anything very brilliant missed in the way of fox-hunting, Monday 
with the Meath hounds being more remarkable for its pleasant 
atmosphere than the character of the sport, which was all com- 
prised in a sharp gallop of some eight or ten minutes. On the 
other hand, it was pleasant for the master to find his coverts well 
stocked with foxes, Grange-Geath maintaining its reputation for 
capability to keep both the Meath and Louth packs busy ; and no 
accidents with vixens always to be feared at this season occurred 
to mar the enjoyment of the day. 

The Ward Union hounds did not hunt on either Monday or 
Wednesday, to give the race-goers a fair chance ; but their card 
proclaimed Taragh cross-roads for Thursday, and there was 
every anticipation of a crowded meet, had not the most persistent 
downpour turned many to other distractions. As it was, I think 
" the special " from the Broadstone only bore three horse-boxes to 
Drumree, while the majority of those who, like myself, had some 
nine or ten miles to travel by road, bowed to the rain powers and 
stayed away. And yet there were quite enough pursuers out to 
give a lively complexion to a pleasant meet in a beautiful country : 
some five or six red-coated Ward Unionists the Messrs. Hone, 
Mr. Trotter, Captains Kearney and Colthurst, Lord Langford, the 
Messrs. Butler, the Messrs. Thunder, the Messrs. Wilkinson, etc, 
of Meath ; the Hon. Mr. Rowley, Sir J. Dillon, Major and Mrs. 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 423 

Johnson, Mr. and Miss Coleridge, Mr. C. Thompson, a few 
officers, a few neighbours and, with that number even, the large 
pasture fields galloped over to-day need not wear too unpeopled 
an aspect A word about the point of rendezvous. A cross-road, 
with a small building near it, which did and does duty, I believe, 
equally for post-office and dispensary functions. The real Hill of 
Taragh is a mile or two further on towards Trim, and overlooks 
Bellinter and the Boyne Water. As for Taragh's halls and 
Taragh's walls, I fear a Schliemann is required to discover them, 
for it strikes me Moore struck the chords of his own lively fancy 
when he created these surroundings for the national harp ; and 
why should not a poet strike the "lyre" as well as any other 
instrument ? Another hill which rises gently out of the surround- 
ing greenery is Skreen or Skryne, for which a derivation is sought 
from the fact of the shrine of St. Columb having been brought 
over from England in 875, and deposited in the monastery here. 
Whether the ruined tower and church which crown the hills, and 
form a landmark for surrounding square leagues, belonged to the 
monastery of Eremites, is, I fancy, matter for archaeological specula- 
tion. Lower down the shoulder stands a modernized castle, where 
Mr. Wilkinson, a staunch promoter of sport, resides. I did not 
see the enlargement, but presently a very large red deer was seen 
by the field trotting along towards Skreen Hill, the browsing cattle 
all turning to stare or follow the muckle beast. Little law was 
given him, as the hour was rather late, and his course lay under 
the castle I have alluded to, on towards Corbalton Hall. One 
large fence only had barred progress, a brook with a high bank on 
the taking-off side ; but it was nothing for a well-trained hunter to 
drop into quietly. A line of gates and a single obstacle lead us 
now into Mr. Wilson's farm Macetown, I think, by name for our 
deer has turned leftwards from Corbalton Hall and its wide woods, 
and very soon a double of good proportions, but safe, stops the 
way. All horses get over well, I think, led or ridden, and the 
line, which seems to incline towards the Skreen ruins by which 



424 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. . 

there is a perfect gallery of spectators now wavers to the right, 
takes the road for a few yards, and then sweeps on past Lismullen 
Church and deer-park towards Staffordstown, till the capture ot 
the deer follows by Corballis Farm. Fifty-five minutes, I hear, 
was the time, and after the first mile and a half the pace was good 
enough. This pack had a very fine chase on Saturday last with 
the truant deer, who resisted so many efforts to take her. Found 
near Killeen Castle, she ran by Gerrardstown to Kilbrew, an old 
haunt of hers, thence past the Reisk, across the Meath line by 
Pelletstown, till taken near Jenkinstown, and succumbing soon 
after, from the pace and great distance covered. 

It is hard to collect one's scattered thoughts about hunting in 
the midst of the Olympic mud antecedent to Punchestown ; but 
the most recent passages of any note are a fair ring with the 
Meath hounds from Beltrasna on Saturday, ten minutes of it good 
enough ; a large meeting of the followers of Mr. Turbitt's harriers, 
amalgamated with a few couple of the Ward Union hounds, to 
hunt an Ashbourne deer, near Jenkinstown, on the same day, 
resulting in a very quick twelve minutes over Ballymaglasson 
(a course good enough for a steeplechase, and lots of brooks to 
jump in its extent, as Captain Bolitho, of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 
knows full well), succeeded by a long hunting run, ending in a 
capture near Priestown ; thirty-eight minutes in Westmeath on 
the 7th, with a fox found in Rosmount, and hunted by Clare Hill 
to ground ; a sharp ten minutes from Grieve Hill ; some hunting 
of no high character from Claremont and Galston Park on the 
9th; a good hunt ball on the night of the loth; some good 
covert-hunting round Knockdrin and its vicinity, ending in a 
meritorious kill ; some more from Cooksborough ; a testimonial 
to Mr. Carey Reeves, whose harriers have shown such good sport 
for several seasons to the dwellers by the Shannon's tidal waters. 
Apropos of the latter river, let me correct an error of mine last 
week in assigning Lord Shannon's masterly talents to Cork. They 
will find full scope still in the Vale of White Horse. 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 425 



XXVIII. 

" Inter arma silent leges (venaticse). " 

Louth sport Bloomsbury pageant Huge meet Navan races, etc. 

CAN you find room for a few faint echoes of the now almost silent 
hunting horn, while "The field a monkey," "Three to one bar 
one," and such like pregnant sentences, vibrate on the listening 
ear? Hunting virtually closes in Ireland with that Pan-venatic 
synod, Punchestown, to which masters of hounds and hunt servants 
repair annually, as does the Moslem to his Mecca (I believe both 
classes occasionally get fleeced, to pursue the analogy) ; but Meath 
still hunts the fox in out-of-the-way places so does Carlow an 
odd stag is quickened up by the music of harriers behind him, and 
" Herring pictures" are to be seen horizontally instead of vertically 
arranged. I cannot now expect you to insert a resume of the results 
of fox-hunting in Ireland during a season which has perhaps never 
been excelled in the character of the sport it has produced, both 
for quality and quantity. The Curraghmore hounds have done 
the most execution. The Kilkenny foxes have maintained their 
old prestige for stoutness. The Limerick Vale never carried 
better scent to the confusion of horses and riders. Of Galway, 
Cork, Meath, Kildare, Wexford, Carlow, the Queen's and King's 
County sport, I have sent fragmentary accounts at intervals. A 
word or two now about Louth, where Mr. Filgate reports that he 



426 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

has had decidedly his best season, though, owing to accidents, his 
forces were sadly crippled and reduced in numbers. On the roth 
these hounds were at Cabra Castle, and after some woodland 
hunting, they drove out their fox past Ardagh Church, by the 
Baily Hill, into a cave where he was safe : fifty minutes, with scent 
breast high all through. Cabra Woods gave them more foxes and 
more hunting in the afternoon. On the i3th they were at Hill- 
town; found in "the Carnes," ran a ring, and thence on to 
Annesbrook, where a sewer saved the fox; the first twenty minutes 
very good. From Dardistown they had a very crooked ringing 
pursuit by Palgreen, New Haggard, Hollymount, and Claremont : 
one hour and five minutes in all, ending in a rabbit-hole. A good 
entry is reported to fill up the gaps and havoc of last season. 

A paragraph recently appeared in one or more Dublin papers 
announcing that Mr. W. Forbes, of Callender, N.B., who has 
recently accepted the mastership of the Kildare hounds (not 
unsolicited), destroyed, by means of a bullet from a rifle, his 
chaser Wolfhall because he refused a fence when out schooling, 
thereby placing the equicide in the category of those cruel men of 
whom the Humane Society, and indeed the House of Commons, 
takes cognizance. Wolfhall is not dead, but very full of life ; and 
probably the only form of veracity in the whole story was the 
possible fact of his having declined a fence. Dead he probably is 
to the race and chasing courses of Ireland; but a career of amend- 
ment is open to him in the hunting field, where he will probably 
perform ere long as an establishment horse. Mr. Forbes, I may 
state, has made some very happy purchases recently of horses of 
"character" for his hunt servants, and with his "summering" they 
may be expected to improve. 

An Act of Parliament of which some do expound the wisdom, 
some the fussiness, of our Legislative Assembly protects the 
tenants of our meres and marshes and foreshores from molestation 
at the hands of the gunner and trapper for five or six months. 
Theoretically we pass a self-denying ordinance for our vixenhood, 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 427 

and we are mightily concerned if any misfortune happens to the 
gravidcz matres who bear with them a burden of future hopes and 
joys. Practically we drive coaches and four through our own 
edicts, and trust to the chapter of accidents for escaping the 
perilous consequences of our efforts to grasp at intempestive sport. 
One of the last passages of spring hunting was enacted on Tuesday, 
the 24th inst., at Bloomsbury Bridge, some six or seven miles from 
Navan, the chief actors in the day's epic being the Meath hounds, 
led by Goodall and his lieutenants, and the levee or gathering who 
mustered to the parade ground or stage to witness the opening 
scenes of the play was really a splendid tribute to Meath, its 
grasseries, and its hunting prestige. I should mention for the 
information of distant readers of these chronicles, that Meath is 
en fete this week ; that country houses are overflowing from base- 
ment to ceiling with guests from all quarters of our empire ; and 
that the week opens with the Hunt Races at Navan over the 
Boyerstown course a very fair sample and epitome of a Meath 
hunting country ; that the meeting, blessed with lovely weather, 
was patronised by peers, patricians, and proletarians, to the last 
available man and woman in the county ; that the " grand " stand 
was no misnomer, if birth, breeding, and beauty, with all fitting 
accessories, constitute grandeur ; that the racing was exciting and 
interesting ; that several of the men and horses who figured promi- 
nently in the season's races were again protagonists (let me state 
that I allude specially to Mr. Murphy and Cigarette); that the 
luncheons showed that cooking is not a lost art in Meath, and that 
the champagne which flowed freely was not perfunctory fizz, heavily 
charged with headache and remorse ; that the arrangements were 
admirable, and that no contretemps occurred to mar them in a 
single instance; that Headfort was turned into a temple of Terpsi- 
chore on Monday night, with Marshal Liddell (has he not a 
baton'?) for choragus. Time would fail me to recount a tithe 
part of the notabilities who flocked to Bloomsbury cross-roads. 
The Headfort party was a very large one, including the Marquis 



428 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

and Marchioness of Headfort, Lord and Lady Castlereagh, Colonel 
Fellows, Captain Colthurst, Captain and the Hon. Mrs. Candy, 
Mr. and Mrs. Cornwallis-West, and Miss Fitzpatrick. Lord 
Howth contributed a very considerable quota to the gay scene, 
among them Major and the Hon. Mrs. Donaldson, Miss 
Cruise, and Captain Middleton, the latter of whom mounted on 
old Bel Espoir, who ran gamely, if not quite successfully, at Navan 
yesterday. Mr. and Mrs. Dunville brought their race guests to 
the meet, among them Mr. T. Hare, master of the Duhallow 
hounds. The complaint of the hour is the lack of horses. To- 
day's pageant of really fine hunters was a partial refutation of the 
cry ; for really good animals seemed cropping up every minute, 
and where they all came from 'twere very hard to tell. But Colonel 
Fraser's stables seem, like Houdin's magic bottle, to be inex- 
haustible, and to adapt themselves to all sizes and weights, from 
the graceful Granny rejoicing now in a fair freight (she carried her 
owner's colours yesterday) to the resolute Tomboy, " with Atlan- 
tean shoulders fit to bear the weight," not of mightiest monarchies, 
but of Captain Hartopp, who, with Captain Boyce and one or two 
more, represented Leicestershire. Lord Clonmell was admirably 
mounted en Courtown; so was Mr. Hamilton Stubber on Younger 
Son, whose performances do not belie his good looks. Captain 
Moreton is on a powerful weight-carrier; in contrast to which, rides 
by Master Dunville on a very perfect boy's hunter of small scale, 
while Miss Taylour's Arab-like grey catches the eye at once. I 
did not count the ladies en amazone, but their name was legion, 
comprising nearly half the field. Bloomsbury is the residence of 
Mr. Barnewall, and overlooks the Blackwater valley. His coverts, 
spread over many parts of Meath, always hold foxes ; so an out- 
lying spinney near the river furnished our motive power at once. 
But covert-keepers, very zealous for their charges, do not encourage 
late spring hunting as a rule in Ireland ; so in a few minutes a 
who-whoop ! told us to expect no run hence to-day. The patch of 
yellow gorse on the side of Faughan Hill was next searched, and 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 429 

yielded a fox instantly, who seemed minded to run towards the 
Episcopal Woods of Ardbraccan at first, but turned downwards 
presently, ran over a large pasture field, crossed the Donaghpatrick 
road, hung for a moment in a round clump beyond it, and then 
sweeping past Allenstown Park, crossed the Navan road, and 
worked back to Faughan Hill by the village of Bohermeen, scent 
being very catchy and fitful, as might be expected from a day 
most light, gaudy, and suggestive of dust clouds. The next fox 
turned up in one of the master's plantations. The fields about 
here are very strongly fenced, and gated in a style worthy of the 
shires, so riding ceases to be absolutely necessary to get to 
hounds ; nevertheless, a few were determined to finish the season 
in the same straight style as they had ridden all through its course, 
and sent reluctant horses at a quickest hedge and ditch, which is 
somewhat different from the usual obstacles of the country. They 
generally declined, till Mr. Nugent's grey showed them the way 
over at a place Ballybeg, I believe, by name. There was a 
pause for a moment or two ; then, as the fox took us on to the 
railway, leading us over a nice double on our way to it, a run seemed 
highly probable ; but after ten minutes or so, the zig-zag path of 
our quarry seemed like that of an anxious vixen ; and when it led 
to the inevitable Faughan Hill, I for one abandoned the chase, and 
of its evening fortunes I can recount nothing. With some hunting, 
much galloping over v ilvety turf of the deepest emerald hue, and 
a great deal of sociable coffee-housing under the most delightful 
auspices, the day could not be called an unsuccess at this season of 
the year. A lady's saddle, borne by Little Wonder, minus the usual 
projecting horn, seemed to me a very sensible innovation on 
custom and tradition, and to follow the path of our naval architects 
in dispensing with needless masts and spars. Has a fore-and-aft 
"apron" been adopted yet by well-dressed hunting youths on 
your side the Channel ? 

Some Red-coat races near Carlaristown on Thursday brought 
the Meath season to a close. The Duke of Connaught and Mr. 
Tiernan were the winners. 



430 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 



XXIX. 

" Farewell ! a long farewell to all our hunting ! " 



Brittas and Jackson's Gorse Meath Red-coat races Knox and Kathleen 
H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. 

WHEN pursuit ceases in royal Meath, hunting in Ireland may be 
said to be moribund, if not actually defunct ; and my tale to-day 
is of the final scenes of Meath sport in the week now hastening 
to its close. Tis true the " tambourine is kept a rowling " still, 
to use Mr. Bigg's symbolic phraseology, by such enthusiasts as 
Mr. Turbitt and Mr. Humphreys, who 

" Think 'tis no treason 

To lengthen their season 
By stealing some days from the Calendar, boys." 

But after the middle of this present week most horses are con- 
signed to summer quarters, or prepared for interviews with the 
veterinary surgeon ; most pinks and leathers have been folded and 
put by; most hunting quarters have been deserted by their 
tenants, and country towns and villages mourn the bit of scarlet 
which, in the absence of the much-loved " army," brought colour 
and animation to their streets. 

Brittas saw the last meet of the Meath hounds this season on 
Wednesday, the 25th ult. It is a roughish bit of wild territory; 
where stones and stone-faced banks recur too often to be pleasant 
to tender horse masters, and horses often retain the Brittas scar 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 431 

longer than owners like. The field was not very different in its 
constitution and elements from that of Tuesday last, supplemented 
by many strangers and visitors, not a few hailing from the further 
side of the dividing streak of silver, so that we need not travel 
over this ground again. There was naturally a fox on the 
premises, but, as its ways were vixenish, he or she obtained the 
benefit of dubious gender in the cessation of pursuit. The next 
fox turned up in Jackson's Gorse (so named from its owner, 
Mr. Jackson, who makes periodical raids on southern and eastern 
racing fields with his cavalry, and brings back no small share of 
loot and spoil) ; for some fifteen or twenty minutes he kept the 
pack hard at work in the covert, and then made a wide ring, 
which, with fast bits and slow bits, occupied an hour and twenty 
minutes ; though it was neither brilliant nor decisive, it was much 
enjoyed by the whole company out, and formed no bad finish to 
a season which has yielded to Meath and its inhabitants an 
immense amount of sport ; no single day having failed to supply 
several runs, good, bad, and indifferent, according to the character 
of the scent and the instincts of the hunted one. As a proof of 
the appreciation of the hunting in Meath this year by all who 
took part in it, I may state that, so far as I can gather, there is 
not so much as a single desertion in the ranks of the visitors who 
migrate to its green pastures as regularly as storks, woodcocks, 
and swallows, what time the equinoctial gales are thinning the 
polychromatic woodlands; that such a thing as a grumble is 
unknown (or very studiously repressed) ; and that, were not the 
accommodation for hunting men and hunting horses somewhat 
limited and rather defective on the whole, their numbers would be 
materially increased. 

Happy the country, I thought, as I surveyed from the lower 
pasture fields the black masses congregated on Kilbegan Hill on 
Thursday about one o'clock p.m., whose monster or mass meetings 
are attracted by the prospect of sport and sociability, and whose 
raison d'etre is not the redress of wrong or grievance, or the 



432 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A, 

vindication of some ignored right and privilege ! It is not very 
much more than a generation ago when a monster meeting in 
Meath meant a very different state of things, when the eloquent 
Tribune was " the starter " as well as " the judge," and when only 
one class of the community answered the summons to the trysting- 
place. How different was the scene of yesterday, of which I 
would fain give your readers some faint idea and sketch, leaving 
their own fancy and imagination full scope to fill in the details ! 
The village of Carlanstown is some two miles from the historic 
and holy city of Kells, and the Hill of Kilbegan is some half a 
mile from Carlanstown. The land is not so rich or flat as in 
lower Meath, but stretches away into undulating steppes of grass, 
dotted with gorses, now golden of hue, every three or four miles. 
Such are Farrenalock and Rathmano, while small clumps of trees 
crown a few of the minor hillocks. From one of these higher 
undulations a splendid view is gained of the subject valley below, 
watered by a small beck or brook; and it was probably this 
natural stand-house, so to speak, which suggested the course for 
the Red-coat races to-day, which I may describe in a line or two 
as an irregular ellipse, the riders having to gallop some two miles 
and a half straight on end, round a small clump of trees, and 
then return and finish their contest close by the spectators' hill, 
behind which they started. There were in the entire course some 
fifteen or sixteen obstacles, fair types of the large sound fences to 
be met with in hunting through Meath. There were four or five 
flags placed at intervals to give general directions as to locality, 
but not to indicate the jumping points. Much was left to the 
rider's eye and instinct for a right line; and, as a matter of fact, the 
flags were too low and too small to answer their purposes fully, 
which was not only to give a notion of the bearings, but also as 
buoys to mark off a few bad boggy spots in the vicinity of the track. 
Before coming to the actual race, let me state that Meath which 
always welcomes strangers to its borders had sent out quires, 
if not reams, of invitations to men from all parts of Ireland to 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 433 

enter their horses in this race ; and if more sportsmen did not 
respond to the call, the season of the year must be considered, and 
also the fact that nothing short of a very high-class hunter would 
be fit to compete over a five-mile line of grass largely, if sparsely, 
fenced. A word now about the crowd on the hill of observation ; 
it was indeed a very mixed multitude, but the mass was all 
leavened with the love of sport. Here was H.R.H. the Duke 
of Connaught with his equerry, Captain M. Fitzgerald, and a 
number of civil and military friends. Yonder whitely gleaming 
marquee contains the very large party from Headfort, including 
the Marquis and Marchioness of that ilk, and a number of visitors. 
Colonel Eraser's party from Bective is a large one, among them 
the Earl of Clonmell, Lord Cole, Lord Rossmore, Colonel 
Fellows, Mr. and Mrs/ Cornwallis-West. The Earl of Howth 
has contributed a large contingent, including the Ladies Saint 
Lawrance, Captains Hartopp and Middleton, Major and the Hon. 
Mrs. Donaldson, Lady Athlumley, and Miss Cruise. Meath 
aristocratic, Meath bucolical, Meath laborious, is here gathered 
together to do honour to the day, and has turned a deaf ear to the 
echoes from the Curragh, and the voices of the horsey world 
now busily occupied at the great Munster fair. 

The day was dark, with a piercing east wind blowing un- 
checked from the seaward, while a haze rather limited the powers 
of vision. Rain looked imminent, but it never came down ; and 
nothing marred the enjoyment of a very festive scene to those 
who were wrapped up in furs and Ulsters. Time seemed to wait 
on the red-coated agonists, rather than they on time; nor was 
the punctuality by any means on a Punchestown scale. 

A PRIVATE SWEEPSTAKE (by invitation) of three sovereigns each, to go to the 
fund ; about four or five miles over a fair hunting country, to be named 
at the start ; a cup will be given to the first horse carrying 145!. or more, 
and to the first horse carrying between last, and I4st. ; every rider must 
wear a red coat, must not go 100 yards on a road, or inspect the course 
previous to the start. 

2 F 



434 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

Captain Kearney ns. Kathleen, last Mr. Knox, R.H.A. i 

Mr. J. Tiernan's Doubtful, 1451 Owner i 

Mr. R. G. Dunville's Slythy Tove, I2st Mr. J. Roberts 2 

Colonel Eraser's (V.C.) Famous, I2st Mr. Hopkins o 

Mr. C. Beresford's Fire King, I2st Owner o 

Mr. R. G. Dunville's Midnight, 1 2st Owner o 

Colonel Fraser, V.C., ns. Black Knight, I2st Captain Fitzgerald o 

Mr. Waller's The Miller, I2st Mr. W. Butler o 

Mr. St. George Golthurst's Convent Bell, I2st Owner o 

Mr. A. G. Nugent's Stafford, I2st Owner o 

Mr. A. G. Nugent's Yorrick, I2st Owner o 

Mr. R. Jameson's Ishmael, I2st ...Owner o 

Captain Kearney's Canary, 145! Captain Middleton o 

Captain Kearsley's Cockade, 145! Mr. Trotter o 

Captain Kearney's Banker, I4st Captain Hartopp o 

Captain Kearney's Cochinella, I4st Owner o 



At last all are weighed out, the i2st. men and the i4St. men, 
the only absentee out of the seventeen coloured on the card being 
Lord Rossmore's Bought In. Banker, a very fine hunter of 
Captain Kearney's, carried the enormous impost of i6st. 4lb. 
Captain Hartopp's lowest riding weight ; and I mention the fact 
as I see his stud is in the market ; and those who bought his 
hunters when he left Ireland for India found their profit in doing 
so. Galloping past the gallery, the red squadron sweeps down 
the hill for nearly a quarter of a mile, and when they reach the 
first obstacle a real, not a chasing, brook, with ten feet of water 
and steep banks there is certainly a good deal of way on. 
Mr. Beresford, who has a great reputation for water-jumping, 
subsides bodily into the stream; three or four men and horses 
jump it in a slovenly fashion ; and by the time the third fence is 
reached a bank and deep drop Captain Middleton, the Messrs. 
Nugent, and Mr. Beresford have to realize that they are clean out 
of the running. The going is beautifully light ; like the lady in 
' the song, who declared she left not the print of her footsteps 
behind her, the iron-shod horses hardly leave a trace on the 
elastic, springy sod. The Moynalty road is now reached, struck 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 435 

in various quarters. It is a point of honour not to ride a. hundred 
yards on a road; so, though a small wall some three feet high is 
close by, one gallant sportsman jumps over a crumbled parapet 
of a stone bridge with a deep drop, and goes on his way rejoicing, 
and fortunately uncrumpled. Near the clump of trees I alluded to 
stands a bank and hedgerow ; a pence has been cut in this, with 
the stumps of the trees sticking up on the bank in rather a 
menacing fashion. All, however, get over safely ; and now 
Mr. Danville, who, I hear, had a commanding lead, has to pilot 
his followers back homewards, and the line he adopts is very 
wide, as he failed to catch sight of the guiding flags. The run 
home is about a mile, broken only by one small fence, as a few 
dangerous barriers had been prudently levelled. An obvious and 
inviting short cut leads direct to one of those little bits of bog or 
morass "Curraghs," in the vernacular, I believe more easily 
seen and avoided when hunting than in a sharp contest of this 
sort, when the keen, cutting wind is dead against yon ; so Captain 
Maurice Fitzgerald, on Black Knight, when nearing home and 
well in front, plunges into the peaty trap, and is now only 
solicitous for his prostrate horse. With a stiff gradient, after four 
miles and a half done at very good speed, breeding, condition, 
and staying powers come into play, and in one or all of these 
essentials Kathleen, admirably ridden by Mr. W. G. Knox > 
R.H.A., showed a most marked superiority over her compeers, 
cantering in the easiest of winners ; while Mr. J. Roberts, on 
Slythy Tove (Phosbus, what a name !) secured second place ; 
Mr. J. Tiernan, on Doubtful, a high-class stamp of hunter, beat 
the other three fourteen-stoners easily enough ; Banker wrenching 
his fetlock joint close to the winning-post. It is no secret that 
Kathleen and Black Knight are the property of H.R.H. the Duke 
of Connaught, and the win of the former was extremely popular 
among all classes, in whom H.R.H. has made loyalty a personal 
sentiment. 



436 HIBERNIA VENATICA.* 

PRIVATE RACE (by invitation), to be run for by horses that never started for 
a flat race, hurdle race, or steeplechase, value nineteen sovereigns, and 
bond fide the property of farmers residing in the Meath hunt district ; 
nineteen sovereigns to be given to first horse carrying ijst. ylb., and 
nineteen sovereigns to first horse carrying list. 7lb ; five sovereigns 
to second horse in each class. 

Mr. P. Flood's Twist, J3st ylb I 

Mr. C. E. Walker's Hunting Horn, 1351. ylb 2 

Mr. M. Sheridan's Gambler, 1351. 7lb 3 

Mr. E. K. Walker's Lena, list. ;lb o 

Mr. P. Rooney's Wasp, list. 7lb o 

Mr. P. Rooney's Bloodhound, list, ylb o 

Mr. E. O'Brien's , list. 7lb o 

Mr. C. E. Walker'sns. Lady Hesse, list, ylb o 

Mr. J. Martin's Comet, list 7lb o 

Mr. C. E. Walker's Daughter of the Regiment, 1 1st. 7lb o 

Mr. J. Flood's The Chicken, list. 7lb o 

Mrs. James's Tally-Ho, list. 7lb o 

Mr. M. Tevlin's Nelly Grey, list. 7lb o 

Mr. P. Bradley's Rob Roy, list. 7lb o 

Mr. F. Lynch's Tara Lad, list. 7lb o 

Mr. G. S. Walker's^ , 1351. ;lb o 

Mr. J. Bradley's Shaun, 1351. 7lb o 

Mr. H. Flood's Aide-de-Camp, 1351. ;lb o 

Mr. M. E. Gilsenan's Watchman, 1351. 7lb o 



The Farmers' Race which followed was over the Red-coat race 
track somewhat curtailed, and two divisions, carrying respectively 
ust. ylb. and 1351. 7lb., started separately for the prizes offered. 
The ust. 7lb. men ran at a very good pace, but I believe nearly 
all mistook or failed to see the flags coming home, which I again 
repeat were far too small for the occasion, and whether Mr. 
Walker got the stakes or not I cannot state. The heavy division 
ran at slow hunting pace, but came home in a clusterj Mr. P. 
Flood's Twist having Hunting Horn and Gambler close in his 
wake. 

The many strangers present must have been greatly impressed 
by the reaches of fine hunting country spread out on all sides, 
such as few parts of the old world can present. The course was 
admirably chosen, both for riders and onlookers, and reflects the 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 43 7 

greatest credit on Messrs. Waller, Kearney, Johnson, and Donald- 
son, who interested themselves and exerted themselves greatly to 
secure a successful meeting. The track lay mainly over two large 
farms, held by Messrs. Reilly and Masterson, and the property 
of Mr. Farrell, of Moynalty, who helped the committee in every 
way ; it was all old turf, with the exception of a single field of 
seeds, which the owner freely devoted to the cause of sport. The 
whole thing was worthy of Meath. 

Lord Howth, who has fairly entered to this pack, recently 
presented the hunt with a hound van, a necessity or semi-necessity 
not generally recognized in Ireland. 

As the last bit of hunting "sign" ere the close season .com- 
mences, a subscription list has been started with a view to present 
Mr. Edmund Mansfield with a testimonial in recognition of the 
sport he showed while master of the Kildare hounds. The limit 
of contributions is fixed at 2, and I name the subject, feeling 
sure that not a few who may be following their colours in India 
and the colonies would like to contribute ; for, though eaten bread 
may be forgotten, and turtle and venison may fade from recollec- 
tion, the love of sport is a joyous and ever-present memory, 
associating itself with the most pleasurable emotions of life. 

"Plantagenet," in his resume of the sport of the season, 
alludes to the absence of blank days in the Curraghmore, the 
Kilkenny, the Louth, and Wexford packs. Let me assure your 
readers that the Irish list might be greatly extended. In Meath 
and Kildare, for instance, I think the average of foxes found each 
day during the entire season could not be less than three. 

Rawle, I hear, goes to Mr. Hamilton Stubber, in the Queen's 
County ; and the draft of hounds which Mr. Forbes has gained 
for Kildare are much admired, but I cannot speak from observa- 
tion. 

The Baldoyle Flat and Steeplechase May -meeting this week 
was, perhaps, the most successful in point of entries and attendance 
that the oldest inhabitant could say he recollects. It was chiefly 



43 8 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

remarkable for surprises, and the upsetting of aerial castles of 
finance by home-trained and comparatively overlooked horses 
of the hunting class. Mr. Sewell's sale of hunters and steeple- 
chase horses the next day was well attended ; but prices ruled so 
low that it seemed as if buyers had made up their minds to await 
the further development of the Eastern question before they 
embarked their capital in horseflesh. Captain Cosby's pack of 
fox-hounds were offered for sale, and with difficulty found pur- 
chasers at the absurd prices of one guinea and ten shillings a 
couple. There were some very useful and fashionably bred 
hounds among them and even the seven or eight season hunters 
had a good deal of work left in them ; a few lots were left unsold. 
As an indication of the unsettled condition of the money market, 
this sale was perfectly ominous. 

" And those last ' notes ' which never were the last." 

As I cannot think them as sweet as the poet's kisses under the 
circumstances he depicts, I do not intend to inflict any more on 
your readers this season, their thoughts being more intent on war 
than on its mimic pageant just now. I will merely remark, in these 
farewell paragraphs, that Mr. Turbitt's harriers afforded the hard 
riders of the Metropolitan or Home Circuit last Saturday after- 
noon matter to ponder over during the recess. Hunting being 
unseasonable, a drag was resorted to (desinit in piscem\ and 
two or three well-known yeomen farmers in that border country 
between the marches of the Kildare and Meath territories threw 
open their grass farms for the occasion, subordinating the interests 
of ewes, lambs, meadows, and fattening cattle to the imperative 
demands of sport and a last ride. A curdling east wind and a 
baking sun had parched up the sodden fields very much, and 
made the banks hard enough in places ; but so judiciously was the 
track laid that horses never were once jarred by drops on to hard 
ground, nor did the tumblers find the soil different in consistency 
from that of midwinter. Starting from the Manse, it wound 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 439 

round by Courtown, Laragh, and Baltracy, and leaving Maynooth 
to the right hand, finished the irregular circle near the starting- 
point. It actually followed the lines, so to speak, of two very 
good fox-chases of 1876-77 with the Kildare hounds, which 
originated in Courtown, and the flight was about seven miles, 
though some estimate it at more. Messrs. Hone, Hanway, 
M'Geer, Byrne, and Murlandsaw it well all through, and so indeed 
did most of the company, for the chief feature was the perfection 
of the selected country. The pace was not wonderful, though 
sustained, and could not be termed "weeding." 



44 o HI BERN I A VENA TIC A, 



XXX. 

The Finish. 

I WONDER if any one was ever struck with the analogy between a 
crowd progressing by converging roads towards a fashionable or 
popular tryst of fox-hounds in our island and in our century with 
the dramatis persona; of a Canterbury pilgrimage, setting forth 
from " the Tabard of Southwerk," as described by Chaucer, in 
verse as immortal as the language which he helped greatly to 
frame and compose ? There we have the knight, a worthy man, 
who " loved chevalrie, truthe and honour, fredom and curtesie ; " 
with his son, a "yonge squier, a liver and a lusty bacheler " ; then 
the "yeoman," and the " marchant with a fulled beard"; the 
clerke from Oxenforde, on a horse as lean as a rake ; the serjeant 
of the law, " wan and wise " ; the frank elein, of sanguin com- 
plexion, in whose train came the haberdasher, the carpenter, the 
webber, the deyer, and the tapiser ; then the shipman, tJie doctor 
of phisike, "a very parfite practisoner " ; the good wif "of beside 
Bath," a lady of large experience ; the plowman, the reeve, and the 
sompnour. All these classes, modified to suit altered times and 
fashions, we have in our modern hunting train ; but the large 
clerical element, of whom Chaucer sings so chirpily, is conspicuous 
by its absence in our day, for the pastors of the minority ever 
accounted " a hunter a vain thing," though a hack or a carriage 
horse was a different sort of animal'; while the presbyters of the 
elder and more popular creed have recently been interdicted from 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 441 

mingling in the chase, and have thereby robbed the procession of 
a very genial and pleasant element. In the poet's day the 
description of the monk ran thus 

" Of pricking and of hunting for the hare 
Was all his lust, for no cost wolde he spare." 

Now 'tis said that the Tridentine canon against "clamosa venatio" 
has been invoked ; though possibly, if it were generally known that 
fox-hunting in these islands is a most orderly and even silently 
serious affair, that when once the overture begins no talking is 
allowed in pit or boxes, and that "il piu grand' omagio alia 
musica sta nel silenzio," things might be different 

In Chaucer's day there was no standing army, no Mutiny Bill, 
no reserves, no Horse Guards, no War Office. Hence we have no 
word-painting, and no nice subtle distinctions between the form of 
the linesman and the horse soldier, the staffsman and the guards- 
man, the gunner and the engineer, the lancer, the hussar, the 
heavy and the medium dragoon, all of which, invisible to the 
ordinary glance, are said to be perceptible and very appreciable by 
the really educated eye of man or woman to the manner born and 
taught. 

In nothing, however, is the progress of the civilizing centuries 
more conspicuous than in the element of beauty and grace, which 
leavens all our great hunting processions, and lends them a charm 
unknown to the darker ages of Tudors and Plantagenets ! 

" The world (the hunting world) was sad, the garden was a wild, 
And man, the hermit, sighed, till woman smil'd. " 

It is not our province to trace the gradual emancipation of 
lovely woman from the fetters which ignorance and prejudice 
originally forged, and which tyranny and selfishness rivetted for 
ages. One of her great triumphs is the. hunting-field, to which 
she has won her way by sap and mine, by art and eloquence, and 
by the irresistible glamour of fascination. A generation or two 



442 HIBERNIA VENATICA. 

ago " a hunting woman " was a subject of conversation and criti- 
cism, oftener severe than otherwise, on the part of her sister 
judges. Walter Scott's "Di Vernon" was quoted by matrons 
with a shake of the head, and Thompson's unseasonable lines 
about hunting women came glibly to the tongue of ancient 
maidens. Now, a novel is almost incomplete without a hunting 
heroine, and Whyte Melville has proved by precept and example 
that prowess in the field is not incompatible with every feminine 
gift and grace, and that light hands and a loving heart are very 
often associated together. 

The laureate wrote some rather inconsequent lines about 
woman being the lesser man. The sting is meant to apply phy- 
sically and mentally. Physically, she rejoices and glories in the 
reproach, and so does her sympathetic hunter, who bears her nine 
or ten stone odd with willing courage and a light heart, when 
her brother's fourteen or fifteen would dishearten him from even 
attempting to make his best efforts and his gallantest struggles for 
pride of place ; mentally, she scorns even to argue the question, 
and as to the subsequent line, she maintains that her passion for 
the chase at any rate, and her raptures for its glories, are quite as 
strong and more rational, if less absorbing, than those of the 
greatest Nimrod of them all, if the windows of Truth's palace were 
not always shuttered and blinded. 

In Ireland, during the past two decades, hunting has become 
an absorbing passion as well as fashion with our womanhood, and, 
sooth to say, there are few rivals near the throne of Diana ; for 
society in Ireland means hunting, and the chase is almost a corella- 
tion for society hence to be away from the glories and perils of 
sport is to pass an exiled existence. To be an actor in the great 
drama is pleasure ; to mingle with the leaders of the world of 
hunting is to be within the pale ; to be without is outer darkness. 
I suppose it was not always so, for Campbell makes the lowly 
born lover who had eloped with "O'Connor's pale and lovely 
child," say or sing, in picturing his arcadia in the west : 



HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 443 

" I'll play, my Clarseach, by thy side, 
I'll hunt for thee the fallow deer." 

Now, his bride would hardly understand the rationale of her lord's 
deer-hunting while she was left to spin wool or weave fancies. 

It is not many years since the one lady in Kildare, who hunted 
and rode as few have done since, was the cynosure of admiring eyes, 
the theme of every tongue. Now, more than twenty amazoned 
figures are to be seen at every large meet, and out of that number 
many ride almost faultlessly and fearlessly. As in Kildare, so is it 
in Meath, Louth, Limerick, Cork, Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny, 
and all the great centres of our national sport ; wherever you go 
you will be sure to find ladies who ride, and ladies who ride hard, 
well, and yet gracefully. It is sometimes a matter of surprise why, 
if so many ladies ride straight, as they do nowadays in Ireland, the 
crop of accidents is so comparatively small. The answer seems to 
be that, as the Vedda says : " Knowledge is masculine, faith is 
feminine ; " and feminine faith in the capacity of her hunter some- 
times does wonders which man's knowledge cannot effect ! faith, 
of course, coupled with good hands, a quick eye, and above all a 
capable horse. 

The portraits which illustrate this volume are those of ladies, 
some of whom are by position and circumstance queens of hunting 
society ; all ride often, and ride well to hounds ; but I do not 
maintain that they are sole patentees of this most beautiful art my 
contention is that they grace and adorn it much. 



444 HIBERNIA V EN ATI C A. 



Vixi puellis nuper idonens et militavi non sine gloria. 

HOR. Carm. lib. iii. 26 (freely parodied). 



I've sung my who-whoop in Kildare : 
I've hunted my last with the Wards. 

John, hang up my flannels to air ! 

I'll play in the colt's match at Lord's ! 



My pinks you may now lay aside ; 

Let my latchfords and crops line the rack- 
No longer they'll tempt me to ride ; 

Till the ides of November come back. 



Diana, thou queen of fox-hunters, 
Befriend me, thy liegeman, in town ; 

Protect me from sharpers and punters ; 
Teach Chloe to smile, not to frown ! 



HIBERNIA VENATICA. 445 



THE WARD UNION STAG-HOUNDS AND THE 
BAYTOWN RUN OF JANUARY 24, 1877. 



They may rave of the Quorn 
And its native black thorn, 
Its Whissendine, Smite, and its valley of Soar, 

II. 

But give me the sward 
That enamels the Ward 
Be Baytown our meet and Moynalvey before. 

in. 

They tell us their Dixies 
Can beat even pixies 
In flying a brook, or in topping a rail, 

IV. 

But our own land of dairies 
Is full of its fairies, 
Who at singles and doubles or lochs never fail. 

v. 

Our fields are ungated, 
But very well mated 
With hunters that scorn such degenerate tracks. 



446 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

VI. 

Their pastures and glebes 
Have all portals like Thebes, 
And through them come hustling the crocks and the cracks. 

VII. 

Our ditches are deep, 
But whenever you leap, 
Throw your heart and your eye to the next fence in front. 

VIII. 

For if horse, or if man, 
The black bottom you scan, 
6 to 4 you'll go in or you'll both "do a shunt.'' 

IX. 

In pipeclay they beat us, 
In varnish defeat us, 
In horseflesh or country we'll yield to no land. 

x. 

And if you are doubting, 
My verities flouting, 
On the Mullagh's broad shoulder just take up your stand ; 

XI. 

On oceans of prairie, 
A sheep-walk or dairy, 
By ploughshare unsullied its green virgin sod. 

XII. 

There you'll gaze with delight 
On that beautiful sight, 
The finest arena that hunter e'er trod. 



HIBERNIA VENA 7 1C A. 447 

XIII. 

Last Wednesday they started, 
Some 60 stout hearted, 
From Vesington eastwards some five miles or more. 

XIV. 

Past Batterstown racing, 
" The Hatchet " they're facing, 
And now some two dozen are left at Kilmore. 



The rest they are " ditching," 
While others are fishing, 
In brooks and in dykes for the gear they have lost. 

XVI. 

But now 'twould be dreary 
To tell of the weary, 
Of Langford of Hartigan Lascelles of most. 

XVII. 

Still onward pursuing, 
Moynalvey just viewing, 
They're passing Beltrasna's rich area of gorse. 

XVIII. 

Culmullen hill breasting, 
Its gradient is testing 
The lun^s of each hunter his heart and his force. 



Once again down the vale 
Some half-dozen they sail, 
For the pace and the fences have 'minish'd the crew. 



448 HIBERNIA VENA TIC A. 

xx. 

To Warrenstown steering, 
Dunsany appearing, 
In front pace unslackened the quarry in view. 

XXI. 

But now Dumree is past, 
And our red deer at last 
Takes the road like a highwayman sorely distrest. 

XXII. 

In a mile he is captured, 
And greatly enraptured 
Ride M'Gerr and Fitzgerald (the truth be confest). 

XXIII. 

They alone saw the ending, 
Though closely attending 
Rose, Brindley, Gore, Wardrop, Waldron in the race. 

XXIV. 

Rode the line well and truly, 
Let's honour them duly, 
And Turbitt soon after secured a. fair place. 

XXV. 

Then here's to the farmers' 
Wives, daughters, all charmers, 
Who dwell in this beautiful ocean of turf, 

XXVI. 

And would it were my lot 
To follow that pilot, 
McGeer through its breakers its billows its surf. 



HIBERNIA VE VATIC A. 449 

XXVII. 

And here's to the master, 
Whom recent disaster 
Keeps far from the field of his love and his fame. 

XXVIII. 

Here's to Leonard Morrogh ; 
In sickness or sorrow, 
We know that his heart is still true to the game ! 

XXIX. 

And let the committee 
Be praised in my ditty, 
And here's to the Brindleys, good father and son ! 

XXX. 

And here's to the Ashbourne choir, 
Who can set hearts a-fire ; 
And here's to the red deer who show us such fun. 



PRINTED AT THE CAXTOX PRESS, BECCI.ES. 



1 93 5 PICCADILLY, LONDON, W. 
NOVEMBER, 1877. 



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CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 21 

DICKENS'S (CHARLES) WORKS-CV///W- 

THE ILLUSTRATED LIBRARY EDITION. 

Complete in jo Volumes. Demy Si-o, IDS. each; or set, 15. 

This Edition is printed on a finer paper and in a larger tyge than has been 
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the page is of a size to admit of the introduction of all the original illustrations. 

No such attractive issue has been made of the writings of Mr. Dickens, 
which, various as have been the forms of publication adapted to the demands 
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The collection comprises all the minor writings it was Mr. Uickens's wish 
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The next Volume will be CHRISTMAS BOOKS. 

PEOPLE'S EDITION. 

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CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, PICCADILL Y. 23 

THE LIBRARY 

OF 

CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE. 



Some degree of truth has been admitted in the charge not unfrequently 
brought against the English, that they are assiduous rather than solid readers. 
They give themselves too much to the lighter forms of literature. Technical 
Science is almost exclusively restricted to its professed votaries, and, but for 
some of the Quarterlies and Monthlies, very little solid matter would come 
within the reach of the general public. 

But the circulation enjoyed by many of these very periodicals, and the 
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to believe that if strictly scientific subjects are not more universally cultivated, 
it is mainly because they are not rendered more accessible to the people. Such 
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to present the series in a thoroughly English dress to the reading public of this 
country. In so doing we feel convinced that we are taking the best means of 

supplying a want that has long been deeply felt. 

[OVER. 



-4 



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The volumes in actual course of execution, or contemplated, will embrace 
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they are like their precursor, they will be clear and well written, somewhat polemical, and 
nobly contemptuous of opponents. . . . The translator has done his work throughout 
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CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 29 

COPIES FOR SHADED DRAWING Continued 
EARLY ENGLISH CAPITAL, mounted, is. 
GOTHIC PATERA, unmounted, 4 d.; mounted, is. 
RENAISSANCE SCROLL, Tomb in S. M. Dei Fran, Venice, unmounted, 6d.; 

mounted, is. 4 d. 
MOULDING OF SCULPTURED FOLIAGE, decorated, unmounted, 6d.; 

mounted, is. 4 d. 

ARCHITECTURAL STUDIES. By J. B. TKIPON. 20 Plates, ,. 
MECHANICAL STUDIES. By J. B. TRIPON, i S s. per dozen. 
FOLIATED SCROLL FROM THE VATICAN, unmounted, 5 d.; mounted, is. ad. 
TWELVE HEADS after Holbein, selected from his drawings in Her Majesty's 

Collection at Windsor. Reproduced in Autotype. Half-imperial, 365. 

LESSONS IN SEPIA, 9 s. per dozen, or is. each. 

SMALL SEPIA DRAWING COPIES, 95. per dozen, or is. each. 

COLOURED EXAMPLES: 

A SMALL DIAGRAM OF COLOUR, mounted, is. 6d.; unmounted, $d. 

TWO PLATES OF ELEMENTARY DESIGN, unmounted, is.; mounted, 35. 9 d. 

PETUNIA, mounted, 35. od.; unmounted, 25. 9d. 

PELARGONIUM, mounted, 35. gd.; unmounted, as. gd 

CAMELLIA, mounted, 35. gd. ; unmounted, as. gd. 

GROUP OF CAMELLIAS, us. 

NASTURTIUM, mounted, 3s. gd.; unmounted, as. $d. 

OLEANDER, mounted, 35. gd.; unmounted, as. <jd. 

TORRENIA ASIATICA. Mounted, 35. gd.; unmounted, as. gd. 

PYNE'S LANDSCAPES IN CHROMO-LITHOGRAPHY (6), each, mounted , 

75. 6d. ; or the set, 2 55. 
COTMAN'S PENCIL LANDSCAPES (set of 9), mounted, i 5 s. 

SEPIA DRAWINGS (set of 5), mounted, 1. 

ALLONGE'S LANDSCAPES IN CHARCOAL (6), at 4 s. each, or the set, i 4 s. 
4 oia. BUNCH OF FRUIT, PEARS, &c., 45. 6d. 

4 013. APPLES, 45. 6d. 

4 01 4 . WHITE GRAPES AND PLUMS, 4 s. 6d. 

4015. KLACK GRAPES AND PEACHES, 4*. 6d. 

4016. PLUMS, MULBERRIES, &c., 45. 6d. 

4 01 7 . BOUQUET OF FLOWERS, LARGE ROSES, &c., 4 s. 6d. 

4018. ROSES AND HEARTSEASE, 3 s. 6d. 

4019. SMALL CAMELLIAS, 3 s. 6d. 

4020. POPPIES, &c., 3-s. 6d. 

4039. CHRYSANTHEMUMS, 4 s. 6d. 

4040. LARGE CAMELLIAS, 4 s. 6d. 
4Q77 . LILAC AND GERANIUM, 3 s. 6d. 
4080. CAMELLIA AND ROSE, 3 s. 6d. 

408,. SMALL CAMELLIAS AND BLUE BELLS, 

35. 6d. 

4082. LARGE DAHLIAS, 4 s. 6d. 

4083. ROSES AND LILIES, 4 s. 6d. 

4090. ROSES AND SWEET PEAS, 35. 6d. 

4094. LARGE ROSES AND HEARTSEASE, 45. 

4,80. ,, LARGE BOUQUET OF LILAC, 6s. 6d. 

4I9 o. DAHLIAS AND FUCHSIAS, 6s. 6d. 



30 BOOKS PUBLISHED BY 

SOLID MODELS, c. : 

*Box of Models,, ji 45. 

A Stand with a universal joint, to show the solid models, &c., i i8s. 
*One wire quadrangle, with a circle and cross within it, and one straight wire. One solid 
cube. One skeleton wire cube. One sphere. One cone. One cylinder. One 
hexagonal prism. 2 as, 
Skeleton cube in wood, 35. 6d. 
i8-inch Skeleton cube in wood, ias. 
*Three objects otjorm in Pottery : 
Indian Jar, ) 
Celadon Jar, V iSs. 6d. 
Bottle, ) 

"Five selected Vases in Majolica Ware, 2 us. 
*Three selected Vases in Earthenware, iSs. 

Imperial Deal Frames, glazed, without sunk rings, IDS. 
'Davidson's Smaller Solid Models, in Box, 2. 
* Davidson's Advanced Drawing Models (ip models), g. 
^Davidson's Apparatus for Teaching Practical Geometry (22 models), 5. 
*Binn's Models for illustrating the elementary principles of orthographic projection as 

applied to mechanical drawing, in box, i IDS. 
Vulcanite set square, ss. 
Large compasses with chalk -holder, 55. 
*Slip, two set squares and T square, 5$. 

*Parkes* case of instruments, containing 6-inch compasses with pen and pencil leg, 55. 
*Prize instrument case, with 6-inch compasses, pen and pencil leg, i small compasses, 

pen and scale, i8s. 

6-inch compasses with shifting pen and point, 45. 6d. 
Small compass in case, is. 

* Models, &.C., entered as sets, cannot be supplied singly. 



LARGE. DIAGRAMS. 

ASTRONOMICAL : 

TWELVE SHEETS. Prepared for the Committee of Council on Education by JOHN- 
DREW, Ph. Dr., F.R.S.A. ,* 8s.; on rollers and varnished, 4 45. 

BOTANICAL : 

NINE SHEETS. Illustrating a Practical Method of Teaching Botany. By Professor 
HKNSLOW, F.L.S. 3.; on canvas and rollers, and varnished, -3 35. 

ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE PRINCIPAL NATURAL ORDERS OF THE 
VEGETABLE KINGDOM. By Professor OLIVER, F.R.S., F.L.S. 70 Imperial 
sheets, containing examples of dried Plants, representing the different Orders. 
5 55. the set. 

Catalogue and Index to Oliver's Diagrams, is. 

BUILDING CONSTRUCTION: 

TEN SHEETS. By WILLIAM J. GLENNV, Professor of Drawing, King's. College. 

In sets, i is. 

LAXTON'S EXAMPLES OF BUILDING CONSTRUCTION IN TWO 
DIVISIONS : 

First Division, containing 16 Imperial Plates, IDS. 

Second Division, containing 16 Imperial Plates, IDS. 
BUSBRIDGE'S DRAWINGS OF BUILDING CONSTRUCTION, n Sheets. 

Mounted, 55. 6d.; unmounted, 25. oxl. 

GEOLOGICAL : 

DIAGRAM OF BRITISH STRATA. By H. W. BRISTOW, F.R.S., F.G.S. A 
Sheet, 4$ ; mounted on roller and varnished, 75. 6d. 



CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, PICCADILL Y. 31 

MECHANICAL : 

DIAGRAMS OF THE MECHANICAL POWERS, AND THEIR APPLI- 
CATIONS IN MACHINERY AND THE ARTS GENERALLY. By 
DR. JOHN ANDERSON. 
This Series consists of 8 Diagrams highly coloured on stout paper, 3 feet 

6 inches by 2 feet 6 inches, price i per set ; mounted on common rollers, 2. 
DIAGRAMS OF THE STEAM-ENGINE. By Professor GOODEVE and Professor 
SHELLEV. 

These Diagrams are on stout paper, 40 inches by 27 inches, highly coloured. 
The price per set of 41 Diagrams (57 '4 Sheets), j6 6s. These Diagrams can 
be supplied varnished and mounted on rollers at _*. 6d. extra per Sheet. 

EXAMPLES OF MACHINE DETAILS. A Series of 16 Coloured Diagrams. 
By Professor UN WIN. 1 2 s. 

SELECTED EXAMPLES OF MACHINES, OF IRON AND WOOD (French). 

By STANISLAS PETTIT. 60 Sheets, 3 54.; i3s. per dozen. 
BUSBRIDGE'S DRAWINGS OF MACHINE CONSTRUCTION (22). Mounted, 

us.; unmounted, 5$. 6d. 

LESSONS IN MECHANICAL DRAWING. By STANISLAS PETTIT, is. per 
dozen ; also larger Sheets, being more advanced copies, is. per dozen. 

LESSONS IN ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING. By STANISLAS PETTIT. is. per 
dozen ; aLo larger Sheets, bein more advanced copies, as. per dozen. 

PHYSIOLOGICAL : 

ELEVEN SHEETS. Illustrating Human Physiology, L;fe s!ze and Coloured from 
Nature. Prepared under the direction of JOHN MARSHALL. F.R.S., F.R.C.S., tic. 
Each Sheet, 12*. 6d- Oa canvas and rollers, varnished, i is. 

i. THE SKELETON AND LIGAMENTS. 

?. THE MUSCLES. JOINTS, AND ANIMAL MECHANICS. 

3. THE VISCERA IN POSITION.-THE STRUCTURE OF THE LUNGS 

4. THE ORGANS OF CIRCULATION. 

5. THE LYMPHATICS OR ABSORBENTS. 
6 THE ORGANS OF DIGESTION. 

7. THE BRAIN AND NERVES. THE ORGANS OF THE VOICE. 

8. THE ORGANS OF THE SENSES, Plate i. 

9. THE ORGANS OF THE SENSES, Plate 2. 

10. THE MICROSCOPIC STRUCTURE OF THE TEXTURES AND 

ORGANS, Plate i. 

11. THE MICROSCOPIC STRUCTURE OF THE TEXTURES AND 

ORGANS, Plate 2. 

HUMAN BODY, LIFE SIZE. By JOHN MARSHALL, F.R.S., F.R.C.S. 



1. THE SKELETON, Front View. 

2. THE MUSCLES, Front View. 

3. THE SKELETON, Back View. 

4. THE MUSCLES, Back View. 



5. THE SKELETON, Side View. 

6. THE MUSCLES, Side View. 

7. THE FEMALE SKELETON 

Front View. 



Each Sheet, i2S. 6d. ; on canvas and rollers, varnished, i is. 
Explanatory Key, is. 

ZOOLOGICAL : 

TEN SHEETS. Illustrating the Classification of Animals. By ROBERT PATTERSON". 
jC-2.; on canvas and rollers, varnished, 3 los. 

The same, reduced in size, on Royal paper, in 9 Sheets, uncoloured, 125. 



CHAPMAN &> HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 



THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW. 



Edited by JOHN MORLEY. 
'T'HE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW is published on the ist of 

every month (the issue on the 1 5th being suspended), and a Volume is 
completed every Six Months. 

The following are among the Contributors : 



SIR RUTHERFORD ALCOCK. 
PROFESSOR BAIN. 
PROFESSOR BEESLY. 
DR. BRIDGES. 

HON. GEORGE C. BRODRICK. 
SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL, M.P. 
J. CHAMBERLAIN, M.P. 
PROFESSOR CLIFFORD, F.R.S. 
PROFESSOR SIDNEY COLVIN. 
MONTAGUE COOKSON, Q.C. 
L. H. COURTNEY, \r.P. 
G. H. DARWIN. 
F. W. FARRAR. 
PROFESSOR FAWCETT, M.P. 
EDWARD A. FREEMAN. 
MRS. GARRET-ANDERSON. 
M. E. GRANT-DUFF, M.P. 
THOMAS HARE. 
F. HARRISON. 
LORD HOUGHTON. 
PROFESSOR HUXLEY. 

PROFESSOR JEVONS 
MILE DE LAVELEYE. 
T. E. CLIFFE LESLIE. 
GEORGE HENRY LEWES. 
RIGHT HON. R. LOWE, M.P. 



SIR JOHN LUBBOCK, M.P. 

LORD LYTTON. 

SIR H. S. MAINE. 

DR. MAUDSLEY. 

PROFESSOR MAX MULLER. 

PROFESSOR HENRY MORLEY. 

G. OSBORNE MORGAN, Q.C..M.P. 

WILLIAM MORRIS. 

F. W. NEWMAN. 

W. G. PALGRAVE. 

WALTER H. PATER. 

RT. HON. LYON PLAYFA1R, M.P. 

DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI. 

HERBERT SPENCER. 

HON. E. L. STANLEY. 

SIR J. FITZJAMES STEPHEN, Q.C. 

LESLIE STEPHEN. 

J. HUTCHISON STIRLING. 

A. C. SWINBURNE. 

DR. VON SYBEL. 

J. A. SYMONDS. 

W. T. THORNTON. 

HON. LIONEL A. TOLLEMACHE. 

ANTHONY TROLLOPE. 

PROFESSOR TYNDALL. 

THE EDITOR. 



fee. &c. &c. 
THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW is published at 2s. 6d. 



CHAPMAN & HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 



CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS,] 



[CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS. 



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