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Leinster Leader, January 8 2009
Tally Ho! As hunt traverses the county on mid-winter gallops
The mid-winter was, of course, the hunting season and for the supporters of hunting in the county it was a keenly anticipated time of the year. There was a long tradition in the local paper of publishing full accounts of the various hunting meets including descriptions of the terrain traversed by the horses and hounds. These give some flavour of the thrill of the chase – although that is hardly likely to be a sentiment felt by the unfortunate fox! Nonetheless the reports give a valuable insight into a pursuit which figured prominently in the county in bygone years. The Leader of January 1959 picks up on a number of meets with the Kildare Hunt Club which had taken place in late December 1958.
On the Saturday after Christmas, after all had partaken of Lord and Lady Carew’s kind hospitality at Castletown House the hounds moved off to draw the Long Wood, which proved blank. A fox found in the main covert was hunted around the demesne for some time, before the scent fizzled out. Finding in Griffinrath covert hounds pushed their fox out and ran fast through Pickering Forest on to Mr. M. Dempsey’s farm at Springfield. Here they swung left-handed and continued to run fast, leaving Oakley Park on their right, across the Griffinrath- Celbridge road, through Griffinrath bottoms on to Major O’Kelly’s farm at Ballygoran where they marked to ground – after a capital 25 minutes.
A fox found in Cullen’s gorse took the hounds across Mr. Brady’s farm at Greenfields, before turning right-handed through Ballygoran and Oldtown, on close to Castletown. Here Reynard swung left-handed and continued to run fast through Laraghbryan, on to Crinstown. Unfortunately, says the writer, this good fox was headed by some motorist but hunting beautifully, hounds pushed him across the Crinstown-Laragh Road through Derrinstown, on to Laragh Screens where they were defeated after a capital hunt lasting forty-five minutes over a grand line of country – to finish a good days sport.
On the following Monday the Hunt met at Lislee House, Kildare, where Mr. and Mrs. Stan Cosgrove dispensed hospitality. The hounds moved off to draw Sillot Covert. Finding a good fox in the covert the hounds were soon away and ran fast across Mr. Joe McGrath’s farm, over the Kildangan-Kildare road to Cherryville. Here they crossed the main Kildare-Monasterevin road, on over the railway line, across Mr. Dooney’s land and on by Rathwalkin House to the covert on the Red Hills west of Kildare town. Finding the earths well-stopped Reynard (the fox) led the hunt on a chase over the Red Hills to Watergrange before swinging left to Knavenstown, across Mr. M. McLoughlin’s farm and Mr. Vernon Gibson’s land to Mr. Wilson’s farm at Lackagh where this fox found refuge in an old badger earth – a grand hunt lasting fifty minutes.
Capt. O’Kelly’s kale near Cherryville held a brace; selecting one, hounds pushed him out and hunted nicely through Moortown and Sillot covert, across Mr. J. McGrath’s farm, over the main Kildare-Monasterevin road, to an old shore under the railway on Mr. McDonnell’s farm. A fox found in Mr. Delaney’s furze was marked to ground near Doneany. Ballyvarney covert failed to hold. After partaking of Mr. More O’Ferralls’ hospitality at Kildangan House the hunt turned homewards after a good day’s hunt.
There was no stopping the Tally-Ho brigade in that winter of 1958/59 because they were out again on the following day this time congregating at Beggar’s End near Punchestown. The gorse at the race course held several foxes. Selecting one the hounds pushed him out and ran fast across the Naas-Ballymore road through Gowran Grange on close to the Baron’s Bog. Here they swung right-handed and continued to run fast across Mr. Brian King’s farm at Swordlestown on over the Punchestown-Two Mile House road, over the Baron de Robeck’s schooling ground and on to Horse Hill, on the Naas-Ballymore Eustace road, where they marked their fox to ground after a fast twenty minutes. Later in the day the hunt pursued a fox in the opposite direction, across Mr. King’s farm again and on through Gowran Grange to the old covert at Killashee where hounds were stopped in the failing light after a very nice twenty-five minutes to finish a busy day.
And so all was well in the sport of hunting in Kildare as the New Year dawned.
Series no 101.

In his regular Leader feature 'Nothing New Under the Sun', Liam Kenny finds that the Leinster Leader of January 1959 gave extensive coverage to the activities of the Kildare Hunt.

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