Bereton Irish Wolfhounds 
  & Scottish Deerhounds                

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               In Search of Foundations          Trip to UK October 2002   

We arrived at Gatwick after a long journey from Dallas via Cincinnati, where we had a delay due to aircraft problems, and we set off to our first stop. We were very tired, but so excited! SOLSTRAND IWs (Dagmar Pordham-Kenis) were located about 15 minutes from Gatwick airport in Rusper, Sussex. I was a little worried when the folks at the car rental business did not seem to know exactly where Rusper was at first. After having several employees and John discuss it for a while as they were looking at the map, it seemed we sort of knew where we were going. Not to worry, John can find anything!

I had e-mailed Dagmar in advance to let her know we would be arriving directly from the airport and the approximate time I thought we would be there. I had hoped to find a pay telephone (call box, in British lingo... <G>) along the way, so we could make a quick stop to let Dagmar know we were nearby. Well, that did not happen and before we knew it we had stumbled right upon the Peter's Farm sign. Well, you may know how we women just *hate* to pull into someone's place without a call first. Had I not been so tired from the journey, I would have started whining about it to John who just does not think it's a big deal, of course.

As we pulled up. We had several lovely veterans come out to the gate to greet us. Off they went to alert their Mum, who was in the kennel area tending to some chores. We were greeted with a warm welcome from Dagmar, who was most stylish looking in her red wool jacket, trousers, and Wellington boots. She very kindly showed us around her lovely facility and grounds, followed by introductions to the hounds. I'm sure I will not be able to list each one, but some of those we met were: her pride and joy UK Ch. Shadow of Kilmara; his handsome son Solstrand Mandarin; Mascotts Mona Lisa; Clanellan Caring Solstrand (Carrie); and probably my favorite, Solstrand Nanna. Of course they were all lovely, but I must say Nanna definitely stole our hearts with her incredibly sweet and friendly nature. We also saw a few very nice youngsters.

The Whippets were a hoot. Dagmar addresses this group as "smooth hairs" when she wants them to go in or out of the house, and they know exactly who she's talking to! It was great. When I spotted the framed sweatshirt in the kitchen, I was reminded that I had seen Dagmar judge at the 1999 IWCA National Specialty in Afton, OK. That was exciting!

After a lovely visit it was time to leave. Dagmar gave us some directions and then very kindly insisted we take a pound coin for the tunnel (which John said was not there ten years ago!), as you must have exact change. We said our goodbyes and then set off for Stevenage, Herts, to visit some non-dog friends for two days, before heading north to John’s sister’s house in Lincolnshire.

Dagmar with Clanellen Caring Solstrand

                                                       

                          Dagmar with GB CH Shadow of Kilmara                          

                                  

Along the way to Stevenage, we decided to stop for lunch so we would not arrive at our friend's house famished. Besides, a cup of coffee was sounding pretty good. As we were leaving the Happy Chef restaurant I said to John, "Hey, we should phone Colin & Sheila to let them know we'll be there shortly." Yup! That's me, “Miss Must Phone Ahead”, again. John agrees, and we just can't believe our good fortune in spotting a 'call box' right there next to the door. Yippee!!

It was a strange-looking pay phone, we thought, but proceeded to try and figure out where the heck the dial pad was. We could obviously see where you deposited the coins. (Any dummy could figure that one out!) After a thorough inspection of the call box, we finally realized it was actually a coin contraption for long-term car parking at the restaurant, not a pay phone at all. Oops! "How stupid," we thought, "Do you think anybody saw us?" Then we had a good laugh. At that point I just couldn't resist saying to the Englishman, "Well... I can see you are going to be a REAL asset on this trip! And Welcome Home, Dear..." Then we started laughing again!! Jeesh! We'd only been there for a few hours and find out there is not only a bridge that was not there before, but also that pay phones are an odd challenge.  -- what's next?

After spending a few marvelous days with John's dear friends and relatives, we called and made arrangements to go and visit HYDEBECK IWs. Louise Pinkney lives in Bridlington, E. Yorks, about an hour's drive from Barton, where John grew up and his sister lives. Louise very kindly offered us a cup of coffee. As we were standing in her kitchen visiting, I spotted some terrific horse brasses with IW heads & bodies. Now, of course, it just so happens I collect horse brasses and had spent a whole day looking for them at the antique fair in Lincoln.

"WOW!!!" I said. "Wherever did you find those?"

I think Louise said a friend had been cleaning and was going to give them to a charity shop. As I was admiring them I couldn't help wonder if this nice girl thought I was just a tad bit strange. <G>

As we sat in Louise's sitting room visiting, I noticed a nicely framed, very large, gorgeous sketch of IR & UK Ch.Hydebeck Reginald Snuffson, a truly great hound. He was the Top Winning Irish Wolfhound of the year in 1986, 1987 and 1989 (source: The Irish Wolfhound Magazine). I felt very honored to be sitting there looking at it. We then went outside to meet the Hounds: UK Ch. Hydebeck Lilliebeth, Hydebeck Emily Puds, Hydebeck Tottie Tallulah, and Hydebeck Shadows in the Mist. They are a lovely group of hounds. Lilliebeth made such an impression on me; I doubt I will ever forget it. She is a very well balanced and solid bitch with beautiful movement, who nearly took my breath away. After playing with the girls for a while, we said our goodbyes to Louise and thanked her for her hospitality. I was so pleased we were able to meet her.

Louise & Emily Puds

                                            

     Louise, Lesa & Lilliebeth

                               

Next, it was off to Manchester airport to catch a flight to Dublin. I was really excited, as it was my first visit to Ireland. Upon arriving in Dublin, we picked up the rental car and began the journey north to Sligo, and a visit to KNOCKNAREA IWs (Ika & Ulli Peiler).

Ika's directions were perfect and the drive up was very nice. I was just thrilled to meet Ulli, as I had heard so many good things about his talents with dogs. I had met Ika, briefly, once before, at the IWCA National Specialty in 2001. They so very kindly cleared the entire afternoon of their hectic schedule to spend visiting with us, which was wonderful. They operate a boarding kennel and do a lot of training with all breeds. Some of the dogs have behavioral problems, so we found it incredibly interesting talking with Ika and Ulli. Their wealth of knowledge and experience is fantastic.

The weather was a little drizzly that day, but not too bad. Ika had offered to let us attend the afternoon walks with the dogs, so we did, and it was really great. I must say it still chokes me up a little to remember the sight of Ulli, running and playing with the hounds in the fields. Truly a beautiful sight and he does have such a gift in communicating with them. The way they look at him says it all.

I had really been looking forward to meeting the lovely IR Ch. Knocknarea Panache in person (pictured in middle photo, at front of group), as I have met her brother, Phelan (owned by Emma Ross, Cnoccarne Irish Wolfhounds in Canada), and he has been one of my favorites. She is a beautiful wheaton bitch and of course, has the same fabulous temperament as her brother. She is a lovely, impressive bitch. Another very handsome veteran we really liked was Jonas. All in all, they have a very nice looking group of hounds. Unfortunately, the photos we took there were a major disappointment. Many were out of focus. We really hated to leave, but decided about 5:30 we had better set off for our next destination, near Cork.

We said our goodbyes to Ika & Ulli and thanked them for the terrific day and for spending the time with us. Ika was kind enough to say she would phone ahead (thank heavens! I didn't relish the idea of having to look for yet another call box along the way) to let Linda Gover know "the crazy Americans are on their way, so lock your doors!!" Poor Linda. (I hoped Ika was only kidding??...) I thanked Ika for making my dream come true by allowing us to visit, and we set off for Cork.

 Ulli with the Knocknarea pack

                                           

                                                    

Ika with Knocknarea Vito

       

The drive to Cashel was absolutely gorgeous and the day was lovely. We arrived there just before dark. We pulled over to take some photos of the castle, which is fantastic and then went to look for a B&B for the night.

The next morning was beautiful again and we continued our drive to Cork, about an hour away, to meet the OWENMORE IWs (Linda Gover). I had corresponded with Linda quite a bit via e-mail, prior to the trip, so felt like I knew her a little better than the others. I was really looking forward to meeting her, as it seemed she had a good sense of humor.

A warm and outgoing person greeted us at the front gate. (Phew! What a relief... No locked doors, after all. I guess Ika was only kidding. <G>) Linda had just whelped a litter of puppies for a friend a few weeks before our arrival. That was lucky timing for us, so we admired and played with them (& Mom, Grainne, a lovely sweet girl) for a while.

Then Linda introduced us to the rest of the Owenmore clan. IW's: Daisy, Octavia, Aoife, Cashel, Daraine, Fionn & Fionnuala and the whippets: Tiggy & Chili and then Durak, the longhaired donkey. Well, I was quite taken with the donkey, as I had never seen one with long hair before. Linda teased about the fact she didn't suppose they would be very common in Texas, with the heat and all. <G> Durak is 27 yrs. old and Linda says he thinks he is a Wolfhound, since he has lived with them for so long.

I also found that Linda has written a book, "Irish Wolfhound" (available through Read Ireland). It is terrific, easy to read and has some wonderful photos. I think it would be good for those who are perhaps purchasing their first IW.

Linda has some fabulous paintings of past Owenmore hounds in her sitting room, painted by a local artist, which I took some photos of. They are just beautiful.

We were kept pretty amused during our visit observing the youngsters, brother and sister (Fionn & Fionnuala) roughhousing and playing. What a couple of characters they were, and real sweethearts!

We took some photos while Linda was showing us around and stacking some of the hounds. After a lovely afternoon, we decided we had better continue on to Dublin. We thanked Linda for her hospitality and time. So, once again, off we go, not really wanting to leave so soon.

Linda with Owenmore Cashel

Linda with Fionn & Fionnaula

The next morning the weather was just miserable. Dark, gloomy and pouring down rain, so it did not make driving very pleasant for John. We arrived at our next destination, about 1 hour early. John was going to pull in anyway, until I proceeded to have a huge hissy-fit about arriving SO early, thinking it would be sort of rude. Oops! Silly me. I guess I had neglected to tell him in advance that we had a specific scheduled arrival time.

He dislikes it when I organize every little detail (and on a vacation no less!), but I knew it was the only way we would be able to accomplish our many stops and visits. In fact, we had a large red binder I had assembled before we left home that told us where we had to be, what day, what time, directions, tickets, addresses, phone numbers, hotels, maps, etc. This ugly book became our navigational tool for the next fifteen days. By the end of our journey, we practically hated the sight of it! Since we were early, we decided to take a drive around and have a look at a few little local villages and then return at the appropriate time.

Next stop, GULLIAGH IWs (Tim & Marion Finney), breeders of IR & UK Ch. Gulliagh Galleon, another great hound of the past, who sired many outstanding hounds.

We arrived at the front gate and used the intercom to announce our arrival. Tim came out to meet us and then Marion joined us. They have a lovely place that sits on approximately100 acres of beautiful land. It was pouring rain, so the hounds were in the indoor kennel area. We visited for a while and then Marion generously served us coffee. She had prepared some delicious homemade mini apple pastries and salmon salad finger sandwiches. What a lovely treat it was.

Then Tim brought the hounds in, one at a time and introduced us. He brushed and stacked each one, so we could have a good look and take some photos. Due to the weather, the "gang" was still a little wet, so he toweled them off, too. This was a very impressive group. They had nice harsh coats and the most perfect "catlike" feet. I was a little disappointed in my photos because the brick fireplace in the background sort of took away from the appearance of the hounds. I feel like my photos do not really do them justice.

I'm afraid I do not have a complete list of names of those we met, but some of them were: Gulliagh Zolde, Gulliagh Zest, Gulliagh Zapata, Gulliagh Zamora, IR Ch.Gulliagh Simone and IR Ch. Gulliagh Serendipity. The one that sticks in our mind the most was "Bruce" (Gulliagh Zapata). We immediately just fell in love with him! Bruce was such a handsome, friendly boy, and quite the show-off. He really had us laughing with his jovial, entertaining personality. We would have loved to take him home with us.

We thanked Tim & Marion for such an enjoyable visit and then set off to stay the night near the Dublin airport. Our flight back to Manchester, England was the next morning. Yes, I went to Ireland for 4 days, but if anyone asks me, I am afraid I will have to say I really did not see it. We did see a lot of very impressive IWs, but other than that, if it could not be seen from the car window, at about 80MPH, I'm afraid we missed it! Maybe someday we can return as "tourists".

Tim & Gulliagh Hounds

We picked up the original rental car we had left there and continued on a wonderful drive to Wales. I had never been there before. It was approximately a 4 hour drive to Caernarfon, about 10 miles from our next "victims", Oops! Sorry, I mean "hosts": BALLYPHELAN IWs (Pam & John Sumner). We arrived way ahead of schedule, so decided to find a B&B, get settled in and have a little walk around the lovely town. We found a great place on a hill that overlooked the ocean and was also close to Caernarfon Castle. What more could you ask for? Well, I suppose John would have appreciated a room on the first floor, rather than the three flights of stairs we had to maneuver with all of our luggage... but then, there goes the breathtaking view!

Off to see the castle, but it was too late to go inside, so I took my usual zillion photographs (3 rolls...whatever was I thinking?!). I was so mesmerized. I love these castles! Actually, I was trying to get a shot of the Welsh flag straight out (it was very windy) so you could see the red dragon best. <G>

It was that morning, due to the adapter allowing over voltage, it burned out my curling iron. After listening to me whine for a while, John decided it would be less painful to try and find a shop, where we could buy a new one. The first few shops were a challenge, as they were not familiar with the term "curling iron" and did not have a clue what I was looking for. Finally, we found a Boots pharmacy (wonderful place!) where I proudly inquired if they had "hot tongs". The nice lady smiled and said yes. Oh, I was just too excited!

Next morning, it was off to Carmel to meet Pam & John. Now, we had been told by someone who had been there, that Ballyphelan was not the easiest place to find. They were certainly right; it was more than a little tricky. After passing the turn off we were supposed to take, several times, my hero John figured it out. (I told you he could find anything).

The roads were very narrow, so in the event you are unlucky and a car is coming toward you, it seems there is just barely enough room to avoid a collision. As we were driving along, we encountered John Sumner (of BALLYPHELAN IWs) on his way to get his Sunday newspaper, and we met through rolled down car windows. We proceeded on to his place and Pam came out to greet us and show us around until John returned. They have a fair amount of property, very hilly and it overlooks the ocean. The view was incredible. Pam & John also have a boarding kennel and I believe they take in rescue dogs of all breeds, as well.

The Sumners produced an all time British record for the breed, with four UK champions born in one litter, whelped by UK Ch. Ballyphelan Tiger Lilly. One of those from this litter was UK Ch. Ballyphelan Bran Beag (owned by Jean & Dave Malley), Britain's Top Winning Irish Wolfhound of the Year in 1995,1996 and 1998. After a nice visit and a few cups of coffee, we went outside where John introduced the hounds. One by one he brushed and stacked each one, then posed them for photographs. There were fourteen! What a great guy, and he really went to a lot of trouble for us.

We had a great time and of course, fell in love with a few more. My John wanted to bring home a lovely girl called "Butterfly", but my heart was immediately lost to a tall, handsome young lad called "Simba" ("Balleyphelan Red Admiral"). I believe he was about 18 months old. Oh what a temperament this big flirt had. I think his eyes could melt butter. At that moment I was so homesick for my own hounds, as Simba really reminded me of a young version of my own sweet boy, Aethan. We decided we had better be heading back to North Humberside, to visit with the relatives, so said our farewells to the Sumners. I really hated to leave, as I had fallen in love with Wales and its beautiful countryside.

A heartfelt "thank you" to all the IW breeders we visited; for sharing with us their hounds, homes, and time. It meant so much to us and we just could not have found a better selection of hosts. We would feel most fortunate to have a puppy to love from any of these breeder's lines. They were all absolutely wonderful folks and we were honored to have met them. It was truly a trip we will never forget.

John Sumner with a Ballyphelan Hound


  Ballyphelan Hounds