I keep a small kennel where I aim to breed and produce dogs which please me. If others enjoy the dogs too, that’s a great bonus. I get a particular thrill from working with young dogs and taking them from raw pups to trained dogs capable of success in Field Trials. I do enjoy competing in Field Trials as they provide a measure of success that the dog has reached. However my greatest satisfaction comes from the training sessions with dogs where I return to the trailer knowing I have made forward progress and keen to get to the next training session. My dogs are my hobby – they have to fit in around my cabinet making business – often only getting a run on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday when the business allows. My kennels are situated in the north west of Ireland – an area that had abundant game and fantastic ground to train on in the past. The ground is still there, but unfortunately the game is in very short supply, so if I wasn’t able to visit the beautiful grouse moors of the north of England and the highlands of Scotland, I certainly would find it a lot more difficult to “finish” my dogs to a high standard.
My dogs all come from the Lefanta line of the great English Setter man from Waterford – Johnny Geoghegan. In the 1980s and 90s, he blended the best of the existing Irish stock of English Setters with very shrewd and successful importations and I like to think the addition of the new importations brought in by John Quirke and used so successfully by Bill Connolly will continue to progress the Irish English Setter along ever improving lines. My Gortinreagh dogs spring from this line as do most of the other successful field trial kennels in the UK and Ireland. On the UK side, the Stanedge Kennel owned by my good friend, hawking enthusiast Daryl Edwards in Yorkshire, has been breeding very successful trial and general working dogs since 2005 and all the blood he has used to date has been 100% Lefanta – breeding his 2 foundation bitches Lefanta Hale and Lefanta Kassy to my Gardenfield Warrior and Gortinreagh Apache. The Spitfire, Jean Brown’s ESD who won the 2010 GB Champion Stake again has a Lefanta background.
2013 is proving to be a very exciting year for the Gortinreagh dogs as we have just made up our 3rd Field Trial Champion of the year, FTCh Gortinreagh Dixie to add to FTCh Gortinreagh Eppie and the ESB I train and handle for Bill Connolly, FTCh Ballyellen Cara. Winning the UK Puppy Derby was another highlight of a good year.
2014 has also been very satisfactory so far. Gortinreagh Excel became a FTCh and his dad FTCh Ballyellen Cody won 3 Open Stakes with Cody’s sister Ballyellen Colleen recording her first Open win.