I have my father to thank for my interest in bird dogs.  You can see him above with my first 3 dogs, Moanruad Sailor is the front dog, FTCh Glenlark Ranger is in the middle and Glenlark Juno is at the rear.  Juno was bred to Sailor to produce the line of dogs I’m still running today.


I’ve had a good year with my current team of dogs.

This weekend (last weekend of Sept) has been very rewarding as I have just won the Ulster Gundog League’s Open Stake for the third consecutive year.  (2008 with ESD Gortinreagh Aztec of Glynlark and 2009 with IRSB FTCh Rushfield Sheilin).  Today was particularly pleasing as the win was with one of my young home-bred dogs Glynlark Apollo.  Apollo had a great 2009 winning 3 out of the 4 Novice Stakes he ran in in Scotland.  He returned to Scotland in August 2010 and won the Northern Counties Pointer and Setter Open Stake which means that his win today is his second Open Stake and makes him a Field Trial Champion.  He was also runner-up in this year’s Irish Red Setter Breed Stake at Shap in Cumbria.  His brother Glynlark Azlyn won the Novice Stake run by the International Gundog League in Blanchland in July.   Yesterday saw my IRSB FTCh Rushfield Sheilin take 2nd place at the NIPC Open Stake.  Apollo took runner-up spot 2 weekends ago when the Ulster Irish Red Setter Club Trial was won by Gerald Devine’s ESB Lefanta Tinka, who also became a FTCh as a result of that win.  Gortinreagh Aztec, myESD, won the Wicklow Wexford Open Stake in March in the Dublin Mts and his brother Gortinreagh Apache was in contention in several stakes in Scotland in August and took 2nd place in the Scottish Gundog Association’s Open Stake at Glenlivet estate in the summer.  I’m looking forward to next season.


This began well for me as I won the first Open Stake of the NI year – the NIPC Open at Slieveanorra with FTCh Glynlark Apollo, my very reliable and consistent IRSD.  His brother Glynlark Aramis, owned and handled by David O’Neill of Ballymena was runnier-up.  The following week one of my ESD Gortinreagh Apache of Glynlark performed very well at Glenwherry, Co Antrim and was awarded 2nd place.  I’m afraid I was rather lazy over the summer and didn’t put as much work into getting the dogs ready as I should and had to make do with awards other than wins.  My IRSB FTCh Rushfield Sheilin was awarded a Diploma of Honour at the GB Pointer and Setter Champion Stake at Bollihope, Co Durham.  FTCh Glynlark Apollo was 3rd in the Irish Pointer and Setter Championship a few weeks later.

Unfortunately after this our season rather fell apart as we had to suspend activities due to an outbreak of Kennel cough.  When trials resumed I was called on to judge and couldn’t get my dogs out to compete.  Apollo’s brother Azlyn received an award in the final Trial of the season in November at Strabane.


I was busy during the Spring in 2012 and didn’t work the dogs too much.  I decided to just campaign with the 1 dog – my ESD Gortinreagh Aztec.  He was quite fit and always ran well but was unlucky not to meet game in any of his outings.  I was determined to put more effort into my summer campaign and I put a great deal of time into getting a variety of dogs fit.  I really look forward to the summer trip to Scotland and was determined to try my best to give the dogs the best possible preparation.  This began to pay off quite soon after arriving in Scotland, as my Novice IRSB Glynlark Amazing Grace began to really settle to her work and was rewarded with her first FT award – a 4th in the Scottish Gundog Association’s Open Stake at Glenlivet estate.  The next 2 days trials were run by the Northern Counties Pointer and Setter Association and were held at Cawdor estate, Invernesshire.  My IRSD Glynlark Gamekeeper was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Novice Stake and my ESD Gortinreagh Aztec won the Open Stake the day after, thus acquiring his FTCh title.  Irish Success continued at the Pointer Club of Scotland Trials the next day as Raymond Monroe was in the awards with his IR&WSB Rosie Jim and Gerald Devine won the Open Stake with his Bill Connolly bred ESD Ballyellen Cody. Co Antrim’s Laurence McAlister also figured in this Trial with his PB Ardclinis Caitlin.

After a Sunday off the circuit moved to Tillypronie and the North of Scotland Gundog Association’s Novice Stake.  My IRSB Glynlark Amazing Grace was named the winner, with Gerald Devine handling Bill Connolly’s ESB Ballyellen Colleen into second place and David O’Neill taking 3rd with his IRSB Shanrycon Andraid.  At the Open next day Alan Neill claimed the trophies with his PD Papermill Major Don with Laurence McAlister and Raymond Monroe also featuring in the awards.

The circuit moved towards its conclusion with the Scottish Field Trial Association’s Open Stake.  This was claimed by Laurence McAlister with his PB Ardclinis Caitlin – this win giving her her GB title.  Alan Neill was third.  The puppy Derby next day saw a close call for Gerald Devine with his young ESB Gortinreagh Eppie – who was just 9 months old.  She had a super first round and a great find, but unfortunately met a hare in round 2 which spoiled her chances.  The Derby was won my Alan Neill handling a pointer dog who was a week short of his second birthday.  He had a good first round with a find and a clean second round.

For the Novice stake there were huge amounts of game.  It was very difficult for dogs to run cleanly due to the density of grouse.  Many dogs had points with birds lifting or being flushed by their bracemates.  Only a small number survived to the second round and at the conclusion, the judges awarded 3 certificates of merit – to Richard MacNicol’s PB, Wilson Young’s GSD and my own IRSB Glynlark Amazing Grace.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to deal with so much game or had so many finds and work outs in a single trial.  For a young inexperienced dog to survive this in some style gave me one of the biggest buzzes of the whole circuit – She had finds producing multiple birds.  She had backs.  She had provocation. She worked to where the birds she had pointed had flushed even after having to wait for an errant bracemate to be retrieved.  She had a couple of sweeping casts despite the density of birds and she withstood the provocation of hares on her beat.  She far surpassed my expectations and raised herself quite considerably in my estimation.

On returning home I ran the NIPC Open Stake at Glenwherry.  There was not a huge entry, but conditions were near perfect in every respect and I witnessed a great stake.  It was won by Gerald Devine with ESD Ballyellen Cody – thus achieving his GB title.  Gerald also took second place with his IRSB Gortinreagh Clancy.  Andy Law handled his father Bertie’s IRSB Rushfield Hawk into third place.

The next outing was the Irish Championship at Kinnitty, Co Offaly.  I was running 2 dogs ESD FTCh Gortinreagh Aztec and IRSD Glynlark Apollo.  Aztec was first brace with Steve Robinson in very heavy ground.  He had 2 nice backs on Steve’s IRSD but when I tried to pick him up there was a break-down in communication and a delay in reaponse!  Apollo was second last brace with Christy Davitt’s ESD.  They also were drawn in very heavy ground on a downward slope.  I was very pleased that Apollo did his usual impeccable quartering, needing no handling.  However we had no game opportunities.  In the second round next day we were drawn with Gerald Devine’s in-form ESD Ballyellen Cody, who had had a magic round on the first day – making the heavy heather look like centre court at Wimbledon.

The two dogs set off on their respective sides and really gave a display of quartering, crossing each other in the middle and then heading to their respective wings.  They were given quite a long run when Apollo checked on the left,  however he quickly decided there was nothing there.  Another cast or two later and he came on point just after he turned on the right.  On asking him to move in he roaded on quite freely before stiffening decisively as he moved closer to the game – another easy step or two and a small covey flushed before him.  He was steady to wing and shot and then cleared his ground effectively before being put on the lead.  This was our last action in the Championship.  A short extension was called at the conclusion of Round 2 which we learned was to sort out 3rd and 4th position and then we went back to the Community Centre in Kinnitty to await the result.  I was delighted to hear Number 20 called as the winner – Apollo had achieved his Irish title to add to his GB one.  Second was Joe McGill with his ESB Penny Rock Flight, 3rd was last year’s winner Pat Reape’s IRSB Lisdovogue Aileen and Rev Seamus O’Neill was 4th with his IRSD Mountbay Dan.  The Trial was judged by Richard MacNicol from Scotland, Charles Neeson from Co Tyrone and Edward Flannelly from Co Roscommon.  The two days were very generously sponsored by Connolly’s Red Mills from Co Kilkenny.


2013 has started well.  IntFTCh Glynlark Apollo won 2 out of the 3 Northern Ireland Open Stakes he ran in, taking birds well in tricky conditions and running very well too.  He was placed in 2 out of the 3 Open Stakes he ran in in Scotland in the Spring and was unlucky in the 3rd not to figure as well, as he was one of the judges’ favourites at the end of Round 1.

Apollo’s brother Glynlark Azlyn was another award winner for me on the Scottish circuit and I was particularly pleased to have Glynlark Gamekeeper (Red Stinger x IntFTCh Glynlark Mary Kate) settle his head to record a Novice Stake win and a 2nd place in an Open Stake which qualifies him for the British Champion Stake at Bollihope this July.

A very pleasing Spring !

We had a very hot period of weather in June and July and as a result I didn’t take the dogs out as much as normal.  I tried a few times but had a few scary moments when dogs seemed to over exert themselves in the heat and get to the point of near collapse on more than one occasion – after that I reduced the effort, both the dogs and my own!  We chalked up some placings in the Summer trip to Scotland, but nothing particularly exciting.  Back home Apollo’s lack of match fitness showed when he attempted to defend his Irish Championship title.  he had a good long-run without game on Day 1 and made it through to the second round.  He was drawn with a visiting French dog when he came on point on the left of the beat.  The French dog was further forward and set out in front.  The forward dog was given the work-out but despite his best efforts he didn’t produce.  After Apollo was asked to try.  He worked across the soiled ground in the middle of the beat taking a distinct line and sticking with it went on to produce a single bird – very clever I thought.  We don’t often get chances to eye-wipe in pointers and setters, but this was quite a professional one!  However as I said his lack of match fitness and the tricky hill that is Kinnitty conspired against him, along with his ultra sensitive nose, and after throwing in a couple of false points, his challenge for honours faded.

Back to the Northern Irish circuit, I was unfortunately trapped into judging on several occasions in September and October – I particularly enjoy grouse trials, as opposed to partridge and pheasant ones and of course it was the grouse trials I got to judge.  Gamekeeper managed a third on a snipe in the Ulster Irish Red Setter Club Breed Stake and on my only other grouse outing Apollo showed his much improved fitness and impressed (or maybe depressed) the other handlers by performing another “eye-wipe”.  A pointer had been given the opportunity to produce, but after pottering about uncertainly he was picked up and a red setter was brought in to run on with Apollo in the third round of the Ulster Gundog League Open at Glenwherry.  He cast off on his usual immaculate flat cast to the right and she pulled forward to set in the middle of the beat.  He came back towards the middle and set, before noticing his bracemate on point.  He backs naturally, but I was fairly confident that it was scent which had stopped him on this occasion and not his brace-mate’s point.  She was asked to work out and again despite being given time didn’t produce.  Apollo was then given the chance and just as in the Championship, he marched out resolutely through the area where the pointer and setter had been working and produced a grouse before moving on to produce his hen.  I was very pleased and was back in the winner’s enclosure again.  The rest of the Autumn was a bit non-descript with Apollo’s brother Azlyn picking up some awards too.  But over all I was happy with the year and Apollo was once again the best Irish Red Setter in Ulster, as he had been in 2012.



I had no great expectations going into 2014.  My young dogs really hadn’t made the progress I’d hoped for during the close season and Apollo, in his eighth year, was surely getting to the point when his performance would dip.  Maybe retirement should be considered.  I judged the first trial of the year – thankfully a pheasant trial – and then we went to Slieveanorra in Co Antrim for the NI Pointer Club’s Open Stake.  I particularly enjoy the challenges of Slieveanorra – it provides the ultimate test for a dog – he must show guts and stamina.  There is game there, but the dog must go looking for it.  Any win achieved at Slieveanorra, and I’ve thankfully enjoyed quite a few, carries an enormous amount of satisfaction.  I debuted my young dog Midas and he did what I more or less expected – the ran a couple of nice casts and then decided it was more fun to head out on his own, so not the most impressive of debuts.  Apollo ran shortly after and he must have been aware I was considering retiring him, as he headed up the steep slope on my right before slamming on to point basically facing back down towards me.  As I walked out towards him, birds flushed and he worked out to where they’d risen.  We were run on and he ran impressively, however just coming up to a deep gulley that ran from left to right across the beat I lost him.  I assumed he’d gone into it for water, but he didn’t reappear.  I headed out to where he’d disappeared only to walk up birds myself just behind a little ridge.  The judge had come with me and when we looked back about 20 yards, there was Apollo flat on point hidden behind the ridge – again he marched out perfectly to where the birds had lifted.

In round 2 we were on more level but still heavy ground and he performed perfectly putting in some of his trademark beautiful long even and flat casts.  He had hesitated a second while out on the right and I had whistled him back.  My brace-mate chided me not steadying the dog onto point, but when his pointer ran over the same ground he muffled around, but proved there was no game there.  Meanwhile Apollo had headed off to the left – he had just disappeared over the far ridge and I was heading down to see if he’d gone AWOL when he reappeared and slammed onto one of the nicest sets I think he’s ever had.  I worked him out and for the first few strides he was a little unsure and then he changed angles abruptly and seized up very decisively working on out quite a distance to produce a pair of grouse well out in front – he worked out to where they lifted.  Sometimes you just know when you can’t be beaten and this was one of those days.  The judges commented on the perfection of every aspect of his performance – Retirement can wait awhile longer !

On our visit to Glenwherry Apollo and Gamekeeper both made it to the awards and then we were off to Scotland.  Again I didn’t go with great hopes.  I knew Apollo had the potential to be in the shake-up but I was getting a bit despondent that Midas wasn’t putting in the performances I knew he was capable of.  The first Trial we competed in was the Pointer Club of Scotland’s Open Stake.  Conditions were very difficult.  Many very experienced dogs were aware birds were there, but seemed to just put in an extra stride and flush them too early.  Apollo was drawn last brace of the first round with Richard MacNicol’s young Pointer.  Apollo was released on the left and after just a few strides he dropped onto point.  We were worked out and produced a pair.  Back together we were re-released and both dogs pointed Richard on the left and Apollo slightly further out and more to the left than where he’d just produced.  The pointer was worked out first and produced and then Apollo set off again and produced another pair well.  There was evidence of a lot of birds on the bank ahead of us, but both dogs put in some clean running and then were picked up.  In round 2 the temperature really seemed to have dropped even further than it was in the morning.  Dogs were going out and getting into trouble in the early braces of the second round.  Apollo set off on his usual clean running, not being tempted to get involved in the ground scent that had accounted for several of the earlier dogs.  A nice bit of running and we were picked up.  I knew everything he’d done had been clean, stylish and effective but it was still nice to hear him being called out the winner.  Cawdor is getting to be a lucky ground for me.  Apollo had won there before as had Aztec my English setter.  It’s a beautiful estate.


I hadn’t entered Midas for the following day’s Novice Stake, but thankfully Richard took him as a late entry.  I’d had a couple of nice training sessions with him the previous weekend, so was a little more hopeful.  I was really pleased when he put in a nice flashy first round – crisp and responsive – but we had no game opportunities.  He was recalled to round 2 and after a couple of casts he had a non-productive point.  When we were re-released he went a bit further and pointed more staunchly.  This time he worked out and produced a single and was steady to wing and shot.  Billy Darragh was running one of Wilson Young’s Pointers and it ran flat and wide and had a nice find.  I thought it might be in the driving seat, but when the awards were called, it was Midas who took the laurels.  Next day there was space in Maggie Northcott’s Open Stake at the Scottish Gundog League so she took Midas as a late entry too.  My more experienced dogs fell – even Apollo being uncharacteristically sloppy.  Midas was my last to run and I’d no great optimism despite his win the day before.  He had only run a cast or two when he came on point just out to the left, I walked him on quite a bit and was just about to call time on the production when grouse got up and he stayed steady.  Wow!  What a change of fortune.  We were re-cast with a new brace-mate and again he’d done a few casts when he pointed again on the left.  The pointer who is a good animal on game ran on up past him and he stood staunch.  I was still a long way off him when the pointer came back and flushed the birds he’d been pointing.  Luckily for me the winter training paid off and he stood firm, then working out to where the birds flushed when asked.  In round 2 he was first brace with a pointer.  He put in a very snappy run and when the pointer didn’t turn when asked on the right and when on out to flush birds off the beat we were picked up.  I was over the moon at the presentation to learn we’d done enough to win – he followed his Novice win on one day with an Open win straight afterwards.  Sadly there was no room for him in the Scottish Field Trials Association Open that concluded the circuit and I wasn’t allowed to substitute him for one of my other dogs in the stake so we were denied the opportunity to achieve the title in one week.  That Open was really well won by Gerald Devine and his spectacular ESD FTCh Ballyellen Cody, so Midas would definitely have had his work cut out for him on that occasion – anyway I can’t be greedy, it was an amazing week.

I’m now spending April and May working with the young stock in preparation for the Summer trials.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: