THE DONEGAL KENNEL
In the post-World War II period, life in the Union of South Africa gradually reverted to normality and there was an influx of imported Irish Setters into the country which were used at stud by the leading breeders of the day.
By 1953 the most important SA breeders were:
Mr. & Mrs. W. E. McBride’s Redsun kennel, resident in Pinelands, Cape Town whose influence was carried around the world through Mrs. M. McKeever’s Derrycarne Kennel (Ireland) into the 1970’s, (The Legacy article Dec.2013)
Mrs. F. A. Hill based in the Cape Town suburbs, with her Donegal Irish Setters. This lineage survived and appears on extended South African pedigrees to the present day.
In the Transvaal (Gauteng) Province, the Knight kennel of Mr. R. W. Read in Benoni, Mrs. Kottler’s O’Mortachre Irish, in Muldersdrift , Mrs. C.S. Kilby’s Rivonia Kennel and to a lesser extent Mr. R.B.Adams in Johannesburg, were all significant in their own right and remain an important part of the history of South African Irish Setters today, through Mrs. Flora Hill’s purchase of their stock, or use of their stud dogs, in her Donegal kennel.
In this article we highlight the career of Mrs. Hill’s Donegal kennel and her contribution to South African dogdom.
Flora A Hill
Mrs. Hill was a clergyman’s wife, resident at The Rectory, Main Road, Muizenburg, near Cape Town when in 1946 she purchased her first Irish Setter. Bred by R.W. Read in Johannesburg and born on 7th May 1946 this bitch was registered with the Kennel Union of South Africa as Knight’s Tess of Donegal. She was sired by Knights Kerry out of Biddy of Brinsley.
With Flora’s exhibition at breed shows, Tess gained her Breed Championship against the strong competition of the McBride’s Redsun kennel. The rivalry between these two major Western Cape kennels continued throughout their careers in the showring.
For her first litter from Tess, Flora chose Ch. Wickham of Wicklow as sire (Rivonia’s Blarney out of a Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) bred dam Ch. Macushla of Brichanteau). From the resulting progeny born on 3rd December 1948 brothers Kevin and Timothy of Donegal were retained by Flora. Both dogs were campaigned throughout South Africa to gain their breed championships.
1950’s ALL BREED CHAMPIONSHIP DOG SHOWS
Dog Shows beyond the major cities of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Durban were small country affairs unlike today. A typical example was Eastern Cape’s Kimberley Kennel Club’s All Breed Championship Show held on the mine grounds of the De Beers Diamond Company on Saturday 18th October, 1952 where 182 dogs were entered and one litter!
Shows were “benched” with long rows of wooden partitioned structures to house the dogs inside sheds/halls. All breeds were judged at this show by Americans Capt. & Mrs. William Judy, except Rhodesian Ridgebacks which were judged by local judge Mrs.J. Charles.
Champion dogs if entered in the Champion’s class, did not compete for the Challenge Certificates, only the award of Best of Breed. That award could be made to either of the two Challenge Certificate winners or the two Champion class winners.
Spectators at Kimberley Ch. Show 1952
Mrs. W. Judy (centre) judging at Kimberley Ch. Show 1952
In those years one paid to enter and exhibit in the Group Challenges, irrespective of one’s award in the breed, hence there were times when the Best of Breed dog was not entered. However, all Best of Breed winners entered the ring for the judging of the Grand Challenge, as the finale to the show.
At this show Irish Setters were judged by Mrs. W. Judy. Flora Hill won Best of Breed with Ch. Kevin of Donegal, Master K. McBride the dog Challenge Certificate with Redsun Gorse, while Mrs. E. McBride was awarded the bitch Challenge Certificate with Redsun Regan and the winner of the Reserve Challenge Certificate, was Mr. Don Johnston & Miss H. Ebersohn’s Knight’s Glow Lady of Hannedon.
THE DONEGAL FAMILY EXPANDS
Flora purchased a second bitch of Read’s breeding Knight’s Norna of Donegal, born on 9th December 1952. She was sired by Mr. R.B. Adams’ Red Migrant of Ide, imported from UK . Migrant, born on 25th February 1947 was the progeny from one of Joe Braddon’s early post war litters, he was sired by Top-Notcher of Ide out of Duchess of Ide. Later Red Migrant was transferred to the ownership of Mr. Read, owner of Norna’s dam Rivonia’s Diana bred by Mrs. C. S Kilby.
During the course of 1953 the Donegal Irish Setters moved to The Rectory in Coronation Avenue, Bellville, as Flora’s husband ministered to a new parish. It was here that Knight’s Norna of Donegal produced her first litter on 23rd July 1954 sired by Ch. Kevin of Donegal and five males and one bitch pup were registered with the Kennel Union.
Early in 1958 Flora and the Donegal Irish Setters were on the move again to Reverie, 3, Windell Street, Durbanville, where they remained until the 1970’s. On 15th February 1958 Flora welcomed the first litter sired by Ch. Timothy of Donegal out of Ch. Knight’s Norna of Donegal . Of the five pups registered, only one was a bitch, Golden Dawn of Donegal, which Flora retained and campaigned to her championship title.
Mrs.Hill repeated this mating and whelped Norna’s second litter on 11th February 1960, while Ch. Golden Dawn of Donegal (Norna’s daughter), also whelped a litter on 25th May the same year, sired by Ch. Kevin of Donegal from which Flora kept a bitch pup, Tessa of Donegal.
THE FOUNDING OF THE CAPE GUNDOG CLUB
1961 marked the declaration of the Republic of South Africa and Flora decided to launch her own grand plan of a Cape Gundog Club. She rallied other gundog enthusiasts and an inaugural meeting took place at the home of Dr & Mrs. Anziska (English Setters) in Bellville on 29th March 1961. Mrs. Hillier (English Setters), Mrs. Hill (Irish Setters), Mr. & Mrs. Cabion (Labrador Retrievers), Mrs. Scott (English Cocker Spaniels), Mr. & Mrs. Bayman, Mr. & Mrs. Hart, Mr. Hughes and Mrs. Whatley (Labradors), were all in attendance.
At this meeting a draft Cape Gundog Club constitution was circulated and a membership subscription of 10/- (ten sterling shillings) per annum approved. Mr. Hughes was elected Chairman and Mrs. Whatley Secretary, but the latter position changed hands three times in the Club’s first year of operation. It was also agreed that there would be monthly Committee meetings and various venues were tried, including the Airport Lounge, which was quickly abandoned as too noisy and distracting.
A Special General meeting of the Club was held at the Cecil Hotel in Newlands, on 21st June 1961 regarding the Club’s Constitution and with a few amendments this was unanimously accepted. On 16th August the Federal Council of the Kennel Union of Southern Africa approved the Cape Gundog Club’s affiliation to the governing body.
Flora and her fellow Committee members threw themselves enthusiastically into Club affairs, organizing lectures on the Gundog Breeds by experienced judges and breeders and on the health and care of dogs by prominent Veterinarians. There were many social functions to raise funds, such as sherry parties, Bingo evenings and fashion shows. Ringcraft classes were held in Mary Scott’s garden followed by tea and a chat on Sunday mornings which did much to encourage membership of the Club and exhibition at shows.
The first non-Championship “Trophy Show” with the presentation of silver cups was held on 27th April 1963 at Liesbeek Park Observatory and was judged by Dr. Anziska, with a second Christmas Show that November. There was no thought at the time of a Club Championship Show which was only introduced in 1971.
In 1962 Flora Hill was elected Chairlady, a position she maintained until her death in 1971 at which point Mary Scott took up the reins as Chairlady. Rose-Marie Cabion was elected Secretary in 1962 and continued to serve the club as both Secretary and later Chairlady until 1994.
CH.TERENCE OF DONEGAL MAKES AN ENTRANCE
On 26th November 1961 Terence of Donegal was born out of Ch. Golden Dawn of Donegal and sired by Mrs. Kottler’s Shaun O’Mortachre. Shaun’s parents had been imported from UK, with his sire Ch. Hartsbourne Falcon bred in the prestigious kennel of Mrs Eileen Walker, while his dam, Sowerhill Flame, was from the early breeding of Olwen Hunt’s kennel, which in later years produced a string of top winning Irish Setters.
Ch. Terence of Donegal
PEDIGREE OF CH. TERENCE OF DONEGAL D.O.B. 26 November 1961
Terence was irrefutably the “African diamond” in the crown of the Donegal kennel, being consistently awarded Best of Breed and placed in the Gundog Group, winning the top spot nine times. He was also awarded Best in Show All Breeds once and Reserve (2nd) All Breeds Best in Show three times, in a show career that spanned an exceptional five years. Some of these awards were given by UK judges invited by Club’s to officiate at their shows, paying all expenses and giving them a free South African holiday at the same time.
The number of exhibitors and their show dogs doubled between the 1950s and 1960s and continued to increase in the next decade. Travel around the country to shows was essential to gain at least one of the five Challenge Certificate required out of one’s home territory, to gain a dog’s Breed Championship status. In those days the nearest “away” centre for those resident in Cape Town, Western Cape, was Port Elizabeth approx 700 klm away in Eastern Cape Province.
Terence sired four litters with kennel mate Ch. Tessa of Donegal. The first on 25th April 1963, the second on 28th August 1965, the third born on 9th October 1966, produced the brood bitch, Limerick Lass of Donegal, owned by J. Maine-Sheard and the last whelped on 2nd May 1967 producing the most important bitch, Ch.Ruby O’Reilly of Donegal, purchased by Mrs. Uleen Poulton, who carried the Donegal lineage to the next generation.
CH. TERENCE OF DONEGAL TOP AWARDS IN THE SHOWRING
CH JILINDA OF DONEGAL sister to CH.TERENCE OF DONEGAL
Flora repeated the mating of Shaun O’Mortachre, to Ch. Golden Dawn of Donegal, which resulted in a litter born on 27th November 1963 and included Ch. Jilinda of Donegal
Jilinda of Donegal, sister to Terence of Donegal, born 27th November 1963
Circa 1968/1969 Mrs. Flora Hill with:
Left: Ch. Vandamist O’Shaughnessy
Behind Centre: Believed to be Merril of Donegal
Front Right: Ch Jilinda of Donegal
IMPORTATION OF VANDAMIST O’SHAUGHNESSY
In 1967 Flora imported Vandamist O’Shaughnessy, bred by Mr. J.E.L. Brown in UK . He was sired by one of the last bred by Eileen Walker, Hartsbourne Comet, out of Vandamist Charm, bred Mrs.E.G. Thompson.
A young Vandamist O’Shaughnessy
PEDIGREE OF CH. VANDAMIST O’ SHAUGHNESSY
Flora campaigned O’Shaughnessy nationally to gain his title. By this time the number of entries had rocketed, particularly at Championship shows in the Transvaal (Gauteng). On the 12th October 1968 at the Transvaal Kennel Club Show 803 dogs were entered. In the Breed showring, Flora’s Vandamist O’Shaughnessy gained a Challenge Certificate under local judge Mrs. Ivy Lankenau. The Cape Town Championship Shows averaged entries of 400 dogs divided into 6 Groups – the Working Group included all Herding breeds at the time.
One of Flora’s most successful shows with O’Shaughnessy was on 29th March 1969 under South African specialist Gundog judge Mrs. A.J. Browning, who awarded him the Challenge Certificate and the Gundog Group. Later in the day she and her husband Mr. W.T. (Buster) Browning awarded O’Shaughnessy 4th Best in Show, All Breeds at Liesbeek Park K.C Championship Show (Cape Town).
We met Flora only once in the late 1960’s when as new immigrants we were exhibiting an Airedale at the Kennel Association Championship Show which was held in conjunction with the Western Province Agricultural Show on their showgrounds in Goodwood, Cape Town. It was a memorable experience amid all the farm animals and other activities.
Ch. Vandamist O’Shaughnessy was mated twice to Ch. Jilinda of Donegal, the first litter arrived on 28th November 1968 with the second on 12th January 1970 in which Maura of Donegal was born and sold to Mr. W. Griffith, Maybilou Kennel in Johannesburg.
THE END OF ONE CHAPTER IS THE BEGINNING OF ANOTHER.
Flora became seriously ill and hospitalised in 1971 where she died. Her dogs had been kennelled during this period and as her only heir was a nephew, it was Flora’s wish that on her death, her remaining Irish Setters be euthanased. However, appeals were made to re-home them.
At one of the last shows at which Flora exhibited O’Shaughnessy, Mrs. Uleen Poulton showed Ch Ruby O’Reilly of Donegal, her Ruamadre foundation bitch. Ruby was bred to Ch.Kerry Dancer of Andana, imported from Mrs. Anderson in UK and owned by Mrs. Kit. Stewart (previously van der Byl). From the resulting progeny born on 10th October 1970, sisters Ch Alanna and Ch.Satana and a brother Finn Macaul of Ruamadre were to leave their mark on the history of the breed. In a repeat mating Rory O’Risom of Ruamadre was born on 26th January 1972. Ch. Jilinda of Donegal joined Mrs. Stewart’s Ledlannet Kennel, but this bitch came to an unfortunate end in a car accident.
Ch. Vandamist O’Shaughnessy was re-homed by Mrs. Judd in Noordhoek and used at stud to Ch. Alanna of Ruamadre which produced a litter in 1973, while her sister Ch. Satana of Ruamadre, Bridget & Mark Simpson’s foundation bitch, was bred to an Irish imported dog, Shandon Rory, for their first Oakdale litter in 1974. Len Titchener owned Cornevon Madonna, bred by Janice Roberts (UK) and used Finn Macoul of Ruamadre as her mate, which produced Ch. Bignor Cabernet while another brother Rory O’Risom of Ruamadre sired La Vagas Gambler from Copper de la Vagas a great grand-daughter of Limerick Lass of Donegal and Timothy O’Mortachre.
Today the Donegal ancestry survives through Ch. Ruby O’Reilly of Donegal’s daughter, Ch. Satana of Ruamadre, on the extended pedigrees of Mark & Bridget Simpson’s Oakdale Irish Setters and as a result more recently established kennels.
CH SATANA OF RUAMADRE
Pedigree of Ruamadre litter: Ch. Kerry Dancer of Andana x Ch. Ruby O’Reilly of Donegal which included :- Sisters Ch. Satana & Ch. Alanna and brother Finn Macaul born 10th October 1970
Repeat litter in which the male Rory O’Risom of Ruamadre was born 26th January 1972
THE FLORA HILL MEMORIAL TROPHY
To honour Flora, the Cape Gundog Club introduced a competition for the Best Cape Gundog to be run on an annual basis, with the presentation of The Flora Hill Memorial perpetual floating trophy to the winner.
Any fully paid up member of the Cape Gundog Club irrespective of where they reside in South Africa can compete, but points are only allocated to those winning at the All Breeds Championship Club shows in the Western and Eastern Cape (now numbering 14) and The Cape Gundog Championship Show, where additional points can be gained for Best in Show and Reserve.
Co-owners Mesdames Bridget (Ronnoco) Wright & Bridget (Oakdale)Simpson (right) with the Flora Hill Memorial trophy and the 1983 winner Ch. Cornevon Meridian of Ronoak (Imp UK)
Mrs Rita Buchanan hands the Flora Hill Memorial Trophy to the CGC Chairlady, Mrs. Rose-Marie Cabion for presentation to Mark Simpson
who handled Ch. Cornevon Meridian of Ronoak (Imp UK) to win the Best Cape Gundog award in 1983. Mrs. Val Barratt looks on.
In 1987 Ch. Oakdales Scallywag won the Flora Hill Memorial Trophy for Best Cape Gundog
Owner Mark Simpson with Ch. Oakdales Scallywag (D.O.B. 1st September 1983)
This article is dedicated to the memory of
Mrs. Flora A. Hill and her beloved Donegal Irish Setters
Gone, but not forgotten
This article is compiled and written by:
Bridget & Mark Simpson, Oakdale Irish Setters, Napier, W.Cape Province,
South Africa email@example.com
Every effort has been made to cross-reference the material used to ensure accuracy.
We wish to particularly express our thanks to Mrs. Rose-Marie Cabion (Sleepy Hollow Labradors and Whippets) for the photographs of Flora Hill and her Donegal Irish Setters. We also wish to thank her for the brief history of the Cape Gundog Club and her memories of a bygone era.
We are also grateful to staff members of the Kennel Union of Southern Africa who retrieved archived KUSA Gazettes and other material to assist in research without which this article would not have been written.
Book: Aristocrats of the South African Showring published in 1953.
Our personal pedigrees and memorabilia of the period.