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Monday 14 October 2019

Stephen's Day hunts get bang for their bark on perfect day

David Lalor and David Thompson lead the Laois Hunt in Abbeyleix, Co Laois
David Lalor and David Thompson lead the Laois Hunt in Abbeyleix, Co Laois

Louise Roseingrave and Eimear Ni Bhraonain

BALMY weather provided the perfect conditions for St Stephen's day hunting.

In Abbeyleix, there was the largest participation in the annual hunt with around 120 riders.

David Lalor, who took part with his 21-year-old daughter, Jessica, described it as a "beautiful day".

"There was lots of jumping," he said.

The hunt started in the square in Abbeyleix before moving in the Carlow direction through lands at Ballymullen.

Thousands turned up to see the riders and horses as they set off -- and followed their journey along the way.

A ceremonial stirrup cup marked the start point of the St Stephen's Day South Union Hunt Meet at Carrigaline in Cork, where the ground was soft.

Riders supped the traditional hot toddy before moving off towards Castlelands and Riverstick, seeking to draw the fox out.

Some 25 hounds accompanied the spectacle but catching the fox is an exceptional outcome, as huntmaster Pat Maher pointed out.

"The fox is incredibly elusive, you don't always catch him, he has the knack of getting away," he said.

Mr Maher led up to 100 riders on the hunt that boasts a 200-year history, following in the tradition set by avid rider Thomas Knowles, who hunted "seven days a week", according to Mr Maher.

Horses were transported from up to 60 miles away to take part in yesterday's event.

Irish Independent

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