Early Pembroke Success in IrelandNow here is a treasure! A photo I'd never seen before and a major win for the breed that I never knew about.
Judge Captain Will Judy and the owner Jessie Fitzwilliams with UK/Ir Ch Fitzdown Doc of Kinneagh
Looking at the photos of Doc, especially the one from the show, something reminds me of a slightly old-fashioned version of Jessie's much later bitch Ch Fitzdown Starbelle. Like the complementary angulation front and rear and especially the return of upper arm. Shows how quickly conformation improved in Pembrokes after the war. Perhaps a tribute to the influence of Supremacy who seemed to upgrade his descendants even if not the most spectacular dog himself.
It is well known that John Holmes took BIS at the St Patrick's Day Show in Dublin in 1947 with (the perhaps unfortunately named!) UK/Ir Ch Formakin Orangeman, following his sensational run in 1946 when he became the first post-war UK champion, and before he left for Greencorg in America.
Here is John Holmes and Ch Formakin Orangeman winning the group on St Patrick's Day 1947
under Alex Dalzell, on the way to taking BIS under Rev Ernest Savell Hicks.
Pity it's not a nicer photo of the dog but shows what a dark sable he was.
He was bred in Northern Ireland (hence the name) from a bitch John had sold on breeding terms.
John lived in Surrey then so it must have been quite a trek to get to this show.
This is thought to be the first time the breed had won the top award at any general championship show, anywhere - the UK didn't see a BIS win at this level until 1950, and the US until 1949. All the more significant in that the St Pat's show, for many years held on Ireland's national day, was by far the republic's best known dog show and very much a social occasion.
Ch. Formakin Orangeman
What I hadn't realised was that another Pembroke topped this show a few years later - it says much for the modesty of the winner's owner, beloved by all who knew her, that as far as I know she never made a big thing of this exciting success.
Although brought up in Devon, where she founded the Fitzdown kennel in the mid 1930s, Jessie Fitzwilliams spent quite a number of years living in Ireland. From the late 1940s to the early '60s she was based at Killinane House, Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, where she continued to breed and show the Fitzdowns. She made up several Irish champions, and made regular trips to the UK shows resulting in three of her Pembrokes becoming champions in both countries.
Eventually she returned to England, settling at quaint Catswood Cottage in the Cotswolds of which many of us have fond memories, and the last of these UK/Ir champions, Fitzdown Puesedown Pixie, became the foundation of the highly successful third phase of the Fitzdown kennel.
UK/Ir Ch Fitzdown Doc of Kinneagh
The dog we are concerned with here is UK/Ir Ch Fitzdown Doc of Kinneagh, bred by Mr and Mrs Percy Blacker and sired by Jessie's Ir Ch Fitzdown Cobbler. He added his UK title to his Irish one in 1954 but his big moment came at the St Pat's show in 1953 where he went all the way to BIS. The judge was Captain Will Judy from the US, a famous personality of the American dog scene, a great advocate of dog training and a highly successful publisher and author on canine matters in particular - for many years he published the (American) Dog World magazine.
Doc sired Ir Ch Fitzdown Bidoc when mated to Jessie's UK/Ir Ch Fitzdown Byworth Biddy. Unfortunately I'm unable to discover if he had any significant descendants beyond the first generation. As far as I know the Irish KC has never published a Stud Book or records supplement as the KC or AKC does or did, so tracing Irish lines can be virtually impossible.
There is some old Irish breeding behind the female line of Ch Ermyn Wing And A Prayer, and these include some Fitzdown dogs from Jessie's period in Ireland, but beyond that I have drawn a blank. It would be nice to think that Doc is behind today's winners but so far any proof is lacking.
Has the breed ever won BIS at the St Pat's show since then? I'm pretty sure Manto and Craigycor had some good wins at the show, but I haven't heard of any further BIS to add to those from 1947 and 1953.