A Hunting Scene Showing Old Kilruddery House

Reproduced from Ireland Under the Georges by Constantia Maxwell

This illustration is from a photograph of an oil painting of about the year 1740, which is in the possession of the Earl of Meath, at Kilruddery, County Wicklow. That the Earls of Meath were among the keenest hunters in Ireland is proved by the existence of the famous hunting song known as The Kilruddery Hunt. This celebrates a notable foxhunt, which took place in County Wicklow in the winter of 1744, with the hounds of Chaworth Brabazon, the sixth Earl of Meath, and describes the exploits of the leading sportsmen of the district. The words of the song, which was set to an old Irish tune {Celia O'Gara), were written by the comic actor Thomas Mozeen, an Englishman of French extraction, who was acting in the Dublin theatres at the time.

As he lodged for several summers with Owen Bray, the sporting landlord of Loughlinstown Inn, where the gentlemen of the county used to forgather to enjoy excellent dinners and cockfights, he knew all the local hunting celebrities, and was probably present on the famous occasion that he celebrates in his song. Mozeen, who is supposed to have been the author of the well-known recitation of the period Bucks have at ye all, published a collection of Miscellaneous Essays in London in 1762, in which this song is included under the title of A Description of a Fox Chase that happened in the County of Dublin with the Earl of MeatVs Hounds.

The popularity of this spirited effort, better known as The Kilruddery Hunt, is shown by the fact that it was still being sung at the Dublin playhouses at the end of the eighteenth century by Robert Owenson, the father of Lady Morgan, and other comic actors. Croker tells us that songs commemorative of a good day's sport were common in Ireland at this time, and resembled The Kilruddery Hunt in enumerating the number of the sportsmen, the ground run over, and the finale-a jovial dinner; a description of the will made by the dying animal being sometimes added.

The people at large, always glad of an excuse for a holiday, approved the hunting habits of the gentry, but occasionally found them a little inconvenient. We read, for example, of how Colonel Eyre, of Eyrecourt, had a pack of seventy or eighty hounds in a kennel within a hundred yards of the parish church, and of how the howling and barking of the dogs, which was especially vigorous during the singing of the psalms, disturbed their devotions. Unfortunately, the parson had sons for whom he hoped to find lucrative posts, while the Colonel had wealth and influence, so that nothing was done to remove the nuisance.