History of the North of England Irish Terrier Club
The Club, the oldest surviving Irish Terrier Club in Britain, was formed at a meeting held at the Manchester Show in March 1906. It has remained active since, although with some interruptions caused by world and other events, and has been predominantly centred in the Manchester area. Those present at the inaugural meeting, and the first Officers appointed represented many of the most influential breeders and exhibitors of the time. Throughout it has always concentrated on the practical aspects of breeding, preparing and handling Irish Terriers.
Ch MILE END MUDDLER
Property of Mr Frank Clifton
The first Chairman was F. Breakell owner of Ch. Bonnet and Ch. Killerney Sport and amongst the founder members was F.M. Jowett, author of the definitive book on the breed, and owner of many champions under his Crow Gill prefix. Another member was Frank Clifton of Stockport, described by Jowett as having the strongest kennel in the breed where it is doubtful if so many champions have been owned at the same time by one exhibitor. No trivial claim considering his Champions: Munster Grip, Charwoman, Mile End Kitty, ME Muddler, ME Barrister and ME Vixen, as well as several other Challenge Certificate winners. Other members were T. Ramsay-Ramsay, a Championship Judge; J. Oates, with his Chs. Straight Tip and Straight Pride; J. Stanworth, Ch. Turf Commander; and A.B. Montgomery who had just started out with his first Ch. Celtic Bella and was to prove such a force in the 20's.
The Club was very active in the following years, supporting many shows around the Lancashire area. In 1909 Mrs. O.W. Porritt, a member of the founding family of the Scapa international company, joined making up her first Ch. Barlae Brickbat and going on to breed and qualify under her Musbury kennel name Chs. M Tip, M Demon, M Maureen and M Fionnuala. At this time Club finances must have been healthy as they purchased six cups with the valued at thirty-six guineas. Minute books show that these cups were actively competed for, on a points basis, until world affairs interrupted things in November 1914.
The next record was of re-forming in March of 1922. John Wild was elected Secretary and was still in office in 1962. During this time the leading member was A.B. Montgomery with his first champion of the decade appropriately title Ch. War Bonus and quickly followed by several under his Celtic prefix. Other prominent members with Champions were W. Slater's Boldens; W. Tottle's Taptons, T. Yorke's Ramblings and N. Galloway. Elected a member in 1925 was a certain George Barr of Chorley who besides making up Ch. Brantvale Belle was to become one of the greats amongst handlers of all terriers.
There has always been close links between the Club and Ireland and perhaps the most influential honorary member during the early 20's was F. Carson's dog, Irish Leader. He was kennelled in the Manchester area during the problem years of communications between England and his Dublin home and in one nine month period is reputed to have serviced over a hundred bitches. A study of the pedigrees of champions at that time shows how successful he was and why he was in such demand. Bobby Grant is the only person I have known who saw the dog and he described him as one of the best. The final record of the Club in this period was in March 1928. During the late 20's and early 30's activities seem to have centred on a joint North of England Airedale and Irish Terrier Club.
In December 1946, with the stabilization of world events, the Club re-formed once again at a meeting in the Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford, which was to be home for the next twenty-five years. In 1947 the Club first applied to register with the Kennel Club and the Irish Terrier Club stood as sponsor. Chairman, at that time, was the local canine celebrity, Jean Hopwood, with John Wild as Secretary. Members included Jack Tonge and his wife, later to succeed with their Chapeleas; B. Gilliland and his Wogils; and Joe Farnworth, who's No Retreat at Manchester Show in 1934 had won every class from Puppy to Open, the CC and BOB, and was later sold to the USA where he continued his successes.
Soon to join the Club was that other great handler, Fred Roberts, making up literally in his own name, Ch. Roberty Mair and having other champions including those he handled for Edith Slater, President of the Club in 1949. He has the reputation, which I have never been able to verify, for the record in qualifying a champion in six days with wins in the Scottish, Blackpool and Belfast shows. In 1952 Tommy Evans joined, becoming Chairman in 1954. His famous Swinpens were only part of his story since he continued the long established close links with Irish breeders and in particular with the Teltowns of father, John Sweeney, and sons, Gerry and Jimmy.
In the mid-fifties Charlie and Mavis Pollard joined and after their Chs. Depleach Kettledrum and Micky Finn have been successful with their Lynphens, particularly Ch. L Express so influential in the USA. In 1957 the Club were awarded their first Championship Show and held at Rusholme Town Hall, Manchester, with Bobby Grant as judge. Despite the success of this event it was to be another thirty-two years before their next Championship Show.
Since the fifties there have been a string of successful members with Paddy Carroll, our late Patron, the most influential with his Carolmacs. He took his turn as Club Secretary as did other successful exhibitors, Beryl Bell and her Woodvilles and Ged Morrison's Gedmors. Stan Brown having made his mark with his Yewoods took on the role as Chairman whilst Jill Livesey, joining in 1981, got on with making a success of her Riojems leaving the job of Secretary from 1982 to husband Paul, now our President. Valerie Kenyon had success with her Lacus Irish and Lakelands and it was her partnership with Wendy and Keith Bower that brought Wendy into the breed and who now serves us well as Secretary/Treasurer.
The Club currently has a membership of around a hundred and runs popular shows twice-a-year. Until 2009 having a Championship Show every other year, alternating with the Ulster Club, maintaining the close links with their neighbours across the Irish Sea. From 2009 onwards both Clubs were awarded Championship Shows on an annual basis.
My apologies to the many not mentioned here who have worked so hard and without whom there would have been no Club.
Paul Livesey, Hon. President, The North of England Irish Terrier Club. [Updated 18th August 2020]