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The names of famous breeders have been mentioned on this site in varous discussions many times, but maybe it would be interesting for all to hear of some 'greats' in the breed and what is known of them. Who do you consider to have made a great impact on the breed? I will start with citing from the book 'Mission Accomplished' about Florence Nagle

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Cited from the front cover of the book 'Mission Accomplished' by Ferelith Somerfield:
"Florence Nagle (1894 - 1988) was a figure who will never be forgotten by anyone who knew her. With an instinctive understanding for breeding, rearing and training livestock, she achieved remarkable success in whatever she attempted...
With her Irish Wolfhounds she won the top award the dog world can offer, best in show at Crufts, but perhaps more importantly she created a unique strain, noted through the generations for quality and soundness.
Her Irish Setters excelled in a different area - field trial competition - and again achieved unparalleled success.
In the male dominated world of thoroughbred breeding (horses) she held her own too, producing a Derby runner-up amoung countless winners.
... A passionate believer in equality of oportunity, she took on the Jockey Club over its nonsensical rules that refused her, a woman, a trainer's licence but instead granted it to her head lad. After a long legal battle she emerged victorious and then turned her attention to the ruling body of the dog world, the Kennel Club, which banned women from membership. Once again the men had to give in.
Great topic.

Pride of place for the UK must go after Florence Nagle to W.J. (Bill) Rasbridge. Same timelines.

Without him probably no show-Irish setters left. He started experimental breeding in 1938 to discover how night blindness later known as Progressive Retinal Atrophy worked on genetics.

Prolific writer on dogsports, thinker on dog-affairs, leading canine geneticists. Expert on bloodlines of the Irish setter, one of the first warning for an alarming loss of founding families.

Very critical about the development of Irish setters since 1930, in 1980 stating most changes at the end and not for the better. Movement "degenerated" in his eyes because of lack of understanding how a working Irish setter should move.

Also one of the first to publish genetical defects of his own dogs. Breeder of foundation dogs of most nowadays winning show-Irish from UK-culture (in 1984, 65% was descending from his Watendlath Joao O'Pandy via Wendovers).

Interestingly saying in an interview (Dog World 1984) about his favourite dog Borrowdale Basilio. "A 30-mile walk meant nothing to me. I used to walk for three weeks on end. If I could find a pub to stop in, I did. If not, I slept under a haystack. And I took this dog with me all over the countryside. He was easily the most intelligent dog I ever had. I could do anything with him and I attributed it to one line in his pedigree, coming down from a very old field trial line."

Common in Nagle and Rasbridge: a lot of showfanciers would like to hang both high on trees just because of telling the truth. This was and is not something popular in those circles....

Gilbert Leighton-Boyce UK, same timelines as Rasbridge and Nagle. Author of a standard-work described by many experts as the best post war in his culture, better than the follow up written by Janice Roberts.

Totally new was the approach of Leighton-Boyce in analysing paintings over many centuries, leading to "A survey of early setters" (London, 1985), by far the most deep digging enterprise in setters ever. It is a study of the development of setters in Britain and Ireland before the dog shows began. as evidenced in art and literature and other sources.

Just like Nagle and Rasbridge, Leighton-Boyce had an interest in the resurrection of red and white Irish setters.
Janice Roberts - Cornevon...(UK)
A famous name, a famous breeder - I'm sorry I only met Janice once for a short talk and was far too much 'in awe' to permit myself any questions, sadly she died not long after. I am sure there are people around who knew her personally and can tell us a bit more about her? Of course I have her book and the show photos of her dogs, but I'm sure there would be much more to tell...
John Nash - Moanruad (Ireland)
Please, tell me more about him - what a pity that book was never written.
Maybe the biggest compliment for John Nash was made by Bill Rasbridge stating in 1980 the working Irish setter had "never been as good as before".

That compliment was in Rasbridges more mentioned analyses of what happened to the breed since he started (1930) until 1980. Where-as Rasbridge analysed the oppposite for the show-side of the breed in UK-dominated cultures.

Irishman Nash started in 1946 with a great knowledge of training and handling. He got that from great masters of the past.

Irish setters were the passion of his life and to update them into what they were said to be once ("the Arab of birddogs") was his ideal. In a nutshell he managed to do that with great success, a quick view on Irish field trial champions and UK ditto learns, beating English setters and pointers. Plus his influence world wide - a lot of new fans and ditto cultures where the working Irish setter revived.

His life and times was on same timelines as the "Purest Challenge" in the USA. Thats striving for resurrection of the working Irish setter in the USA led by Ned leGrande, supported by leading geneticists, birddog-experts and authors, later opposed by the ISCA leading to one of worlds longest lasting dogwars.

But Irishmen did not like the outcross to an English setter used in the fifties in the USA, although its influence was small. Americans disliked the point of Irish - sometimes crouching, with tails low or in line with the back. Because trends in fields there were tails higher and higher. That is the reason Nash is not widely known in US IS-circles.

More or less, Nash was the leader of the world wide striving for an updated working Irish setter. One "disciple" inspired by him was Dutchman Rembrandt Kersten who recently wrote a book "Hond Staat" (Dog Points) see for a trailer www.Iersesetter.com Some falconers active in waiting on (working with peregrine falcon/setter) claim Moanruads were the best ever...

Theres a line up of those disciples in a yearbook of the Irish Red Setter Club in Ireland (parentclub for all FCI-countries) published after his death. Lots of wihite on his Irish, especially Int FT Ch Patricia of Killone, providing also foundation material for reviving the red and white Irish setter.

Of course like all prominent people Nash had opposition. Especially from showcricles within and outside Ireland, claiming he changed the type: red setters becoming smaller and faster. They launched quite a few unproven outcross-theories.

Probably the most important dog to revive the Irish setter as a working breed was Portlairge The Blacksmith. Lines behind that one are partwise the same as behind old Wendovers. Thats probably why CLAD-carriers dived up in both genepools.

His tragic death out hunting when storms were raging big parts of Europe in 1990 meant the end of a living legend.

Those legends vary per culture. Everywhere he is characterised as "a very charming humoristic personality". Still in 2007, there were triallers in many cultures treasuring some stuff they got from him or reviving stories told in his home in Pallas Green.

So one of the few impressing people for life....
Thanks for this report about John Nash, Henk. What a shame tragedy struck and he was lost to the world of irish setters.
In the book Pointers & Setters by Derry Argue there are two photographs of his dogs, one showing Patricia of Killone with a lot of white. I presume that is what most irish setters looked like before the solid red colour was encouraged. The other picture is of F.T. Ch. Moanruad Dan. How I wish the present day field type would look more like this dog! He looks good for size, has ample bone and a expressive head with intelligent expression. The field dogs I have seen in France have no similarity to this dog... I will ty to scan the photograph for others to see. I must make it to Ireland one day -maybe in 2009 for the Festival of Irish Breeds.
Well thanks for your thanks. I am surprised to see theres not more input from other cultures.

Yes Patricia has more white than most of you will ever have seen. She was considered to be one of the best. And behind most nowadays working Irish setters and Irish red and white setters. There was a scheme in Ireland to breed red working x red and white working to update last.

Purists say separation was wrong: the Irish setter is and was in color varieties.

Yes a lot of Moanruads were great - within the standard for work and conformation. Probably the greatest Ir FTCH Moanruad Timothy, also praised for conformation by UK show-expert Rasbridge. Quite a few breeders try to retrieve these lines back and theres sperm in a freezer in Italy.

Here are the pictures I mentioned. 1. John Nash with Patricia of Killone on right, 2. Moanruad Don
I would like to mention the great breeders here in the U.S., Joyce Nilsen of Thenderin Kennels in So. CA, Lucy Jane Myers of Draherin fame in Minnesota, Ted Eldredge of Tirvelda Kennels and of course, Rose Ross of Meadowlark in VA. There are many others who have contributed significantly to the Irish Setter in the U.S. but these breeders were the foundation of what we have today. Joyce Nilsen and Ted Eldredge are deceased, Lucy Jane Myers is no longer actively breeding but does have a couple of decendants from her old lines that she shows occassionally. Rose Ross is still active as a breeder and judges Sweepstakes at Irish Setter Specialties. Many successful U.S. breeders have combined these 4 bloodlines and types into what is producing our beautiful setters today. Lucy Jane Myers is also an AKC Licensed Breed Judge as was Ted Eldredge although I don't believe Lucy Jane is still actively judging. Miss Emily Sweitzer produced some of the U.S.'s greatest Dual Champion Irish Setters and they also competed successfully as obedience trial dogs. She did not breed as many Irish as others mentioned and usually only for herself.
Were there any special publications on Emily Schweitzer? She seems to have been one of THE Irish setter all aspects breeders of all times.

According to W.C. Thompson it was her Ch Verbu Missy Oogh CDX, a veteran of bench, field and obedience, pointing in the middle of Chicago's traffic a live pheasant during the premier of Walt Disneys movie "Big Red".

You can still see her kennels in Dundee in the Schweitzer Forest Preserve. It has oak forests, crop land, hay meadows and marshes.
See www.co.kane.il.us Family of Albert Schweitzer?
In the old Thompson Irish Setter breed book there are some photos of Miss Emily Sweitzers' setters and also Miss Emily. Most of her field trial dogs were trained and trialed in Salinas, CA at Oxton Kennels, by Jake and Sally Huizinga. Jake was a firm believer in the Dual pointing dog. When we were in the market for our first "dual type" Irish Setter, I asked Jake what he thought of a male puppy I took to him to grade. He tested him with a live pheasant, then stacked him on a grooming table, put a show lead on him and moved him around the yard. Jake then said, and I quote, "He'll do!" That was Robalee Riverboat Gambler, whelped on Sept. 4, 1974, was pointed in AKC Field Trials and AKC Championship shows. His sire was Robalee Endeavor who was also the sire of Dual Ch. Killagay's Image of Tara, VCX, UDX and other field and show pointed Irish Setters. Gambler's grandsire on his dam's side was the International Ch. Legend of Varagon, CDX, UDX, one of the most titled Irish Setters in his day. Gambler was a large dog, standing 28 inches at the withers, 80 lbs show weight. He was also one of the smartest field trial dogs I've ever had the pleasure to run behind. At one field trial, the gunner missed his shot in the Open Gun Dog Stake. He fired the shotgun but missed the bird. Gambler kept watching the pheasant flying away from him, he finally dashed over to the dead bird box when the handler released him and retrieved a dead bird from the box to his handler! When a gun has been fired, he knew he needed to find himself a bird! His size never held him back in the field or the show ring. I also remember showing him at a local specialty show while he was in field trial training with Joe Ceridono, another excellent field trial trainer in the mid 1970's. It was an outdoor show, I had just taken my show lead off of Gambler after setting him up for the Judge to go over for his individual exam. A car backfired in the parking lot, Gambler shot straight up into the air, all 4 feet off the ground, did a 180 degree turn, landed in a frozen point, looking for the bird! The Judge told me I could put the lead back on, settle him down then re-stack him for his exam. Nope, didn't need to do that, just told Gambler to "turn around, stand for exam" and he did, perfectly stacked too I might add. He placed 3rd in his class even tho he was not the Judge's type of dog. That was July 1976 at the ISCP Summer specialty Show in San Leandro, CA at the Marina Park where the 1988 ISCA National was held. Gambler was 19 months old at the time. A one of a kind dog.




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