The Galway Blazers

This article was written by Samuel J. Macguire and originally published in the 'Galway Reader' in the 1950s. The 'Galway Reader' is available from Galway Public Library.

How They Got Their Name

It is interesting to record the origin of the "Galway Blazers". The County Galway was hunted for several years prior to 1840 by Robert Parsons Persse of Castleboy. For a fortnight each year these hounds were invited by the Ormond Hunt to hunt the latter country. At the end of the visit the Galway men entertained the Ormond Hunt at Dooley's Hotel, Birr. On one occasion the festivities resulted in the burning of the hotel. This was the origin of the name "Blazers". Robert Persse died shortly afterwards and the hounds were disposed of.

Revival Of The Blazers

Several private packs were then started: St. George of Tyrone, Blake of Frenchfort, Myreel of Pallas, Bodkin of Kilclooney, Persse of Moyode. A year or two afterwards when hunting with Persse's hounds at Castle Lambert a number of sportsmen agreed to revive "The Blazers." Tom Tully of Rathfarn and John Denis purchased on their own behalf a pack of hounds that was for sale in Tipperary, and John Dennis was appointed master. He kept the hounds at Carraroe near Dunsandle until 1849 when he got a bad fall and had to give up hunting for some time. He died in 1868. For ten years before this he had lived at Bermingham House, Tuam, and hunted North Galway, parts of Mayo and Roscommon. John D. Mahon of Weston succeeded him with Michard Conry as huntsman and kept the hounds at Ballydonelan. In 1852Mahon resigned and the mastership was taken over by Burton Persse who hunted the pack until his death in 1885, a apace of 33 years.

The Castle Boy Hunt

Burton Robert Parsons Persse of Moyode Castle was born on November 4th, 1828. His grandfather, who was also a Burton Persse, familiarly known as "Old Burton," established a pack of hounds at Moyode as far back as 1770, and they were carried on without interruption there until about 1896. He was one of the greatest fox hunters of the day and held the mastership for 66 years. He hunted the pack the greater part of the time himself and rode out with them a fortnight before he died in 1836 at the age of 85.

In 1803 the first Hunt Club was established in Galway, called the Castle Boy Hunt with Robert Parsons Persse of Castle Boy as master. He was a nephew of "Old Burton" and the two of them hunted the county. "Old Burton" the southern part and the nephew the northern. Robert Parsons Persse died in 1829 and the northern end of the county was hunted by a committee until 1840, when the title of the pack was changed to that of the County Galway Hunt, and the celebrated John Dennis became master until 1850.

From The Ranger: A journal for the Connaught Rangers; edited by Lieut.-Colonel H. F. N. Jourdain, C.M.G.

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