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The Death of Celtchar Mac Uthechair - 13 - Pest 3

"And that day, at the end of a year afterwards, cow-herds were by the side of the cairn of Horny-skin, and heard the squealing of whelps in the cairn. And they dug up the cairn and found three whelps in it, viz. a dun hound, and a hound with small spots, and a black hound. The hound with the small spots was given as a present to Mac Datho of Leinster; and for its sake multitudes of the men of Ireland fell in the house of Mac Datho, and Ailbe was the name of that hound. And it would be to Culand the smith that the dun hound was given, and the black hound was Celtchar's own Dóelchú. It let no man take hold of it save Celtchar."

As we have seen in the Death of Celtchar hounds play a big role in the ancient stories. They are most often depicted devastating warriors on the battlefield, standing guard for their owners, or running amok when let loose. The Irish Wolfhound is the most celebrated of the native dogs, most likely due to their immense size and fierceness. There is little doubt that the Irish Wolfhound is an ancient breed, though according to some archaeologists it would appear that it has been selectively bred in more recent times for larger size.

‘Irish Greyhound’ - Philipp Reinagle 1804.

Consulting the second volume of P.W. Joyce's Social History of Ancient Ireland in regards to the breed of Irish dogs brings us this interesting anecdote from history, which would indicate to us that the Irish have long been celebrated for their hounds:

A Roman citizen named Flavianus, who had visited Britain, presented seven Irish dogs (Scotici canes) to his brother Symmachus, a Roman consul, for the games at Rome (a.d. 391) — though we are left in the dark as to how he procured the animals — a gift which Symmachus acknowledges in a letter still extant : — " All Rome," he says, "viewed them with wonder and thought they must have been brought hither in iron cages."


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