IT almost feels as if I am writing an obituary of an old friend and in some ways that is what I am doing. As of this season, the very sporting Kilmoganny Foxhounds have ceased to exist. It was just over a hundred years ago - 1918 to be exact - when the Kilmoganny Harriers were formed with Pat Walsh of Carrick-on-Suir as master. As readers of The Irish Field hunting columns will be aware, I have had many enjoyable days with the Kilmoganny right back to the day when Rory Dicker hunted hounds with his better half, Mary, as hunt secretary. These were the times of long days and even longer hunts over the challenging country around Grangemockler and further afield.

They hunted through thick and thin, the Troubles followed by the Civil War and all the other world and national events left them untouched until a combination of Covid and a huge increase in running costs left the club with no other option but to disband. Former riding members are dispersing to neighbouring packs including the including the Tipps, Mullinavat, Kilkenny and Waterford.

Going back to God’s time, hounds were kennelled at Tinvane outside Carrick-on-Suir in the 19th century. The Lingaun Valley has appreciated and understood the sound of hounds for centuries. They were kennelled in various locations around Kilmoganny, including McEnrys (John’s grandfathers) when they lived at Rossanara outside the village of Kilmoganny.

In 1946, the Kilmoganny hounds were taken from Annefield, outside Owning to Castletown Cox by Charlie Blacque and the hounds were kennelled at Castletown up to the summer of 2022. For almost 30 seasons, Charlie Blaque carried the horn. A larger-than-life figure, legend had it that his family came from Turkey with French being their first language.

This third of a century could be looked on as Kilmoganny’s halcyon days. Even with changes of mastership (and there have been many), hounds have remained kennelled at Castletown Cox. The sound of hounds singing at night was always a sure signs of rain coming locally and was always considered a far better harbinger of weather than anything that could be produced by the Met Office or RTÉ.

The sight of bicycles exercising hounds around and outside the estate in summer months coupled with the annual puppy show on the estate were part of the rhythm of the countryside. Kilmoganny always had a huge local following both on horse back and on foot from villages and townlands in South Tipperary and South Kilkenny.

Masters have come and gone including John Costello who replaced Charlie Blaque to be followed by such notables as Michael Curran, Pat Murphy, John Cunningham, Patricia Brennan (née Blacque), Rosemary Driver, Michael Higgens, Jimmy Keane, Marianne O’Donnell, the late Paul O’Brien, Rory Dicker, Michael and Susan Morris and Ivan Dowley to name but a few.

I spoke with long time chairman John Walsh, man and boy an ardent supporter of the Kilmoganny, who spoke with no little emotion on the loss of the hunt and the gaping hole it will leave in the rural life of South Kilkenny.

In recent seasons hounds have been hunted by PJ Aylward and Finbar Murray who hunted right up to last season. Despite herculean efforts of the masters Breda Cahill, George Frisby and James Phelan to keep the show on the road, the huge increase in insurance costs were the straw that broke the camel’s back. The end of a long history of hunting in the Limgaun Valley under Slivenamon.