THE retirement of huntsman of the Tara Harriers Henry Smith as huntsman of the pack after 22 seasons was marked by a huge turnout at the beautiful Brittas Estate. The lawn meet was hosted by former joint-masters and owners of Brittas Estate Oinri Jackson and Neville Jessop.

Henry’s fellow masters Lorraine McDowell, Eugene O’Reilly, Bryan Maher, Larry Cunningham and John Moran were there to support him, together with supporters who travelled from hunts all over the country including the Meaths, Louths, Ballymacads and Fingals. Past masters David Wilkinson and Henry Corbally were there as well as Jean Briscoe, Willie Smith, Dr Carlos McDowell, Clare Oakes, Shona Cosgrove, Sarah Angel, owner of the Louth Foxhounds, Patricia Fallon, Pat Dillon, chairman of the Meath Foxhounds, and Scarteen Hunt chairman, John Hourigan, and his wife Trish, whose daughter Hazel was hunting, to name but a few.

Bryan Maher, Eugene O'Reilly, Sabine Dowdall, Henry Smith, Larry Cunningham, John Moran and Aonri Jackson at the Tara Harriers lawn meet at Brittas Estate \ Noel Mullins

Henry Smith has been master of the Tara Harriers for 42 seasons and huntsman for 22, and has been dedicated to the success of the Tara Harriers during that time. He was born into a hunting and racing family as comes from a long line of masters and huntsmen on his father and mother’s side. His father, Lancelot, was master and huntsman of the Fingal Harriers, Galway Blazers, Meath Foxhounds, East Galway Foxhounds, Westmeath Foxhounds and the Island Foxhounds. His mother, Stella, was a fine point-to-point rider and whipped into her husband. In fact on her 90th birthday Stella rode up front with Henry hunting from a meet from their family farm in Donabate, Co Dublin. He is a nephew of George Briscoe who was master of the Tara Harriers for 72 seasons and also hunted hounds. George’s wife, Jean, is a member of the Cragie family that were masters of the Fingal Harriers and the Ward Union Staghounds. In fact the Tara Harriers originally known as the Bellinter Harriers were bequeathed as a pack by Lord Tara to George’s grandfather Gussie who was master from 1895-1908, and George’s father Cecil was master from 1908-’14.

Aoife Delaney and Alex Lyons at the Tara Harriers lawn meet at Brittas Estate \ Noel Mullins

Henry’s cousin and fellow joint-master Lorraine Briscoe (McDowell) is married to John McDowell of McDowell’s Happy Ringhouse in O’Connell Street, Dublin, and Phyllis McDowell was master of the Fingal Harriers and was also a well-known show jumper winning international competitions at Dublin Horse Show. Marion McDowell represented Ireland in show jumping and married another Irish International show jumper, Leonard Cave, who is Chief Steward of the Main Arena at Dublin Horse Show. Jack McDowell owned Caughoo, winner of the Aintree Grand National in 1947 at 100/1, trained by his brother, Herbert.

Hunt chairman and joint-master Eugene O’Reilly thanked Henry for the superb standard of sport that he provided over the years, and Henry’s fellow joint-master, and cousin, Lorraine McDowell praised Henry for his loyalty to the Tara Harriers. In reply Henry was gracious and modest saying that he could not have done it without the support of the masters and the Briscoe, McDowell and Smith families. He paid tribute in particular to kennel huntsman and whipper-in Sabine Dowdall who has looked after the pack of hounds so well for the last 24 seasons, as did her father, Terry, for 36 seasons and her grandfather, Christy, for 24 seasons. He said his job was made easy as Sabine presented a fit and healthy pack to him at each meet, and all he had to do was hunt them and provide sport. Then it was time to mount up and give the followers the usual great days hunting for his last day hunting the pack.

Attending the retirement meet for Henry Smith are Claire Oakes, Willie Smith and Jean Briscoe at the Tara Harriers lawn meet at Brittas Estate \ Noel Mullins

The followers were relieved to hear that although Henry is stepping down as huntsman and handing over the hunting horn to John Moran he will continue as senior joint-master. John is manager of Bective Stud that breeds National Hunt horses, with the progeny trained in England by Olly Murphy and in Ireland by Gordon Elliott. We wish John every success as joint-master and huntsman of the Tara Harriers.