The Irish red setter has been part of our national narrative for generations, associated with many Irish people at home and abroad, used in the past as in marketing programmes by Irish companies and still today by Bus Eireann; it has been an emblem of the nation and represent part of our national heritage. The Irish Red Setter Club (IRSC) was established in 1882 to protect and promote our native red setters. The Club has promoted the breed since its inception by publishing a physical and working breed standard, organised annual field trials and shows to support the breed and publishes an annual Yearbook with interesting articles and event results.
The European Championships for Irish red setters on snipe is organised by the IRSC commencing in 2017 and has been run every second year since with the latest edition run last October in Co Galway. The events so far have drawn competitors from France, England, Scotland, Germany and the Isle of Man and spectators from as far away as Australia and Argentina.
The Championship is run over two days with two panels of dogs judged by two separate juries of judges each day, allowing the four judges to see all the competing dogs over the two days. Points are awarded for the results on each day and the dogs with the highest number of points over the two days are awarded the titles of European Championship and Vice European Champion.
The venue for the trials is on the vast flat heather bogs in East Galway. This ground permits dogs to have very similar conditions and holds an adequate supply of snipe to test their abilities on these difficult birds. A local community centre acts as a Headquarters for the rendezvous for the competitors and spectators, the location for a complementary convivial lunch and for the awards ceremony each evening.
Connolly’s RED Mills is the primary sponsor for this event and their support allows the IRSC to invite experienced international judges to officiate, hire photographers to take high quality image and videos of the action for use to commemorate the event and promote the breed. All-in-all Connollys’ support allows the IRSC to deliver a high-quality event. Bill Connolly’s participation with his crack team of setters is particularly welcomed by the Club.
Over the three editions of the Championship to date, it has been notable that the number of dogs awarded the ‘EXCELLENT’ classification has been significant which speaks highly of the dogs competing and the overall current quality of Irish Red Setters as top-class hunting dogs.
The Championship also permits an insight into the best working lines of Irish red setters and allows enthusiasts or newcomers the opportunity to appreciate the top contemporary setters.
The IRSC has been trying to organise a European Championship on grouse and our efforts have been disrupted by the COVID pandemic. It is proposed to run the inaugural event in early August 2022 in the North of England, and we look forward to attracting dogs from across Europe to this event. We are also looking forward with anticipation to the next European Championship on Snipe in October 2023.