Before the foundation of the Irish Kennel Club, all dog events in Ireland were held under licence from the English Kennel Club. However, the recently founded Dublin Irish Blue Terrier Club – which included Michael Collins and Oliver St. John Gogarty among its members – broke with this system by holding the first breed show outside the English club’s jurisdiction on October 16, 1920.
Attendees included figures from both sides of the independence divide, including Captain Wyndham Quinn from the Vice Regal Lodge in the Phoenix Park, and the Under Secretary for Ireland, Sir James McMahon. They witnessed a show featuring dogs such as ‘Convict 224’ (Michael Collins’ dog), Trotsky, Munster Fusilier, and Markavich, presided over by judges Con O'Herlihy and Dan Nolan. From those colourful beginnings sprang the Wyndham Quinn Perpetual Cup, which is still awarded to this day, and the Michael Collins Perpetual Cup.
More importantly, the event led to a further show featuring other breeds on Saint Patrick’s Day 1921 in the Concert Rooms of Dublin’s North Brunswick Street. That show’s success spurred the foundation of the Irish Kennel Club on January 20 1922. The freedom fighters who drove the club’s foundation reached across the political divide once again, electing independence opponent and dog lover Justice Henry Hanna as the Chairman.
Hanna, who retired in 1936 after sterling work to set the club on a solid foundation, was succeeded by Henry Fottrell, who held office until 1978. The Kennel Club’s current office, Fottrell House, is named in his honour. J.G. (Sonny) Plunkett held the chair until his death in 1987, followed by Bill O’Herlihy (son of Con O’Herlihy) and Tom Creamer. The title was changed to President in 1998, during Mr Creamer’s tenure, and Mr S. Delmar currently fills the role.
The present Secretary, Tony O’Neill, has several predecessors. Mr W. Cahill, Mr H.B. Fottrell, Mr L.G. Quirke, Miss M. Fox, Mr D.J. Smyth, Mr R. E. Martin all served in this role as the club grew.
Today, the Irish Kennel Club is a company limited by guarantee and based in Fottrell House at Harold’s Cross Bridge. It is governed by an elected General Purposes Committee, while many members are active in the club through several voluntary committees.