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Downpatrick Man Celebrates Legend of Massereene Hound
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DOWNPATRICK  man Albert Titterington, Director of the Great Game Fairs of Ireland, is playing his part in making some of Ireland’s most celebrated legendary animals ‘live again’  with the special commission of a portrait of  ‘The Massereene Hound’ from acclaimed artist John R Moore.

The portrait of the hound which, famously, is said to have both guarded and saved Antrim Castle, is now one of the important Great Game Fairs collection which already includes a painting by Esther Barrett of The Byerley Turk, one of the three progenitors of the modern thoroughbred, and a portrait by Louise Barrett of greyhound Master McGrath which won the Waterloo Cup – and a fortune – for his owner, Lord Brownlow of Lurgan.

Albert Titterington from Downpatrick who has been a key player in developing the scene for country game fairs in Ireland.

Albert Titterington from Downpatrick who has been a key player in developing the scene for country game fairs in Ireland.

The unveiling of John Moore’s portrait of The Massereene Hound took place at Clotworthy House in Antrim, 400 hundred years after the dog – legend has it – walked the area and saved the life of Lady Marian Clotworthy and later the entire castle from attack and destruction by armed enemies.  Great Game Fairs of Ireland Director Albert Titterington presented the special No 1 fine art print of the painting of the hound to Antrim Council to be displayed in the Clotworthy Gallery.  The Mayor, Councillor Roy Thompson, accepted the print on behalf of the Council.

Albert is already something of a legend in the country sports world, having organised 52 game fairs over 35 years and with an involvement in country sports publishing that stretches back 25 years.  The man behind the Irish Game Fair at Shanes Castle (29-30 June 2013), followed by the Irish Game & Country Fair at Birr Castle (30-31 August , and 1 September 2013) is also well known for his absolute passion for country sports, heritage and lifestyles.

From his boyhood interest in antiquarian sporting books, he has built a fabulous archive of information about some of the legendary animals of Ireland and it was that collection which inspired him to commission John Moore’s portrait of The Massereene Hound.

Albert said:  “John’s talent lies in capturing not only the appearance of an animal but also their personality so he was the perfect choice for this commission and we are delighted with the outstanding work which he has produced.   As The Great Game Fairs of Ireland we feel we that we have a role to play in the maintenance and promotion of our wonderful rural heritage in all its aspects.

“The series of animal portraits which has now been enhanced with John’s portrait of the Massereene Hound is evidence that our commitment to the rural communities of Ireland extends even beyond the staging of Ireland’s two leading shows.”

Pictured at the unveiling or the portrait and the announcement of some of the canine attractions destined for Shane's Castle over the weekend of 29-30 June are, from left, Tim Finney with his stunning, champion wolfhound, ‘Gulliagh Aramis’ which was the model for The Massereene Hound; Albert Titterington of The Great Game Fairs of Ireland; Marian Finney with ‘Hal’ and, in front, Gary Shaw, Cultural Services Manager at Antrim Borough Council.  With another Down connection the group is pictured alongside a giant sized model of The Massereene Hound, created by Wellig Crafts  of Portaferry for the Clotworthy House Gallery.

Pictured at the unveiling or the portrait and the announcement of some of the canine attractions destined for Shane’s Castle over the weekend of 29-30 June are, from left, Tim Finney with his stunning, champion wolfhound, ‘Gulliagh Aramis’ which was the model for The Massereene Hound; Albert Titterington of The Great Game Fairs of Ireland; Marian Finney with ‘Hal’ and, in front, Gary Shaw, Cultural Services Manager at Antrim Borough Council. With another Down connection the group is pictured alongside a giant sized model of The Massereene Hound, created by Wellig Crafts of Portaferry for the Clotworthy House Gallery.

Presenting the No 1 fine art print, to Antrim Borough Council for display in the Clotworthy House gallery,  Albert Titterington said that copies of the print would also be going to wolfhound owners worldwide. Marion Finney, whose wolfhound Gulliagh Aramis was the model for the painting, plans to judge in Quebec and she will take two copies of the print – one for the Best  In Show winner and one for the United States ‘Irish Wolfhound Health Foundation’ and other prints will be donated to  the Irish Wolfhound Health Group (UK) for their welfare work, and a proportion of the world sales of the print will also go to this group.

Albert added:  “The Massereene Hound legend is already known around the world and this painting will now reinforce the story for countless others.  Who knows, but it could be the catalyst for many to visit here for the first time?   With copies of the portrait already destined for many other countries there is real potential for ‘pilgrimages’ by tourists, especially international wolfhound owners, to come to visit the home of The Massereene Hound.

While plans for the major Shanes Castle Fair are very much still under wraps for the event as a whole, Albert Titterington, the early canine announcement encouraged Albert to make public some of the exciting developments that will delight and entertain dog enthusiasts at Shanes Castle.  “No other event in Ireland in 2013 will have the variety of events, range of different dogs on display, international content, depth of competitions, attractions and displays and the overall prize fund as the Irish Game Fair at Shanes Castle on the 29-30 June.

“Dogs have always been one of the central attractions at the Great Game Fairs of Ireland and no more so than at Shanes. This year we are combining the attractions originally scheduled for Ballywalter with Shanes Castle events to stage what is likely to be the largest ever Irish game fair and, as the fair sets a new Irish ‘gold standard’, the canine content will also hit new heights with new competitions, shows, racing and much more with our biggest ever prize fund up for grabs.

“With a range of new national and international competitions I would anticipate even more UK dog owners competing for one of the titles and some of the fantastic prizes. With special ferry and accommodation rates there has never been a better time to visit the Irish fair.”

Amongst the major canine events at the 2013 show at Shanes Castle will be competitions for Terriers, Lurchers and Whippets :  The 26th annual Red Mills  All Ireland Terrier, Whippet & Lurcher Championships (Racing & Showing and open to all) and the Master McGrath Challenge to find the fastest lurcher in the UK & Ireland (Top Prize includes £500 and a Barbour Coat) – there are qualifiers for this all over the UK and applications will be considered from other events;  and the Shanes Castle event is also a qualifier for the Five Nations Terrier & Lurcher Championships with their final at Birr.

Gundogs – A massive and action packed gundog weekend including the KM Dog Trailers/Dubarry Top Gundog competition where the top two spaniels run off against the top two retrievers with the winner taking a £2,000 dog trailer and the best opposite breed taking a pair of Dubarry boots.

With preliminary, novice and open retriever and spaniel tests; the Feedwell International individual and team tests featuring NI, ROI and Welsh teams and the Red Mills International Spaniel event featuring NI, ROI and English teams no other event in Ireland will match the quality of international  gundog work on offer.

Dog Shows – The NI Gundog Field and Show Society will run a Pedigree Group Dog Show featuring Gundogs, Terriers and Hounds including classes for the iconic dog associated with Antrim – the Irish Wolfhound.  With over 280 entries in 2012 this is fast becoming the largest open show in Ireland.  There will also be a Dog Agility show organised by Glandore Dog training club and this will also be featured in two of the fair’s three arenas.

Albert said: “When you include gundog arena displays by the CLA Irish International team and top UK & Irish handlers; dog training demos by International Canine Expert Keith (The Dog Guru) Mathews;  a gundog scurry, the whippets & lurchers of the Victorian Poacher;  horse and hound displays by the East Antrim and Mid Antrim packs and the Sunnyland Beagles; a Canine Products Row within the huge tented village of trade stands and an information stand by the Kennel Club, this is a weekend not to be missed by anyone with even a passing interest in dogs.

Further details on all aspects of the Shanes Castle event can be found at www.irishgamefair.com