of Irish Breeding
photos by Rémy Erath; from the original French by Silvan Urfer
“Nutstown”, has left the Irish Wolfhound world on November 12, 2014, at age 84.
My wife Rose-Marie and I
first met John and Kathleen Kelly in 1977 during a presentation of Irish
kennels that was held in honour of Prof. Alain Thomas, then president of the
French Irish Wolfhound and Deerhound Club. We met them during a breeders’
meeting in the gardens at Ballyhagan that belonged to the then president of the
Irish Club, Betty Murphy. John showed us Ch. Nutstown Queen; Ch. Nutstown King,
in the centre, an impressive black male at 94 cm and 81 kg, and with enormous
substance; and Ch. Carrokeel Sir Connel of Nutstown, the light-coloured dog to
the right. Apart from those, John also showed the sculptural Florrie of
Nutstown, who was considered a model of the breed, and he also had the
magnificent Ch. Mary of Nutstown. They were both daughters of the famous
Boroughbury Justice, multiple Champion in both Ireland and the UK.
Ch. Nutstown Queen, Int. Ch. Nutstown King,
Int. Ch. Sir Connel of Nutstown
John was introduced to
Irish Wolfhounds at a very early age through helping Dr. May, then President of
the Irish Club, in his kennel “Ballytobin”, which he had started in 1926. Dr.
May very much enjoyed teaching John about the breed.
1965, Dr. May had had all the time to observe John and suggested that he take
one of his bitches as a token of gratitude for his help with the kennel over
many years. John refused at first, citing his own Greyhound kennel as an
excuse; however, he did not have and Greyhounds left at this point. Dr. May,
who knew him well, insisted – and thus one of the Ballytobin bitches arrived in
John’s Nutstown kennel. A very nice grey bitch by the name of Bernie of Termon,
she was tall and full of quality. Another of the Kellys’ early Wolfhounds was
the bitch Deirdre of Brabyns, whom they used to consolidate their line.
John explains to a young judge what he thinks is important in an Irish
From Bernie of Termon’s
litter came two magnificent bitches, Malatown Lady and Maeve of Balgee, whose
father was the great Champion Connel of Nendrum. Ch. Nutstown Queen was bred to
Ch. Ballykelly Errislannan Liam, and this resulted in the famous Nutstown King,
who became an international Champion, earning his titles in both Ireland and
the UK. King was the sire of numerous Champions, amongst them Carrokeel Sir Connel
of Nutstown, as well as our own Ch. Lon Dubh of Nutstown, who earned French,
Swiss and International Championships. Another great success in Ireland was
Mary of Nutstown, who earned her Championship in 1980 and was top winning Irish
Wolfhound in Ireland and the UK. Mary’s dam was Maeve of Balgee. Maeve of
Balgee was an exceptional bitch, not very tall, but once she got moving, all
eyes were on her – according to Betty Murphy, she was “poetry in motion”.
John presents Ch. Chieftain of Nutstown (born in 1983)
In 1985, John Kelly hat two
new Champions, the beautiful Sara of Nutstown as well as Ch. Chieftain of
Nutstown. In 1987, he showed his new Champion Kracken Comet, a magnificent
cream bitch. 1988 saw the arrival of the black bitch Ch. Princess Dhu of
Nutstown, and 1990, the cream-coloured Ch. Cillian Ruane, who was born in 1988,
became Reserve Annual Champion in Ireland. Following those hounds, the Kellys
had Ch. The Black Knight of Nutstown, a magnificent black stud dog, and in
1995, John showed me the lovely and powerful Blossom of Nutstown, as well as Fingal
of Nutstown, a black male who became Champion a year later. In 2009, John
presented a superb grey brindle male, Prince Finn of Nutstown, of good size at
93 cm, who completed his Championship in 2010.
John and Victor Besson (president of the French Club) discuss Irish Wolfhound
type during a stroll through the Irish
2009 – a
young breeder discusses the choice of a stud dog with John
In November of 2013, during
a visit to Ireland, I had the pleasure of visiting the family of John and Kathleen
Kelly for the most recent time. They were very proud of being able to show me a
lovely litter of black puppies, with lovely white spots on their chests, and
all in great shape.
John and Kathleen Kelly’s
Nutstown kennel has certainly been one of the most certain and steady values
over the past fifty years of Irish Wolfhound breeding. Their choice of breeding
animals was always deliberate and well thought-out, and everything was based on
an extensive knowledge of pedigrees, which held no secrets for either John or
Kathleen. Theirs is also one of the few remaining kennels that has never
deviated from a clear family line and has thus been able to maintain a
consistent type over more than fifty years: a line of solid, powerful, vital,
and – most importantly – healthy hounds.
John had a significant
influence on the breed’s development in Ireland, and he was one of the leading
experts on the topic. He was invited to judge our breed in numerous countries,
among them the United States, the Scandinavian countries, and of course the
majority of countries on the Continent.
John was also a committee
member of the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland for numerous years, a function
which he fulfilled with great diligence. As such, he was friendly and
unpretentious. His great knowledge of our breed allowed him to always be active
in offering his help, and this he did without imposing his point of view, be it
towards experienced breeders or towards beginners.
If he saw a dog of value,
he was always admiring, regardless of that dog’s background.
It is a gentleman and a
sage who has left us; his passing leaves a great emptiness in the Irish
In the name of the Swiss Club, I extend our sincere
condolences to his family and his friends.
IWCS Club Show Yverdon
- Stud Dog of the
Year in Ireland