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It was Holly’s ‘international debut’ this year on the Munster Circuit – but my word – “didn’t she do well!!” On the days when we didn’t show all the dogs went to the beach and had a ball – it was Holly’s first dip in the sea – but she followed the others and loved the water. Besides it tired her out which isn’t a bad thing!!

Didn't do the first show on the circuit this year at Clonmel on the Sunday - thought it would be a bit too much for Holly after the long journey - so we went off to Inch Beach and it's the first time I have ever been to the beach in Ireland and not got wet. The weather was glorious and we all paddled along the seas edge - all returned back to the cottage after a glass of Guinness at one of the local bars weary but happy.

MONDAY - another day doing not very much - enjoyed spending some quality time at the cottage all together without the pressures of mobiles or work - bliss. Just needed to get Holly looking something like a show dog so spent the afternoon trimming and bathing ready for the first show tomorrow
The Circuit shows are run on the FCI rules which are slightly different to ours. You can only enter one class out of the options which are Puppy, Junior, Intermediate, Open, Champion and Veteran and the judge grades each exhibit . The grades are V.promising/Promising/Not Promising for the pups and Excellent/V Good/Good/etc for the adults – only those dogs graded Excellent and V Promising can challenge for the Green Star.
As there is no Best Puppy in breed declared – each show runs a Puppy Stakes class for all breeds out of which 4 are selected out of the dogs and 4 out of the bitches to challenge for the BPIS.

TUESDAY - Killarney At her first show that week at Killarney, she was awarded V Promising in her breed class and very quickly over to the Stakes Class (they really are like buses - always coming at once!!) Out of 47 puppy bitches and 28 puppy dogs, Holly was awarded Best Puppy Bitch in Show and Reserve Best Puppy in Show under Canadia judge Mrs C Haller. This Stakes class was sponsored by Arden Grange with prize money as well - so armed with a 15kg bag of dog food and a very welcome glass of cider (thanks Holly) we went home - hot, weary but very, very happy ....and on to Limerick on Thursday

WEDNESDAY - and another day at the beach - and took the dogs across to Rosbeigh Beach which is lovely and only 20 minutes drive from the cottage and the dogs had another ball in the sea today. It was blowing a gale but dry so they all dried off 'au naturelle' today

Thursday - Limerick dawned a bit overcast, but still warm and dry. We have 2 shows today - the ESS Club of Ireland Ch Show was hosted after Limerick CH Show Holly was placed 1st in her puppy class and V Promising but nothing in the challenge then a short break and onto the Club Show. True to form wit the Irsh weather, it rained just as we started the club show. Our breed judge was Mrs Deidre Dinneen - again 1st and V Promising in her Breed Class and we were delighted when she awarded Best Puppy in Show to Holly. A little bitter sweet today as Jackie Knowles, her girls, the Springer and cockers were all emigrating to Australia in September so once the showing was over, it was over to the Knowles Gazebo for a farewell drink and some yummy eats. Sorry to see you go and we'll miss you on the circuit but all good wishes go with you.

FRIDAY - Inch Beach again for the 2nd time this week . The tide was out so we managed to keep the dogs out of the sea today but they had a wonderful chasing (I know not what) in the sand dunes. Inch is lovely with miles of beach but the waves were crashing today - it's a good spot for a bit of surfing - not my idea of fun - all looks a bit too dangerous and wet! It's also famous for the filming of Ryans Daughter - a good oldie if you are into movies. Back to the cottage to pack the car up - it's amazing that things never seem to fit back in as well as the outward journey.

SATURDAY Tralee Car packed and sad farewell tot the cottage for another year we drove to Tralee Show. 2nd in her puppy class but she never put a foot – judges preference I guess! We were booked into the same B&B that we found last year - a little jewel in the Tipperary crown - a wonderful Irish Country house set in the most beautiful gardens and wooded areas. The house is 4th generation farming but has since given up the farm – the house is full of antiques and they welcome dogs – it’s just perfect! We were greeted with tea and home made buns in the drawing room besides a roaring log fire by our host - a crazy Irish lady called Breda and her husband John. Once settled in, dogs fed and watered, we met up with the Kirk clan for a lovely steak meal that evening and after a very rested night in a four poster (sounds romantic doesn’t it but 4 dogs in the room – think again) we were packing up ad ready for another show. Thanks Breda for your hospitality again and we will see you again next year for the drink you promised!

SUNDAY - after one of Breda's very special filling Irish breakfast we took the gang over to Thules, County Tipperary for the Black, Red or Gold Cocker Club of Ireland Ch Show which hosts a show for all the gundog groups (under FCI rules groups 7 & 8) Again both the stakes class and breed clash started at about the same time so we were rushing from one ring to the other. As it was just gundogs at this show - both the dogs and bitches were judged together in the Stakes. Holly was shortlisted to the final 4 in the Puppy stakes and then awarded Best Puppy in Show under Irish judge Mr L Moran! Rushed back to the breed ring to challenge for the Green Star and to end a perfect week and to put the icing on the cake she was awarded the Reserve Green Star from our very own Fran Glendenning.

...so packed the car up and off to catch the 9.30pm ferry from Dublin with some very tired but happy dogs and owners on board. A couple of glasses of celebratory wine and a couple of hours kip on the ferry then off the other end at Holyhead and arrived back in the house at 2am. A real special thanks has to go to a very special man - my hubby Geoff who drove almost 1000 miles over the week and carried cages, show bags etc etc ....and made some fab food and kept the kettle boiling at the shows. Thanks love, it s appreciated xx

Reflecting back whilst typing this all I can say is ......What a fabulous week but it was back down to earth with a bit of a bump as I was back in work for 9am that morning. It actually took until about Wednesday to empty the car !
..................and that was it for yet another year - but we'll be back 'to be sure'