I grew up with an Irish Wolfhound named Mish of Ballykelly. My parents purchased her from a family in Fairbanks, Alaska around 1970. From what I understand, they'd brought in both the male and female from Ireland. I think Mish was from their first litter. They had more pups than they could handle and let some go early. Mish was one of those. My dad said he could fit her into the pocket of his coat. Of course, she didn't stay that small for very long.
When I decided I wanted another Irish Wolfhound, I googled the Ballykelly name and found a few, but not many. There are new popular kennel names now and the Ballykelly line is more a thing of the past.
Of the Ballykelly dogs I found, the ones that reminded me most of my Mish were at Laloba Ranch in Colorado. It was from that line we found Riagan. What I most liked about the Laloba hounds is their longevity. Alfie and Kosai earned Longevity Certificates from the AKC. Our Mish also lived past ten years old. As far as I'm concerned, the most important thing to look at in a breeder's program is the health history of their dogs. First and foremost, it's a love relationship, and I want my dogs to be around as long as they can. As far as I'm concerend, ten years isn't even enough.
There's a lot that I would like to know about the Ballykelly dogs in the United States. I'll be researching this topic and adding more to the site as I find it.
Here is some history, from the web, of the Ballykelly dogs and Miss Sheela Seale. Here is a link to information about the town of Ballykelly, Ireland.
"During World War II, Miss Sheelah Seale, of Irish descent, lived near the sea in Dartmoor, England, with her large brood of Irish Wolfhounds. Like many fanciers of the time, she was struggling to find ways to feed her dogs. This was a difficult task in war-torn England, even for the wealthy Seale, but the Ballykelly Hounds had the luck of the Irish. Each week, Seale visited local docks, collecting fish heads from the fishermen cleaning their catch. Maybe not a dinner fit for the "King of Hounds" but she knew it was still better than the buckets of slaughterhouse blood that the breeders in London were reduced to feeding their dogs.
On August 12, 1940, Seale was disappointed by the small amount of fish she was able to obtain,so she decided to see what else she could scavenge. With petrol restricted, she tacked her pony and trotted toward town. Riding with her hounds, she had no way of knowing that 150 enemy aircraft had entered the region. Standing out against the rolling green fields, Seale's white pony was a perfect target for a practicing Nazi gunner. The fighter plane dived after its equine mark and began shooting. The hounds scattered and Seale rode for her very life. Her athletic pony dodged this way and that, barely missing the machine-gun fire until the Nazi pilot finally gave up and the Ballykelly troupe made their way back to their estate.
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN AND THE IRISH WOLFHOUND
Though she made it home safely, Seale felt anything but safe in England. That very day, Miss Seale gathered her hounds and rode to the ferry for Ireland.
Following in her footsteps, other English breeders of the giant hounds fled to Ireland, too."
Sheelagh Seale, second from left. Ballykelly dogs: L to R- Patrick, Artera, Silvagh Tim.