Monday, March 15, 2010

Irish Rock and Rule!

‘Tis the week of the Blarney, the time when EVERYONE becomes Irish! We have the Sullivans, the McGuires, the Irwins, the Daleys, the O’Briens, and many, many more familiar family names from the land’o’green. Greg and I named our cats after Irish drinks: Murphy and Bailey. Yes, we like things that are Irish - Greg is Scot and Irish.

During this week, we'll see people pin on green pins and shamrocks, wear green hats, and drink green beer while listening to pipe and fiddle music. Corned beef and cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Jamison’s, and Murphy’s Irish Stout are consumed by the pound (and I don’t mean the English pound, by crackey!) It’s the time for the wearin’ of the green and singin’ “When Irish Eyes are Smilin’” and other festive songs.

So, in celebration of the wee bit’’o’reen and the lovely Emerald Isle, I thought I’d take a look at the dog and cat breeds which have come to us from that lush country over the Atlantic.

The only breed of cat I found out about on the Web that originates close to Ireland is the Manx, which came from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. This tail-less cat was first discovered there in the early 19th century; how they got to that small island is unclear and many theories exist. Great stories always make for great fun! For information on the Manx, visit

Many breeds of dogs do come from Ireland – here are a few:

The Irish Wolfhound – one of the oldest breeds of dogs on the planet, and the tallest of dogs, this unique breed was used to hunt wolves and as a watch dog. Although a large, tough dog, the Irish Wolfhound is affectionate and loyal to its family.

Irish Setter – a chestnut-colored bird hunting dog, this energetic, friendly breed makes a great family pet, especially if exercised regularly.

Irish Red and White Setter – distinct from the Irish Setter, this breed almost became extinct by the end of the 19th century, and is considered energetic (needing lots of exercise), kind and intelligent and a great bird hunting dog.

Irish Terrier – considered one of the oldest of the terrier breeds, this spirited, loyal medium-sized dog was used as a watch dog and is good with children if raised with them.

The Kerry Blue Terrier – a unique-looking, bluish-black in color, medium-sized dog was used as a watchdog and for hunting vermin, small game and birds, is a native of County Kerry and make good family pets

Irish Water Spaniel – considered energetic, affectionate, social and a great family pet, this curly-coated dog with a rat-like tail (no fur on the tail) was used for hunting waterfowl

Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier – this medium-sized dog with a soft coat, was used to herd cattle and sheep as well as guard the farm, and is considered good with children and a dog that needs regular exercise.

Glen of Imal Terrier – described as a “big dog on short legs”, this smaller, agile breed weighs around 30 pounds and was used for hunting vermin and for turning the spit on the hearth (as in ‘working the rotisserie’!)

For more information on the dogs from Ireland, visit

To learn more about these and other breeds of dogs, including temperament and history, visit the website of the American Kennel Club:

So, I’ll raise a glass to the dog breeds from Ireland and to my own felines who are named for some special flavors of Ireland: Murphy, my black and white long-haired cat named for Murphy’s Irish Stout Beer (Greg enjoys of glass of this now and again!), and Bailey, our short-haired tortishell, named for Bailey’s Irish Cream (one of my favorite liquors!).

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY, everyone! Keep those Irish eyes a’smilin’!!

And, if you like many things Irish, including music and literature, check out my friend Noelle’s blog:

Hope you all find a leprechaun with each rainbow!!