The Birth and Early History of The Labrador Retriever Club of Ireland
In March, l945 Barbara Eustace Duckett of Carlow got the idea of forming a breed club for Labrador Retrievers. At that time she was a well known reputable breeder of Labradors which were not only used as excellent shooting companions but were equally suited for exhibition in the gundog ring. It was a time when the black Curley Coated Retrievers popularity was on the wane and being replaced by Flat Coated Retrievers. The Golden Retriever was next in popularity to the Labrador but it did not have a breed club until 1953.
However Barbara Eustace Duckett made a list of friends and others whom she knew were owners of the breed. She then circulated all of them expressing her thoughts about forming a club. Those contacted were a good mix of Title, Professional, Business, Retired British Army Officers, Clergy, Estate and Landowners. The response was very encouraging. There were dozens of postcards and letters with ideas and offers of support. As a result in early May, Barbara Eustace Duckett responded to all of them notifying each one that she had made arrangements to convene an inaugural meeting in the Padua Hotel, Dublin on 19th May, 1945.
There were eighteen enthusiasts in attendance at the inaugural meeting. Letters and postcards were received from twenty nine others expressing apologies for their non attendance and most requesting enrolment as members and all of them offering full support. The meeting was conducted by Barbara Eustace Duckett. She made her views known to those present and invited suggestions from the floor. It was proposed by Mr. Wellington that a Club be formed for Labrador Retrievers and those interested in the breed and it would be called The Labrador Retriever Club of Ireland. This proposal was seconded by Mr. Payne and was carried unanimously. A set of rules were drafted and the Chairperson read them out to the meeting for their consideration.
The adoption of those rules, which basically were similar to the present day ones, was also carried unanimously. They included an annual membership fee of £1.00. After a lot of discussion the Breed Standard was defined and accepted
The next item on the agenda was the election of office bearers and a committee of not more than ten in number, those elected were as follows: President – Lt. Colonel Lord Farnham D.S.O.
Vice Presidents – Viscount Adare, Captain A. Coddington and Mrs P. F. Morris. Hon. Treasurer –
R. Horsburgh, Hon. Secretary – Mrs Eustace Duckett. Rule 2 made no provision for a Chairperson so the President took the Chair. The members elected to serve on the committee were C. T. Payne, D. Orr, Dr. O’Donel Brown, Graham H. Crawford, D. Hope-Johnstone, Rev. W. Gray, P. Webster, R. M. Wellington, Mrs Shambre and Miss P. Kelly.
The first Committee meeting of The Labrador Retriever Club of Ireland was held on 6th August, l945 at the Monkstown Dog Show after the Labradors had been exhibited in the gundog ring. At that meeting it was unamimously decided the twenty nine people whose written apologies for non-attentance at the inaugural meeting be invited in writing by the Hon. Secretary to apply for enrolment with cheque or postal order amounting to £1.00. Under any other business on the agenda a tribute and vote of thanks was paid to Barbara Eustace Duckett for her trojan work and dedication in being the foundation stone of this new breed club.
The first Annual General Meeting was another historic occasion. It was convened in the Shelbourne Hotel, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin on Friday afternoon, November, l945. After the President’s address to the meeting, the Hon. Secretary’s report and that of the Hon. Treasurer, the election of Office Bearers took place. Lr. Colonel Lord Farnham D.S.O. was re-elected as President. Viscount Adare, Captain A. Coddington and Mrs P. F. Morris were re-elected as Vice Preaidents. R. Horsburgh was re-elected Hon. Treasurer, Barbara Eustace Duckett was re-elected Hon. Secretary. It was unanimously agreed that as the Committee worked so well together that they be re-elected enbloc.
The next item on the agenda was one that if full agreement was reached it would also be worthy of inclusion in the Club’s history. No. 5 on the agenda was to consider organising and running it’s first dog show. After much enthusiastic discussion it was decided to confer with the Chairman and Committee of Dundalk Championship Show with a view to running The Labrador Retriever Club of Ireland’s Club Show in conjunction with theirs. This was deemed acceptable and the Club’s first Labrador Retriever Show took place in Dundalk on 7th September, 1946.
The Club held it’s first Field Trial on the 5th December, l946. It was a 12 dog Novice Stake with one absentee. He Judges on the day were Captain W. Kemmis and D. Hope-Johnstone. The venue was Knockdrin Castle, Castlepollard Road, Mullingar by kind permission of Mr. & Mrs Dunne-Cullinan. The result was as follows: 1st Farnham Peach owned and handled by Lt. Col. Lord Farnham 2nd Artistic Lady owned and handled by Mr. Wellington. 3rd Rathgorman Sandra owned and handled by Mr. D. Orr, reserve Jessie of Sandyford owned by Dr. O’Donel Browne and handled by P. Galway-Foley. The Club has a marked programme of that historic event presented by Mr. Winston Kelly, of Ballynahinch, Co. Down.
With her passing Barbara Eustace Duckett left a wonderful legacy by her creation of The Labrador Retriever Club of Ireland.
The present Hon. Secretary Mrs Angela Hancock researched all this information from the minute books of the Club and it was compiled by recently deceased Mr. Robert C. O’Farrell who was President at the time of his death in May, 2009.