The legacy of Master McGrath: coursing and sporting heroes in Ireland

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The introduction of the Hunting with Dogs Bill will see the end for traditional sports like coursing and will bring the curtain down on one of the most historic events on the British sporting calendar, the Waterloo Cup. This paper will show however that the Waterloo Cup, first held in 1836, possesses a lasting presence across the Irish Sea through the continued existence of the legacy of Master McGrath. Owned by Lord Lurgan II, Charles Brownlow, Master McGrath was the first Irish winner of the Waterloo Cup in 1868 and scored further triumphs in 1869 and 1871 before dying suddenly on Christmas Eve, 1871. Whelped in Dungarvan, County Waterford and kenneled in Lurgan, County Armagh, Master McGrath is one of the greatest dogs ever to have coursed, suffering only one defeat in his thirty-seven courses. As well as tracing the coursing life of Master McGrath this paper details how, and in what formats, Master McGrath’s legacy still survives but also discusses how the contested nature of Northern Irish politics has transformed this legacy into a politicised symbol recognised by only one community in Lurgan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-97
Number of pages21
JournalSport in History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

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