THE SQUIDGY fields around the Woodlands House Hotel in Adare were transformed into a Woodstock for Wolfhounds last week, as over 5,000 people attended the annual Limerick dog show - one of the largest events of its kind in Ireland.
More than 2,000 dogs, ranging from fastidious to frisky, travelled from as far away as the UK and Eastern Europe to be poked, preened and prodded by professional judges and keen-eyed enthusiasts last Thursday.
Anthony Kelly, chairman of organisers the Limerick and District Canine Club, said that the show is an opportunity for locals to see some rare, weird and wonderful breeds of dog. “There’s a huge interest from Limerick people to come out and see the show. There are dogs here that you’ll never see at any other event. There are people here with breeds that are very, very rare and there’s only a small number of. It’s an absolutely fantastic opportunity for them.”
From just after dawn last Thursday a motorcade of camper vans had begun arriving at the Woodlands, pitching up on a make shift camp site which seemed to cover every scrap of space at the hotel. Hundreds of dog breeders, handlers and hobbyists set up portable kitchens and grooming stations as they prepared their pets for the fierce competition that followed right throughout the day.
The Limerick dog show once formed part of the Limerick show, but became so big that it had to be held as a separate event entirely. This year was the thirteenth successive year that it had been staged at the Woodlands, and Mr Kelly said that competitors had travelled thousands of miles to take part.
“At the peak this morning we had 5,000 people here. We have exhibitors that are showing their dogs from Ireland north and south, the UK, Germany, Poland, the Isle of Man. We’ve a great entry this year, over 2,040 dogs.
“On Monday night, when we were out on this field, the ground was so bad we had fierce concerns. But we’re very pleased that the weather, thankfully, has worked out for us.”
There were ten categories at the competition, each of which contained as many as 35 breeds of dog. Professional judges from as far away as the United States and Australia then picked ten individual category winners, which then went forward to compete for the prestigious title of ‘Best in Show’.