Charlotte Bond Cantillon, from Newport, Tipperary, with Meabh and Saoirse at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
THE TWO new Irish Wolfhounds at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, whose names were left in the hands of the public, have officially been called Meabh and Saoirse.
The dogs gained fame when Shannon Heritage put out a call on Facebook for the public to name them, and they even appeared on Ray D’Arcy’s TV show as part of the campaign.
And the winner, Charlotte Bond Cantillon, from Newport, Tipperary, suggested Meabh and Saoirse - chosen out of more than 1,000 names to become the dogs’ monikers.
Charlotte visited Bunratty to meet the pair and to collect her prize, an annual family pass to Shannon Heritage attractions.
Speaking about the competition, Niall O’Callaghan, Managing Director at Shannon Heritage said: “We are delighted with the huge response that we got for our competition to name our Irish wolfhounds. We’d like to thank everyone that took part in the competition. There was several great suggestions and it was difficult to pick a winner.
“Meabh and Saoirse have really made themselves at home at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and are proving to be really popular with our visitors. No 15th Century castle is complete without these iconic and noble dogs and we are delighted to have them in what would have been their natural surroundings,” he added.
The competition to name the wolfhounds received huge engagement online, with a total of 243,761 reactions on the Shannon Heritage and Bunratty Castle Facebook pages alone and 417,000 positive international reactions from around the globe - including the US, New Zealand, Australia and India.
Some of the other names suggested included Thelma and Louise, Biddy and Miley, and Yeats and Gregory.
Irish wolfhounds are known for being gentle, friendly and very intelligent, and they inhabited Ireland long before the arrival of Christianity and the written word.
Known in Irish as ‘Cu Faoil’, denoting bravery, the Irish wolfhound is the stuff of legends. Throughout history, this tall dog has been a warrior, a hunter, and a companion to nobility.
Historically, they were used to hunt big game, such as wolf and elk, and they gained a reputation for unequalled valour. The Irish wolfhound even participated in battle, pulling men off horseback to be slain.
They have great size, power and speed - an adult weighs about 100 pounds. Irish wolfhound adult males can reach the size of a small pony.
Despite their size, these shaggy-coated animals have a peaceful and quiet personality. They are affectionate and love to be with people.
Wolfhounds were regular guests at the Bunratty Castle from the early days of the medieval banquets in the 1960s. The animals would roam the great hall and dining areas as would have been the custom in medieval times.