Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Carlow Hunt
The Foxes Earth

Bob Watson, sometime Master of the Carlow & Island Fox Hunt, and also of his son, John Watson, Master of the Meath Hunt.

The Foxes Earth

An epiphany is defined as “the sudden realization or comprehension of the essence or meaning of something”. Quite when Irish huntsman Robert Watson had his epiphany is uncertain. It may have occurred in the wake of one of his many falls. Perhaps it was the one where he broke his leg crossing a fence in Gorey in 1862. But more likely it was that strange afternoon of 30th January 1879 when his horse fell at a hazardous fence and broke its neck. What was strange was that the Whip's horse, jumping next, met precisely the same fate while a third horse dropped dead just as it reached the fence. At any rate, Bob Watson’s epiphany was that he would one day be reincarnated as a fox.

The Carlow Hunt December 1963

Bob Watson probably counted foxes to get to sleep at night. His bloodline was about as thickly fox-hunterish as you get. His grandfather is credited with killing the last wild Irish wolf at Myshall, Co. Carlow. His father co-founded the Tullow Hunt. His uncle was Master of the Cotswolds. His brother went to Australia and became Master of the Melbourne Hunt. His son John was a famous international polo player and Master of the Meath Hounds. And Bob himself was Master of the Carlow & Island Hunt for 32 years.

If you were convinced you were going to be reincarnated as a fox, what would you do? Bob Watson took no chances. At the time, his family lived at Larchill in Co. Kildare. Bob designed a knobbly grass-covered mound, shaped exactly like a Foxes Earth, and whacked it bang in the midst of Larchill’s beautiful Arcadian Gardens ( He pitched a rough semi-columned temple on top and ensured the mound was full of useful escape tunnels, each one carefully tapered so that a fox could zip through but a slightly bigger hound could not.

The Carlow Hunt
The Carlow Hunt outside Ballydarton House
The Carlow Hunt

Bob Watson died aged 86 in 1908 and was buried at Fenagh, Co Carlow. At his funeral, the mourners were apparently instructed to shout the hunter's cry "gone-away gone-away". It is assumed that Bob the Fox then made his way to Larchill where he now roams the water meadows and perennial borders, mingling with frogs and dragonflies, dining on wild duck and breathing in the aroma of herbs and wildflowers. Bob the Fox does not fear the hunters’ horn. In his last will and testament, Bob the Man banned fox-hunting, in perpetuity, at Larchill.

(As published in The Irish Times Magazine, July 2008).
By Turtle Bunbury

Source: Turtle Bunbury

Carlow Hunt Ball.

Nationalist and Leinster Times.

January 21st 1947.

Carlow Hunt Ball.

A correspondent writes that while the Carlow Hunt Ball at Lisnavagh, attracted an overflow attendance, it also attracted a spate of local comment, when it was learned that the Ball concluded with the playing of "God Save the King" instead of our own National Anthem.

He thinks that this occurrence calls for an explanation from the Committee.


Nationalist and Leinster Times.

28th January 1947.

Readers' Views.

Carlow Hunt Ball.
Lisnavagh, Rathvilly,
January 22nd, 1947.
Dear Sir.
Your correspondent should be more certain of his facts before he "calls upon the Committee" for an explanation.
Our own National Anthem was most certainly played at the conclusion of the Ball.

Yours faithfully,


["Rathdonnell" as signed herein is Lord Rathdonnell (Billy Bunbury), his ilk signed documents etc. by using just the title of their lordship.]

Source: Michael Purcell & PPP


Please report any images or links which are not working to

The information contained in these pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 County Carlow Irish Genealogy Project. IGP