Men’s best friends in the spotlight in Killarney

The legendary John ‘Killer’ O’Callaghan and his grandchildren, Sarah and John, pictured with Dex the wonder dog at the international dog show in Killarney in August 1992

IT was a dog’s life for two breeds of setters yesteryear in Killarney when two of the town’s best known and much loved personalities ensured man’s best friend was regularly kept in the spotlight.

The exploits of John ‘Killer’ O’Callaghan and his wonder dog Dex are legendary in Killarney as they accumulated numerous prizes at local and visiting international dog shows, often winning the top prize for best in breed.

Such was Dex’s celebrity status that a local butcher sponsored his weekly consumption of meaty bones to chew on and a discount store ensured he was in no short supply of dog shampoo and grooming products.

Canon Patrick O’Doherty with his champion setters pictured at the international dog show in Killarney in August 1992

But ‘Killer’ and Dex – a fabulous English setter – weren’t the only locals to make their mark in canine competitions as Canon Patrick O’Doherty, the former parish priest of Rathmore who retired to Killarney, was also making quite an impression with his pedigree champion setters.

Both John O’Callaghan and Canon O’Doherty loved competing in the annual international dog show, hosted by the Killarney and District Canine Club and, despite huge competition from pedigree dog breeders from Britain and Northern Ireland, they both regularly made it to the winners’ podium.

John ‘Killer’ O’Callahhan – a champion boxer in his day – passed away in August 2001 while Canon O’Doherty, who lived in Gortroe in Fossa following his retirement from active ministry, died in July 2009.