Hunting In Ireland – Phrases & Terms

Photo: Lorna Keogh
Photo: Lorna Keogh

 “Irish Hunting Cob” = comfortable square shaped horse with a short thick neck and a big shoulder. Usually feels like a couch, moves like a tank and jumps whatever is in front of it. May be hogged (mane shaved off) so a ‘Jesus strap’ may be needed

 “Jesus Strap” = neck strap of a running or hunting martingale or a separate neck strap on a horse with no martingale. Used during those moments of unbalance where you think ‘oh Jesus’ and need to hold on tight. Particularly useful on horses that are hogged

 “Patch of boggy land” = if you are riding a pony, bring a snorkel

 “Soft day” = p*ssing rain, lots of mud

 “Grand Soft day” = lots of mud but the rain has gone away

 “Bit of a nip in the air” = bloody freezing

 “Challenging country” = ditches, wire, fences and drains which several horses and riders are falling onto or into

 “Adverse weather conditions” = combination of two or more of – frost, gale force wind, driving rain, sleet or fog

 “Bit hairy” = Challenging country combined with adverse weather conditions. Bring a hip flask containing at least one concoction made from berries, sugar and alcohol to compensate. (Learn how to make your own concoction here –

 “It was very hairy out there” = oh god I need a drink I am scarred for life

 “Rolling country” = nice big fields, not too much stopping and starting, inviting fences

 “double ditch” = Two ditches with a narrow strip of land between them

“Fairly strong double ditch” = Two gaping holes in the earth with a very narrow strip of land between them

 “Dirty Ditch” = big ditch filled with manky looking water.

 “Fly fence” = can be cleared at a gallop. No need for brakes, queues or positioning

 “Uneven ground” = hills, stones, boggy patches, streams. You are not in an arena now lads.

 “Experienced safe hunter” = horse that will jump anything in front of him regardless of what the rider is doing up top. Horse will only stop when the others stop and go when the others go. Minimal steering and instruction from the rider is required.

 “Good bit of roads” = loads of hacking while avoiding cars

 “Headlands” = round the outside of the field. Avoiding crops, animals and photographers.

 “lads, Lads, LAAADS” / “Keep in ta f**K” = stay a lot closer to the headlands please or we will get in trouble with the land owners.

 “Hot port” = pre hunting drink on a Winters day to increase bravery and enthusiasm and ward off hypothermia

“Poiteen” = Irish answer to moonshine / absinthe. Warms the body from the inside out and can be used as a linament for legs. Do not drink this before or while hunting unless you want to experience your own version of alice in wonderland.

 “They finished up well after” / “It was a grand day after” = after the rest of ye got bored standing around in the cold all day and headed off to the pub for food and drink they eventually caught a fantastic run at the end and we had a proper gallop around and probably the best hunt of the season. So you totally missed out.

 “S/he was a bit hot” = Horse pulled like a train, my arms are about five inches longer than they were at the start and I feel lucky to still be alive

 “S/he just carried me a long” = I had no brakes but was feeling a bit merry thanks to the hip flasks so just hung on tight and hoped for the best.

 “Lawn Meet” = hunt which starts at a nice house with a good bit of land often belonging to a hunt member.  People may bring you pre hunt alcohol to stimulate bravery and enthusiasm

 “Pub Meet” = hunt which begins at a pub. There will definitely be pre hunt alcohol for sale

 “Tally Ho” = Supposedly shouted when someone catches sight of the fox but never said in Ireland for fear of sounding like a posh muppet.

 “Ye” = Irish plural of you

 “Lads” = used to address a group of people male or female

 “Craic” = fun, merriment. Usually involves alcohol

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