230 DOGS AND ALL ABOUT THEM
Statistics would probably show that in numbers the Foxterrier justifies the reputation of being a more popular breed, and the Scottish Terrier is no doubt a formidable competitor for public esteem. It is safe, however, to say that the Irish Terrier shares with these the distinction of being one of the three most popular terriers in the British Isles.
This fact taken into consideration, it is interesting to reflect that thirty years ago the " Dare-Devil " was virtually unknown in England. Idstone, in his book on dogs, published in 1872 did not give a word of mention to the breed, and dog shows had been instituted sixteen years before a class was opened for the Irish Terrier. The dog existed, of course, in its native land. It may indeed be almost truthfully said to have existed " as long as that country has been an island."
About the year 1875, experts were in dispute over the Irish Terrier, and many averred that his rough coat and length of hair on forehead and muzzle were indubitable proof of Scotch blood. His very expression, they said, was Scotch. But the argument was quelled by more knowing disputants on the other side, who claimed that Ireland had never been without her terrier, and that she owed no manner of indebtedness to Scotland for a dog whose every hair was essentially Irish.
In the same year at a show held in Belfast a goodly number of the breed were brought together, notable among them being Mr. D. O'Connell's Slasher, a very good-looking wirecoated working terrier, who is said to have excelled as a field and water dog. Slasher was lint white in colour, and reputed to be descended from a pure white strain. Two other terriers of the time were Mr. Morton's Fly (the first Irish Terrier to gain a championship) and Mr. George Jamison's Sport.
The prominent Irish Terriers of the 'seventies varied considerably in type. Stinger, who won the first prize at Lisburn