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John Shaw Brown: Huntsmen gather for final farewell to master of the hounds

John Shaw Brown, a well known huntsman, has died from cancer at the age of 58. His widow Liz to whom he was married for 23 years, said his 50 beagles have been very quiet since their master died.

“It was as if they were aware what was happening to the man who hunted on foot with the dogs and walked them daily across the fields for 35 seasons,” she said.

John Shaw was Joint Master and Huntsman of Sunnyland Beagles with kennels at Antrim Road, Aldergrove.

From a well-known linen family with a mill at Edenderry, Mr Shaw, an old boy of Mourne Grange Prep, Kilkeel and Sedbergh Boarding School, was a self-employed gardener who spent 20 years on the maintenance staff at Greenmount College.

“But his passion lay with the Sunnyland Beagles,” said Liz.

 “He was responsible for the pack's breeding programme, using bloodlines that could be traced back to Sunnyland hounds from the 1920s.”

John Shaw and Liz met as fellow beaglers. They wed in St Catherine's Parish Church, Aldergrove, after he returned from a sales job in Canada and she was home from university in London. Their wedding reception was far from traditional.

 “Our evening function was the hunt's annual puppy show,” revealed Liz who survives her husband with his sister Jill.

“John Shaw regarded his sport and the hounds as more important than work,” added Liz, “but he was a respected gardener at Greenmount.”

She also explained that beagling involves following a pack of small hounds on foot (not on horseback).

John Shaw held several positions in the Irish Masters of Beagles Association and had been chairman, but it was as Keeper of the Stud Book and Secretary of the annual National Hound Show for the past 28 years that he was best known.

Mr Shaw was laid to rest at Glassdrumman, a favourite spot between the Mournes and the Irish Sea, after a funeral service in Kilhorne Parish Church.

The coffin was escorted to the graveside by teams of beagles.

“It was a poignant moment as huntsmen from all over Ireland sounded the traditional Going Home call on their horns,” said Liz.

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