Former Camarthenshire huntsman Mathew Herlihy is the chosen man to take over from David Jones at the David Davies, when “Jonesy” retires on 1 May. Mathew, 25, says that these will be big shoes to fill, although he sees this as the opportunity of a lifetime.
Mathew hunted the Ystrad for a season, then carried the horn for three seasons with the Vale of Clettwr in West Wales. But he says he learnt most about handling hounds when whipping-in for three seasons to huntsman Donald Summersgill at the Devon & Somerset Staghounds.
“My main job at the staghounds was to bring the pack on after Donald had taken the tufters to find the harboured stag. Once the chosen stag was away, they’d stop the tufters and blow for the rest of the pack.
“I’d bring the pack on, sometimes over miles of open moor, with deer everywhere. I learnt so much from Donald about how to keep hounds together, and not lose the lot to the line of a fresh stag,” says Mathew.
When the 2000 foot-and-mouth crisis called a halt to staghunting, Mathew regularly travelled home to Wales to hunt with the Ystrad, which were not stopped by the regulations.
They offered him the job of huntsman, which he took, seeing it as a step up the job ladder: “The Ystrad was a hard country to hunt, as it’s mainly forestry. But we had a lot of fun in the Vale of Clettwr country, which is much more open.”
Since leaving the Camarthenshire last October, Mathew has been going up to the David Davies most weeks, learning the country, meeting the farmers and getting to know the hounds. Like Jonesy, Mathew hails from Merthyr Tydfil. He is married to Clare, a former Devon and Somerset groom, and they have two daughters.
- This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (1 March, ’07)