Cashelmore Hounds and Bence Jones in 1881
('I want nothing to do with the neighbours' might be a suitable sub heading for this interesting sidelight into the character of William Bence Jones, as revealed in a letter published originally in 'The Spectator' and reprinted by the 'Skibbereen Eagle' in 1881.)
(To the Editor of the 'Spectator')
SIR - In your notice of Father
O'Leary's paper in the July number of the 'Contemporary Review' you regard his
allegation that "Mr. Bence Jones laid poison for the Cashelmore hounds in the
groves of Lisselane" as improbable. As I have not observed that Father O'Leary
has made any reply to your comment, perhaps your would kindly allow me, in the
interests of truth, to say a few words on the matter.
The Cashelmore hounds were kept for three generations - over a hundred years - by a family residing in Cashelmore, a townland not far from the town of Bandon and in the neighbourhood of Mr. Bence Jones' estate. I hunted with them during the lifetime of the late master and in that of his father, before Mr. Jones came to reside in Lisselane. In 1863, Mr. Jones purchased property adjoining that on which I live.
When I wrote to him for permission to hunt over his land - a permission, accorded as a mater of course, by the previous owners - he gave a blunt refusal and in response to a remake made by me as to our being neighbours, he wrote - and I still hold the letter - that 'he did not want to have anything to do with neighbours.' Times change seriously and now it seems as if neighbours do not want to have anything to do with him.
In 1866, the Cashelmore hounds became a club pack to which about thirty gentlemen subscribed and of which I became secretary. We got on very well for some years. But when the young coverts of Lisselane grew up, Mr. Jones, not content with refusing permission to hunt over his lands, had poison placed on them.
And as, notwithstanding our efforts, the hounds would follow foxes to those coverts, they got poisoned from time to time. Other hounds, too, would get into his lands from the kennels which were near and took the poison, or were shot by his employees. In the end, Mr. Jones gained his point, subscribers dropped off in a country which could not be hunted over and two years ago, for the first time for nearly 100 years, there were no Cashelmore hounds.
I may add that we are now getting up the pack again and it remains to be seen whether Mr. Jones will renew his persecution.
I am, Sir, yours,
August 3, 1881