The Glen of Imaal: You Think You Know a Breed….

There are a few theories as to how an achondroplastic breed named after the Glen of Imaal in County Wicklow, Ireland (possibly the most isolated of the three glens in Wicklow) got there,  but one of the more colorful ones has to do with Cromwell’s New Model Army (maybe because “new model” sounds so 21st century).  The New Model Army was, in fact, formed in 1645 by the Roundheads in the English Civil War. These guys wanted a constitutional monarchy in place of the absolutist monarchy that, not surprisingly, was favored by (wait for it) Charles I.

The politically-adroit Oliver Cromwell had, however, soldiers who were owed substantial amounts of money by the time they ended their military campaign in Ireland. Cash poor, Cromwell paid them in Irish land. The downside is that most of the soldiers hadn’t a clue how to farm. Even if they had known where to start, some of the land they were given was wretched. Rocky and uneven, it wouldn’t grow zucchini seeds if the soldiers had had any, which, as anyone knows, grows whether you want it to or not. Zucchini, not soldiers. But we digress. It didn’t take long for most of Cromwell’s soldiers to go back to England, but a few stuck it out, and some canine scholars speculate that the Glen of Imaal Terrier was brought to Wicklow by these soldiers.

There are other theories about the breed’s origins, of course, as well as educated guesses that relate the Glen of Imaal to other Irish breeds. What’s really surprising on that score is written about in The Curious History of Irish Dogs, by David Blake Knox: DNA analysis shows that the Glen is most closely related with the Molosser, a canine group composed of some very large dogs, namely Mastiffs, and those dogs originated in the area that now straddles Albania and Greece.

You think you know a breed.

Glen of Imaal Terrier by Sydney Hardin

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