This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
"The father of the present pedigree family was Killiney Boy, bred by Mr. Burke, of Queen's-street, Dublin. He passed from him to a Mr. Flannigan, residing at Castlenock, which place was purchased by Mr. Donnegan, Dane-street, Dublin, who found Killiney Boy running about deserted. The dog was duly adopted, and afterwards given to Mr. Howard Waterhouse, with whom he died a short time ago; his dam was a rough black and tan bitch, the type now accepted as the Welsh terrier, hence the black and tan puppies so often found in the strains descended from him." It has been said that Killiney Boy was worried and almost eaten by a litter of puppies of which he was the sire.
Mr. C. J. Barnett, of Hambleden, whose name is a household word in connection with Irish terriers, says: "There is no doubt that the Irish terrier was the common terrier of Ireland a century ago, and is to this day the friend and companion of the native. Before railways were introduced, interbreeding in certain localities caused a type which might have varied slightly in different districts, and as colour was a minor consideration, we so often find puppies even to the present day black and tan, grey or brindle in colour. This does not show bad breeding, but rather the contrary, to continue the colour through so many generations, for these dogs, like the Welsh ponies, no matter whatever they are crossed with, appear to perpetuate their peculiar characteristics. I have heard it stated that the pure Irishman was originally a large terrier, and to reduce the size a cross with a Manchester terrier was used, hence the black and tan puppies that are so often produced.
'I am happy to say I cannot find the slightest foundation for this statement; I have myself tried such a cross carefully and it quite failed, and I am convinced it would take years to breed out the black and tan strain, with its sleek coat, and get back to the somewhat rugged outline and waterproof jacket of the Irish terrier.
"At an early Irish show, in 1874, there were classes given for Irish terriers under 91b. weight, clearly showing that small terriers were fashionable then. In my rambles through Ireland I have generally asked for the man who kept the best terriers in the village, and, on hearing where he was, I went to see his dogs. He was always anxious to show me not only his own but those of his neighbours as well. I have seen good terriers which would get a prize at many of our English shows, but which were kept so out of sight, partly through fear of the 'corner boys,' that resident fanciers who regularly show were ignorant of their existence. These were owned by cottiers in the small towns and villages. I noticed that the majority of such dogs had a few grey or black hairs in their coats, but as a rule they were inclined to be a light red in colour and very hard in texture; the ears are also larger as a rule than is fashionable in England, but well carried.
"At a small public house near Sion Mills, Stra-bane, is an Irish terrier dog, now 16 years of age, not at all the fashionable type, as he is very low on the leg and rather thick in front, but he has a charming head, with a most intelligent expression, and a good pair of ears. Wherever the Irish terrier may have got his type, there is no denying his real native expression and general characteristics, which have made him so popular in England.
"The foundations of the present generation of show terriers are nearly all descended from Mr. Waterhouse's Killiney Boy, and it is a difficult matter to find one that has not some drop of his blood in his veins. The red or yellow are now considered the correct colour, and the dark puppies are usually destroyed, but as the dam of Killiney Boy was a rough black and tan, colour is merely a question of fashion. When red puppies are born in the same litter as black and tans, the former are nearly always a good bright red; but the black and tan have the better coats, invariably as hard as pin wire. I am by no means certain that by not using the latter to breed from we are losing the hard, wiry coats, and brighter red colour; and were it not for the art of trimming many of our winning terriers would have coats almost as shaggy as are found on some mountain sheep.
"When Irish terriers were first shown it was the fashion to crop their ears to a point, making them look very sharp. As they were often used as fighting dogs in the good old days, this might have been of some service, but of late years a strong feeling has grown up against it, and acting on the advice of the Irish Terrier Club, the Kennel Club passed a rule that no cropped Irish terrier born since Dec. 31, 1889, can compete at shows under their rules.
"Although nearly all our best terriers are, as already stated, descended from Killiney Boy, many trace their pedigree back to a union of that dog with a bitch named Erin, bought by Mr. W. Graham, of Belfast, before being shown at Dublin in 1879. This bitch was perhaps the best Irish terrier ever seen, and I very much doubt if any terrier of to-day is her superior, if her equal. Both Killiney Boy and Erin were cropped, but in their first litter there was a puppy born whose ears were so good that they were allowed to remain as nature made them. This puppy was afterwards named Play Boy; the others in the litter were Poppy, Pagan II., Gerald, Pretty Lass, with Peggy, who later was dam of Garryford. This must be acknowledged as a most extraordinary litter, and such a one has seldom been produced at one time.
"Erin was afterwards mated with another dog named Paddy II., and Garryowen and Glory were two of their puppies, and a bitch named Jess, who, put to Killiney Boy, threw a dog called Gripper. The latter was not successful at the stud, and bitches by him when put to dogs by either Killiney Boy or dogs descended from him, are very apt to throw black and tan, brindle, or grey.
"Of the earlier terriers none came up to Erin, who, bar her feet and cropped ears, was nearly perfect, and, until her own celebrated litter, was unrivalled. Mr. W. Graham, Newtownbreda, who has bred and owned a large number of winners, and is one of the leading authorities on the variety, is of opinion that she was the best Irish terrier he has yet seen.