The Tullamore Dew Irish Wolfhounds
In the beginning, the Tullamore Dew logo was the “Red Jug”. It was chosen because the red cup was the logo of a favour blend of tea, Red Cup Tea, a commercial empire at the head of which Daniel E. Williams was with a chain of more than 26 general stores.
Desmond Williams, grandson of Daniel, later felt that the loyalty and courage of the Irish wolfhound was a good symbol for a great Irish whiskey. He felt they represented the many fine qualities of the Irish people – their steadfast loyalty, heritage, strength, tradition, and friendship. Desmond Williams himself a breeder of Irish wolfhounds, felt they were a particularly appropriate symbol representing the heritage, warmth and independent nature of his legendary whiskey. In the 1950’s he included two wolfhounds and a harp on the ceramic crock later adding them to the Tullamore Dew bottle, where they remain to this day.
The Irish wolfhound is the tallest known breed of dog. The origins of the modern breed trace back to ancient times; large, greyhound-type hunting dogs were known in Ireland and Britain at least 2,000 years ago.
Descended from the hounds of Chieftans
Today’s Irish wolfhounds are descended from the CÚ, the hounds owned and valued by Irish chieftains and warriors from the earliest recorded Irish history and legends. They are featured in the legends of CÚ Chulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill, among many others, and some of the stories endow them with human and magical abilities. They found their way into the lore of Scandinavia, as well, and were reported to have been seen in ancient Rome. They were known also as the Celtic greyhound or the Irish greyhound, as well as the CÚ. They were used for hunting wolf, deer, and elk, and helped in defending their masters in battle. At the same time they were known for their abilities of discrimination, and their gentleness in domestic situations.
One legend, describes how Conaire MÓr went hunting and left his wolfhound, Sceolan, to watch over his son. When he returned, he found the dog’s mouth bloodied and assumed the worst. He killed Sceolan, only to discover a moment later the body of a dead wolf, which the faithful hound had killed to protect the son, who was unhurt. The High King felt his injustice keenly, so he ordered a monument erected to the dog’s memory, and the breed became established as a national symbol of Ireland.
Decline and Re-emergence
More recent history includes mentions in the edicts of Oliver Cromwell, which banned the Irish wolfhound’s export from Ireland, where they were required to eradicate the wolf, which was considered a menace. They were extremely successful and the wolves eventually disappeared from Ireland. This began the decline of the Irish wolfhound, and by the early 1860s, the breed had dwindled to near extinction. It is due to the efforts & determination of a few individuals near the turn of the century, particularly Captain G.A. Graham, that the few remaining examples of the breed were found, and bred. With a few judicious outcrosses to other breeds – mainly to the large Glengarry deerhounds, themselves descended from the original CÚ – the breed was re-established.
Today, Tullamore Dew maintains its association with Irish wolfhounds by sponsoring the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland.