Dog handler and legend Pat MacGettigan

This Irishman based in Culrain was one of the most successful dog handlers in Scotland and quite a character.

© Photos courtesy of Shirley Macgettigan


Born in Donegal in 1929, he came to the Highlands as a teenager to work in Hydro Electric schemes such as the 5-mile tunnel in Lairg. He began to work as a sheperd in Glen Cassley in 1961 and soon afterwards he won his first sheepdog event at a local level.

He married and moved to Achnagart croft, Culrain, in 1964, where he lived with about 100 North Country Cheviot sheep and his dogs until his sudden death in 1996.

In the early 70s he suffered a horrible accident while handling cables over a road that resulted in his right leg being amputated below the knee. However, he was a very resilient character and having a prosthetic leg didn’t stop him from competing -and winning- literally hundreds of sheepdog trials.

He entered a dog in the Scottish National for the first time in 1981, but he didn’t win at this level until 1988 when he reached the doubles with his dogs Lee and Peg. In 1991 he obtained no less than sixteen cups and seven shields. He won the National championships in doubles again in 1993 and 1994 with Sable and Todd. He also reached international level in 1993 winning the doubles in Kelso.

He was particularly well known for his expertise in the difficult task of handling five and six dogs at a time. He was often invited by local trials associations to give demonstrations. 
He is rememberd not only for his outstanding skills on the field, but also for his optimism and warm personality.

He died on the 5th January 1996, while reading the paper at the kitchen table and was dead by the time he hit the floor. According to his daughter Shirley: “he wouldn’t have had it any other way as he would have hated not being able to do things.” The funeral in Ardgay was attended by several hundreds from all parts of Britain and Ireland.

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