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May Davis

Lillian May Davis (known as May) of the Castleoak Irish Setters sadly passed away on Sunday 14th December, 2008 at the age of 93 years.

I first met May in 1965 when I was looking for my first Irish Setter and in 1967 was fortunate enough to be offered the pick of the litter from Raycroft Tartan Trews ex. Sh. Ch. Bronte of Castleoak. This puppy was my famous and much loved boy, the CC winning Copper Flame of Castleoak. May and Phil (her late husband) were most supportive and encouraging to me, a teenager embarking into the dog showing world and May became my ‘second Mum’ and lifelong, true friend.

May only bred a few litters and always remained true to her beliefs, concentrating on the Raycroft, Gaelge and Hartsbourne lines. Many of today’s setters will still have Castleoak at the back of their pedigrees. May’s dogs were healthy, well bred and had super temperaments. Flame’s mother, Sh. Ch. Bronte of Castleoak, was probably the most well known, although Beaulagh, Eros, Erin and Dainty Lady all made their mark in the show ring, as well as my own Copper Flame.

May spent many years serving on the Southend-on-Sea & District Canine Society’s committee, whilst Phil (& I) were on the Irish Setter Breeder’s Club committee – Phil holding the position of Chairman.

I spent many happy weekends during my teenage years down at May’s home in Wickford, Essex and she was a wonderful friend. Unfortunately, when I moved to the West Country we didn’t see as much of her as we would have liked, although 12.00 every Christmas Day was set in stone for a telephone call!

May had been stricken with illness for many years but she never lost her incredible spirit (and enjoyment of the odd gin!!) and great sense of humour. I was honoured to accept her offer of her affix Castleoak a few years ago – something I shall always treasure. It is currently being kept alive with my 5 year old Newfoundland, Powerhouse Gucci Bear of Castleoak.

The last time I saw May was in June 2000 when I was able to take my dear Mother to see her old friend. It was a most poignant visit – so enjoyable and I have some really happy memories and photos of the day – made even more special since my Mother died only 2 years later. My final conversation with May was Christmas last year – although she was weak, her sense of humour prevailed.

May was a unique person – one of a kind – she will always hold a really special place in my heart – I will never forget her – she was a true inspiration and a real character and I loved her dearly.
Kathryn Frost (nee Harrison)

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