Mick The Miller was born on the
29th of June 1926 in the coach-house of Millbrook House in
Killeigh village in Co Offaly, Rep of Ireland. He was bred
by Fr Martin Brophy the
parish curate who lived at Millbrook. Fr Brophy mated Glorious Event (Sire)
with Na Boc Lei
(Dam). Glorious Event was owned by Mr PJ Meehan, a solicitor from
nearby Portlaoise in Co Laoise. Na Boc Lei was owned by
Fr Brophy himself. The result was a
litter of 10 pups and Mick The Miller was the smallest and
weakest of the 10.
Na Boc Lei`s
litter with Mick The Miller on Michael Greene`s (in centre)
knees on steps of Millbrook House Also in picture are
local men Leonard Mathews (on left) and Michael Flanagan (on
At that time Fr Brophy had
Tullamore native Michael Greene working for him. Michael
actually lived at Millbrook House too and it was he who oversaw
the birth of Mick The Miller and his siblings.
As the litter was so large most
of them were `farmed`out to local people to rear them.
Although Mick The Miller was a weak looking pup, Michael Greene
insisted that Fr Brophy keep him and allow him to rear him.
They also held on to Macoma.
Michael Greene lavished attention
on Mick, feeding him milk from a bottle and sometimes bringing
him to bed with him. It was he who walked Mick and Macoma for
miles around Killeigh to build up their muscles and stamina.
He also trained the pair in the paddock behind Millbrook House
and later on in the surrounding fields. The idea was to
get them ready for coursing, first in local events at Portlaoise
and Kilbeggan and hopefully for bigger events like The Waterloo
Mick The Miller, Macoma and Fr Martin Brophy at Millbrook Kennels
Fr Brophy`s dogs were also given
out to local families in the parish to look after them for
periods of time. In the same way that local people would
cut peat or do odd jobs for the priest, they would also keep a
dog or two feeding and housing him/her for a while. Mick
The Miller would have stayed at Morris`s at Mohia Lane in
Killurin and Rody Berry`s in Killeenmore. Of course being
a small village many other local people would have been involved
in rearing Mick and many of Fr Brophy`s
children with Fr Brophy, his dogs and Michael Greene at
By April 1927 track racing had
begun in Ireland. The first track built was Celtic Park in
Belfast, followed by Shelbourne Park in Dublin, with Harold`s
Cross in Dublin soon to follow. Fr Brophy could see the
possibility of success for both Mick The Miller and Macoma in
this new form of racing. He decided to enlist the
services of Mick Horan from Trim in Co Meath who was a licensed
trainer at the new Shelboure Park. Mick trained the brothers at
Shelbourne Park. Mick The Miller won his first race in
Shelbourne Park, the Shelbourne
Sweepstakes and a prize of £10. He also ventured up to
Celtic Park in Belfast where he won his first round leg and his
semi-final but finished third in the final of The Abercorn Cup.
His brother Macoma broke his hock in a freak accident in the
traps at Celtic Park.
It was soon after that Abercorn
Cup Final in May 1928 that Mick suddenly became very ill.
While this illness was diagnosed as distemper it`s not really
known what he suffered from. Whatever it was, Mick received
attention from vets including Arthur Callanan and of course his
minder Michael Greene. He was ordered to rest and
recuperate slowly. So he did no racing or coursing for
five about months. In August that year Fr Brophy put the
weak Mick and injured Macoma up for sale at an auction in
Shelbourne Park. The brothers were seperated when William
Washbourne from Wolverhampton bought Macoma. Interestingly
Macoma went on to become a successful hurdler.
By November 1928 Mick was
eventually well enough to compete in local coursing meets.
In March 1929 Mick resumed his
track-racing career by competing in and winning the Shelbourne
Stakes at Shelbourne Park. During the rest of the year
Mick went on to win the Leinster Plate and The Spring Cup at
Harold`s Cross and The National Cup at Shelbourne Park.
After the National Cup Final was the last time Michael Greene
his beloved pup.
Mick had by now clocked up 15
wins out of 20 races and it was decided to have a crack at The
English Greyhound Derby. Mick Horan and Mick The Miller
left Ireland 2 days after the National Cup success. At the
Greyhound Derby track at White City in London, Mick took part in
a trial run, a solo run of 525 yards against the clock. He
actually broke the track record by 0.03 seconds!
Four days later Round 1 of The Derby took place. This time Mick broke the world record in a time of 29.80
seconds! This meant he was the first greyhound in history to run 525
yards in under 30 seconds!
Following that fantastic Derby
debut, several offers were made to Fr Brophy to buy Mick.
He agreed to sell him to Albert Williams (a bookmaker
from Wimbledon) on condition that Fr Brophy would get the
prize-money if Mick came 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the final. Mick did indeed go on to win
the final and Fr
Brophy was presented with the winning cheque of £700. It was
also agreed that Fr Brophy would be presented with the trophy.
Mick went on to add The International Sweepstakes at West Ham
and The First International Derby Sweepstakes Derby at Wimbledon
for his new owner Albert Williams. Albert eventually sold him,
1929 to Arundel Hugh Kempton for £2,000 as a present for his
Mick`s first race under the Kempton`s ownership was the
New Year`s Day 1930 Champion Stakes Final, in which he came
That year Mick went on to win The Wembley Spring Cup, The Loafer Trophy,
The Farndon Cup, The English Greyhound Derby, The Cesarewitch,
and The Welsh Derby.
Greyhound Derby Champion for
the 2nd time in a row
In 1931 Mick reached
the English Greyhound Derby Final for the 3rd time in a row. He
once again won the final but it was re-run because of a `bump`
on one of the bends. He was defeated in this re-run. Later on that year he did win The Wembley Spring Cup,
The GRA Sweepstakes No 3 and The Greyhound St Leger. The
St Leger win was regarded as his greatest triumph and was his
last race before retirement to stud.
He spent the next 8 years at
stud, with Jack Masters at Mill Farm, near Dereham in Norfolk. He
also spent much time attending social events, often appearing
as guest of honour at big races including the ones he
himself had won. He was in big demand too, with celebrities and even
with royalty who were keen to have their photo taken with him.
In 1934 he starred in a film
called Wild Boy produced by Gainsborough Pictures along with stars of the day, Sonnie
Hale, Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen.
When his puppy-making days were
at an end he went to live once again with his old trainer Sidney Orton at
Burhill Kennels in Hersham in Surrey.
On the 5th of May 1939 Mick
passed away, in the same kennel at
Burhill that he lived in while he raced.
Arundel H Kempton
eventually accepted a offer to have Mick stuffed and displayed
at the British Natural History Museum in South Kensington in
London. Mick went on display in July 1939. He was on display there until 1995. He was then moved to The British
Natural Museum at Tring.
must be given to Michael Tanner for uncovering so many facts
about Mick, some of which are mentioned above. You can find out
so much more by reading Michael`s book
of Mick The Miller
(published by Highdown). *
To read what
others say about Mick online click here