In 1979, at the age of sixteen, Sean immigrated to the US from his native Ireland. His life soon became occupied with work and in 1984 he started his own concrete and real estate development business in Chicago. Although work took up much of his time, he never forgot his lifelong love for dogs, horses, and hunting.In 1989, Sean was introduced to field trials, and it quickly became one of the greatest passions of his life. He won his first championship, The National Amateur Prairie Chicken Championship, two years later with a little jip named, Cassie’s Gold. The following spring Sean won Region 4 Amateur Shooting Dog as well as the Midwest Open Shooting Dog Championship with Findlay’s Miss Sadie. Sadie and Sean continued their winning ways in 1993 by capturing the Region 5 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship and the Illinois Open Shooting Dog Championship. With 104 dogs competing, this was the crown jewel of Sean’s career at the time. Sadie returned in 1995 to win Runner Up in the Illinois Open and then won it again in 1996 removing any doubt about Sean’s commitment to succeed in the sport of field trialing.
Sean knew if he was to have continued success he needed to develop his own breeding program and this was initiated in 1996 with the purchase of a young pup from Jackie Bridges. This talented dog would become known as Erin’s Southern Justice. He was exactly what Sean was looking for as a foundation for his breeding program. Southern Justice perfectly reflected the high quality of dogs in his pedigree: Additions Go Boy, Builders Addition, Builders Risk, Fiddler, Nell’s Rambling On, Elhew Strike, Pike Creek Mike and Hook’s Bounty Hunter to name a few. Today, almost every dog at Erin Kennels can be traced back to Southern Justice. In 2007, he was inducted into the Field Trial Hall of Fame — a fitting tribute to a great dog and a major achievement in Sean’s field trial career.
After successfully competing on the shooting dog circuit for several years Sean focused his attention on developing dogs that could compete on the all age circuit. He felt he achieved this in the 2006-2007 by winning the Georgia Derby Championship, the National Amateur Derby Championship, the American Field Pheasant Futurity, International Pheasant Championship, and Runner Up in the National Pheasant Championship, Winner National Amateur Pheasant Championship, 2nd Place in the Rend Lake Open, Winner National Amateur All Age Invitational and Runner Up Region 6 All Age. He qualified Erin’s Bad River for the 2008 National Field Trial Championship at the famed Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, Tennessee. All of these accomplishments were achieved with dogs that Sean bred, raised and trained. They are a product of what his breeding program has achieved to date.
Sean shares his life’s passion with his wife, Patty and their three daughters, Maeve, Lindsay, Kelly and their son, Sean Patrick has a special interest in the dogs, horses and field trials. He often accompanies is father to trials and has successfully handled dogs in competition.
In 1992 Sean purchased a 500-acre farm near the small town of Tiskilwa, Illinois that serves as home to Erin Kennels and Stables. The farm called Rocky Run is managed extensively for quail and pheasants. It is made up of rolling hills, agricultural fields and pastures edged by wooded areas. Rocky Run is perfect for the raising and development of field trial dogs. A beautiful midwestern setting, Sean and his family spend all of their free time on the farm.
Sean Derrig's Pursuit of Perfection by Tom Davis.
©Pointing Dog Journal, March/April 2008