The Kerry Blue Terrier was first observed in the mountains of Kerry in Ireland, hence the name of the breed. There is a romantic story of a blue dog swimming ashore from a shipwreck: the coat of this dog was so lovely that it was mated with all the female Wheaten Terriers in Kerry (or in all Ireland, according to some), producing the Kerry Blue. Perhaps this story is not entirely myth, as the Portuguese Water Dog is often suggested as part of the Kerry's makeup. Others suggest the Kerry was produced by the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier crossed with the Bedlington Terrier with (or without) some Irish Wolfhound or Irish Terrier blood. The extinct Gadhar herding dog is also mentioned as another possible branch of the Kerry's family tree. One certain fact is the breed became very popular as an all-around farm dog in rural Ireland.
National Dog of Ireland
With the development of dog shows in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the breed became standardised and "tidied up" for the show ring. The Irish nationalist leader Michael Collins owned a famous Kerry Blue named Convict 224. Collins even made an attempt to have the Kerry blue adopted as the national dog of Ireland. Love of dogs did, however, cross political divides. The first show of the Dublin Irish Blue Terrier club took place outside official curfew hours and was entered both by those fighting for and against an Ireland republic. The Dublin Irish Blue Terrier Club was so successful it led directly to the foundation of the Irish Kennel Club, and a Kerry blue was the first dog that club registered.