The Kepak All-Ireland Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships 2017 were launched on Sunday with a live sheep shearing exhibition at Market Square, Roscommon town.
The Championships will take place in Kiltoom this June Bank Holiday Weekend with a packed programme of events.
Speaking at the launch, which took place during Roscommon Lamb Festival, Chairman of the Organising Committee Tomás Beades explained how preparations for the event began in January. “We are now only 33 days away from the opening of the shearing championships on 2nd June. An enormous amount of work has been done in terms of sponsors and trade stands but for the next 33 days we have got to work non-stop as a club, community and various associations to pull this off. Among the many positives of this event is that it will bring large numbers of people to Roscommon over the course of the June Bank Holiday weekend.”
The weekend-long championships will be hosted in conjunction with the Irish Sheep Shearers Association on the grounds of St. Brigid’s GAA Club in Kiltoom, and offer a host of exciting events both on and off the field and organisers are appealing for people to come forward to offer help in the run up to the event.
Also speaking at the launch Michael Geoghegan, General Manager of Kepak Athleague, said: “We are delighted to come in as the main sponsor. Events such as the Sheep Shearing Championships and the Lamb Festival are very important locally both to the economy and to the farming community. Kepak is supported by the local community and we are glad to be able to give something back.”
Tom Dunne of the Irish Sheep Shearers Association, outlined the success the Irish team experienced earlier this year when a team of ten travelled to New Zealand with two Irish shearers placing among the top six in the world and members of the team making it to three out of four finals. “Overall on points we ended up the second best country after New Zealand, who were the hosts and the home of sheep shearing,” explained Mr. Dunne.
He also outlined the world record held by Donegal man Ivan Scott, who it is understood can be seen shearing in Kiltoom over the June Bank Holiday weekend. “He’s one of the many superstars who will be coming to Roscommon,” stated Mr. Dunne, who described witnessing the performances of some of the shearers as “a spectacle”.
Praising the organising committee for this year’s event, he added: “This is the most enthusiastic committee we have worked with. Spread the word: there will be shearers from all over the world coming and it has a huge following. Open your eyes – we are going to put on some show.”
Cllr. Tony Ward, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, expressed thanks to the farming community, Kepak and all the sponsors for support offered to the event to date. He recalled the sheep shearing championships being held in Newpark, Kiltoom, 20 years ago and speaking of their return to the same area this year Cllr. Ward described St. Brigid’s GAA Club as “one of the best facilities in the country”.
He added: “I have no doubt members of the club and volunteers will turn out and support that event. Not too many clubs can host something the size of the sheep shearing.”
Cllr. Ward praised the location as an ideal setting for the championships stating “South Roscommon is well known for its sheep and its sheep shearing”.
The All-Ireland Sheep Shearing weekend promises to be a spectacle not to be missed with over 200 competitors shearing 2,200 sheep across 19 different categories in two days of intense, international competition. Large numbers of spectators are expected to flock to the venue and, in addition to the sheep shearing competitions, there will be a range of other attractions including nightly entertainment in a fully-licensed bar, children’s activities, arts and crafts, artisan food, heritage features, sheep shows, sheep dog trials, trade stands, cookery demonstrations and a food quarter.
As part of this event Roscommon LEADER Partnership will host the final showcase for two of its Erasmus+ projects: Creative Communities Igniting Change and Food Incubators Transforming Regions on Friday 2nd June, which will be opened by Mairead McGuinness MEP. They will be joined by foreign partners from Poland, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Netherlands and Slovakia. This event will include panel discussions, displays of creativity and food producers and lots more.
A further highlight will be Friday night’s performance by Nathan Carter, who will be on stage in the main marquee with dancing until late into the night. Tickets are €25 and people are encouraged to purchase early to avoid disappointment. Tickets can be purchased from any committee member.
Bright and early on Saturday 3rd June the shearing will get under way at with the Roscommon confined heats and organisers are urging anyone interested to get involved. On Saturday night dancing in the Festival Marquee will be to popular country singer Johnny Brady and his band. Tickets are €15 and can be purchased from any committee member.
Sunday 3rd June sees the competition take on an international flavour with heats all day and will conclude with a BBQ to thank volunteers and the community for their support.
Find out more
To keep up to date with this event and all other events planned for the Sheep Shearing weekend or to buy tickets log on to www.sheepshearingkiltoom.com or like the pages on Facebook: St. Brigid’s GAA and the All Ireland and All Nations Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships 2017 – page. #willewebethere