Gearing up for a marathon sheep shearing challenge
Portlaoise hosts national championships
Portlaoise rugby grounds will be packed to the rafters next weekend. But it won't be the oval ball which will be worrying the 20,000 or so spectators. No, next weekend is all about sheep shearing.
The 2010 Clik All-Ireland and International Sheep Shearing Championships come to the midlands for the first time this year and the host county aims to impress.
Chairman of the local organising committee Marty Phelan believes Laois is an obvious location for the sheep shearing as it boasts a 70,000 sheep flock -- one of the largest sheep populations in the country.
Marty says that this year's championships are unique in many ways, and that the strong local community involvement will give the event a special flavour.
"There is a once-off partnership arrangement in place to run the event. The Portlaoise Sheep Shearing Committee involves people drawn from local business and community interests, the local community in Clonad and from the National Sheep Shearing Association," Marty said.
"Portlaoise Rugby Club is our host for the event, and major financial support has come from Laois County Council, Laois Partnership Company, Feile Foods and Novartis."
A massive crowd is expected to converge on Portlaoise for the event, which is more of a serious rural festival rather than just a sheep shearing one.
Described by many as a smaller version of the Ploughing Championships, the event is attracting top shearers from Ireland and Britain, and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.