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Friday 9 December 2016

Shearers seek partners for All-Ireland event

Ann Fitzgerald

Published 24/11/2016 | 06:30

President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina pictured with All Ireland Sheep Shearing Champion Ivan Scott from Donegal at this year's National Ploughing Championships. Photo: Steve Humpheys
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina pictured with All Ireland Sheep Shearing Champion Ivan Scott from Donegal at this year's National Ploughing Championships. Photo: Steve Humpheys

Calling all rural clubs and organisations. Do you need an injection of cash and are you willing to work for it?

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The Irish Sheep Shearers Association is looking for a partner to stage the 2017 All-Ireland shearing and wool handling championships.

In conjunction with the ISSA, the host committee would take on the organisation of the two-day event which usually runs over the June Bank Holiday Weekend.

In many cases the partner is an organisation that is looking for a significant injection of cash, as in the building or extension of club premises, etc.

Previous hosts have included various sporting clubs. This year's very successful event, in Castlepollard, Co Westmeath was run by Townspark Vintage Club. It always brings a great buzz to the locality.

While the ISSA looks after the running of the sheep-related elements which run throughout the two days with competitors from all corners of the world, the partner organisation puts on an ancillary programme of events. This usually includes a musical act on the Saturday night.

Other attractions down through the years have included sheepdog trials, tug-o-war, amusements, fashion show, food and craft stalls, with the element of fun very much to fore in events like Strictly Come Shearing.

ISSA secretary is Eileen Coffey who says the first All-Ireland shearing took place in 1953. The event has been growing in popularity, especially in the past number of years, establishing itself as firm fixture on the annual agricultural calendar.

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The ISSA is flexible on location for the All-Ireland and a minimum of 2,000 sheep is required to run the event.

Meanwhile, hopes are high that Ireland will bag its first team shearing world title, when the world championships take place in Invercargill, New Zealand in early February.

The team consists of two open machine shearers, two wool handlers, two blades shearers, along with two judges and a team manager.

The charge for honours is being led Ivan Scott, the Donegal man who currently holds nine All-Ireland titles and three world titles.

In April, he set a new Guinness world record for speed shearing, of 37.9 seconds while, in July, the 33-year-old from Kilmacrennan set a new world endurance record by shearing 867 strong wool lambs in nine hours.

Unlike here, the Kiwis regard shearing as a fully-fledged sport. Indeed, Eileen says a fitness test conducted in New Zealand found that one of their top shearers was fitter than almost all members of the famed All Blacks. So there!

Parties interested in hosting the 2017 All-Ireland Shearing can contact ISSA secretary Eileen Coffey at eileencoffey@gmail.com

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