Connacht Show attracts the stars of World Sheep Shearing Championship
Up to 10,000 visitors are expected to attend next month's Connacht Spring Show which is being seen in sheep circles as a curtain raiser for the World Sheep Shearing Championships that are due to take place in Gorey at the end of May.
This year's event takes place at the Ballinrobe racecourse on May 17 and 18 and international shearers from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Germany and France have already signed up for the event.
"It seems that many of the international sheep shearing teams, who will be competing at the World Championships, are taking in the Connacht Show for some vital practice in the run up to the championships and they are very welcome,'' show spokesman, Paddy Rock told the Farming Independent this week.
"The international teams seem to be using the occasion to get some practice in and to familiarise themselves with Irish wool which is courser than the wool they would be used too in their native countries,'' Paddy added.
Of particular interest is Ethar Harder, a 15-year-old from Australia, who is already nicknamed the 'Pele' of international shearing. He burst onto the Australian scene when he sheared 200 sheep in one session when he was just 12 and shortly afterwards won a prestigious under-20 competition.
The Connacht Spring Show is now firmly established at Ballinrobe racecourse in Mayo having had to move from Maam Cross in Connemara when increased capacity and exhibiting space were required.
Its main sponsors this year include Gain, FBD, Bimeda, Mayo County Council, Failte Ireland, Aurivo, Homestead, Flogas, Manor Farm, Mayo Health Care and the Breaffy House resort hotel in Castlebar
The show, which is run along the lines of the old RDS Dublin Spring show, will feature the usual commercial and agricultural machinery exhibits, horse, pony and dog shows as well as featuring local cuisine and food.
Food advice will also be on hand courtesy of Katherine Leyden, food adviser at Odlums and chefs, Seamus Commines of Knockranny House, Jonathan Keane of the Lodge at Ashford Castle and Simon Hurst of Breaffy House resort.
And since this year's show will fall in the middle of the Euro elections all the outgoing MEPs and candidates running for the European parliament will each be given five minutes campaigning time on the sheep shearing stage while candidates in the local elections in the Castlebar area will be given the same time on a soap box on the show site to make their political cases.
The show will also host the traditional Connacht Tug O War competition, while the weekend will also see exhibitions of chainsaw and axe work by the Irish Axemen and an Irish record attempt at hosting the largest Teddy Bear picnic (in aid of Pieta House).
The show was officially launched last Friday night at Breaffy House by the IFA's sheep committee chairman, John Lynsky.
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