Open competition for hand shearers
Following the resounding success of last year's sheep shearing demonstrations, the Irish Sheep Shearers' Association is to hold an open competition for hand shearers at Tullamore Show.
This is a highly skilled shearing technique is performed exclusively by hand using a blade shears. Kerry man Patrick Moran currently holds the record for Ireland, as well as for Britain and Ireland, with a record of hand shearing 208 sheep in nine hours.
Hand and machine shearing has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, as demonstrated by the huge crowds in attendance at the sheep shearing event in Punchestown earlier this year.
While the Irish appreciate hand shearing as a traditional craft, there are parts of the world where it is the main method. It is estimated at least 25pc of the world's sheep are shorn by hand.
The shearing demonstrations and competition are part of the overall sheep section at the show. This includes 67 pedigree and 10 commercial classes, including Texel, Vendeen, Suffolk, Charollais, Rouge De L'Ouest, Galway, Beltex, Lleyn, Jacob, Belclare, Zwartbles, and Border Leicester breeds.
New competitions for young stock people have been added to the schedule, including the Junior Sheep Stockperson of the AIB National Livestock Show.
Sheep entries have suffered from the dismal summer weather, with entries down 12pc on last year, according to organiser Peter Donohue. Nonetheless, there will be plenty to watch on the day, with judges from Britain and Ireland assessing the best of Ireland's sheep in no fewer than four rings.
As with the cattle classes, there is a renewed focus on commercial sheep. Among the commercial classes will be the Pair of Factory Lambs Championship, Best Pair of Butchers' Lambs and the AIB National Livestock Show Commercial Champion. Judging for all sheep classes commences at 11am.