Shear excitement set to grip Kilkenny
Fantastic family day out promised in Clara as Irish bid to wrestle honours from world's best at Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships
More than 15,000 spectators are expected in Kilkenny this weekend, where some of the world's best will compete in the Clik All-Ireland and International Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships.
The championships take place at the Cillin Hill Exhibition Centre on the edge of Kilkenny city this Saturday and Sunday and more than 250 top sheep shearers and wool handlers are taking part.
However, the action will not be confined to the shearing platform. The is a family festival with everything from a fun fair for kids to market stalls and exhibits for visitors who want more than wool.
IFA president and Kilkenny native John Bryan said the event was timely and had the potential to generate €5m for the local economy.
"The Sheep Shearing Championship is a key event and will attract farmers from all over the country," Mr Bryan said.
The current sheep shearing world record holders, all brothers, are among the star attractions. New Zealanders Doug, Rowland and Matthew Smith have been installed as favourites to take the Clik Irish International title on their first visit to Ireland.
Doug and Rowland are the current world record holders for 'two-stand' shearing, having shorn 1,066 sheep in eight hours in January.
However, the Kiwis may not have it all their own way because they will face stiff competition from leading Irish and international shearers, including the current champion, Ivan Scott from Donegal, and Hamish Mitchell from Scotland.