Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Shear class - Ivan Scott's achievements at home and abroad place him among the world's elite sheep shearers

Ivan Scott holds several sheep shearing records. Photo: Ray Ryan
Ivan Scott holds several sheep shearing records. Photo: Ray Ryan
Ivan demonstrating his skills to President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins at the 2016 Tullamore Show. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Claire Fox

Henry Sheflin and Ivan Scott have something in common. While their respective disciplines of hurling and sheep shearing couldn't be more different, both men have earned 10 All-Ireland titles in their fields.

Unlike Sheflin however, Ivan (35) hasn't retired and is as hungry as ever to continue competing, having won his latest All-Ireland Sheep Shearing title in 2017.

From Kilmacrennan in Donegal, Scott is regarded as the best sheep shearer in the northern hemisphere and holds two world records for lamb shearing.

"One of the records is 867 lambs sheared in nine hours and the other is 744 lambs sheared in eight hours. It's up to someone else now if they want to have a go at them. They're not your everyday records," he told the Farming Independent.

Ivan demonstrating his skills to President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins at the 2016 Tullamore Show. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ivan demonstrating his skills to President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins at the 2016 Tullamore Show. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Now based in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, with his wife Hazel and daughter Lily (8), Ivan says that his interest in sheep shearing came from the fact that he grew up on a mixed dairy and sheep farm of Texel crosses, yet nobody in his family had an interest in shearing before he started.

"It was just something I always had in my head that I wanted to do. There's not that many young people in Ireland doing it either. There's probably a dozen of us at it competitively but it's a great sport," he says.

Ivan credits his time spent on farms in New Zealand for him perfecting the art of sheep shearing.

"I went to New Zealand when I was 20 and did some work on farms near Christchurch and the North Island. I went back then for the last 15 years for a few months at a time but this was the first winter I stayed in Ireland.

Also Read


"You get a real experience of sheep shearing over there. It's on a different scale. It's well organised and there's a constant flow of sheep coming in to be sheared. It's such a big industry there compared to Ireland," he says.

As a world record holder, Ivan's training regime is more intense than your average sheep shearer.

Ivan Scott, World record holder sheep shearer pictured near Ballinrobe, County Mayo . Photo: Ray Ryan
Ivan Scott, World record holder sheep shearer pictured near Ballinrobe, County Mayo . Photo: Ray Ryan

"I do my daily shearing but I also go to the gym as well. I lift weights and do the rowing machine and things like that. You need good arm and leg strength but having a good core is especially important. You have to throw all your strength in if you can," he adds.

For 27-year-old Mayo man, Peter Heraty sheep shearing is truly a family affair. His father Petie, who farms Mountain Blackface sheep on Croagh Patrick commonage land is an avid shearer, while his late uncle Gerry represented Ireland at the World Championships in Scotland in 2003.

"I picked it up from them when I was aged 12 or 13 and then at aged 14 I began competing at under-age level. As soon as I was fit to hold a sheep I was in competitions. I won two under 18 titles," says the young man who farms with his father.

While Ivan is a machine shearer, Peter has represented Ireland at the last four World Championships as a blade shearer. One of the youngest competitors in Ireland, Peter says he always enjoyed the competitive side of the sport.

Sweat dripping from Ivan Scott as he competes in the Six Nations competiton at the All Ireland Sheep Shearing Championship in Burt, Co. Donegal. Photo- Clive Wasson
Sweat dripping from Ivan Scott as he competes in the Six Nations competiton at the All Ireland Sheep Shearing Championship in Burt, Co. Donegal. Photo- Clive Wasson

"I love representing Ireland and being up against the best. I've been to New Zealand twice. I wouldn't have got the chance to do things like that without shearing, it's given me so many opportunities."

Travelling to New Zealand was also key for Peter to hone in his shearing skills.

"They have it perfected over there. There's over 40 million sheep compared to four million here and it goes on for most of the year.

Commitment

While Peter admits that Ivan's level of commitment is in "a league of his own", he says if you don't like hard work then shearing isn't for you.

"It's very physical, so if you don't like hard work I wouldn't recommend you taking up shearing but it's great to watch."

Peter does the shearing with his father on their own farm every summer and also does work on other farms during the busy period but added that the poor prices for wool "are not even paying farmers for shearing".

"Wool prices are on the floor and were down a lot last year. It's tough and there's lots of demand for sheep to be clean coming into factories so we would come in there also."

Championships seeking a new home

The All-Ireland Sheep Shearing Championships which have been taking place since 1953 are at the heart of the activity in this country.

This year's event takes place over the June Bank Holiday weekend and chairman Tom Dunne is calling on those who think they might have a suitable venue to get in touch with the Irish Sheep Shearing Association (ISSA).

"It's been held in a mart, Punchestown race course, the Green Glens Arena and so many other places. We're not fussy where we hold it as long as it's suitable. We need a place that has a stage or is big enough where we can build our own stage and has room for toilets and food stalls."

Tom says the event can attract up to 10,000 visitors every year and is great for the host's local economy. Around 200 competitors take part in the competition annually, coming from as far away as New Zealand and Australia.

"They come from all over the world. Northern Ireland, the UK, France, New Zealand and Australia. This year we are expecting more competitors from Ireland as we'll be choosing members for the team who will represent us at the 2019 World Championships in France."

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

Indo Farming

Get the latest news from the FarmIreland team 3 times a week.





More in Sheep