The best of Irish Suffolk Sheep showcased at Ratheniska

The National Ploughing Championships returned after an absence of three years due to the pandemic and Suffolk Sheep Society – South of Ireland were delighted to once again be a part of such a great event.

Situated just inside the door of the NSBA Pavillion, the stand drew a huge amount of attention from attendees. Live Sheep are always popular and the stand showcased the best of Irish Suffolk Sheep breeding with both Pedigree and cross bred sheep on display. The Shearling Pedigree Ram, Muff Paddy, bred by his namesake, Paddy Carolan of Muff Suffolks was hugely popular with visitors to the stand – young and old alike. He was greatly admired and made impressive viewing on the stand.

The Society would like to express our gratitude to the Borris Ewe Breeders Association for loaning the Suffolk/Cheviot Cross ewes for the display. They were a great example of the superb breeding ewes which result from crossing the Irish Suffolk with a Cheviot Ewe. They make superb replacement ewes, who are easily lambed, milky and great mothers, who in turn produce fast finishing lambs ready to hit the premium Spring market at twelve weeks.

The hugely popular ‘Guess the Weight of the Lambs’ competition was back and saw an entry of well over 1000 over the three days. These were put in the draw for a €250 Society Voucher towards the price of a Suffolk Ram at any Society sale as well as second and third prizes kindly sponsored by Mayo Healthcare. We would like to thank Cormac Sheep Equipment for providing the scales on which the lambs were weighed on the final day.

Overall the Ploughing Championships proved to be a very successful three days for the Suffolk Sheep Society – South of Ireland, allowing us to reacquaint with old friends and meet many new ones. We were delighted to see such a large interest in the breeding of Irish Suffolk Sheep among so many farmers and we look forward to welcoming many of them into the Society in due course. With confidence in the Society at an all time high, the future is looking very bright for Irish Suffolk Sheep.



The 2023 National Suffolk Championships will take place this year in conjunction with the SHEEP 2023 Event in Gurteen Agricultural College on June 17th.

This one day event will be the largest dedicated sheep event in Ireland in 2023 and follows on the successes of past events held at Teagasc, Athenry and UCD. It is being organised by five major stakeholders within the Sheep Industry – Bord Bia, Department of Agriculture, Food 7 the Marine, Irish farmers Journal, Sheep Ireland and Teagasc.

Suffolk Sheep Society – South of Ireland is delighted to be hosting our National Suffolk Sheep Championships at such a prestigious event. Top breeders from all around the country are already preparing their sheep to take part in one of the top events in the annual Suffolk calander. Competition is always fierce at the Championships and classes include Young Handler, Shearling Ewe, Aged Ewe, Shearling Ram and upwards, Ewe Lamb – trimmed and untrimmed, Ram Lamb and Novice Ewe and Ram Lamb classes.

Judge for the event is Mr. Martin Butler of the well known and respected Castlewood Flock in Northern Ireland.

2022 NSC Supreme Champion – Susan O’Keeffe, Shearling Ewe

Anticipation is building for this dedicated sheep event in the wake of a five-year Covid-19 enforced absence. The multi-faceted event has something to cater for all interests, as well as being an enjoyable family day out.

Upwards of 10 technical areas are planned, each with their own extensive programme incorporating workshops/practical demonstrations/short presentations, an opportunity for one-to-one dialogue and visual displays.

Technical topics at Sheep 2023 will include breeding and genetics, environment, flock health, forestry, grassland, health and safety, hill sheep, nutrition and organic farming.

There will also be a Wool Village, A Young Shepherd Competition, Sheep Breed Stands, A Sheep Dog training demonstration, cookery demonstrations by celebrity chef Mr Nevin Maguire, trade stands and much, much more.

So save the date and come along to what promises to be one of the best Agricultural events of the year!



Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland

Coote Geelan, Loughrynn Flock

The Committee of the Suffolk Sheep Society were delighted to nominate Mr Coote Geelan of the Loughrynn Flock in Co. Leitrim as the 2023 recipient of the National Hall of Fame for Suffolk Sheep. The National Hall of Fame Awards, now in their 19th year, are an annual all-livestock breeds event held to  ‘recognise individuals who have dedicated their lifetimes for the improvement and progress within their chosen breed’

The 2023 Awards were presented this year by Mr Adam Woods, Beef Editor at the Irish Farmers Journal.

Coote Geelan receiving the 2023 Hall of Fame award from Adam Woods, Beef Editor, Irish Farmers Journal

Established in 1981 ‘with the purchase of four 1 Shear and one 2 Shear Ewes bred by J. Coughlan’, Coote could never have known the multitude of awards, rosettes and competitions he would go on to win over the course of his lifetime. Regularly attending competitions and shows, Coote was successful both North and South which included prizes at The RDS ‘Spring Show’, the Balmoral Show, National Livestock Show,  National Suffolk Championships, National Premier Show and countless Agricultural Shows, the length and breadth of the country. He has served on many Suffolk committees over the years, contributing greatly to the enhancement of the breed.

Coote is very modest about his achievements and says that he owes much of his expertise to the likes of the late Bob Howlett, Ted Jeffery and Herbert Stanley who he says ‘taught me many skills in trimming and judging sheep’. Coote is renowned for his capabilities in trimming and showing sheep and has helped many aspiring new Suffolk Breeders on their journeys, mentoring them with patience and good humour in the skill of animal presentation.

Coote is a great believer in producing well fleshed rams aimed at the Commercial farmer. A good quality Suffolk ram helps to produce hardy, fast finishing lambs which in turn boost on farm profits from high farm gate prices for early, top quality lambs. Carcass is key in the Suffolk Ram.

The Loughrynn Flock today still enjoys great success at National and local level with the help of Coote’s son Trevor who has been attending shows and tending the flock with his father since he was old enough to hold a rosette!

Coote would like to extend his gratitude to the Committee of the Suffolk Sheep Society, South of Ireland for his nomination, which he sees as a huge honour. He would also like to thank his family for all their support over the years without whom, non of his successes would have been possible.

Kenneth Bailey, Gerry Killilea, Alison Irwin, Coote Geelan, Garth Graham, Susan O’Keeffe (Chairperson)



Judging at the National Suffolk Championships, by Irish Suffolk Sheep Breeder, Garth Graham

at Queretaro, Mexico

Report by Judge, Mr Garth Graham, Vice Chairman, Suffolk Sheep Society, Ireland

There are many places an Irish Suffolk sheep breeder might expect to be in mid December, but Mexico would not be one of them! After receiving an official invitation from the Mexican National Sheep Breeders Association to judge the Suffolk Breed in their National Show in Queretaro (which is a city about 3 hours north of Mexico City with a population of just over 1 million), I was very much looking forward to seeing the best of Mexican Suffolk Sheep Breeding on show.

‘Feria Internacional Grandera de Queretaro’, as a show is similar in style to the likes of the Ploughing or Balmoral Show but it runs for three weeks, encompassing stock judging, rodeos, equine displays, police and army displays, a circus, concerts, retail halls, food halls and shows to mention but a few of the things which happen over its duration.

On arrival at the judging venue on Thursday December 8th (after 25 hours of travel) there was a very warm welcome from the organisers of the Ovine event – Jose Luis Cervantes (President of the Sheep Breeders Association and Juan Jose Salas, Ovine event Chairman.

With little knowledge of what to expect in terms of quality, and only some reports of more ‘leggy, lengthy sheep with smaller heads and overall, a different type of Suffolk’, I was very much looking forward to judging this extremely prestigious show. The actual grounds were huge with football pitch size marquees. As judge however, I was not allowed to enter the sheep area where all the breeds were penned, prior to judging taking place.

Several breeds were judged prior to the Suffolks, including Charollais, Texels, Dorpers as well as eight other breeds, many judged by other international judges from Europe and South Africa. The Suffolk judging took place on the Saturday. All animals entered to the show were brought to the judging ring and tethered just outside the ring to await their turn to be shown. It was with great delight that I saw a large number of quality Suffolks, who would have made the cut for any of the show circuits in Ireland.

Warm weather and good grass obviously agree with the sheep as they displayed super carcasses, great bone and generally, very good toplines. There were a small number of teeth problems but these were in the minority, but conformation was generally very good., in particular in several young lambs who were judged in groups dependent on age.

A smashing young Ram Lamb with great style, carcass and bone, from the flock of Jose Luis Cervantes took the Male Champion and the same flock produced the Female Champio nwith a superb Shearling who turned out to be a daughter of Solwaybank Major and early in lamb to a South of Ireland, Irish Suffolk Ram, Malinhead Geras.

Unlike the system here in Ireland and the UK, the only information you receive about the animals being judged is their tag number, Flock and age. No breeding information is given to the judges prior to judging. The other difference is that there is not Supreme Champion judging – there are only Male & Female Champions. Flock genetics are also judged in Classes with groups of three & four animals (male or female) from the one family.

The Super Female Champion went on to be judged in the Interbreed Competition on the Sunday against the Female Champions of all the other breeds. This competition was judged by a panel of five judges from France, Ireland, South Africa and Mexico who each had to vote to pick their Champion. To the delight of the large crowd in attendance (and myself I might add) the judges unanimously picked the Suffolk as their Interbreed Champion of the Show.

Once the Show judging was complete, the Mexican Sheep Breeders Association hosted a banquet in the transformed judging marquee for about 500 sheep breeders present at the event with a presentation of prizes and speeches after the meal.

I would very much like to congratulate the organisers of this fantastic event which was extremely well organised and ran without a hitch and to thank them for the wonderful opportunity to judge at the Show. As a fellow Suffolk Breeder it was a tremendous experience to attend such a prestigious event and to see the excellent quality of the sheep being produced in Mexico. It was also wonderful to see Irish & UK genetics breeding so well within Mexican Suffolk Flocks. I felt that there is a real understanding  by the breeders in Mexico of Suffolk genetics and the importance of maintaining and improving their bloodlines for the development of the breed. The Suffolk breed in Mexico has a very bright future indeed with such forward thinking and insightful breeders developing the National Suffolk Flock.

Thankyou to all concerned for the fantastic experience and the opportunity!

Presentation of Prizes at Society AGM

Presentation of Prizes at Society AGM

Suffolk Sheep Society AGM

The Suffolk Sheep Society recently held its AGM in Tullamore.

The meeting was Chaired by outgoing Chairman Mr Dan O’Mahony who welcomed all the attendees. Mr O’Mahony thanked the Committee for all their hard work during the year. He re-iterated that much had been achieved in 2022 and he mentioned the fact that the Society is attracting many new breeders. He also stated that in the post Brexit era, the future is looking bright for the Society and the Suffolk breed and that there are many opportunities to be availed of by breeders.

The committee were delighted to have Mr Robin McIlrath, outgoing CEO of the Suffolk Sheep Society UK, along with his wife Roberta  in attendance at the meeting. A presentation was made by the Society to Robin as a token of appreciation for his all his hard work and guidance in the South of Ireland throughout his tenure as CEO and the Committee and attendees wished him well in his retirement.

Robin McIlrath (outgoing CEO Suffolk Sheep Society UK), Roberta McIlrath and Dan O’Mahony (Chairman Suffolk Sheep Society – South of Ireland)

Mr O’Mahony thanked attendees for coming and wished everyone well with their 2023 lambing season.

At the end of the meeting the presentation of prizes to the winners at the Premier Show took place. Winners of each class detailed below:



25th July 2022, Blessington Mart

The Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland held their Premier Show & Sale on Monday July 25th at Blessington Mart.

A large selection of top quality sheep were placed before the judge, Mr John Gibb, of the renowned Cairnton Flock in Scotland while commercial breeder, Mr.Jim Corrigan, was on hand to judge the Gigot Class.

Taking Supreme Champion of the Show was the Finnvale Flock, of Andrew & Jonathan Lucas, Co.Donegal. This stylish son of Salopian Pure Gold (brother to the record breaking 200K gns Solid Gold) and a Shannagh Ewe, had been previously tapped out by John Gibb as winner of the Open Class before lining up in the Championship. While the champion was unsold, Lucas went on to sell his first prize Pen of Three ram lambs for €2800, €2600 and €2600 respectively. Taking Reserve Champion in the pre-sale show was a Rookery Rebel sired ram lamb from Darragh McMenamin’s Mullinvale Flock. Darragh sold another Rookery Rebel sired ram lamb for €2500 to Italy.

Topping the sale was local breeder, Colin Watchorn’s Beechbrook Flock, when his Limestone Gold Rush sired ram lamb was snapped up by Alistair Barkley for €5200. This ram will join his Blackbrae Flock in Northern Ireland. He had been placed second in the Novice Class behind the Donegal based Doherty Bros who had claimed the red rosette with their Malinhead Rossi sired lamb.

Other top prices on the day included Richard Wilson’s Shannagh lamb who was second in the Ram Sired by a South of Ireland Bred Ram class. Sired by Kells T-Rex (the 2020 Premier Champion) this ram was purchased by Richard Thompson at €3700 while another ET brother sold to Mark Priestley for €2700. First in this class was a Ballinatone BT Buddy sired ram from Patrick O Keeffe’s Blackwater Flock who was knocked down at €2000 to the Walker Family. In the Errigal pen, a January born The Views Unknown Legend sired lamb topped the prices at €2000. Westport based Michael Hastings flock, Western Suffolks, had his Strathbogie Joel sired lamb knocked down in the ring at €2100 after he had placed 4th in the Novice Class. In the Shearling Class John Hanly’s Oakbridge Oscar sired ram took the top spot going on to sell for €900

In the female classes it was Andrew Smith’s stylish Cloontagh Chieftan sired ewe which took the red rosette in the Shearling Class. She went on to sell in the ring for €1200. Top honours in the Ewe Lamb Class went to Colin Watchorn’s Beechbrook Flock. This breedy Limestone Gold Rush Ewe Lamb went on to take Female Champion of the show with Andrew Smith’s Shearling claiming the reserve spot.

Topping the Shearling prices at €1400, was the Co Leitrim based Loughrynn Flock of Coote and Trevor Geelan with their January born Crewelands Drifter sired gimmer who was placed third in her class. Andrew Smith’s second prize ewe lamb by Kells Wingman, topped the females selling for €2000 to Northern Ireland breeder Dennis Taylor.

A number of sheep were exported to Northern Ireland and Europe from the sale but the export trade was down significantly on the record breaking 2021 figures and this was put down to a number of factors, with increased transportation costs topping the list playing a major part in the decreased trade.

Commercial trade accounted for 50% of all ram sales and these animals recorded an average of €706, marginally down on last years prices. Although the amount of rams sold into the commercial sector was down slightly on 2021, which was due in part to the early date of the sale, a number of buyers were filling their orders early to avail of the large selection on offer.  The overall average for the sale was €1030.

The Society feel that Zootechnical Certification and approval of their Pedigree Breeding Program is playing a large part in its growing membership. Many new breeders took part in this year’s sale and it is encouraging to see so many younger breeders getting involved in pedigree breeding.

The remaining Society Sales will be held in Cahir on Friday 2nd September, Carnew on Wednesday 7th September, Ballyjamesduff on Friday 16th September and Ballina on Tuesday October 4th.

National Suffolk Championships 2022

National Suffolk Championships 2022

Charleville, June 26th 2022

On Sunday 26th June, Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland breeders from all over the country turned up to Charleville Agricultural Show to compete in the Irish Suffolk Sheep National Championships from which there had been an absence of 3 years as a result of the pandemic. It was great to see such a high level of interest at the Suffolk ring and we were especially delighted to see some of our Suffolk Colleagues from the Netherlands attending the Show while on a visit to Ireland.

The Society were delighted to receive a new cup for the Supreme Champion of the Show. The Tom Quirke Memorial Cup was presented to the Society by Ann Quirke-O’Mahony on behalf of the entire Quirke Family in memory of her late Father who was an enthusiastic and forward thinking Suffolk Breeder, from his Flock’s establishment in 1967 up until his death in August 2017.

Despite inclement weather conditions, enthusiasm was high as Judge William Fleming of the Hallhill Flock in Scotland prepared to take to the ring. The standard of sheep presented on the day was a credit to all the breeders participating and showcased the Suffolk Breed to its full potential to all those watching the show.

The show kicked off with the Junior Handler class which saw 7 enthusiastic young stock persons demonstrate their knowledge and ability to handle sheep. It was 15 year old Harry Graham of the Westside flock, which he established in 2020, who received the red rosette from the Judge.

In the Shearling Ram class, it was Arthur O’Keeffe who dominated with a Birness Freedom son with Coote Geelan’s Cairness Diamond Geezer son taking second and Harry Graham’s Errigal Jack the Lad’s son taking the third spot.

The sun shone as the Aged Ewes took to the ring with Susan O’Keeffe’s home bred ewe, sired by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince taking the top honours in the Class. In the Shearling Ewe Class, Susan O’Keefe dominated the field once again catching the judge’s eye with her Annakisha Ewe, again sired by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince. Her second entry  also sired by Prince took second and Kenneth Bailey’s Cairness Cobra sired ewe took the third spot.

In the Novice Class it was Coote Geelan of the Loughrynn Flock who took top honours with his stylish ewe lamb, sired by Beechbrook Oscar. It was a tight call between Kenneth Bailey’s ewe lamb sired by Cairness Our Bucks and Ann & Dan O’Mahony’s Errigal the Emperor sired Ewe lamb for second and third but the judge settled on Lismurtagh second and Ballygarvanstud third in the class.

The Ram Lamb class was next in the line up where Susan O’Keeffe’s Muirton One Direction son took top honours with Sean O’Connor of the Islandmore Flock claiming his first rosette of the day, taking second with a Beechcrest Bacardi son. Third in the class was Ann & Dan O’Mahony’s Blackbrae Diamond son.

Next it was the turn of the ewe lambs and the first class in was the Untrimmed Ewe Lamb where Philip Byrne of the Limepark Flock showed a lamb by Errigal Simply the Best. She was a stylish ewe lamb who emerged from the class victorious, claiming the red rosette, much to the delight of Philip’s son Padraig who had shown her earlier in the Young Handler Class.

The final class of the day was the Trimmed Ewe Lamb which resulted in a hat trick for the O’Keeffe family with Patrick and his Blackwater Flock taking first with his Ballinatone BT Buddy son, Susan taking second with her ewe lamb also sired by BT Buddy and Arthur taking third spot with his lamb sired by Castlewellan Sportsman.

In the Female Championship it was Susan O’Keeffe’s Shearling Ewe who claimed the top honours and Philip Byrne’s Untrimmed Ewe Lamb took the Reserve spot.

The Male Championship was awarded to Arthur O’Keeffe’s Shearling ram with Susan O’Keeffe’s Ram Lamb taking the Reserve Spot.

In the Final Showdown the judge tapped out Susan O’Keefe’s Shearling Ewe as his favourite of the day to claim the Supreme Champion title and the newly presented Tom Quirke Memorial Cup, with Philip Byrne’s Untrimmed Ewe lamb emerging as Reserve Champion.

The Society would like to thank our sponsors for the day – Connolly’s Redmills and Animax-Vet for their generous support. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Sheep Section Show Committee for setting up the penning and showing area and for running such a well organised event.

Tom Quirke Memorial Cup presented to Society for National Suffolk Championships

Tom Quirke Memorial Cup presented to Society for National Suffolk Championships

Charleville 26th June 2022

The Late Tom Quirke – Derryvillane Flock
Ann Quirke-O’Mahony with the Tom Quirke Memorial Cup for the Supreme Champion of the Show

Derryvillane Flock 155A – Est. 1967

Tom Quirke was famous amongst his peers as a man with a keen eye for for good quality stock. Having grown up helping his father with his Pedigree Flock of Border Leicester’s, his love of sheep continued to flourish into adulthood, and when his father passed away in 1955 he took over the flock, taking it to its pinnacle in 1966 & 1973 by winning the McKenzie Cup.

His love of animals also continued to grow, and he took a keen interest in Border Collies and Sheepdog trialling where he competed both Nationally & Internationally, including the BBC Show, One Man and His Dog.

Tom was elected as Chairman of the Munster Sheep Breeders Association and in the mid sixties, he began to take interest in a new up and coming breed – The Suffolk Sheep. He had the vision to see the potential for the breed given its faster growth rates, ease of fleshing and most of all its saleability and promise as a breed. As a result, in 1967, the Derryvillane Flock of Pedigree Suffolk Sheep was founded with the purchase of three shearling in-lamb ewes from the Patrician College, Ballyfin, Co Laois, with another five ewes being purchased from the Annakisha Flock of Arthur O’Keeffe Snr.

Three years later in 1970, Tom won the Novice, the Open and the Championship for the best ram lamb in Ireland at the South of Ireland Premier sale in Gavin Low’s sale yard, Prussia St, Dublin.

Over the following years, Tom was actively involved in promoting Suffolk Sheep, travelling throughout the country successfully exhibiting and selling his sheep.

He was appointed to the Judges Panel in 1980 and judged at many shows up and down the country. Like many other top Suffolk Breeders, he travelled to the Premier Sales in the UK to purchase stock from the top breeding lines and he became well known amongst Suffolk breeders on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Tom was appointed Chairman of the Suffolk Sheep Society – South of Ireland Branch and it was during his tenure as Chairman that he was intrinsic to the foundation of the National Flock Competition in Ireland. His vision for the Flock Competition was that smaller flocks would be able to flourish and compete against flocks of a similar size, hence developing the quality of Suffolk Flocks nationally. The Flock competition continues to be held annually (although it has had a break as a result of the Pandemic)

In his latter years, Tom was honoured by the Suffolk Sheep Society by being inducted into the Suffolk National Hall of Fame, an honour bestowed upon breeders by the Society for their outstanding contribution to the Suffolk Breed. Up until his death in 2017, Tom always attended Suffolk Events whenever it was possible and as ill health crept in and he was no longer able to attend in person, he looked forward to nothing more than a sale catalogue, filled with all the prices and results of the day, being presented to him on the return home of a family member.

It was therefore a privilege and with great delight that the Suffolk Sheep Society accepted a memorial cup from the Quirke Family at Charleville Agricultural Show on Sunday June 26th 2022.

The Tom Quirke Memorial Cup for the Supreme Champion of the National Suffolk Championships was presented to the Society by Tom’s daughter Ann Quirke-O’Mahony on behalf of the entire Quirke family. The Tom Quirke Memorial Cup was presented to Susan O’Keefe of the Clyda Flock by Ann Quirke O’Mahony, for her Shearling Ewe who won the Supreme Champion Title of 2022.

The Society would very much like to thank the Quirke Family for their presentation of the Cup and it looks forward to it being presented to many Suffolk Champions in the years to come.

Premier Show & Sale 2022

Premier Show & Sale 2022

Monday 25th July

Blessington Mart

Export Sale

For Further Information please contact 083 0907313

National Suffolk Championships 2022

National Suffolk Championships 2022

We are delighted to announce that after a three year absence due to the Pandemic, our National Suffolk Championships will take place at Charleville Agricultural Show, Co Cork on Sunday June 26th.

Classes on the day will include Young Handlers, Shearling Ram & Upwards, Aged Ewe, Shearling Ewe, Novice Lamb – Male or Female, Ram Lamb, Ewe Lamb Trimmed & Ewe Lamb Untrimmed. We are very much looking forward to this prestigious event from our Suffolk Calender and we hope to see you there.