The South of Ireland Premier Show & Sale took place on August 4th & 5th in Blessington Mart

The 137th Annual Show & Sale of the Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland took place in Blessington Mart on Saturday August 5th where auctioneer Mr John Doyle described trade as ‘a very strong trade with exceptional demand from Commercial Breeders. Breeding rams were of excellent quality with stock presented on the day up on 2022’

Judging got underway on Friday afternoon under the experienced eye of Judge, Mr Alastair Barclay of the renowned Blackbrae Flock in Northern Ireland while Commercial breeders Michael & Ger Murphy were on hand to step in to judge the Gigot Ram class.

In a Championship of exceptional quality, the judge tapped out a superb ram lamb from the Annakisha flock of Arthur and Patrick O’Keefe. He was sired by the Reserve Champion from the NI Premier in 2022 Blackbrae AB President out of an Annakisha ewe. This stylish lamb had previously won the Open Ram Class and the Male Championship before claiming the title of Supreme Champion. 2023 has proved to be a very successful year for this lamb as he had previously won the Champion Ram Lamb spot at the National Suffolk Championships in Gurteen in June. The quality of this lamb came to the fore when he was eventually knocked down under John Doyle’s hammer for €20.000 and sold to the Cairness Flock of Jimmy Douglas in Scotland.

Taking Reserve Champion was Andrew & Jonathan Lucas’s lamb from the Finnvale Flock. Their lamb Finnvale BFG had been sired by last year’s Champion , Finnvale Am the Man whom they had retained. The ram had won the Best lamb sired by a South of Ireland Ram earlier in the day before claiming Reserve Male and Reserve Champion of the Show. He went on to sell in the ring to the Burnview Flock of William & Stephanie Tait, Northern Ireland for €2600 while the Finnvale pen overall, averaged €1695 with Am the Man lambs selling to an average of €2067.

Reserve champion of the Show – Andrew & Jonathan Lucas, Finnvale Flock

A Cairnton Chaos sired lamb out of a Solwaybank Ewe, owned by Alan Kilpatrick of the Convoy flock in Donegal claimed the second highest price of the day for a strong, stylish lamb which also found a home in Northern Ireland. Other top prices on the day included  a Crewelands Dancing Brave ET lamb from the pen of JJ & Martin Doherty, Malinhead. This was a SIS eligible lamb which sold to a fellow South of Ireland Breeder for €2300. Also selling well on the day was another of the Doherty’s lambs which had placed 1st in the Pen of Three Class and was knocked down at €2100.

The winner of the Novice class was a very correct lamb from the Cronebane pen of local man, Gus Doyle. He had beaten off stiff competition from PJ McMonagle’s Forkins Masterplan lamb which sold at €2200. This Novice winner, sired by Donbraid Assassin went on to sell to a Donegal pedigree breeder also for €2200. There were a number of other lambs sold at the €2200 mark which included a Kells T-rex sired lamb from the Ballygarris pen of Michael & Marie Jennings in Mayo and two rams from the Finnvale pen sired by Salopian Pure Gold and Finnvale Am the Man.

Novice Champion from Gus Doyle’s Cronebane Flock

The Shearling Ram class was won by Philip Byrne of the Limepark Flock with his Muirton One Direction Ram which later went on to sell to a commercial buyer for €900.

The Female classes commenced with the Shearling Ewe Class, which saw local breeder John & Esther Gahan claim the top spot with a stylish Lakeview Del Boy sired Gimmer. She had fought off stiff competition from two Cairness Our Bucks sired gimmers from the Lismurtagh and Loughrynn Flocks who had been placed 2nd and 3rd respectively. While these two females remained unsold the Champion Shearling was knocked down at €1200 in the ring to another breeder.

Champion Shearling Ewe from John & Esther Gahan, Barronstown Flock

The ewe lamb class was a very stylish affair and was tightly contended. Taking top honours from the judge was the Mountford flock of Oliver and Adrienne Deane’s January born lamb, sired by Ballinatone Al Capone from a Mountford Ewe. This breedy lamb was eventually sold to a Pedigree Breeder in the West. Placed 2nd in her class, Philip Lynch’s Clyda Awesome bred lamb sold for €820 while the 3rd placed, January born lamb from the Milldam Flock of Shane Brady and sired by Cairnton Chaos also sold for €820.

In the final lineup in the Female Championship, it was the Mountford Ewe Lamb which proved to be the judge’s favourite as she claimed the top honours as Female Champion with Philip Lynch’s Glyde Ewe Lamb claiming the Reserve Female Champion spot.

Champion Ewe Lamb and Champion Female from Oliver & Adrienne Deane’s Mountford Flock

Overall, there was a great buzz about the sale with much interest being shown in the lots on offer both prior to the sale and ringside. With a clearance rate of 85% – well increased from the 2022 figures, it was clear to see that the excellent quality of stock on offer, encouraged buyers to purchase. The pedigree Average came in at €2628 with the Commercial average hitting €804 – up 16% on the previous year’s trade. While there was no export to Europe from the sale, there were a significant number of animals exported to Northern Ireland directly from the sale.

Gigot Class Champion from Arthur & Patrick O’Keeffe

The sale was described by Auctioneer John Doyle as ‘overall a very good trade with exceptional demand from Commercial Breeders, with some leaving disappointed at being unable to secure a purchase. Breeding rams presented were of an exceptionally good quality and the commercial end of the sale was on fire. ’

Despite the huge demand , there were prices to suit all pockets with SIS eligible rams being purchased from €500, which made for an extremely brisk trade. With an overall clearance rate of 85% on ram lambs, 70% of the lambs sold headed into the Commercial sector – up 20 percentage points on 2022. Demand was high and the Society attribute this high demand from the commercial sector on the confidence held in the Suffolk Breed for its ability to finish faster from a grass based system. In a climate of rising input costs this ability to finish ‘Fast from Grass’ is an important factor when trying to maximise farm profitability. Early finishing lambs always command premium prices – a major plus in this current difficult climate. Breeders are optimistic that this demand for the Suffolk breed will be evident throughout the breeding season and beyond.

Group of Three 1st Prize winners – Martin & JJ Doherty – Malinhead Flock

It was very encouraging to see so many of the newer breeders taking part in the sale for the first time and also to see the Young Handler Class so well supported with 1st place going to Isabella Taylor, Ballynacannon Flock, 2nd place, Paddy McMonagle with his own Beltanyview flock, recently founded with his brother Tommy and 3rd place to Millie Donald from Donbraid Suffolks.


The remaining Society Sales for 2023 will take place on the following dates: Cahir on Friday 1st Sept (Eve), Carnew on Wednesday 6th September (eve), Ballina on Tuesday 3rd October (day) and Raphoe on Friday 6th October (eve).

The Society would very much like to thank all our generous sponsors including – Championship sponsors Mayo Healthcare, Strabane Mills & Mullinahone Co-Op

Also Thankyou to our Class Sponsors Volac, Paul & Vincent, Corby Rock Mill, Tirlan, Redmills Feeds, LA McAuley Feeds, Galloway & Macleod, JP & M Doyle, Kiernan Milling, Dairygold, Animax Ltd, Brett Bros.



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.

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.

Hall of Fame Awards 2022

Hall of Fame Awards 2022

Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland Branch

Arthur O’Keeffe, Annakisha Flock

The Suffolk Sheep Society, South of Ireland were delighted to see Mr Arthur O’Keefe of the Annakisha Flock, have his accomplishments and contributions over many years in the Suffolk World acknowledged at the National Hall of Fame Awards which were held in the Sheraton Hotel in Athlone on Sunday May 1st. The National Hall of Fame Awards, Axknowledges people in the Ovine, Equine and Bovine Industries who have contributed over their lifetime to breeding, showing, adjudicating and promoting various breeds. Each breed society nominates a person who in their opinion is deserving of such an award.

The awards on the night were presented by Minister Pippa Hackett, Minister for state for Land Use and Bio Diversity in the Department of Agriculture.

Pippa Hackett Presenting the Award to Arthur O’Keeffe

Arthur O’Keeffe’s name is synonymous with the South of Ireland Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society for over forty years. During this time Arthur not alone worked hard to improve the Annakisha Suffolk Flock, founded 70 years ago by his late father, but also was actively involved in making the South of Ireland Branch one of the most successful branches in the society while on its committee of which he was chairman for two years.

He was appointed to the Judges Panel of the Suffolk Sheep Society in 1982 and has judged at numerous shows throughout Ireland and the UK including the Royal Highland, Royal Show, Royal Ulster, the National S&S, Edinburgh S&S, the Northern Ireland Branch Premier and the National Flock Competition.

In 2009, Arthur was honoured to be elected President of the Suffolk Sheep Society covering England, Scotland and Wales as well as the island of Ireland. His presidency saw him travel to all of the branches in these countries and he had the honour of judging the National Flock Competition of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

While dairying is the main farm enterprise Arthur has had a keen interest in the Suffolk breed since childhood. He believes that the Suffolk’s ability to reach target weights in a shorter time frame combined with good fleshing ability makes them the ideal sire for the commercial flock. The Suffolks also enjoy greater length than most of their counterparts while in recent years the Suffolk x ewe is in great demand for breeding and also commands a premium price from the butcher. 

The Annakisha Flock has consistently enjoyed great success in both the show and sales ring. While Arthur was fortunate to win the Supreme champion on 10 occasions at the RDS/National Championships and Female of the Year 7 times, he places great emphasis on the local shows as he feels that they are a great shop window to promote the breed and encourages all breeders to participate. At the Premier Show and Sale he has successfully claimed the championship 5 times while taking Reserve Champion 8 times selling to all corners of Ireland, UK and Europe. In recent years he has seen a large number of his Suffolk ewes and rams being exported to Europe and believes that this is testament to the high standard of sheep attained by the South of Ireland Branch members.

Arthur would like to thank the committee of the South of Ireland Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society for nominating him to receive the Hall of Fame Award and also his family who have helped and supported him through the years.