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 Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland were delighted to be a part of the Sheep 2023 Event held on Saturday June 17th in Gurteen Agricultural College. Suffolk Breeders came out in their droves to be a part of the National Suffolk Championships. The event was again sponsored by Connolly’s Redmills and we would like to express our sincere gratitude to them for their support.
While the weather was very inclement as breeders arrived with their stock, thankfully, the sun came out from the clouds and shone for the entire Suffolk judging.
Judge for the day was Mr. Martin Butler of the acclaimed Castlewood Flock, Ballymena and he was faced with some very difficult choices in each class.
Judging commenced with the Shearling Ram & upwards class with some very strong rams on display. It was Philip Lynch’s Clyda Awesome stock ram sired by Ballinatone BT Buddy who claimed the top spot with Susan O’Keefe claiming the reserve spot.
In the Aged Ewe class, Susan O’Keeffe dominated the field with her ewe which was sired by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince out of a Cairness ewe. This same female had taken the Champion Spot at the National Championshipsin 2022 and she caught the judge’s eye again this year, claiming the red rosette over a very smart ewe from John Molloy’s Glencolmcille Flock.
The Shearling Ewe Class was an exceptional class with almost 25 of the top breeding Shearlings in the country on show. Martin Butler had an extremely difficult task to whittle them down. In the final line-up however, it was Susan O’Keeffe who once again claimed the top spot with a very smart ewe once again, sired by Ballinatone BT Buddy. Reserve in this class remined in the family with Arthur O’Keeffe claiming the reserve spot.
The Novice Ewe lamb class was a stylish affair with the Doherty Brothers from Malinhead dominating a strong class. Emerging as Champion and reserve in the class were two full sisters sired by Crewelands Dancing Brave from a home bred Malinhead ewe.
These two sisters then went on to compete in the Open Ewe Lamb class where one claimed the red rosette and a very smart lamb from the Clyda Flock of Susan O’Keeffe claimed the reserve spot.
In the untrimmed Ewe Lamb Class, the filed was once again dominated by John and Martin Doherty whose very stylish lamb claimed the red rosette over Arthur O’Keeffe’s lamb.
The Novice Ram Class was dominated by Eamonn Duffy of the Kells flock who claimed first and second place with two very breedy ram lambs. The Champion, Kells Bacardi, was sired by Fongoy Rocket from a Hogillfoot ewe. Once again, these two top placed rams moved into the Open class to compete in a very strong class of powerful rams. In this instance, the judge tapped out Arthur O’Keeffe’s Blackbrae AB President sired lamb bred out of a home bred Annakisha Ewe as his class Champion, with Eamon Duffy’s Novice winner taking the reserve spot.
The Young Handler’s Class, sponsored by Animax Vet is always a class enjoyed by everyone. This year it was Lorna Bailey of the Lismurtagh Flock who took the top honours. The judge was very impressed with her handling skills. The runners up in the class were Tara Bailey, Conor Bailey and Thomas Duffy. Well done to all the Young Handlers on a job well done!
When it came to the Championships, the judge’s deliberations were long and hard, such was the quality of stock on show in front of him.
The Female Championship was eventually decided with Susan O’Keeffe’s aged ewe claiming the top spot with Martin and John Doherty’s Ewe Lamb, who had previously won the Novice and the Open Ewe lamb classes claiming reserve.
The Male Championship was another difficult choice for the judge but it was Philip Lynch’s Shearling ram, Clyda Awesome who was tapped out with Arthur O’Keeffe’s ram lamb, a close second.
In the final line-up, it was Susan O’Keeffe’s Aged Ewe who continued her winning streak from 2022 by claiming the top spot of the Championship taking Supreme Champion of the show.
The Doherty’s Ewe lamb was a very worthy recipient of the Reserve Champion spot.
The Society would like to thank our two very generous sponsors of the event – Connollys Redmills and Animax Vet (Young Handler Class).
The Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland would like to commend all our breeders who attended the Championships. The quality of stock on display was second to none and is testament to the time and effort undertaken by breeders to continue improving bloodlines within the breed.
We would also like to express our gratitude to the Sheep 2023 Committee on an extremely well run and interesting event. It was a credit to all involved.
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.
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:
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.
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.