On hearing the first mention that Gurteen College was to host the Sheep 2023 event in June, the council of the Irish Vendéen Sheep Society were determined to hold their All-Ireland Championships at such a large event, which was sure to draw large interest from the entire sheep industry. The event was exceptionally well organised and thanks are given to all of the organisers and stakeholders including Bord Bia, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, The Irish Farmers Journal, Sheep Ireland and Teagasc. Even the weather played ball on the day.
There was a strong turnout, with 10 breeders exhibiting nearly 50 sheep. Judge Mr. David Darker certainly had his work cut out for him. The day kicked off for the Vendéen’s with the second edition of the Novice Breeder’s class (first run at the 2022 championships) where Mr. Joseph Cannon took the spoils with his ram lamb. Next up was the male section where Brendan & Carmel Rooney of Moneygold Vendéens in Co. Sligo won the senior ram class with Stephen and Michaela Mulvey taking the blue ribbon. The shearling ram class was tightly contested, with Cheryl O’Brien (Quitrent Vendéens) edging of the competition to win first place; 2nd was Alan Crowe (Killeen and Dunsany Vendéens, Co. Meath), 3rd and 4th were Brendan & Carmel Rooney and 5th was Shay Kennedy (Windy Gap Vendéens, Co. Waterford). The ram lamb class was then won by Cheryl O’Brien, as a pattern began to emerge for the day; 2nd Cheryl O’Brien, 3rd and 4th John Lynch (Ballinascraw Vendéens, Co. Longford) and 5th Alan Crowe. Cheryl’s ram lamb then took the male Championship and her shearling ram came in reserve.
The females were up next, starting with the senior ewe. Cheryl won this class too, with John Lynch in 2nd , Cheryl again in 3rd and John taking 4th . Morgan Rabbitte of the Castle Ellen Vendéen flock in Athenry, Co. Galway then made his way into the line-up in 5th with his stylish ewe. The Shearling ewe class followed the script of the day with Cheryl O’Brien taking the red and blue rosettes, followed by John Lynch in 3rd , Brendan & Carmel Rooney in 4th and John Lynch again in 5th . Finally it was the turn of the ewe lambs where Cheryl O’Brien again was successful, winning 1st and 2nd , Alan Crowe took 3rd, John Lynch 4th and Stephen and Michaela Mulvey in 5th . Cheryl’s senior ewe went on to take the honours in the female championship, with her ewe lamb coming in reserve.
The Supreme Championships was the final order of business for the Vendéen classes, with Cheryl O’Brien’s ram lamb taking home the coveted prize and her senior ewe earning the title of reserve supreme champion. It was certainly a day to remember for the Quitrent Vendéen flock, from Kildorrery, Co. Cork.
But, the drama was not quite over yet as both Cheryl O’Brien and John Lynch had ram lambs running in the 5* terminal class run by Sheep Ireland. Here the tables were to turn when John Lynch’s Ballinascraw ram lamb would take 4th place in the interbreed class, ahead of Cheryl’s All-Ireland Champion who was further down the final line-up. John would also take 3rd place in the 5* maternal ram lamb class. These results go to show how hotly contested the Vendéen ram lamb class really was, a testament to the hard work and dedication of both of these top breeders!
The Irish Vendéen Sheep Society thank all of those who made the event happen, both the Sheep 2023 organisers and the society’s council and members who worked so hard in the run up to, and on the day to make the event happen. Special thanks goes to Mr. David Darker for his stellar job in judging the extremely closely contested classes and to our brilliant sponsors Univet Growvite for their continued support. Thanks also to our exhibitors for their hard work and dedication to preparing your sheep and displaying them to such a high standard.
We look forward to seeing you all in Roscommon Mart on Saturday, July 15th for our 27th annual Premier Show and Sale.