The annual Black Beauties sale took place in Blessington over the weekend, with 100% of the Suffolk ewes on offer finding new homes.

Having been postponed for three weeks following COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, demand was high and the average price recorded was an impressive €1,880. Ewes came from some of the best flocks in southern Ireland, namely Castleisle, Shannagh, Barrowlands, Annakisha and Clyda Flocks as well as guest consignees Ballyboe, Glyde, Malinhead and Finnvale.

The quality lots were met with a ready demand and a top sale price of €6,500 was achieved. Securing the top price was an in-lamb ewe from the Shannagh flock of Richard Wilson.

This ewe is sired by the 2019 sire of the year Limestone Aston Martin and her service sire was the €31,000 Clontagh Chieftain. Securing the high-seller in a joint purchase was Mark Priestley, Limestone, and Brian Doyle, Kilmacoo.

Progeny of the aforementioned Aston Martin proved most in demand, with Shannagh and Castleisle selling 18 daughters for a massive average of €2,800.

The Shannagh flock also secured the second-highest price of €6,000. This daughter of Strathbogie A Kind of Magic sold in-lamb to Ballynacannon Royal Flush.

Andrew Wilson of the Castleisle Flock sold his top gimmer by Aston Martin for €4,400. Scanned carrying twins to Birness Murray, this one was the pick of the Sullom Flock in Lancashire. Wilson sold two others at €3,600 and €3,400 to the Myddle Flock in Shropshire. Over one quarter of the lots offered found homes in Scotland, England or Belgium, a testament to the quality on offer.

It was also a day to remember for the Gahan Family of the Barrowlands Flock in Carlow. They sold their three ewe lambs to an average of €2,370. Pick of the pen and top-priced Suffolk ewe lamb sold at auction in the Republic of Ireland this year at €4,000 was a stylish daughter of the 20,000gns Castleisle Kilteskin Prince. She found a new home at the very successful Mullinvale Flock of Darragh McMenamin of Donegal, while their other ewe lambs were exported to Belgium.

The O’Keeffe family from Cork also had a very successful day, with their pen-topper selling to the renowned Cairness Flock in Scotland for €3,000. This gimmer by Kinbally Black Panther was scanned in-lamb to Castleisle Kilteskin Prince, which earlier this year sired a number of ram lambs selling to the UK and Spain for the O’Keeffe family.

The O’Keeffes also received over €2,000 each for two other gimmers exported to Belgium and Scotland, while Finnvale’s top two gimmers sold for €2,100 and €2,000 respectively.

After the sale, Susan O’Keeffe, whose term as president of the Suffolk Sheep Society is coming to an end at the society’s AGM this week, said that 2020 has been a remarkable year for the South of Ireland Branch of the Suffolk Sheep Society, with an unprecedented number of members exporting Suffolk ewes and rams to mainland Europe, as well as the more traditional UK markets.

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