A large selection of top-quality sheep were placed before the judge John Gibb of the Cairnton flock in Scotland, while commercial breeder Jim Corrigan was on hand to judge the Gigot class at the Suffolk Sheep Society South of Ireland branch premier show and sale at Blessington Mart.

Taking supreme champion of the show on Monday 25 July was the Finnvale Flock of Andrew and Jonathan Lucas, Co Donegal.

This stylish son of Salopian Pure Gold (brother to the record-breaking 200,000gns 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-prizewinning pen of three ram lambs for €2,800, €2,600 and €2,600.

Darragh McMenamin, who runs the Mullinvale Flock in Co Donegal, with the reserve champion. \ Alfie Shaw

Taking reserve champion in the pre-sale show was a Rookery Rebel-sired ram lamb from Darragh McMenamin’s Mullinvale Flock. It went home unsold.

Darragh sold another Rookery Rebel-sired ram lamb for €2,500 to Italy.

Topping the sale was local breeder Colin Watchorn’s Beechbrook Flock, when his Limestone Gold Rush-sired ram lamb snapped up by Alistair Barkley for €5,200. This ram will join Barkley's Blackbrae Flock in Northern Ireland.

Andrew Lucas and judge John Gibb, Cairnton Flock, with the supreme champion from the Finnvale Flock, Co Donegal. \ Alfie Shaw

The ram lamb 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, which 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 €3,700, while another ET brother sold to Mark Priestley for €2,700.

First in the south of Ireland-bred lamb class went to Patrick O’Keefe from Blackwater with his ram selling for €2,000.

First in this class was a Ballinatone BT Buddy-sired ram from Patrick O Keeffe’s Blackwater Flock, which was knocked down at €2,000 to the Walker Family.

In the Errigal pen, a January-born The Views Unknown Legend-sired lamb topped the prices at €2,000.

Westport-based Michael Hastings flock, Western Suffolks, had his Strathbogie Joel-sired lamb knocked down in the ring at €2,100 after he had placed fourth 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.

Andrew Smith, who runs the Loughanleagh Flock in Co Cavan, with the €2,000 highest-priced ewe lamb. \ Alfie Shaw

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 €1,200.

Top honours in the ewe lamb class went to Colin Watchorn’s Beechbrook Flock. This 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 €1,400 was the Co Leitrim-based Loughrynn Flock of Coote and Trevor Geelan with their January-born Crewelands Drifter-sired gimmer, which was placed third in its class.

Andrew Smith’s second-prizewinning ewe lamb by Kells Wingman topped the females, selling for €2,000 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 as playing a role in the decreased trade.

Commercial trade

Commercial trade accounted for 50% of all ram sales and these animals recorded an average of €706, marginally down on last year's 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 €1,030, which was down just over €100/head on last year’s sale.