The revival of the Cladóir sheep breed in Co Galway is on the crest of a wave, retired agricultural adviser and chair of the Cladóir sheep preservation committee Seán Cadden told the Irish Farmers Journal.

The breed was “shoved out” after the famine and has been in decline ever since, with no remaining purebred sheep in Ireland.

“After the famine, most of the hills around Connemara were cleared out of smaller farmers, graziers came in and introduced the Scottish Blackface and Cheviot breeds. That is why so many of the sheep that we have tested with Cladóir DNA also have Cheviot or Blackface DNA,” Cadden said.

Current flock

As a result of a detailed breeding programme to revive and preserve the breed over the last number of years, there are now 180 ewes tested with significant Cladóir DNA ready for the ram in 2024.

“They’ll be going to the ram after November, we’re not looking for any early lambs. The Cladóir have a light carcase but their wool is very fine and could be worn next to the skin. We believe that it was because of their wool that they survived. There’d be a fair amount of Cheviot blood in the stock we have but we expect as we breed them pure that the wool will get finer,” he said.


Cadden says that the next step in the revival of the Cladóir sheep is to form a Cladóir sheep society. The society would then seek recognition from the Department of Agriculture to acknowledge Cladóir as a breed.

“We’re enthusiastic that we will be able to revive this breed and in another six or seven years there’ll be a lot of ground covered.

“Breeding is not a thing you can rush. Every year the appearance of the sheep is improving – we’re getting away from the Scottish Blackface and more to their original,” Cadden said.