The Galway Sheep Breeders' Association 101st annual show and sale takes place on Friday 22 September in Athenry Mart, Co Galway.

The association has made a significant change to its schedule for 2023, with the sale changing to an evening sale and judging taking place from 4pm, with the sale starting at 6pm.

The equivalent sale held in 2022 was the association's most successful sale for over 50 years, with demand for sheep for the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) driving demand.

This stemmed from the fact that possessing Galway sheep as a rare breed secured priority entry to ACRES.

There is no clarity yet surrounding when the scheme will open for applications in 2023 or how many places will be available.

Reports from the association point to keen interest from farmers hoping that the terms and conditions will remain unchanged and that rare breeds will once again secure priority entry.

Sale conditions

All sheep entered in the sale must be registered with Sheep Ireland in accordance with the association’s rules.

There will be two classes in the sale for males - hogget rams and ram lambs - and the association is also considering a novice class for ram lambs if there is sufficient demand. All rams will be genotyped and parentage must be verified.

There will be three female classes - breeding ewes, ewe hoggets and ewe lambs. In the female section, a breeder must present five sheep in order to be considered for the show, but may offer a lesser number for sale.

There are also individual sales of ewe hoggets and ewe lambs - the individual lots will facilitate new breeders and small flocks in particular.

Wool classes

The association adds that this year the wool classes have a particular significance due to the renewed interest in Galway wool.

The formation of the Galway Wool Co-op has given huge momentum to the breed, as Galway wool has now secured a niche market and has been finally recognised as the premium Irish heritage product that it is. ACRES also has helped to attract new breeders.

The sale will take place in person and also via the Marteye online sales platform.

As this event is not being held in conjunction with the general weekly mart sale, no sheep can be sold within the precincts of the mart, except those listed in the catalogue and put through the ring.

Enquiries to Gerry 086-883 7056 or 085-209 0052.