Sheep shearing courses made a welcome return last weekend, with the Irish Sheep Shearers Association (ISSA) running its first course of the year on Saturday 1 May in Co Kildare.

ISSA chair Roy Collier said it was delighted to be able to host courses again after having to cancel planned events last year due to COVID-19.

“There has been a healthy interest this year for the courses, and we had interest from last year to fulfil also, so we hope to run an increased number of courses for 2021.”

The sheep shearing courses cover everything from technique to handling, as well as stretching and the importance of hydration and health in a shearer’s work.

Experienced instructors, ranging from competition champions to record holders, are on hand to advise and show the attendants best practice.

The courses vary in levels from beginner to gold and competition standard, and are run based on demand from areas around the country.

They are mainly run over one day, with attendees advised to return for refresher or more advanced courses to build their techniques and knowledge.

The ISSA also runs competitions for all grades of shearers, and hopes that it can return to these competitions by the end of the summer.

‘It’s like any other skill’

Collier said: “The benefit to repeating courses and constantly improving can’t be overstated. We use a grading and certification system that is internationally recognised, and it’s a fantastic asset to any shearer.

“Anyone will get the wool off a sheep. What the courses strive to do is help improve the shearer and their efficiency.

“It’s a great chance for people to learn, improve their skills and network with other shearers around the country,” Collier said.

“It’s like hurling or any other skill. You can always improve,” the Wexford man concluded.

Anyone interested in sheep shearing courses can contact the Irish Sheep Shearers Association through its Facebook page.