The Galway Sheep Breeders recorded a fairytale story for its centenary sale held in Athenry Mart on Monday. It was a fitting way for Ireland’s only recorded native breed to celebrate 100 years in existence with average prices for ewe lambs hitting record levels.

The 50 ewe hoggets entered recorded a fine average of €351.90 per head. This ranged from €300 to €440 for the first prizewinning pen of hoggets offered by John Greaney, Headford, Co Galway. There were notable prices of €400 paid on two occasions for hoggets sold with full organic status.

The ewe hogget trade looked to be on fire but hoggets turned out to be good value given the prices paid for ewe lambs.

The entry of 49 ewe lambs averaged €360 per head, with prices ranging in the main from €290 to €370 per head and getting stronger as the sale reached a conclusion.

The first prizewinning pen of ewe lambs offered by Seán Kilkelly, Athenry, Co Galway, exceeded this range selling for €460 for a batch of five, while a single ewe lamb which was judged the All-Ireland champion Galway ewe lamb earlier in the year sold for €510.

The trade was driven by buying for the impending Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES). Under the scheme applicants can gain Tier 1 priority access through the Conservation of Rare Breeds Measure. Demand outweighed supply and ACRES also had a positive effect on the trade for rams.

Nine hogget rams entered averaged €660 per head, with the standout sale seeing €1,680 paid for an outstanding hogget bred by the Warde family, Menlough, Co Galway. An entry of 13 ram lambs recorded a fine sale average of €483 per head, with five lots selling between €600 and €820.