Charleville Agricultural Show hosted the Connolly’s Red Mills 2022 Irish Suffolk Sheep Society national championships after a three-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tom Quirke Memorial Cup was presented to the society for the supreme champion by Ann Quirke-O’Mahony on behalf of the Quirke family in memory of her late father, who was an enthusiastic Suffolk breeder from his flock’s establishment in 1967 until his death in August 2017.
Despite inclement weather conditions, enthusiasm was high, as judge William Fleming of the Hallhill flock in Scotland made some tough decisions in the ring.
The show kicked off with the junior handler class, which saw seven young stock persons demonstrate their knowledge and ability to handle sheep and it was 15-year-old Harry Graham of the Westside flock, which he established in 2020, who received the red rosette.
In the shearling ram class, it was Arthur O’Keeffe who dominated with a Birness Freedom son, with Coote Geelan’s Cairness Diamond Geezer son taking second and Harry Graham’s Errigal Jack the Lad’s son taking the third spot.
In the aged ewe section, it was Susan O’Keeffe’s homebred ewe, sired by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince, taking the top honours in the class.
In the shearling ewe class, Susan O’Keeffe dominated the field once again, catching the judge’s eye with her Annakisha ewe, again sired by Castleisle Kilteskin Prince.
Her second entry, also sired by Prince, took second and Kenneth Bailey’s Cairness Cobra-sired ewe took third spot.
In the novice class, it was Coote Geelan of the Loughrynn Flock who took top honours, with his stylish ewe lamb, sired by Beechbrook Oscar.
It was a tight call between Kenneth Bailey’s ewe lamb sired by Cairness Our Bucks and Ann and Dan O’Mahony’s Errigal the Emperor-sired wwe lamb for second and third, but the judge settled on Lismurtagh second and Ballygarvanstud third in the class.
The ram lamb class was next in the line-up, where Susan O’Keeffe’s Burnview One for Arthur son took top honours, with Sean O’Connor of the Islandmore Flock claiming his first rosette of the day, taking second with a Beechcrest Bacardi son. Third in the class was Ann and Dan O’Mahony’s Blackbrae Diamond son.
Next it was the turn of the ewe lambs and the first class in was the untrimmed ewe lamb where Philip Byrne of the Limepark Flock showed a lamb by Errigal Simply the Best claiming the red rosette.
The final class of the day was the trimmed ewe lamb, which resulted in a hattrick for the O’Keeffe family, with Patrick and his Blackwater flock taking first with his Ballinatone BT Buddy son, Susan taking second with her ewe lamb, also sired by BT Buddy, and Arthur taking third spot with his lamb sired by Castlewellan Sportsman.
In the female championship, it was Susan O’Keeffe’s shearling ewe who claimed the top honours and Philip Byrne’s untrimmed ewe lamb took the reserve spot.
The male championship was awarded to Arthur O’Keeffe’s shearling ram, with Susan O’Keeffe’s ram lamb taking the reserve spot.
In the final showdown, the judge tapped out Susan O’Keeffe’s shearling ewe as his favourite of the day to claim the supreme champion title, with Philip Byrne’s untrimmed ewe lamb emerging as reserve champion.