Tipperary’s Top Shearer Going for Gold at 2011 Sheep and Wool Festival in Kilkenny‏

One of Tipperary’s top sheep shearers and wool handlers is going for gold in this year’s ‘2011 Sheep & Wool Festival’, a massive international event which runs on June 4 & 5 in Kilkenny and incorporates the Clik Pour On All Ireland & International Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships.

John Quigley from Thurles in Tipperary is renowned as one of the country’s top machine shearers. The avid shearer also competes in the wool handling section of the competition, a contest which will feature fellow shearers from across Australia and New Zealand as well as Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe and will draw 10,000 plus to the purpose-built exhibition centre over the two day festival.

Local business owners across Ireland are also expected to showcase their goods and services to a captive audience over the two day event which will see competitors from Australia, New Zealand, mainland Europe, the UK and Ireland take part   in a host of competitions. Several have already logged on to www.sheepshearing2011.ie and registered.

The festival is a family-focused event and will include a fun fair and children’s entertainment, indoor craft and food stalls as well as trade stands which will be dotted throughout the extensive tarmac area to the front of the purpose-built exhibition centre on the edge of the city. The event also includes a Strongman competition, pet dog show, European Young Shepherd competition, magic show, a 24 hour charity sheep shear, the RSA shuttle, sheep dog trials and much, much more.

The two day festival will trace the story of wool from producer to user. It includes felting workshops with renowned Irish felter, Nicola Brown, who is originally from Wexford. She teaches and has worked alongside the world famous felting designer Thomas Horst. She will showcase his fashion designs for the first time ever outside the US at the festival and will be taking orders for his work.

The Festival will also feature Deirdre Harte and her 15 knitting enthusiasts involved in the Interreg Knitting Project, which is comprehensive and inclusive and involves the shearing of eighteen Zwartable sheep, the washing, carding and spinning of that wool and finally the knitting and felting of the wool to create an installation / exhibition piece which will be displayed at the event. It is organised by Kilkenny County Council Arts Officer, Mary Butler, with the assistance of Dee Harte Ethical Fashion Designer. It also embraces Kilkenny’s current status as the first Age Friendly County in the South East.

IFA President, John Bryan, commended the team of volunteers who have organised the varied, family-focused programme. Speaking at an event hosted to announce details of the 2011 Sheep & Wool Festival, he said: “Cillín Hill is the perfect venue for showing off what is best in agriculture. This event will be worth over €5 million to Kilkenny. Agriculture is an industry capable of turning our economy around, getting growth going again.

“Organising this international event takes a lot of effort and the timing couldn’t be better for the sheep industry. There is a renewed confidence in agriculture and the sheep sector is doing well. For the first time in years a realistic price is being paid for lambs.

“People are beginning to look at the sheep sector as an area where there is employment and opportunities and the chance of making a living. This will be one of the biggest industry events for a long time and I am very confident it will be an outstanding success,” Mr Bryan concluded.

The 2011 Sheep & Wool Festival is supported by Kilkenny Leader Partnership, FBD Insurance, Eamon Langton, FRS Farm Services and Bord Bia.

–         For application forms and information on the festival, its attractions on trade stand rates and sizes, check out www.sheepshearing2011.ie or email trade@sheepshearing2011.ie

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