The first Achill Sheep Show, at Patten’s Bar, Derreens, was held on the 6th of September 1986. The show was advertised for a 10am start. it was a relieved committee that welcomed the first of the entrants at 12 noon. A happy farmer leisurely apporached in his Massey with a turf trailer full of sheep. A procession of cars, vans and all sorts of trailers carrying would-be winners followed. The show was born!
It has continued each year since with the exception of 2001, the year of the foot-and-mouth outbreak. The show gradually established itself as one of the calendar events in the life of Achill. It was well attended by the public; those a family day out, those wishing to enjoy the hospitality of Patten’s bar, camera-clicking tourists and enquiring minds. In their midst were the die-hard sheep farmers who tramped the hills of Connemara, ranged the Nephin mountains or scaled the hills of Achill.
Since then, the show has grown year after year. The standard of the stock showin is very high, competition is keen and prizes are hard won! It is fair to say Achill sheep have held their own against all-comers.
The success of any show depends on sponsorship, a good committee and good weather. For the past twenty five years the Achill Sheep Show has been blessed with all these. Sponsorship is the main lifeline of the show and it is lucky to have a very loyal sponsorship base, which supports it every year without fail. The show has an excellent committee that works tirelessly on the day.
It has evolved along the way to feature nineteen sheep categories. Cups, rosettes and generous cash prizes are awarded to the winners. In addition, all entrants have the opportunity to win valuable spot prizes on the day. A ladies’ committee has worked diligently to stage many other events such as local crafts, best vegetables, floral arrangements and home baking. Country markets set up their stalls and children are catered for by way of art competitions and fun events.
We can also look back on such events as sheep dog trials, geological displays featuring named local rocks, an exhibition of mountain and heathland flora and a stock judging competition for young people.
In 2005 it was the first Sheep Show to set up its own website – www.achillsheepshow.com – which outlined results of the show and had links to other sites. Like all other organisations, the Achill Sheep Show has suffered the untimely loss of people whose lives have touched the show. AN endeavour is made by way of memorial cups to appreciate their enormous contribution and keep their presence at the show.
Each year and into the future, the show will feature its core events, as well as many others, always looking to promote fresh ideas and adapt to the changes the years may bring.