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Westport men to represent Ireland at world shearing championships

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REPRESENTING THEIR COUNTRY Martin Hopkins from Drummin (left) and Peter Heraty from Owenwee, Westport, will represent Ireland in the World Sheep Shearing championships, which will take place in Le Dorat, France, this week. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Lúcás Treacy

WESTPORT men Peter Heraty and Martin Hopkins will represent Ireland at the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Le Dorat, France. The championships take place from July 4 until July 7 and the Irish team will need to be ready to compete against the world’s best from 30 countries.
“I’ve always had an interest in competitive sheep shearing from an early age, and I started going to competitions once I reached about 16 or 17 years of age. This will be my fifth time now competing in the World Championships so I know what to expect going in to the competition this week,” Peter Heraty told The Mayo News.
The World Champioships will be held in France this year for the first time in its history. It will be located in the little village of Dorat in the south of France. Home to around 2,000 people, this little village expects over 30,000 visitors from all over the world.
“The trip to France this year will be a good experience as I will get to see a bit more of the world. It’s nice to get going whenever you have the opportunity and I feel very proud to represent my country on the world stage. With a really competitive circuit here in Ireland, you don’t qualify for the championships for nothing. Qualification for the team is a tough feat so it’s rewarding to be there or thereabouts when your shearing,” explained Heraty.
The circuit was run by the Irish Sheep Shearing Association and the Irish team was selected from the top two open blades challengers, the top two electric shearers and the top two wool handlers. Both Peter and colleague Martin Hopkins will compete in the open blade team for Ireland. The open blade event will consist of each team being given six sheep to shear, three per person. The shearers will be judged on quickest time along with the neatest finish.
Martin Hopkins was brought up on a farm and like Peter started to shear on a competitive level after he was encouraged to compete in a local competition. This first taste at competitive shearing lead him to compete in more competitions before he became Connacht senior champion.
“From a young age, my father taught me all there was to know about shearing and it wasn’t long until I began entering local competitions,” Martin Hopkins told The Mayo News.
“In order to fund the upcoming trip to France, we filled up sponsorship cards for a raffle and we had a few fundraising events throughout the year. There was a vintage day held in Castledermot in Kildare as a fundraiser, it was a successful event with a shearing competition on the day. With the money that was collected through sponsorship and fundraising events, the Irish Sheep Shearers Association were able to cover the cost of the flights and accommodation,” Hopkins explained.
“It’s an excellent achievement for myself personally as it’s the pinnacle event of the sheep shearing calendar,” Hopkins concluded.