One of the shearers was who helped break the record was Pete McGrath aged 92 from Ballinrobe who is 80 years shearing sheep. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Shear bliss at the Spring Show
There was something for everyone at the Connacht Spring Show in Ballinrobe last Sunday.
PETER McGrath from Cahernacreevy outside Ballinrobe was up for the challenge. At ninety-two years of age, Peter was among the 154 sheep shearers taking part in the Guinness World Record Hand-Shearing Challenge.
He was also the first official name registered for this attempt and, shortly before 3pm, the record was achieved close to the winning post at Ballinrobe Racecourse.
As his wife Marian looked on proudly from the railing, a sprightly Peter informed the thousands present that he first sheared a sheep all of eighty years ago.
Down the track, young Leanna Casey from Bunnacrick out Tourmakeady hill country was deep in concentration shearing for her place in glory. In there also were Patrick and Anita Kerrigan from Glantrague near Clonbur where shearing is a rite of passage.
Eamonn Heanue travelled from Inishturk in the Atlantic and Michael Joyce walked across the road to make history on his doorstep. Breda Lynch and Aoife Heraty clipped also, as did others like Pat Heaney, Tom Egan from Kilbride, Mike Loftus from Kilmaine and Pa Martyn from Glencorrib.
Shrule/Glencorrib football manager Ger Butler represented Burgon and Ball Shear Manufacturers in Sheffield who sponsored the event.
Up in the main arena, Tom Holleran and Peter Heraty stretched every sinew fighting the challenge of shearers from the Cooley Peninsula to Lyrecrompane as they went up the long blow and down the shoulder in search of wool.
In the adjoining hall, rural Ireland’s latest crop of brave entrepreneurs had their wares on display. Norman O’Brien of OBH Woodwork brought a kitchen unit but still had time to talk club football.
The aroma of pork and leek flavoured sausages drew everyone to the stall of John Shannon from Kiltimagh where every morsel sample was devoured instantly.
Patti Moss from Furnace near Newport had copious pots of jam containing the flavours of days gone by and four Bridgestone Awards as testament to her work.
Evelyn Barrett-Maye from Wicked Bakery was smiling proudly inside the door and justifiably so. Her spelt soda bread had just won 1st prize in a baking competition sponsored by O’Hara’s of Foxford.
Me & Dee Designs ‘upcycle’ rather than recycle to produce art jewellery. If you’re missing the ‘p’ on your keyboard, Deirdre has it but it’s a ring now.
‘Stitched In’ is the venture of Textile Designer, Deirdre Duffy from Claremorris, who had an array of rainbow-coloured cushions on display as Hazel Heneghan tempted passers-by with her piece of cake. Allison Finnegan from the midlands put her artistic talent and an eye for the unusual to work painting acrylic on canvas and slate. Michelle Costello spread the word about Cuinneog Butter churned in Balla and Seán Kelly from Newport had two good men preaching the gospel of his famous puddings.
Michelin Chef Derry O’Rourke cooked Connemara lamb as Michael Bermingham of M&K Butchers in Talbot St waxed eloquently about this local produce. Connemara Lamb has PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status. That guarantees the name is reserved only for lamb reared in mountain country watered by the mists of Maam.
And it was here that The Mayo News happened upon Mayo’s newest entrepreneurs.
David Morrin from Cross and Martin Farragher from Ballinrobe have just begun manufacturing unique wood carvings in a workshop outside Cross. They still haven’t decided on a business name for their brave venture, but if David’s endearing personality is a reliable gauge then it’s only a matter of time before they carve their own market niche.
It was a lovely family occasion in Ballinrobe Racecourse on the day that Peter McGrath became the people’s champion as sheared his way into the Guinness Book of Records.