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Westport man crowned Hand Shearing Champion

All-Ireland Sheep Hand Shearing Champion Peter Heraty from Owenwee, Westport pictured with the title.
All-Ireland Sheep Hand Shearing Champion Peter Heraty from Owenwee, Westport pictured with the title.

Westport man crowned All-Ireland Hand-Shearing Champion

Ciara Galvin

Westport-man Peter Heraty clinched the All Ireland Hand Shearing title last Saturday at Punchestown. Peter, 22 from Owenwee, Westport, succeeded in gaining the title, trophy and cash prize following numerous rounds of heats, second cut analysis and scrutiny from judges.
When asked yesterday about the fruits of his labour the modest Heraty said he was delighted with the win but that ‘it could have been anyone’s on the day.’ Heraty spoke about his lifelong interest for the sport explaining how he has been shearing sheep from a young age.
“I’ve been shearing sheep since I was seven or eight, once I could hold the sheep on my own I suppose. We have a good few sheep ourselves and we also shear for other people,” Heraty said.
The coy farmer explains how despite winning the All Ireland title he does not hand-shear many sheep.
“We shear June to August but out of all that I would only hand shear about 100 sheep, the rest would be machine shearing. I seem to do better in the hand shearing rather than machine, though that could be down to the equipment I use and the level of competition throughout both areas,” Heraty explained.
Speaking about the shearing community and his fellow competitors Peter explains that his fellow opponents are friends and ‘close in competition.’
“No one holds grudges, we all have the best of time for each other and whoever wins it, wins it,” he said, adding that “it is all down to the day, you can never be certain about who will win a competition.”
Although some might think Peter’s comments are more diplomatic than truthful the fact that he travelled to New Zealand this year with the 2011 All Ireland Hand-Shearing Champion Seán O’Sullivan and relinquished him of said title at the weekend speaks volumes about just how close competitors are.
Commenting on his visit to New Zealand Heraty outlined the experience he gained and his intentions on a return.
“I learned a lot from the New Zealand lads and even though their techniques aren’t very different the equipment they use is a lot better. I bought new shears that are way sharper and cut the wool a lot neater” he said.
In reply to probes regarding his future with the hand shears Heraty stated his intentions humbly saying that he would keep going as long as he could.
Also speaking to The Mayo News Connaught Spring Show organiser Paddy Rock commented on Heraty’s success and his delight at more young people taking up the activity.
“It is a great achievement for Peter and it is great for Westport and the surrounding areas with hand-shearing being huge across the region. It is part of the tradition of Ireland,” said Rock.