On a blustery Sunday during the final weekend in May, Athenry Show in Co Galway played host to the highly anticipated Irish Vendéen Sheep Society All-Irelands. On the day, eight breeders made the journey west despite the poor weather forecast, for the spectacle that was the Growvite All-Ireland championship classes.

There was a strong turnout of over 40 sheep entered in the six classes on the day. Judge Padraig Niland did a fantastic job, especially given a number of very difficult classes to judge.

The day kicked off for the Vendéens with the male classes and starting with the senior ram class, Andrew Gilmore of Valley View Vendéens in Co Cavan came up trumps securing first and second place. Ciaran Coughlan of Noggus Vendéens, Co Offaly, placed third. First in the shearling ram class was Ciaran Coughlan, followed again by Andrew Gilmore in second. Then followed a very hotly contested ram lamb class with 12 entries where again Ciaran Coughlan was tapped out first, followed by Andrew Gilmore second, Mark and Audrey Crowe finished in third. The male championship was then judged, with the ram lambs stealing the show. Ciaran Coughlan scooped the male champion and the Oramec Perpetual Shield with his ram lamb, and Andrew Gilmore took reserve male champion with his ram lamb.

Female classes

The females were up next, starting with the senior ewe class. Cheryl O’Brien from Co Cork returned to her winning form taking first and second, with Mark and Audrey Crowe in third. The Shearling ewe class followed, with Cheryl O’Brien taking first with a stylish ewe, that was unbeaten in the show ring as a lamb in 2023. Andrew Gilmore also found success in this class taking second place, whilst Cheryl O’Brien took the plaudits once again, also finishing in third.

Finally it was the turn of the ewe lambs, where John Lynch returned to winning ways, coming in first and second, Cheryl O’Brien took third, Cheryl’s shearling ewe went on to take the honours in the female championship, winning the Sunderland Cup, with her senior ewe coming in reserve female champion.

The supreme championships was the final order of business for the Vendéen classes, with Ciaran Coughlan’s champion ram lamb taking home the coveted prize of the Noggus Cup and Andrew Gilmore’s ram lamb earning the title of reserve supreme champion. The Irish Vendéen Sheep Society now look forward to their 28th annual premier show and sale in Tullamore Mart on Saturday, 13 July.