Sheep Olympics

The little town of Gorey in Ireland has been jumping this weekend as sheep lovers flocked from all corners of the world to attend the 2014 Golden Shears aka the Sheep Olympics. It made local news headlines back in October of last year…

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney…so yesterday I popped over for a bleating fleeting visit. Before visiting the main event I took some time out for a little window-sheeping – all the shop fronts in town were decked out with sheep crammed into the most unexpected of places.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

There were high fashion sheep in clothes store windows…

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…joking sheep in pub windows…

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…designer sheep in home interior shop windows…

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

… and a disturbingly flattened sheep peeping out of the local Boots window. Seriously, is it just me or does that sheep look like roadkill?

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The most inventive sheep was fashioned out of doilies…

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…and the scariest sheep appeared in the window of a local bank. He looked like a V for Vendetta sheep wearing an expressionless mask and threatening revolution.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Finished with my walkabout, I followed the signs towards the main event.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

The venue was a huge muddy field just outside of town. Miles of thick, sticky mud spread out between gaily decorated tents and stalls.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

There were display stands and food stalls galore…

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…and even a pop up bar or two for good measure.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

I realized rather early on that I should have worn boots. As my flimsy porous sneakers sank into the quagmire and silt found its way into my socks and squelched between my toes, I eyed other fair-goers’ footwear with envy.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooneyWiser folks frolicked around carefree in brightly coloured wellingtons; pink was the colour of the day. I only noticed a few other visitors with poorly chosen footwear – they were easy to spot, teetering around trying not to slip, leaping hopefully towards the occasional patch of mud-free grass only to fall a few inches short and sink ankle deep into the mud. I decided there was no point in trying to avoid the mud and it seems I was not alone. Nearby a group of hearty fellows took advantage of the ooze to liven up a tug of war.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooneyBoth sides were caked in mud by the end of the game. But now the main event was getting ready to kick off, so everyone traipsed towards a giant blue and yellow striped big top, labelled Sheep Shearing Dome. Inside, a lone singer got the crowd going with rousing renditions of Viva Las Vegas and Folsom Prison Blues. Then the stage filled with judges and adjudicators and a big cheer rose from the crowd as the junior contenders took the stage. A line of girls crouched down by the stage ready to grab the wool as it was sheared and then they were off. Five sheep each, with points given for speed and technique. Each sheep had to be fully shorn, with the wool coming off as a complete coat. The sheep for the most part looked relaxed if perhaps slightly embarrassed as the boys shifted them around removing their curly coats. There was a moment of excitement when one of the sheep decided it wasn’t going to give up its coat quietly, kicking one of the Welsh shearers and making a run for freedom, but with a little gentle coaxing he re-assumed his position and left his coat behind.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, sheep shearing

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, sheep shearing

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, sheep shearing

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, sheep shearing

In a whirl of flying wool it was all over in a few minutes; the points tallied and the winner crowned. Another row of shearers took the stage with five more sheep each lined up for shearing. As the crowds cheered the shearers on, I wandered outside where the glorious Irish weather decided to add to the muddiness by pouring liquid sunshine down (for the uninitiated, liquid sunshine is an Irish ewe-phemism for torrential rain). Between you and me, I must admit I secretly wanted more from the Sheep Olympics – I had visions of sheeplechases and synchronized sheep dips, or at the very least a long jump and high jump.

By the side entrance to the main tent, a group of women sat around spinning wheels, spinning wool ‘hot off the sheep’ into yarn and knitting it up in situ.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, spinning wool

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, spinning wheel

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney, spinning wool

I wonder if the end product was given back to the sheep to wear – it was a pretty cold day to be wandering around without a coat. All in all, it was an unexpectedly fun day out, but, like all true Olympics, it was not without a few disturbances. On my way home, I spotted a field of soggy cows who had controversially chosen to boycott the Sheep Olympics, on the grounds it was too sheep-centric.

sheep olympics, golden shears, gorey, wexford, ireland, travel, travelogue, ailsa prideaux-mooney

Maybe a more inclusive Farmyard Animal Olympics should be considered for next year.

 

Advertisements

About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
This entry was posted in Europe, Ireland, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Sheep Olympics

  1. Great post. It looks like a lot of fun.

  2. Heyjude says:

    Hilarious! Love the windows 🙂

  3. Debbie says:

    Brilliant post. I think I might have to add this to my Bucket List.

  4. Francesca says:

    Only in Ireland! I love the inventiveness of the sheep displays in the shop fronts- almost outdid the actual event.

  5. Mary Jackson says:

    I love your posts, Ailsa – so glad Jonell introduced us! This was my favorite yet. Makes me want to book a flight to Ireland!

    • ailsapm says:

      Hi there Mary, lovely to hear from you, glad you enjoyed my trip to the Sheep Olympics – let me know if you decide to book that flight! 🙂

  6. loisajay says:

    High-fashion sheep, hot off the sheep, boycotting cows…..what a hoot this was! So enjoyed it! sorry about your shoes, though…. 😦

    • ailsapm says:

      They’ll live to see another day, Loisajay, they went straight in the washing machine when I got back! Glad you enjoyed the sheep olympics. 🙂

  7. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Shearing is such a skillful task, i love to watch! looks like you had a fun day. The last day of our local Devon County Show was cancelled yesterday because the mud was so bad it was a safety risk.

    • ailsapm says:

      Those guys made it look easy, Gilly, they just whizzed through the sheep in a matter of minutes. Sorry to hear it’s just as muddy round your way. Stay dry!

  8. cathytyler says:

    I always wondered why boots were such a big deal over there – now I understand! Between the footwear and the windows, a grand post! (Friend of Beth H.)

  9. joannesisco says:

    That was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed my trip to the Sheep Olympics via your post – it was almost as good as being there except with clean and dry feet 🙂
    I watched some sheep shearing when I was in Australia and it really is a bit of a dance with the reluctant sheep!

  10. DailyMusings says:

    What fun!! Love seeing all the photos. Love the sheep with the black faces and legs. 🙂

  11. Pingback: Sheep Olympics

  12. sueslaght says:

    This looks like so much fun Ailsa. Sheep Olympics…who knew? Now we do. 🙂

  13. What an amusing and varied post! You noticed so much and recorded everything in amazing photos and punny words. Thanks for a morning delight.

    • ailsapm says:

      I couldn’t help myself, morselsandscraps – those shop windows really got me in the mood for some baa-d puns. 😉

  14. what a wonderful, fun-filled post. You must have had as much fun writing it as you did on the actual day.

  15. Lyle Krahn says:

    Definitely seems like a lot fun.

  16. I’m in the middle of re-reading Thornbirds which has lengthy descriptions of sheep shearing in Australia – your images are most timely!

  17. Woolly Muses says:

    Enjoyed your post from Ireland’s Golden Shears. Were there any Australian or new Zealand shearers competing? I have heard of the Golden Shears in Victoria or New Zealand, so quite surprised to see another Golden Shears.

    • ailsapm says:

      Yes, there were lots of Australians and New Zealanders there, actually folks from all over the world – it was the global finals – I think they hold it in a different venue each year, and this year it was Ireland’s turn.

  18. Great post. Love the photo you selected for the header.

  19. Haha that looks brilliant! I love how much everyone gets in the spirit!

  20. Shear fun by the looks of things! 🙂

  21. HI Ailsa,
    Your post reminded me of this little clip–a very funny take on sheep herding by Guinness. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y07at1bU89Q

  22. lumar1298 says:

    Great post… Thanks for sharing…

  23. kelihasablog says:

    WOW, I had NO idea about this major “fest”… guess I’ll need to put it on my Bucket List now. Love the “liquid sunshine”, guess I’ll try to think of that when it rains here next… only ours usually had thunder and lightening accompanying. I truly appreciate all the interesting and unusual pictures. Makes me feel like I was almost there, without the goo between my toes though. When I go I’ll be sure to take my daughter’s Wellies, she lived in Charleston for two years while at College of Charleston. She wrote home for rain boots within the first week…LOL When it rains there, apparently it pours! 😀

  24. dcallen2 says:

    What an entertaining post. I’d have loved this, mud and all. I’ll remember my boots.

  25. How fun! I love it when the whole town gets involved in the spirit of something like this. We have a Flying Pig Marathon here in Cincinnati and there are all sorts of flying pig memorablia and silly themed events and merchandise that weekend, too.

  26. Love business owners with a sense of humor. Even more, I love a blogger who makes fun of businesses. 🙂 Another in a string of great posts!

  27. aishasoasis says:

    Omg I laughed so much, this post is so much fun! The photos of the storefront windows were great, the mud was unbelievable, and the sheep olympics definitely belongs on my bucket list! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  28. suej says:

    Thoroughly entertaining post! Those windows were something to see….:)

  29. Hamilton says:

    Does this event happen every autumn? I’m going to be in Ireland this autumn and if so, I’m gonna find this. 😀

Comments are closed.