UCD Sheepdog Trial
UCD Lyons Farm held a sheepdog trial last Sunday, July 10th, 2022, showcasing some of the country’s finest sheepdogs and their handlers, writes Paddy Fanning.
It was a fabulous day for this outdoor event – which was held in Kearneystown, down by the Royal Canal – and the sunshine and warm weather meant it was perfect for spectators and competitors alike.
This farm is unique because it is the only university-owned farm in Ireland.
It offers students and academics access to animal and crop enterprises for their study and research. The results of study also inform farming practice nationally.
The head shepherd on Lyons Farm is Mr. Ger Egan, a keen sheepdog enthusiast who competes nationally and internationally with his sheepdogs.
He was the main instigator for bringing sheepdog trials to UCD Lyons Farm.
In July 2021, he organised the first sheepdog trial on the UCD holding under the guidance of Mr. Stephen Lott (Chief Livestock Supervisor).
They set about making it an annual fundraising charity trial, with Crumlin Children’s Hospital as the beneficiary.
The Lyons flock consist of Mule, Lleyn and Belclare ewes, and 240 ewes were selected for the sheepdog trial.
The morning began with a brace competition, which consisted of a handler running two sheepdogs simultaneously on a bunch of eight sheep.
After the brace competition was concluded, the singles competition began. The singles competition is typically the main event at sheepdog trials.
The handlers came from all over the country, Donegal, Galway, Antrim, Wexford, etc, to compete at this event.
The trial got off to an early start with the Brace at 8 am. Mr. Matt Murphy- who has previously judged and competed at the singles and brace competition in the Irish National – officiated as the event’s judge.
The renowned handler, Con McGarry from Roscommon, went on the win this part of the event.
The brace competition was followed at 10 am by the singles, which Mr. Frank Cashen from Wexford oversaw the judging of.
Frank is a past winner of the most illustrious event in the Sheepdog trialling calendar, The International Sheepdog Trial.
He had a busy day judging from the hot seat of a large John Deere that was provided by the farm.
He judged over 45 dogs over the course of the day, and in the evening, James P. McGee (past International Supreme Champion and World Champion) was found to have the best score, thereby winning the singles.
It proved to be a fantastic course, and while it looked straightforward, it still had plenty of challenges.
The Dublin to Galway train ran past the far end on what seemed like a half-hourly basis, and during the day, the nearby Baldonnel Air Show took place with brought some unusual sound effects at times.
The sheep were running very well for dogs all day. They were a little unusual though, as they were more ‘humanised’ than handlers are used to meeting in Ireland.
That was because of the impact of all the student handling and people they meet in the course of their stay at UCD Lyons Estate.
This year €1,450 was raised for Crumlin Hospital, and the winners received the Arthur Sheane Memorial Cups (sponsored by Cooley Farm).
Furthermore, they also received some very generously sponsored prizes and dog food from Quinns Merchants, Drummonds Seeds and Cormac Tagging.
The sheepdog community were all very thankful to Ger and Stephen and UCD Lyons Farm for hosting this event and look forward to having it again in 2023.
We previously interviewed Paddy, which you can read on That’s Farming, or alternatively, you can visit his website