Michelle Shaughnessy, who is arguably the country’s best-known Highland cattle breeder, stole the limelight with her Hamish, and Henry at the 36th Tubbercurry Old Fair Day Festival on Wednesday, August 9th, 2023.
The Granard, Co Longford native journeyed to the old fair day, which carries on the tradition of the fair day of years past, and forms part of its wider heritage, arts, and crafts festival, which got underway on Saturday, August 5th.
Hamish and Henry
Hamish and Henry, from the Graffogue Fold, are “much-loved farm pets, are very docile, friendly, mild-mannered, easy going and very very spoilt,” according to Shaughnessy.
“They are half-brothers and are inseparable but have completely different personalities. Hamish is so lovely, calm, and laidback, while Henry is a handful, bossy but rather shy and domineers the cattle trough to eat all the cattle crunch and nuts”.
Given their hardy nature, they are kept outdoors 365 days a year and have special open feeders to accommodate their horns, to consume silage and hay in winter and grass all year around, along with crunch nuts.
“Their hair is gorgeous and long, sometimes reaching about 13 inches, with a slight wave.”
“Since their coat is double-layered, the outer hair is oiled to prevent rain seeping into their skin, while the downy undercoat provides warmth during the rough and rainy Longford winters.”
Meanwhile, their horns are long and distinctive, which, according to Michelle, helps them forage for feed during snowy winter, as they can use their horns to dig deep into pastures that are covered with snow.
The hair or ‘bangs’ on their forehead, often covering their ewes, is called a dossan.
She continued: “Thankfully, they have great longevity and are known to live for about 20 years, which is a considerably longer lifespan than other beef breeds.”
“The average number of cows per cow is 12, and some cows can still calve into their eighteen year.”
She said that the “breed has not changed in over 200 years and is one of the purest breeds in the world”.
“Scottish Highland cattle carry themselves in a very regal, royal manner. With their almost pre-historic appearance, easy-going temperament and their intelligence, they are a very special breed of cattle to raise.”
“These beautiful, rare breed cattle are both a privilege and an absolute pleasure to own.”
The day provided a treasure trove of activities, from demonstrators in its heritage and craft village, showcasing traditions from bygone days of the fair, artisan stalls, vintage displays, a funfair, livestock including twin donkey foals, a pig, pedigree and commercial cattle, poultry and sheep, live music with country music star, Declan Nerney, and traditional skills such as thatching, weaving, butter making, trashing, pottery making and rush work.
The free admission event was open to the public with a fee of €3 for all-day parking to support the festival.
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