The Cloonacool Sheep Festival takes place this coming weekend in the picturesque mountain village of Cloonacool in south Sligo. The four-day event will take place between Thursday September 29 and Sunday October 2 and is expected to draw large crowds.
Cabaret and Dancing
The festival will contain both main and fringe events over the weekend and offers something for everyone; ranging from cabaret and dancing to spectacular sheep and dog shows. An old-fashioned cabaret night with Greenshine from Cork will mark the official opening of the festival this year. Greenshine are a family trio who have come to national prominence in recent years with a string of hit songs and a feature on RTEs Album of the Week list. This promises to be a lovely night in the relaxing surroundings of Cloonacool Community Centre. The show starts at 9pm and tickets at only €10 are available on Eventbrite or on the door on the night.
On Saturday night Oct 1, the gala festival dance takes place with award-winning country star, Stuart Moyles. Moyles and his band have developed a huge reputation on the social dancing circuit and his arrival in Cloonacool signals the commitment of the festival organising committee to provide a great night of entertainment and dancing. Tickets at €15 are available on Eventbrite with a limited number are also available on the door.
Sheep and Dog Shows
The centrepiece of the sheep-themed festival is a prestigious Sheep Show that takes place on Sunday Oct 2 at 2pm. This event draws entries from all over Sligo and Mayo and while it holds huge interest for the farmers who show their sheep, it also provides a fascinating experience for onlookers attending the festival. The show features almost twenty different classes for all ages and all breeds of sheep. Many farmers in the region prepare their sheep for months in advance in order to have them in peak condition for such shows and the array of trophies and prize money on offer are much sought after. All the of cups on offer to the winners are sponsored my local families in the Cloonacool area and are many of them are given in memory of dearly departed sheep men who dedicated their lives to farming sheep on the Ox Mountains locally. The judge at the year’s sheep show is Allistair Lyttle who has been working with sheep since the age of six. Allistair is also a respected dog breeder, selling dogs worldwide.
2022 sees the inclusion of a Dog Show at the festival for the first time. The increase in dog ownership has now give rise to a renewed interest in showing dogs. The Cloonacool show, which also takes place on Sunday 2 at 2pm, includes classes to accommodate all breeds, large and small. There is even a class for the best local dog. The prestigious trophy for Show Champion at the show was presented to the organising committee by Kevin Hannon in memory of his late wife, Kathy Kelly. Kathy lived locally and was a huge dog lover, showing her dogs at many shows all over Ireland.
Those wishing to participate in either the sheep show or the dog show are expected to have their animals in place in good time in order to complete all entries before the respective shows.
Parking and Admission
Those attending the festival will find ample and well organised parking. Admission to the festival at the village of Cloonacool on Sunday October 2 is free. The festival is also accompanied by a mega raffle which offers a top prize of 8 Breeding ewes or €1,000. Tickets for this raffle will be sold at events throughout the weekend and proceeds will help to defray costs associated with the festival. The organising committee can be contacted on 087 2512030 or 087 4103619.