Excitement is the air in Mayo following the announcement that the The Irish National Sheep Dog Trials are scheduled to take place for the first time in the county, on Achill Island from Thursday, July 19 to Saturday, July 21.
The event will be run by a local committee on behalf of the International Sheep Dog Society, which also hold the same event in England, Scotland and Wales. The Achill event will show the Top 150 Sheepdogs from Sothern Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, along with their handlers as they compete to be part of the team that represents Ireland at the Annual International Trials which will be held at the Gill Hall Estate, in Northern Ireland later this year.
The Irish Nationals will take place over the three days, with 50 handlers and their dogs running each day. The competitors with the five highest scores each day will be awarded a place on the Irish Team. With the overall top 15 competing in the International Sheepdog Trials against England, Scotland and Wales.
On the final day, the highest scoring dog from all three days will have a run off to be named Overall Irish Champion and Team Captain.
The Irish National President for the International Sheepdog Society; Mr John McCullough stated: “I am delighted that this year's National Championships will take place on the beautiful Achill Island for the first time. This trial will produce a team to represent Ireland at the International Championships in September.
"The organising committee of the Achill Island event have selected a super qualification course, that will no doubt be a challenge for the 150 single and 18 brace dogs that will compete to be a member of the Irish Team.
"We have competitors from every corner of the country and visitors attending from Europe, many of whom will extend this visit to include a family holiday, resulting a massive boost to the local economy.
"As we near the event I would like to thank the local committee for their hard work in preparing for these trials and wish all attending the very best of luck. So come along and enjoy this wonderful venue and the watch these amazing dogs compete to be Irish Champion.
"Along with the Single entries there will also be a Brace Competition that will be held at lunchtime each day. This will see three handlers compete each day working two dogs, at the same time. The overall winner of the three days will be crowned Irish Brace Champion, and go to run in the International.