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New Zealand Ambassador among 10,000 descending on Mountbellew for All-Ireland Festival

The New Zealand Ambassador Trevor Mallard led the list of special guests as Mountbellew welcomed up to 10,000 visitors this weekend for the All-Ireland and International Sheep Shearing competitions.

Competitors arrived from the four corners of Ireland as well as England, Wales, France, Australia and New Zealand – and the Ambassador will be joined by Maria Walsh MEEP, Minister Ann Rabbitte and local Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice.

The Shearing began at 9am on Saturday with the preliminary rounds in all categories while the Finals took place from 9am to 6pm on Sunday.

The hardworking committee has left no stone unturned with free parking on 80 acres around the town and a shuttle service to the Mart Site while a Caravan and Camping site also available in the town.

The packed two-day programme had entertainment for the children; live music by Claudia Buckley and Ciaran Rosney; sheep dog demonstrations, crafts and trade stands; an Irish Wool experience, raffles, food outlets, and much more.

There were also two nights of musical entertainment with Mike Denver, George Murphy and the Rising Sons, Michael English, and Cliona Hogan.

The past two weeks have been busy for shearing crews as they visited local farms preparing the sheep for the shearers so that there won’t be any difficulties. All sheep were electronically checked going into the site.

The many visitors got accommodation in local houses and local business were prepared for a bumper weekend with many hundredths employed for the service of the influx of people to the town.

Local historian Vincent Flynn has spent many months preparing a booklet on the history of the town and the area, and this collector’s item was on sale all weekend.

“This event promoted the West of Ireland and Irish wool to a worldwide audience” says organizer Brian McHale of Mountbellew Mart.

Pictured: The All-Ireland Sheep Shearing Festival Committee at the ready for a big weekend of shearing, music, entertainment and many side attractions.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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