Dromore gears up for International Sheepdog Trial 2018

Thousands of local, national and international visitors will descend on Dromore’s Gill Hall Estate, Co. Down, when the International Sheepdog Trial 2018 gets under way in just over a week’s time.

More than 600 dogs and 300 top handlers from the UK and Ireland have already gone through their paces to secure a place for the competitive three-day event.

Vying for the title of ‘International Supreme Champion’ among a range of titles, the trial kicks off on Thursday, September 6, and is set to run until Saturday, September 8.

Wales hosted the event in 2016, attracting visitors from as far away as China, Canada, Australia and Brazil, and visitors from up to 25 countries are expected to attend this year.

Supported by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, this international event is expected to attract more than 12,000 visitors to the area “who will enjoy the grandstand, family-friendly spectacle”, organisers say.

International Sheepdog Society national president and organiser, John McCullough, commented ahead of the event.

He said: “This is a major event in the international sheepdog trialling calendar and I’m delighted that Northern Ireland – and particularly Dromore – has the opportunity to host what is a thrilling event which everyone will enjoy.”

Trials have already taken place in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales to whittle down participants eligible to compete and participate in Dromore.

The Irish National Sheepdog Trials took place last month in Achill, Co Mayo, in which the top 150 sheepdogs and handlers competed for a sought-after place at the Gill Hall Estate event.

Lord mayor of Armagh city, Banbridge and Craigavon, councillor Julie Flaherty, also spoke.

“Dromore’s Gill Hall Estate provides an exceptional and unique backdrop for this exciting international event and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of participants and visitors to this wonderful part of Northern Ireland,” she said.

“This important event provides us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate the warmth of our welcome, our award-winning food and drink and our exceptional hospitality offer.”

Established in 1906, the annual event was last held in Co. Down, Northern Ireland in 2002 when it took place at Seaforde Estate.