It has been a fantastic year for Ireland’s native breed The Galway, according to Blatnaid Gallagher, a founder of the group of wool producers, The Galway Wool Co-Op.

“Thanks to the support of Donegal Yarns and Woolow Sleep, our annual Galway Wool Meitheal returned €2.50/kg for well presented wool in the grease,” she said.

“Entrants into ACRES [Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme] saw the benefits of farming with one of Ireland’s premier dual purpose breeds, as they packed the ringside of the Galway Sheep Breeders’ Association annual show and sale in September at Athenry livestock mart, with multi-generational breeders being richly rewarded for their dedication to their preservation of a rich and integral part of the heritage of our agricultural landscape,” Blatnaid said.

This year the show celebrated its 100th anniversary and also saw the introduction of its first female judge, Carmel Greene of Kilcock, Co Kildare.

The Galway breed

“The demand for The Galway did not stop until early December when tranche 1 of the ACRES scheme closed at which point breeding females were well and truly like finding a needle in a hay stack,” Blatnaid continued.

In May this year, the National College of Art and Design played host to Blatnaid. She brought along one of her Galway ewes and her triplet lambs to meet with students and share with them a greater understanding of the various applications our native Irish grown Galway wool.

“It gave these students an opportunity to garner a greater appreciation of this renewable and sustainable bio-fibre which is Galway wool,” Blatnaid explained.

Galway sheep

“Both Amy Kerr of AKtexikes and Conor O’Brien have both begun working with Galway wool and are keen to continue their collaboration with family farms all over Ireland which are making the switch to Ireland’s native sheep and premier dual purpose breed,” she said.

Work on The Galway Wool Meitheal will begin in January 2023 and the co-op invites Irish woolen mills, retailers and knitwear manufacturers to get in touch if they would like to be part of this initiative.

“They would be lending their support to renew the cultural integrity of Irish-grown Galway wool and shouldering with this farming community, giving it their best to renew the passion and respect for Irish Galway wool,” Blatnaid said.