Shear Entertainment:
Discover an Authentic Irish Gem

Posted by Mary-Frances Walsh on 7/30/2015
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Europe, Great Britain

ringofkerryOn the drive that circles Ireland’s Iveragh Peninsula, known affectionately as the “Ring of Kerry,” there is so much to please the eye. Dense forests, slate-colored loughs (lakes), rugged ocean views, picturesque towns, emerald pastures and rising mountains are the stars here in southwestern Ireland – making it one of the country’s most visited destinations.

But when guests on Tauck’s 2016 Ireland & Great Britain experience the drive, they can look forward to an experience that is anything but touristy. After heading west from Killarney to take in the scenic beauty, they’ll stop at a farm in the small “locality” of Derreen before looping back eastward.

Patrick Moran’s farm in Derreen is a place full of real-life Kerry tradition, where guests can expect to see, smell, hear and maybe even step in the essence of an Irish sheep farm. They’ll meet Patrick, a local Kerryman hero and Guinness World Records-holder who made sheep-shearing history in all of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in 2008.

dogsandsheepThey’ll also meet some of Patrick’s farmhands. And depending on the weather (it’s emerald-green Ireland, after all) they’ll watch a brief outdoor demonstration of his dogs’ amazing ability to round up the sheep on command. Then rain or shine (and under cover), Patrick will share the art and skill for which he earned his fame: shearing sheep with hand-held blades.

This rural handcraft is passed down from generation to generation. Patrick’s father learned to hand shear from his father and made sure that his own sons were equipped with blades by the time they were seven or eight. Patrick was the son who took a fancy to shearing.

sheepshearingTo be clear, shearing is the process of cutting off a sheep’s woolen fleece – an annual affair. As sheep cannot go without shearing, less their fleece become too heavy and soiled for good health, it’s a required duty for sheep farmers. What is not required is shearing by hand.

Most shearing today is done with electric shears, which is less physically demanding for the shearer but more unsettling for the sheep. What guests will find fascinating is the complicated art of holding a sheep still (no easy task!) and using some 40 strokes sheepshearing_2with a pair of hand blades to remove a sheep’s fleece in one piece – often in less than two minutes!

Hand shearing requires proper training, technique, patience – and a complete focus on the task at hand. It’s an undertaking that Patrick Moran excels at and a Tauck Exclusive experience on our escorted tours, for a taste of the real Kerry – not just the pretty sights.


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