Northern Ireland to host ‘sheepdog Olympics’ for first time ever next year

Around 50,000 people are expected in Dromore, Co Down next year for an event dubbed the ‘Olympics of the sheepdog world’.

By Niall Deeney
Monday, 18th July 2022, 3:12 pm
Updated Monday, 18th July 2022, 3:30 pm

The World Sheepdog Trials 2023 is to take place in Northern Ireland for the first time ever in just over a year, at Gill Hall Estate in Dromore in mid-September.

Around 240 competitors from more than 30 countries will descend on the 500-acre estate, all of whom will be hoping to be named the ‘top dog’ with a world champion announced at the end of the four-day event.

Organised by the International Sheep Dog Society, the World Sheepdog Trials take place every three years.

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John McCullough, Irish champion Peter Morgan with his dog Mosse, Isabel Branch and venue host James Porter

In 2020, the world trials were postponed due to the pandemic, therefore the world champions from the 2017 event, which took place in Hoogwoud in the Netherlands, remain the Norwegian team – handler Jaran Knive and his sheepdog Gin.

Isabel Branch, International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS) chief executive, said: “Gill Hall Farm is an incredible venue, with rolling hills and expansive fields that offer the perfect conditions for world-class trials and spectator viewing.

“The reputation of the 2018 International Sheep Dog Trials, hosted at Gill Hall Estate, is that of a fantastic trial for all involved and overall, a resounding success. This was largely thanks to dedication and commitment from landowners, Bill and James Porter and the organising committee.

“The ISDS council of trustees are delighted that we can build on the success of the 2018 International and look forward to a much-anticipated world trial.”

Over the next 14 months, competing nations will select their competitors and teams. The current Irish National Champion is handler Peter Morgan with his dog Mosse, from Castlewellan, who will be vying to retain their title at the Irish National Trials which are taking place next month in Carnlough.

John McCullough, chairman of the local organising committee and former Irish president of the International Sheep Dog Society, expressed delight at the choice of venue: “We are so delighted that Northern Ireland will, for the first time, be the host for the 2023 World Sheepd og Trials.”