Fermanagh Show: Ladies day with all-female judging panel

Dairy inter-breed judge Claire Swale enjoying a chat with steward Albert Foster at the show
Dairy inter-breed judge Claire Swale enjoying a chat with steward Albert Foster at the show

A total of 43 female judges took centre stage at this year’s Fermanagh Show, making the event the first of its kind to host a full cohort of lady ‘decision makers’ in Northern Ireland.

“We made the decision to invite an exclusively female judging panel two years ago,” confirmed show secretary Ann Orr.

“Some people thought that we would not get all the positions filled. But everyone we approached was more than happy to come on board.

“Their presence at this year’s show has certainly added a splash of colour to the event. And, most likely, we will go down this road again.”

Claire Swale, from Lancashire, judged the dairy inter-breed classes at the show.

“This is my first time judging in Northern Ireland, although I am a regular visitor to this part of the world,” she said.

“I think the show society committee members should be commended for the decision they took and, hopefully, other shows will follow their example.”

Catherine Crawford, from Glenariff in Co Antrim, agreed. She judged the sheep young handlers’ classes at Fermanagh.

“It is important to show that farming is far from being a male-dominated world,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bushmills dairy farmer Iain McLean had another wonderful day in the show rings.

He won Fermanagh’s dairy inter-breed championship with his Holstein cow Priestland James Rose. Claire Swale described the champion as an excellent example of the Holstein breed, adding: “She has tremendous strength and an equally impressive mammary system. The fact that the cow calved 10 months ago, and still looks so fresh, is testimony to her overall dairy character.”

It has been a tremendous summer for the McLean family. They have won a total of 14 breed titles and four inter-breed accolades.

Also enjoying the summer months of 2016 are the members of the Hazelton family, from Dungannon. Their two-year-old heifer, Ranfurly Lady Diana 24th, won the Simmental Cow of the Year title at Fermanagh. She is due to calve at Christmas.

The Connolly family, from Ballynahinch in Co Down, won the Northern Ireland Shows Association heifer of the year final with their eye-catching two-year-old Brigadoon Jemma.

Having a DUP minister at the helm of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is very important for farming in Northern Ireland, given the upcoming Brexit negotiations, according to Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster.

“We are keen to forge the strongest possible relationship with Defra and all of the government departments in London,” she added.

Mrs Foster was a visitor to the Fermanagh Show.

“The Executive is totally committed to the cause of farming and food in Northern Ireland. And, as a party, the DUP actively sought to secure ministerial responsibility for farming, food and the environment in the new Executive.”

Where Brexit is concerned, Foster believes that a deal can be secured that will allow Northern Ireland to continue trading with the Republic and the rest of the EU in a meaningful and positive manner.

“Northern Ireland will also have its say in the detail of the final Brexit settlement that is arrived at. Already I have met with a number of Whitehall minsters, including David Davies and Liam Fox, who will be directly involved in the Brexit negotiations.”