Sunday, March 15, 2015


Galway ewe with lambs

In just a few days, it will be St. Patrick's Day, so I decided to write about an Irish breed of sheep.  These sheep come from a part of western Ireland that is known as Galway, so that's how they got their name.

These sheep have white faces, and they do not have horns.  On the top of their heads, Galways have cute little bobs of wool.  They also have wool on their legs.  Their fleece is fairly long, with a close and fine texture.  Buyers pay top price for this type of wool.  And people who spin by hand especially like it because of its fineness.

Photo by Dick Keely,

But even though they have really nice wool, Galway sheep are often raised for meat as well.  Galway ewes are sometimes crossed with Suffolk and Texel rams.  The average litter size is 1.45.  They are a hardy breed that can easily adapt to different types of climate.

A Galway Ram at the Tullamore Show 2012
Credit: Finnegas/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Old photo of sheep fair at Killarney, County Kerry

The Galway sheep is one of the oldest breeds in the U.K.  It has been in existence for about 300 years.  In the big Irish landlord estates that were around until the beginning of the 20th century, the Galway was the major breed of sheep.  Some people say that there is no other native Irish sheep besides the Galway.  Others think there were actually many types in existence before the famine, including the mountain sheep.

The town of Claddagh, in Galway County

A woman spinning wool into yarn
The number of Galway sheep breeders is growing.  In 1990, there were only 14 breeders, but by 1999, the number of true-to-type sheep had increased to 1000,  in 39 flocks.  Almost all of the breeders are west of the Shannon River.

So that's all I can really tell you about the Galway sheep.  If I had been able to find more information, I would have shared it with you, because that's the kind of generous and helpful dog I am!

1 comment:

  1. Las ovejas siempre le han hecho un buen servicio al hombre, en todas las épocas de la historia, les han dado su leche, su carne y su lana.
    Saludos desde España