Irish wool has a lucrative market abroad but are Irish farmers getting the best possible return for their product?

Wool is a valuable sideline to our sheep trade and is worth over three and a half million pounds.

The price paid for wool in Ireland is high by world standards.

The price for wool in Ireland is second only to New Zealand, yet it is not unusual to hear complaints about the quality of the wool and its presentation for sale. Methods of marketing Irish wool have also been the subject of much criticism. 

Patrick Jennings meets some people who are involved in all these discussions.

Seamus Barrett, wool exporter and President of the Irish Wool Federation, claims that there has been a tremendous improvement in the quality and standards of wool in recent years largely as a result of the Clean Wool Campaign, an initiative of the Irish Wool Federation and the Department of Agriculture. In addition, he believes that farmers are more aware that the better they present their product, the more money it will yield. Mr Barrett does acknowledge some imperfections in the present day wool clips including daggings, paint and tar marks, and the use of binder twine in tying the wool. 

Mr Barrett describes what happens to the fleece when it arrives for processing before he can sell it on.

Wool is taken in in packs. It's weighed. Then put before our graders. They then grade it into the various qualities. It's put into bins, separate bins for each quality. It's then put into the sorting room where all these daggings and vegetable matter and all that sort of stuff is taken out. Then packed ready for export.

On the prospect of the establishment of a Wool Marketing Board, Mr Barrett is sceptical about the costs involved. 


This episode of 'On The Land' was broadcast on 24 June 1963. The reporter is Patrick Jennings.