Expected to attract 50,000 spectators from across the world, Gill Hall Estate, Dromore, Co. Down has been announced as the venue for the 2023 World Sheepdog Trials, marking the first time the global event has been held in Northern Ireland.

240 competitors from over 30 countries will descend on the 500ac Gill Hall Estate, all hoping to be named as ‘top dog’ with a world champion announced at the end of the four-day event from September 13-16, 2023.

Organised by the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS), the World Sheepdog Trials is the Olympics of the sheepdog world, taking place every three years.

In 2020, the trials were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, therefore the reigning World Champions from the 2017 event, which took place in Hoogwoud, Netherlands, are Norwegian team, handler, Jaran Knive, and his sheepdog, Gin.

Commenting on the announcement of the venue for the 2023 event, Isabel Branch, CEO of the International Sheep Dog Society said: “Gill Hall Farm 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 [is] delighted that we can build on the success of the 2018 International and look forward to a much anticipated World Trial.”

World Sheepdog Trials

Over the next 14 months, competing nations will select their competitors and teams to go forward to represent the nation.

The current Irish National Champion is handler, Peter Morgan with his dog, Mosse, from Castlewellan, Co. Down who will be vying to retain their title at the Irish National Trials which are taking place in next month, August, in Carnlough, Ballymena.

John McCullough, chairman of the local organising committee and former Irish president of the International Sheep Dog Society said: “We are so delighted that Northern Ireland will, for the first time, be the host for the 2023 World Sheepdog Trials.

“It’s thanks to Bill and James Porter that we are in a position to host the world trials here for the first time, and in just under 14 months, we’ll be welcoming the global community of sheepdog trialists to Gill Hall Estate, which is set to be an incredible event for all.”

With 50,000 visitors anticipated, it is predicted that the World Sheepdog Trials 2023 will deliver a significant economic benefit to businesses across Northern Ireland, with many visitors within the sheepdog community already booking extended trips. 

Venue host, James Porter, co-owner of Gill Hall Estate said: “It’s a true privilege to have Gill Hall Estate named as the venue for the World Sheepdog Trials 2023.

“My father and I are honoured to be hosting such a prestigious event at our estate and we’re hopeful that the ripple effect of the four-day event will extend well beyond the World Sheepdog Trials, benefitting local businesses and accommodation providers across the week and showcasing the incredible sights of Northern Ireland to visitors from across the globe.”

Situated just outside Dromore, Co. Down, Gill Hall Estate is home to several pedigree herds including Old Glenort Angus and Uppermill Shorthorn herds.