Origin of the Breed
The date of origin of the Wicklow Mountain sheep can only be guessed at, but there is concrete evidence to show that in the middle of the fifteenth century, there existed in the Wicklow Mountains a valuable breed of fine woolled sheep.
The breed was distinct in appearance and character from any breed then in existence in these islands. At this time the Wicklow Mountain Sheep were contributing very materially to the reputation of Irish woolens, not only in the spun-wool markets of Holland and the manufactured-woolen markets of Flanders, but also in the markets for both these commodities in England.
The flourishing condition in which the Wicklow Mountain Sheep existed in the 18th century is indicated by the fact that in 1793 the Flannel Hall in Rathdrum was built by Earl Fitzwilliam at a cost of £3,500, to serve as a mart for the sale of produce of Wicklow Mountain Wool. A toll of 2d was charged for every 120 yards of flannel sold, and the receipts of this toll amounted to £300 annually.