Renewal for Irish Shield


PICTOU — A long-standing women’s curling award now has a new gleam to it.

The Irish Shield was contested for the first time in about 30 years on Sunday at the New Caledonian Curling Club in Pictou, with an invitation by the Westville Curling Club to host the event in 2019.

Three teams from Bluenose Curling Club combined to win the shield, based on a point system to average out the results for each team.

“That’s so awesome,” said Bluenose skip Donalda Buckingham regarding the decision to resurrect the award. Buckingham, Courtney Buchanan and Heather Russell skipped the Bluenose teams that won the bonspiel.

They were among 10 teams that participated. There were three teams each from New Caledonian and Westville clubs and one team from Stellar Curling Club.

Each game lasted four ends through the six scheduled draws.

Buckingham defeated the Raylene MacPherson team from Stellar 6-0 and the Westville team skipped by Cindy Perrin 7-1 while bowing 4-2 to the New Caledonian team skipped by Kara Taylor.

Russell defeated Westville’s team skipped by Bonnie Coulter 6-0 and defeated the Westville team skipped by Yvonne Legere 6-2 while dropping a 5-2 decision to the New Caledonian foursome skipped by Margo Watt.

Buchanan’s team defeated the Vicki Campbell team from New Caledonian club 7-1, tied Coulter’s team 3-3 and edged Watt’s team 4-3.

Watt’s team also tied Legere’s team 4-4.

Taylor’s team tied Perrin’s team 3-3 and dropped a 4-2 decision to MacPherson’s team.

Perrin edged MacPherson 4-3 and Coulter topped Campbell 6-1 in other games.

Interest in the Irish Shield was rekindled due to an interest in offering a women’s curling competition and the discovery of the shield at the New Caledonian club.

“We were just digging through old items and found this old shield,” said Margo Hilchey, who proceeded to list the winners of the shield dating back to 1942.

Margo Watt, who like Hilchey curls out of New Caledonian club, said the shield can be traced to Jean and Ernie Irish when they operated the Braeside Inn in Pictou and donated the shield.

It was continuously contested through 1964 and has engravings showing the winners through 1985. Several subsequent winning clubs were not attached.

Bluenose teams were often winners in the early years and won it a total of 12 times.

New Caledonian teams were perennial winners in later years and won it a total of 15 times.

Westville teams won it five times, and Stellar won it once.

The Irish Shield is also seen as a women’s alternative to the men’s only events like the annual McLellan Cup which New Caledonian is contesting today.

Research is ongoing regarding cups contested in the past by women curlers at the three other clubs.

Skips of the three Bluenose Curling Club teams accepted the Irish Shield they combined to win during a bonspiel on Sunday in Pictou to reintroduce the competition. From left are skips Courtney Buchanan and Donalda Buckingham with sponsor Bobby Arbuckle of Big B Carpentry and skip Heather Russell. (Goodwin photo)

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