Movie buffs will tell you Maureen O’Hara is first seen in The Quiet Man herding sheep. But Connemara’s sheep have been starring in modern-day films too…
When I pulled up at Joe Joyce’s home by Lough Nafooey a few years back, the sheep farmer showed me photos of himself with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. “I was asked to have 20 sheep for a film,” he told me. His herd ended up blocking Anniston and Wilson’s rental car for a scene in Marley & Me (2008).
Joyce is a third generation sheep farmer, and visitors to his farm can learn how pure-bred border collies are trained as sheepdogs before watching the dogs themselves at work. It’s an amazing sight. As Joe whistles and shouts, his dog Roy nips and tucks, steering a small bunch of sheep through gaps and gates on the mountainside like a flock of birds.
Freeing up roads for movie stars is the easy bit. Joyce keeps some 200 sheep on the slug-like Ceann Garbh Mountain, onto which he sometimes sends his dogs in hi-vis vests.
“It’s like a remote control,” he says. “I can work up to a mile away.”
094 954-8853; joycecountrysheepdogs.ie; €7/€5 from June 1st – Sept 30th.
Keywords: Jennifer Aniston Connemara