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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Puppy love: how Hollywood royalty fell for the charms of Joe's farm

Caroline Crawford

Published 22/08/2013 | 05:00

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Jennifer Aniston with Joe Joyce on his farm during the 'Friends' star's visit
Hollywood star Owen Wilson poses for a picture with Joe Joyce and his wife Mary Anne and baby Caoilfhionn
'Ally McBeal' star Calista Flockhart

A CONNEMARA farmer who set up a sheepdog business has proved a huge hit with Hollywood royalty, with stars including Jennifer Aniston, Calista Flockhart and Owen Wilson all falling in love with his pups.

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Joe Joyce (47) from Shanafaraghaun, near Clonbur, Co Galway, began holding sheepdog demonstrations in 2008 after he was approached to assist in the US film 'Marley and Me'.

He has since built the business into a major tourist attraction in the West and has attracted movie stars, musicians and business tycoons to his small, isolated farm.

His pups have melted the hearts of some of Hollywood's heavy hitters, with actor Owen Wilson eager to bring one home to his Malibu home.

"He came around to our home and he was absolutely mad about the dogs, the sheep, the mountains.

"He told us he never got much of an opportunity to sit into a family home and have a chat with people.

"He wanted to take a pup back home on their private jet but we weren't exporting them at that stage." Aniston also proved a huge hit, posing for pictures with Joe's nieces and nephews.

"She was so down to earth. She just chatted away with everyone. She was great with the dogs and sheep," he added.

Flockhart also visited the farm with her parents and young son Liam, when they holidayed in Ireland last year.

"Harrison Ford was due to join them but he had to cancel at the last minute. They were all very nice and relaxed. I recognised her from 'Ally McBeal'.

"She was just so nice and Liam was delighted with the pups. The young fella also loved feeding the lambs," said Joe.

Joe also entertained the family of legendary singer Johnny Cash last summer, with Johnny Cash Jnr bringing his family back to Ireland.

"He told me how his father and June Carter Cash used to bring the family to the area when they were young and nobody knew who they were. He loved coming back."

He has so far transported dogs to Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Norway and the UK. For more information see www.joyce countrysheepdogs.ie

Irish Independent

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