Sheep farmer's Hollywood ending after star pays visit
A visit by Hollywood star Owen Wilson to the home of sheep farmer Joe Joyce five years ago turned the Connemara man's day job around.
"Someone got in touch one day to say they wanted 20 sheep to block a boreen for a film," explains Joyce. "I organised the block and when the film crew arrived, it was for a scene with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston driving a car."
Shortly after the shoot (the film was Marley & Me), Wilson visited Joyce's home and suggested that the farmer set up a business telling people about sheepdogs. As Joe had just finished a course on training sheepdogs, he took Wilson's advice – and in 2009, he set up Joyce Country Sheepdogs.
"Between June and October, I give talks to tourists and other groups about how we train the dogs, how the dogs work the sheep. I talk about everything to do with hillsheep – including shearing, the dipping, the dozing. But there's the most interest in the dogs.
"The tourists ask a lot of questions, from how do you build a stone wall on the side of a hill to why do you have colours on the sheep."
The sheepdog demos also help Joyce to supplement his farm income.
"I've about 200 sheep – but you don't make a living out of hillsheep," he explains.
Up until now, Joe Joyce has given his talks from his farm in the scenic Lough Na Fooey valley. But this summer, he is also giving sheepdog demos at the Sheep and Wool Centre in Leenane, Connemara.