One thing that I loved seeing in Ireland were the sheep. When we were driving around the southwest, they were everywhere in the mountains. We would come up to them along the road and within a couple of seconds, they would jump off and continue on with their day. We would see white dots along with mountains and the sheer number of them surprised me. I couldn’t get enough of them.
We had the opportunity to visit Kissane Sheep Farm when we were on the Ring of Kerry. As soon as the opportunity was presented to us, I knew I wanted to go. I didn’t know much about sheep farming but I was eager to learn more.
John Kissane is the owner of the farm, the sixth generation of his family to own it. Sheep farmers are suffering due to the drop of wool prices and the Kissanes decided to open up their farm to the public to help continue their living. Their property is over 3000 acres and we were able to see some of it while driving around. Rugged and in an valley, I was surprised to hear that they only got electricity in the 80’s. With all the land, they have over 1,200 sheep and 1000 lambs when we visited. The terrain is tough and only certain type of sheep can make it on the rugged mountains such as the Black Face Mountain Sheep.
John gathered a couple of his dogs and showed us the herding abilities, it is fascinating to watch how all the sheep gather together and the skills of the dogs. He was open to all the questions we had and explained the daily work on his farm, I wouldn’t be cut out to do that. After letting the sheep free, we gathered inside to shearing of two sheep. The sheep are really tough but as soon as they got on their backs, they submit and behave while its taking place. The wool that comes from the sheep is more course but thick and protects them.
We were able to walk around the farm and see the lambs that were born in the spring. I would love to return when they are newborns. We got to see some orphaned sheep and spend some time petting them. I would love to head back and spend more time there, learning and experiencing more of the daily lives. It’s sad to hear about the struggle of many Irish sheep farms with the dramatic drop of wool and having to seek other ways to supplement their incomes on top of taking care of their animals and homes. I can’t remember the exact cost but I believe it was €5 but I couldn’t help donate, in addition as I got more value out of it.