Our Family Farm
A genuine Fáilte to our home and headland.
For generations this land has been in FJ's family, and now we've set up to showcase our furry friends, in the sport of sheepdog trailing. With these views and the spectacle on the hills we know you'll love this place as much as we do.
The Wild Atlantic Way features the best of the west, in unique tourism experiences. Co. Donegal ensures a real rural authenticity and it's wild unspoilt beauty is recognised the world over. Sliabh liag is an experience not to be missed, and a day out with our dogs in Malinbeg, (not too far away) is the perfect adventure to add to your memories.
Francis John, or FJ as most people call him, has been raising sheep and border collies since he was just a gasúr (Irish for a young lad).
It all began when his Uncle Hugh gave him his first 6 sheep and a month later, landed down to the house with a pup. A life-long passion for both farming and training sheepdogs was born. Working the farm with his brother, Jamsie, FJ used his spare time on training this family of talented dogs.
“Away To Me” is a way to share in the sport and see these amazing dogs in action. FJ invites you to meet his extended collie family and trusts you will be equally impressed with their skill, as entertained by their enthusiasm.
Meghan Rice Cunningham is originally from Massachusetts. As part of her college research she came across documents in Gaeilge and, being unable to read them, she resolved to learn.
She first came to Glencolmcille in 2016 to study the Irish language at the Oideas Gael language school thanks to a Gaeltacht Summer Award.
It was during that visit that she met FJ who was playing the fiddle as part of a regular, traditional-music session at John Eoinín's pub. His sister introduced them and two years later, in 2018, they married in Glencolmcille.
Farming life on the west coast of Ireland is a world apart, but come visit and you'll see why this place stole her heart.
Heroes of the Hills
Nell: The Matriarch
Nell is the mother of most of the dogs here on the farm. And she is the typical Irish Mammy keeping her sons and daughters out of trouble, and showing them how the work of herding sheep is done.
Her most recent litter, and very possibly her last, was born in late May 2018 and thankfully all three pups - Butte, Bella & Sin é - are showing a keen interest in sheep already.
Nell is very taken now with these tours as she loves people and an audience adds to the sport.
Terry: The Old Pro
Terry is one of Nell’s sons. Nell blames his dad for his ginger looks, but we're not so sure as there's more than a few redheads in her family.
Family resemblance becomes apparent when they work together, as they're both brilliant hill dogs, able to bring large numbers down the mountain. As gentle as a sea breeze, he can herd mommy ewes and wee lambs without upsetting them.
Terry's attitude and aptitude means he has a great many admirers, but he's never let it go to his head.
Darkie: The Shy Guy
Darkie, another of Nell’s sons, coming out of his shy phase, he'd decided to do a bit of traveling. Since his timing was never the best, the pandemic put a spanner in that plan. He's ended up cocooning with friends down the country.
Every now and again we get messages that all is well, but he misses being out on the hill. He was really sorry 'The National Sheep Dog Trials' were cancelled, but he figures he’ll be able to check out the talent next year.
Coalie: The Clever Girl
Coalie (Darkie's twin sister) is too clever by half, from the time she was a pup and figured out how to climb up the pallets that formed her nursery-pen. She'd trot along the top to tease her siblings, who couldn’t figure out her 'Houdini' act at all.
She still seems to like heights – a good trait in a dog when working along the sea-cliffs. She may be a bit of a rascal with her acrobatics, but we don’t mind her mischievous streak.
Skye: The Wild Child
Meet Nell's daughter Skye, who'll rarely sits still long enough to take her photo. She's the scrappy wee punk that runs rings around the others, and will always come out on top.
She and Moss occasionally call back and forth to one another. Could a romance be blossoming? Skye has only just started her training but she’s a natural.
We can’t wait to see what is in store for Nell’s wild child!
Moss: The Teddy Bear
Moss is the blow-in, a young lad come a-courting. He's a real charmer and Nell's daughters love this handsome rogue from Ballybofey.
He has absolutely no fear, power in spades and a big fluffy coat on him. The girls can't stop staring when he's out working in the fields. But while he has their hearts aflutter, his only focus is his studies and the sport.
We think, secretly he loves all the attention and throwing shapes.
Pups: The Wee Wains
Nell's latest wee wains are at that cute stage of causing confusion and complete chaos whenever get a chance. Butte, named for Butte Montana where FJ’s Granda was born, Bella, who's just beautiful, and Sin é (that’s it), because she's most likely the last of Nell’s pups.
We also recently adopted Sásta to help widen the bloodlines, but the four pups get along really well as if they were always, one fluffy little family.
Oh My Darling...
Clementine was a 'pet' from Meghan’s first lambing season. It was her responsibility to bottle feed these 'babies'. Clemmie, being a ewe, was kept and became Meghan’s first sheep. FJ got her nine more for her birthday - who says romance is dead?
This will be the first year Clemmie gets to meet the ram. So if all goes well... there should be at least one mini-Clemmie springing around the fields come springtime!