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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Preserving the heritage of the Irish working sheepdog is our objective’

Paul Walker and Alan Moran, best known as The Newport Shepherds, in Co. Mayo, are on a nationwide tour of Ireland “with a truly unique and memorable experience for all ages and interests”, writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.

Advocates of outdoor learning, they have been providing children of all ages and abilities with an insight into the Irish landscape, its farming benefits for biodiversity, and the importance of the role farmers play in maintaining and enriching wildlife, flora and fauna to support healthy ecosystems.

With their workshops, tailored for all ages and abilities, The Newport Shepherds – who That’s Farming previously profiled in this news article – aim to “bring agricultural science to life”.

The Newport Shepherds

They have also recently started to visit nursing homes, where many residents have been raised on farms and been farmers themselves.

The duo is committed to caring for, protecting, and enhancing our nation’s heritage for future generations.

Having perfected their skills on the hills of Newport and the Andes, their sheepdog training and demonstration business offers a unique experience.

At the Newport Shepherds, immerse yourself in the world of sheepdogs and mountains, engage with Ireland’s rich heritage, and hear fascinating stories about how our ancestors adapted to working sheep in these mountains of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Experience Irish traditions and the great outdoors, observe skills and methods that have been handed down through generations, and learn how important sheepdogs are in everyday life in Ireland and how they have been part of the history of humankind.

Sheepdog training & boarding

The duo offer sheepdog training for all levels of experience and obedience.

Paul Walker explained: “Our methods have proven successful, both in the mountains and on the trial field.”

“Many say that if sheepdogs did not exist, our civilisation would still be in its early stages – the hills and mountains around us would not be farmed without dogs.”

“This is their true value. Preserving the heritage of the Irish working sheepdog is our objective,” he added.

Sheepdog demonstrations

You will see dogs in all stages of their training; puppies, started dogs and fully trained dogs.

Its interactive demonstrations involve historically exploring how the Border Collie breed developed in farming over the years, how these special work dogs are trained and how they learn.

You will also learn about different breeds of sheep and the importance of their adaptation to the mountains and much more.

Sheepdog training courses & experiences

Learn how to train your sheepdog using proven methods, experience the life of a shepherd in Ireland, complete daily chores with sheep, starting sheepdogs, training them and getting them ready for farm work or the trial field.

Schools/colleges demonstrations

The duo are currently on a nationwide mission to bring farming life and nature back into schools.

“Whether we bring our mobile show to your school or college, or you choose to come to visit us on our traditional sheep farm, we guarantee a memorable experience for all students of all ages.”

“We invite students to work hands-on with our sheepdogs. Meet our puppies and lambs. Book The Newport Shepherds, escape the classroom and bring agricultural science to life!”

Visits to nursing homes/care centres

The first reported use of therapy animals dates back to the 1800s when Florence Nightingale observed that small animals helped ease distress among patients in residential health settings.

“The Newport Shepherds would love to give back to the elderly what they have handed down to us,” he added.

Team building days out

Groups get to work with highly trained sheepdogs, experience the thrill of having a sheepdog under their command and also get to try their own hand at sheep herding.


The Newport Shepherds are located at the foot of the Nephin mountains, three kilometres from Newport on the Achill Road (F28 NY10) and the exhibition is signposted on The Wild Atlantic Way (N59).

The Great Western Greenway also runs adjacent to the centre, and there is ample parking for cars, buses, and bikes.

Previous article on ‘the need for sheepdogs is still as important as it was 100 years ago’

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