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HomeEditor's PicksFrom France to Connemara - How this 29-year-old became a sheep farmer
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
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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From France to Connemara – How this 29-year-old became a sheep farmer

“I came to Ireland in August 2019 because I fell in love with a man from Connemara. I adore the Emerald Isle and I believe it is a great country to live in.”

Those are the words of 29-year-old Mariska Rebiere who bid farewell to the Dordogne Valley in the south-west of France to begin her next chapter in the west of Ireland.

A pre-school teacher by profession, Rebiere now resides in Recess, a village in Connemara, with her partner who runs a 165-strong flock.

Farming blood

Farming life has not taken the French native by surprise, as her family have a strong association with agriculture.  “My family is very attached to farming, it’s in our roots,” she explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.

“Although the younger generations are not farming anymore, we have kept rituals such as making black pudding and pâté before Easter alive.”

“Only wealthy families could afford to have land. My great-grandparents were working for a landowner giving them half of their harvest.”

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While the farming tradition has died out in her family as they do not own land, she did not let this extinguish her passion.

“I was raised seeing my grandpa taking care of his sheep, poultry, rabbits, always gardening and eating from his land.”

“I always felt like farming was a healthy way of life. I used to help him pick up stones and thistles out of his garden as a young girl. “

“I wasn’t destined to be a farmer but when I moved to Ireland and started living on a sheep farm, I enjoyed being outdoors and helping with the flock.”

Sheep farming

Living on a farm, surrounded by Black-faced Mountain/Connemara ewes, is where Mariska now calls home.

“I help out with dipping sheep and standing in gaps when we are moving sheep. I also catch sheep if we are doing tagging.”

“I love being outside and seeing the sheep grazing. The views are also spectacular – there is no better office view. The weather can be challenging for me because I used to live in a much warmer and drier place.”

She frequently returns to her home soil to visit her family but has not been in a position to do so since the Covid-19 global pandemic struck.

“Dublin-Bordeaux is a two-hour plane journey which is nothing but not being able to travel and not knowing when I will be able to is difficult.”

“These last months have been challenging for everybody so I am not complaining. The people who I have met along the way are very supportive.”

Pre-school teacher

Farming is a part-time commitment for the French native, who is one of three teachers at Laura’s Laugh ’N’ Learn.

“I am here to make sure the children are having fun, learning, and developing through play and activities. I help them if they need and try to make their day the most enjoyable possible.”

“I love working with kids, they are surprising, smart, and funny. My days are never the same and I have great colleagues and a boss who have always been supportive and encouraging.”


Looking ahead, satisfied in her current position, Mariska will continue to assist with the running of the farm, with a view to furthering her knowledge in the field.

She intends to complete her Green Certificate and does not intend on departing Ireland shores anytime soon. “I am staying in Ireland; I want to live here permanently.”

“I have found a new home and family here, people that have changed my life and that I am very grateful for.”

“Living in Connemara, I see beauty daily even when it’s pouring rain and being in the hills with sheep is calming. I just feel very lucky to live here and to be able to embark on this farming adventure.”

“My goal is being happy and healthy, and I think farming is one way to reach that goal,” she concluded.

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