Not your average sheep farmer, Michael Keegan is one of a new breed of resourceful young farmers who are determined to find viable ways to stay on the land. Michael and his wife Hannah have developed an interesting combination of enterprises - including, since 2011, a farm shop - that allow them to continue living on the Glencree Valley farm that has been in his family for generations, and to raise their own family in this beautiful place.
It’s very much a working farm - and, for those with an interest in farming, changing over to the relatively trouble-free, prolific and economical Welsh Lleyn breed of sheep has been a key part of the plan - but visitors are welcome and, while they don’t exactly have a pet farm (yet) Michael is happy to show the farm animals to children, when families are in visiting the shop at the weekends.
“Quality, sustainability and seasonality” sum up the ethos of the farm shop, which showcases produce from the immediate area - such as locally made jams, chutneys and cheese, perhaps also seasonal vegetables and fruits, and their own Lleyn lamb, which can be ordered in the shop - and other directly sourced farm and artisan produce from other parts of Ireland including Kilbeggan Porridge Oats, from Westmeath, Corleggy cheese from Co Cavan, apple products Highbank Orchards and The Little Apple Company and gorgeous breads from the Tartine Bakery in Swords, Co Dublin.
You can get a cup of coffee or tea here too, and there are plans for a tea room.
While the Keegans don’t offer accommodation, they do offer safe and serviced parking for visitors touring in campervans (Safe Nights Ireland, www.safenightsireland.com); contact Hannah for details.
Michael also offers farm courses, throughout the year.
Well worth a detour.