The vast majority of the sheep held by Joyce Country Sheepdogs are of the Connemara Blackface variety. It is believed they originate from the wild, horned Argali sheep that inhabited central Asia in ancient times. However, the breed evolved over the centuries and gradually swept westward to Europe and mainland Britain.
It was during the latter half of the 19th century, after the Famine, that they were introduced to Ireland by the Landlords who owned vast estates in the mountains along the west coast. Thousands of Blackface sheep were imported from Scotland through the Killary Harbour during the 1850’s and the blackface sheep of the Connemara/Mayo area are probably descended from this original importation.
They are the only breed with the necessary resilience for the rugged and challenging terrain of Connemara. Their wool is very coarse in texture making it more suited to carpet manufacture, although its use is less widespread in view of the introduction of synthetic materials. Also, their mountain habitat and diet produces a very lean, sweet tasting meat, the flavour of which is second to none.