Séaghan Ó Súilleabháin (23), loves farming, rural life, preserving the Irish language and his dog, Braindí. When he started sharing some of his Co Kerry life on social media, he could never have known what adventures the future would hold.
Now with a massive online following and his first TG4 television series Téacs Taistil under his belt, he shares his story with Irish Country Living.
Tell us about growing up in Co Kerry?
I was very lucky to grow up on a farm in the heart of Co Kerry. I’ve had an obsession with animals since I could walk and was surrounded by them throughout childhood.
One of my earliest memories is a cattle dog we had – Pedro – doing his best to keep me away from big friesian cows towering over me. I had no fear. It was only natural that I’d be interested in agriculture given my rearing.
What kind of farming is your family involved with?
We have 90 dairy cows and it really is a family enterprise. There are plenty of hands to help between my father and mother, my sister Niamh and her boyfriend Jack, my granduncle Mossie and we’ve a man employed, Mike.
As well as being involved in dairy, my family are contractors and much of the summer is spent up on machinery.
But between all the escapades I’m getting up to these days, I’m probably the least help on the farm of them all.
How did you get your start on social media?
During the Covid-19 lockdown, I decided to get a border collie pup, Braindí, and train her to round up lambs which we fatten every winter. I was training her away and my sister suggested posting videos about the process.
I posted one video of her at 13 weeks running around cows and overnight 50,000 people had seen it – and then, within a week, over a million. The social media took off from there. I was answering people’s questions from all over the world – not just about dogs, but Irish culture and rural life. Ever since, I’ve taken pride in giving people from all over an insight into our way of life.
Braindí had her first litter of puppies this past year. What goes into training a good farm pup?
They were lovely, God bless them, and they’ve all now headed off to their new homes. Training a working dog takes an awful lot of time and patience and, despite all the effort in the world, some of them just won’t have it in them. Braindí’s pups have an advantage in that they’re from two good working dogs and, although a few of them were already eyeing up stock at two months old, its too soon at this stage to make any guarantees.
You were recently involved in an exciting travel series, Téacs Taistil – how did this come about?
I was working as a teacher in Tralee when I got a call from Mairéad Tucker, a producer with Macalla. She was casting for a travel series that would air on TG4. The premise is that three presenters travel across Europe using their social media skills to help them overcome challenges along the way. I was hesitant at first. Growing up on a farm, the family rarely gets a break, let alone chances to visit countries abroad. But apparently someone without travel experience was exactly what they were looking for.
So I’ve been in 13 different countries with Louise Cantillon and Proinsias Ó Coinn in the last two years. We’ve done everything from driving a 4x4 over a rock trail in Spanish mountains to giving a hand on a sheep farm in Iceland. It’s been some journey.
How did you spend your summer months this past year?
If you told me three years ago that I’d be spending the summer working in the media as a presenter and content creator, I’d think you’d have gone mad. It wasn’t a world that really interested me, but I thoroughly enjoy seeing a bit of the world, meeting new people and I don’t take much notice of a camera being shoved in my face. I was also appointed principal on a summer Gaeltacht course with Coláistí Chorca Dhuibhne for three weeks, which was completely different from the media or farming – you wouldn’t know what I’d be up to.
How important is your Irish-speaking heritage to you?
I think there’s such a wealth to be tapped into in the Irish language. An example I always give is that a few years ago, I was given comfrey as a cure to help knit broken bones. I hadn’t much else to be at whilst healing, so decided to look up the plant’s name in the Irish dictionary. I discovered that the Irish for comfrey is lus na gcnámh briste – the plant for broken bones.
I think people look at learning Irish as a mammoth task, but we can throw in the cúpla focal to our everyday speech – go raibh maith agat, slán, and without realising it you’re connecting to your language. Students often come to the Gaeltacht hesitant about the language, but its great to see their opinion change as they begin to view it as a living language rather than a school subject. They start to take pride in their own language – is linne ar fad í, I> -she belongs to us all.
Can we expect more puppies in your (and Braindi’s) future? What are your plans for the remainder of 2023?
This was Braindí’s first litter and I was blown away at how maternal she was. She gave birth to six healthy pups on her own and nursed them to six weeks. Breeding can be taxing on a bitch so I’ll be giving her a well-deserved break, but all pups are now on other farms and if they turn out to have working potential, I just might breed her again in two years’ time. For now, she can relax away until we buy in lambs again.
As for myself, I’ve constantly been on the road this year, be it filming for TV, speaking on panels or hosting events, so I’m hoping to get a few chances to take a break and give a hand at home. It’s very exciting travelling around, but I do miss bringing in cows from the fields, surrounded by the beautiful natural scenery of Kerry. I’ll hopefully get a few chances to get away from the noise and bustle and do just that.
Do you have any big plans for Christmas or will it be a quiet one in Kerry?
I’m looking forward to a nice, peaceful Christmas at home on the farm. The cows will be dry (taking their own Christmas holidays) so it’s the best time of year to meet friends and relatives. I’ve a lot to get done before the break but I can almost taste the turkey and bacon and feel the heat of the woodburning stove for the long evenings already.
The Kerry Cowboy has 22k followers on Instagram and 201k on TikTok. In total, he has a total of 6.2million likes on his TikToks
Follow Séaghan on Instagram @kerry.cowboy or on TikTok @kerrycowboy