A 90-year-old Laois sheep farmer, Mary Kelly, has had her 11 Jacob in-lamb hoggets, which were reportedly stolen on Tuesday 12 April, returned to her.

Mary says she has been farming since she was born and was delighted to have collected her sheep on Monday, almost two weeks after their initial reported theft, with the support of her neighbour Paddy Kelly.

They were located in the field of Eddie Cullen in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, 32km away from Mary’s farm in Ballylynan, Co Laois.

Cullen told the Irish Farmers Journal that the sheep were dropped into his field on Wednesday night 13 April and he discovered them that Thursday morning.

Forty-eight hours had passed between the animals' theft in Laois and discovery in Carlow.

He had kept the sheep safe and made several queries and social media posts to locate their owner.

The sheep are due to lamb next week and Mary hopes she will now get a “few nice rare Jacob lambs” from the returned ewes.


Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, the 90-year-old said the sheep were removed from the field on the night of Tuesday 12 April. She had checked them that evening, but the following morning they were gone.

She said there were car and trailer tracks in the gap of her field by the road and that the sheep had been pulled out of a bunch where there were other ewes with lambs at foot.

Mary described how she believes that the sheep had been brought to a butcher who “smelled a rat” when the ewes were so heavily in lamb and refused to do business with the thieves.

Having never been on the internet herself, Mary says it did wonders for locating her stolen flock. She said that they were advertised on social media and that the gardaí contacted her to let them know they were found.

The Laois farmer thanked Eddie Cullen for minding her sheep for the past week and a half. She said Jacob sheep are a very rare and special breed and she hopes to stay farming them as long as she can.