Last year, I was approached by a Dublin production company that wanted to pitch a show to Irish television network, RTE, about my life as an American married to an Irish farmer and the ins-and-outs of day to day life on our farm. A girlfriend back home wondered in jest if it would be called ‘The Real Farmwives of Ireland’ complete with an MTV-style logo featuring a pair of mucky pink wellies with a shimmering gold dusted title animated across the front of them.

While that idea made me chuckle, it also made me seriously consider the idea of real Irish farm wives. I have met many fascinating + inspiring + modern women in agriculture since moving to the Irish countryside that I admire profusely, and YES, there should be a show about these ladies! I am always thrilled to meet other women who manage to farm on some level and run another business or a busy career on the side, feed a family of their own and often extra workers…most of whom are mothers as well. Some may have been raised on farms, and others like myself, moved to a farm without a clue as to what to expect.

Perhaps I won’t be producing The Real Farmwives for Irish television anytime soon, but I would like to share these fabulous farmerettes here with you all, and I hope you enjoy meeting them as much as I have.

First up is Lorna Sixsmith of Carlow, County Laois. I stumbled upon Lorna over a year ago when I was looking for an Irish online boutique that stocked stylish decor/gifts for children. In my search, I came across Garrendenny Lane Interiors and found brilliant bits & pieces on the site including a locally crafted wooden alphabet snake puzzle which I ordered straight away. I received a confirmation email immediately and it arrived two days later in the post without a hitch.  After that, I realised that Lorna also had a blog and lived on a farm herself. Needless to say, she is quite an inspiration to me. I’ve been following her blog as well as her her sales in the online boutique, and am particularly fond of her amazing wallpaper selection and the die-cut prints with common Irish sayings.

Here’s a little about Lorna, her farm, family and Garrendenny Lane Interiors…

Life on the Farm

I was brought up on this farm and we inherited it from my father 9 years ago. We had been living and working in the UK, Brian has a PhD in microbiology but was brought up on a farm and would have loved to farm so we decided to come back and the timing worked well with us starting a family too.  Brian is originally from Coolkenno, which is 25 miles away.

Our farm is dairy and beef, we have a British Freisian herd and keep all the male calves to beef when they are sold to the factory at 2 years.  Brian has worked really hard and really enjoys it and we sell many of our replacement heifers.  I don’t milk the cows, unfortunately with eczema, I am allergic to straw, hay, pollens, and depending on how my allergies are, they will determine how much I can do outside.  I do help out in the spring with feeding calves and herding, etc., but have to admit I tend to be a bit of a ‘fair weather farmer’.  The children vary in what they love doing.  Our 9 year old son loves machinery and will spend days on the tractor with Brian during the holidays. Our 7 year old daughter loves the goats and we  sometimes get a couple of pet lambs which she loves feeding etc.  They help out by helping to feed calves, move cattle, that kind of  thing.

What do I love most about country living? The space, the quietness, the good feelings that walking across particular fields can evoke, the views, the feeling of having nature right beside you.  Farming is a wonderful (although long hours) way of life.


Garrendenny Lane Interiors was started in Nov 2007, initially as an interior design consultancy  service with sales for fabric and wallpaper brands.  It was started as a business to operate from home, which turned out to be a very sensible idea with the way things have altered with the economy. The online store was added the following August, when we managed to get  broadband!

I used to be a teacher, but when living in England, we would buy a house to renovate and  decorate and once it was finished, we would get itchy feet and move on to  another project. We were both working during the day but weekends and evenings were devoted to DIY, unfortunately being self-employed now means neither of us have the time for it!  After having the children, I wanted to work from home – partly to be with the kids, and partly to be on the farm, and as I enjoy interior design and decorating, I did a diploma course and it went from  there.

The name Garrendenny Lane originates from the farm, I was thinking along the lines of a romantic country sounding name like blueberry lane and as we actually have a lane that runs thru the farm called Garrendenny Lane, we decided to go with that – I hadn’t realised that so many people would find it hard to  pronounce!  Our address is actually Garrendenny Castle, but that sounded too ostentatious so went with Garrendenny Lane.

I love going to the European trade fairs – seeing all the new products, designs, new fabrics  and wallpapers, deciding what to order etc.  I write occasionally for local magazines as well as Interiors magazines so enjoy the trade fairs from that point of view too, doing the research for the articles. To date, I have tended to source stock that is either not available elsewhere in Ireland or is hard to find (and many UK sites will not ship to Ireland) so I wanted  Garrendenny Lane to be the go-to site when people want gifts or home  accessories for their home that are different, individual, beautiful and competitively priced.

I decided to relaunch my website in 2010 as with the changes in the economy, and the fact that I was finding it hard to juggle all the balls in the air (interior design, fabric & wallpaper sales  and the online store), I decided to concentrate on the online store. The existing  site was very attractive, but the online store was only one small part of it and hence it wasn’t necessarily that easy for people to find.  It also meant I could work around the children. I still do interior design, but it has tended to be for existing clients or word of mouth recommendations.

So to recap, I tend to source stock from European suppliers, particularly  Scandinavian. However, following a survey I organised before changing the  site, there is a definite interest in ‘Made in Ireland’ products and I have decided to target the UK and the USA with quality, elegant, unusual Irish products that are beautifully made by talented craftspeople and will be adding  to my ‘Made in Ireland’ suppliers considerably.  I don’t tend to sew anything myself I have to admit, but I enjoy taking an old piece of  furniture and adding my stamp to it, but I just don’t have the time at  the moment.


Will is 9 and Kate is 7.  I find the balance works well, I work on Garrendenny Lane when they are in school and then am free to bring them to activities, do homework, spend time with them and I also work on the laptop in the living room when they are playing etc. They get on really well and play well on their own and together. Our living room does tend to be more of a ‘playroom’ but I prefer that and so do they so more often than not, there is Lego or a farm taking up half of it with a doll’s house taking up another quarter!  The extent of my involvement in the farm varies on the time of year, Brian works long hours so it does tend to be me that does  all of the running around to swimming lessons, Beavers although Brian will do some in December and Jan when the cows are dry! Then I am like a single mum again from Feb – May!

The children would love to help me by wrapping up orders, but I tend to have to dissuade them – they love helping when new products arrive and help me when I am checking the orders, emptying boxes etc (they love playing with the huge boxes  that arrive – and make houses, boats, tents etc with them)   They will test out the products for children too!

What is new for Garrendenny Lane Interiors? Anything special for the holidays? Tell us about your blog(s)….

There is an information centre on the website where people will find answers to many decorating and design queries, there is a wallpaper calculator on the wallpaper pages, there is a gift reminder service so people can input birthday dates for their friends and families and  receive reminders so they need never be late with a birthday gift again,  e-vouchers that can be emailed to the recipient,  we stock many wallpapers that are either exclusive to Garrendenny Lane or aren’t widely available – that kind of explains what sets Garrendenny apart from the rest I guess.

While there are lots of other web based shops, I think Garrendenny Lane does and will have lots of advanced functionality, great products, user-friendly, good search tools, informative blog posts and articles – plus our products are different, beautiful and competitively  priced!

Our Aw Go On poster is a firm favourite and of course, was inspired by the Mrs Doyle of the Father Ted episodes. It has been reduced in price to spread some pre-Christmas Irish love :), the Irish blessings in typographical prints are very popular too.

Our Irish Christmas cards provide some good Irish humour and are certainly very different.

The Bold and Noble typographical maps are proving very popular. The Ireland Maps are flying off the shelves and I’ve just got the new New York city map in stock too.

I have started a new personal blog which is called Irish Farmerette, I also blog for Write on Track which is the blog coaching and blog outsourcing business.

Lorna is offering readers of this blog a special discount for purchases (last shipping date to the US is 6th Dec). Use the code FARM22, to get 15% off purchases until 20th December. Visit Garrendenny Lane online at

Hope you’ve enjoyed my first installment of The Real Farmwives of Ireland. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Slan Abhaile,


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40 Responses to “The Real Farmwives of Ireland”

  1. barbara says:

    Great post Imen. I really enjoyed it.

    • imen says:

      Thanks Barbara, have you seen the show in Australia called Farmer Wants A Wife or somesuch? It’s a bit cringeworthy if you ask me….
      Tune in for more farm wives in the future =) xx

  2. Peter Haken says:

    Thanks for sharing this great post! I watched a few episodes of “Farmer Wants a Wife” I think it would be a great show seeing the other side. behind every great man is a great woman!! 🙂

    • imen says:

      Thanks for your message Peter. Have just looked up Farmer Wants a Wife…never heard of it and not sure what to think either! Thanks again for leaving a comment here. xx

  3. Great read and an inspiring lady!
    I’m a farmers wife, mother and recently started my own business, so I was reading and laughing with sympathy, as I call myself a harvest widow!! Not easy at times being married to a farmer & his farm-but it’s a great life living and bringing up a family.

    • imen says:

      I have to agree, the harvest widow is outweighed by many positives of farm living. Thanks for your comment! xx

  4. […] by a couple of tweets I received today, together with some of the comments on the blog post in the I Married an Irish Farmer blog today where Imen featured me in an interview on ‘farm wives’. Women telling me that I […]

  5. nessa robins says:

    I think this is a marvellous idea Imen! My mother was a working farmwife – often up with cows calving in the middle of the night, only to be getting children out to school the next morning and then to work herself. Lorna sounds really wonderful and I’m very much looking forward to meeting the other ladies. These ladies should definitely be showcased on Irish television.

    • imen says:

      Lorna is lovely. Would have loved to me your mother Nessa. We’ll see about the tv bit…would have to be produced very eloquently in my opinion which may be a hard sell in the days of reality tv. Thanks for your comment xx

  6. What a lovely post, I also follow Lorna’s blog, she is a true inspiration to us all, like yourself. I’m a soon to be farmer wife, I have grown up in the countryside but have never lived on a farm but come next week I will be starting to move to our new home on the farm. I am getting married in February and then I’ll be a farmers wife 🙂 My other half is a full time farmer and I’m a country girl at heart!

    All things nice…

    • Wow, I wish you all the best in becoming a farmer’s wife – it’s a great life esp for bringing up a family

    • imen says:

      Ahhhh lovely, you’ll be joining the ranks soon! At the very least we should start a ‘farmerette group’ where we can get together and swap stories over drinks or meal or even a night away! Could be a good time =) Thanks for your comment! xx

  7. Thanks, Imen- Lorna is an inspiration. We needn’t worry about our country when women like her are in charge. Mulieres fortes,( that’s a compliment) the two of you.

  8. I would love to see “Real Farmwives of Ireland”. So does anybody know a director up for this job? These are lovely stories.

    • imen says:

      Thanks Magda…they could be really lovely stories…perhaps a book….at any rate, I will keep sharing here =) xx

  9. Sarah says:

    Great post Imen, and I would love to see a show like that to be honest. Would be great!

  10. J’adore! The hardest part for me about reading about all the open minded, creative, forward thinking, Irish farm livers is that I SO wish these types existed in the countryside in France! It’s so frustrating to me to live in a land with such riches, amongst farms that have so much potential, and just see it wasted away…alas, I have to turn to the big screen of my Mac to live vicariously through the amazing Irish country lives! Carry on with the Real Farmwives of Ireland, I’m tuning in! 🙂

    • imen says:

      That is really a pity! We are lucky here in that there are many innovative and creative farmers….i am surprised that is not the case in France! Thanks for your comment sweety…you can come over anytime =) xx

  11. […] a cheerier note, I was delighted to be featured over on the ‘Married an Irish Farmer’ blog today, Imen interviewed me recently and many thanks to her for the lovely feature.  I’m […]

  12. laura says:

    I would love to watch a “Real Farmwives of Ireland” series. What a fantastic idea….. if only to counteract the vapid existences of “Fade Street”. Given your background Imen, it may be time to put your camcorder in hand and make documentaries with these women! 🙂 Put the interviews & meetings up on youtube as a start? 🙂

    • imen says:

      That could be a possibility! YES, agreed on Fade Street! We shall see…stay tuned. xx Thanks for the encouragement! xx

  13. Thank you Imen for featuring me on your fab blog and I’m really touched after reading all the lovely comments, xxx

  14. Cat St.Clair says:

    Right on target, Imen! Great article. Looking forward to reading and seeing more about The Farmwives. More please….!

  15. Margaret says:

    A lovely post! Great to read more about people I only know ‘virtually’…. make them more real every step of the way!

  16. Dee Sewell says:

    Lovely post Imen and couldn’t agree more, Lorna is an inspiration!

  17. Móna Wise says:

    Great piece Imen and you could not have started out with a nicer person.
    I agree, a TV show is a great idea but sometimes the editing cuts out a lot of the ‘real’ pieces. I can’t wait to see who is up next!

  18. Lisa O'Dwyer says:

    Love this! It’s great to meet other moms working from home like Lorna. I only know Lorna from Facebook so it’s nice to see the post. And I must head over to her webpage for some Christmas presents. Thanks!

  19. Elaine says:

    Hi Real Farmwives of Ireland is a great idea as someone new to farming it is lovely to read about other women who Farm in Ireland . Looking forward to seeing the next Farmwife :).

    • imen says:

      Thought you’d appreciate this Elaine! Look forward to meeting you one day. I hope to keep updating this series as often as possible….perhaps you will oblige?

      • Elaine says:

        It is a great idea . Would love to oblige anytime 🙂 Best friend is an actress on a well known Irish tv programme was telling her about it this morning she reckons a programme of it would be great idea .

  20. Brilliant post! So glad to hear more about fantastic farm wives! And I love the idea of a show, who do I need to bribe? ….hint hint

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