There’s something about being so far away from home and not seeing any TV or listening to the radio that makes all the terrible things that are happening all over the world…Nice, Baton Rouge, Dallas…seem like it’s happening in a parallel universe. It all doesn’t seem real. Nor does the political craziness or the terrible things good friends are dealing with while we wander around Ireland without any worries at all. It’s probably for the best…how could anyone enjoy anything these days if they really paid attention? But I do get flashes of guilt when I think about it too much.
I need to tell you that the weather has been astounding. Honestly, everyone is talking about it. Evidently, there’s a heat wave going on here (80º) and the native Irishers are out in full force enjoying the sun and heat. The beaches are packed and there are tons of people in the water (50º) surfing, paddle boarding and splashing (with no wetsuits!). We have just been incredibly lucky. And we’re supposed to get one more day of relative sun (but not so warm) before the cold and rain arrive with a vengeance on Thursday (Cliffs of Moher day).
So the trip may end with messy weather but honestly, it has been more than we could have ever hoped for. I brought long sleeves, long pants, closed toed shoes (no sandals), rain gear, winter jacket (yep, winter jacket) …all based on the ten day forecast when we left Florida. And I’ve been scrambling to recycle my two short sleeve shirts…and loving every minute of it.
Yesterday we left Dublin and went to a working sheep farm for tea and scones and a lesson on sheep farming. This family works hard. Three times a week they entertain bus loads of tourists…first feeding them fresh baked scones with clotted cream and home made raspberry jam and then they send us out to learn about the sheep. So here’s what I learned.
1. Sheep have twins or triplets more often than singles.
2. If a mom has triplets, they’ll grab the biggest one and put the lamb in with a mom about to deliver a single. When she delivers the single, they’ll smear some of the amniotic fluid on the extra lamb and fool the mom into thinking she had twins. She’ll foster the baby as long as she doesn’t’ realize it isn’t hers. If they don’t’ get the baby to her fast enough, she won’t do it and they’ll have to feed the extra one with a bottle.
3. Irish sheep are raised for food. Their wool is too coarse for wearing.
4. The dogs really can herd the sheep. We watched two border collies get a group of sheep peacefully grazing under a tree to start running toward us for photos. Pretty impressive (but not as impressive as fooling the moms into thinking they had twins when they didn’t!)
5. Sheep are marked with spray paint to indicate what stage they’re at…young female not ready for mating, pregnant, just done birthing and also if they noticed any problems with them.
6. The life of a sheep farmers and his family is not an easy one. No days off, no vacations, no breaks. Up early, always alert…I kept an eye on the farmer’s son who was about ten and wondered if he was planning to take over from his dad some day or had other plans already forming in his head.
Loved the sheep farm. Felt badly for the sheep who had to run around simply because we were there and was happy when the dogs let them be and they went back to the tree to munch on grass again.
We went to Blarney Castle (of course). We didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone. As I already said, we talk enough. Besides the line was ridiculously long. It was a weekend, it was a beautiful day, it was summer…EVERYONE was there. We met a family from Cork who were there for the first time…woke up that morning, figured they had never seen it and it was a good day and drove on over with their three kids.
So what else is there at Blarney?
Gardens, walking paths….gorgeous. There was poisonous plant garden with warning signs not to eat, smell or touch the plants. They had three VERY healthy marijuana plants there with a plaque on the dubious inclusion of this in the poisonous garden, that it does more good than harm. Tobacco was there, mandrake and a bunch of plants I never heard of.
There were pathways down to grottos with waterfalls and ferns, stone gardens with magical Druids and.a section on tinkers’ vans. We wandered all over, had several discussions about how to read the map (am I the only one who argues with her husband about which way to go in a maze of trails?) and got back to the bus in enough time to grab an ice cream cone on the way.
There’s Irish music right outside our hotel at the courtyard bar and after supper we hang out there for quite awhile. Sunset isn’t until 10:30 here so it just didn’t feel late. Sunrise is at 5:30. (I thought about the turtle patrollers who get out on the beach shortly before sunrise…that would be mighty early if you had to do it on Irish time)
Today we went up the coast. Sufficient to say it was breathtaking. I’m sure it looks beautiful any time but with the sun shining, it was stunning. It reminded me of Maui…maybe more beautiful than Maui except Maui can guarantee more sun than here! We went out on a boat ride around Dingle Bay. Lord it was gorgeous with the cliffs. There even was a resident dolphin named Fungie (Fun Guy) who popped up. He’s been around a long, long time…is about 40 years old. Other dolphins come and go in the summer but Fungie is a permanent resident.
We’re heading out to wander around, listen to music and get a bite to eat in a bit. Two more days of the tour and then on to the wedding. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Love to all