Tuesday, May 18, 2010
It’s Raining Sheep – Day Ten in Ireland
Sheepherding is akin to calling out intricate military tactics to a platoon of unwilling troops without the aid of technology. Lucky for shepherds - this is where man's best friend steps in.
Border Collies are trained to listen for precise sounds, which prompt the dogs to steer the frightened sheep back and forth at the shepherd’s will. The catch is that all of this is accomplished by using a simple whistle.
Today we attended a sheep dog demonstration in the Ring of Kerry - a mountainous coastal region in southwestern Ireland. The dogs were unbelievably well-behaved. They followed the shepherd’s directions like new Army recruits following the commands of a drill sergeant.
The quick-footed pooches were able to sprint up and down the jagged terrain with unparalleled speed. The sheep could do little to escape the dogs as the stalked behind the woolly creatures as the bleated.
The drive through the Ring of Kerry was intense. Tyg, our bus driver, impressed us his skillful driving by navigating us through the narrow valleys and ravens unscathed. Unfortunately for us the weather finally broke. It rained all day, but our journalistic inclinations remained strong during several trips off the bus and into the elements to take photographs of the stunning landscapes around us.
We arrived for dinner at an Irish restaurant called The Danny Mann, which is known for the traditional live music played there. The band playing tonight was a two-piece group called The Irish Weavers. One of the Cork-based musicians played the acoustic guitar while the other played an electronic accordion and ran the soundboard. Both accomplished these tasks will singing and prompting the audience to participate in the revelry.
The men covered Irish songs such as “The Wild Rover,” “Finnegan’s Wake,” and the ever popular “Molly Malone.” The crowd cheered and clapped along through the entire playlist. The band ended the lengthy set with the Irish national anthem.
Afterward we rolled ourselves home with stuffed bellies and tired hands – two signs of another great evening in Ireland.