Taking a step back from our typical business site visits, our group took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher today. If you aren’t familiar, it is a natural cliff and a major tourist attraction in Ireland. Located on the west coast of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are a hike away from Dublin. Ireland itself takes about three hours by car to get from coast to coast – a great deal less than my five hour drive home from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. Thankfully Ireland itself is much smaller than Pennsylvania, and day trips like this are very doable.
As an individual, I love nature, the outdoors, and seeing what the world has to offer. The natural beauty and fresh aromas were enough to make this day trip entirely worthwhile. To give you a sense of the dramatic height of this cliff, we threw a rock over. Several minutes later, we could still see the rock falling. Beyond amazing natural beauty, the day trip was a learning opportunity. I found it interesting to hear that farmers existed in this area, and continue to exist. Raising cattle here is profitable because of the plethora of grass, yet dangerous because of the cliffs. Many cattle, our bus driver mentioned, were lost because of the cliff. They often wandered over the edge or too close to the edge. The loss of cattle is not a small expense. Farmers have worked to create electric fencing and sheets of rock to block the cattle from going over. It was intriguing to see these efforts first hand. Beyond this, our day trip resulted in a better personal appreciation for the tourism in Ireland and its economic impact.
Yesterday, Liz had us read an article on the ownership of the Cliffs of Moher. The article discussed German “aliens” trying to buy
the land, and reasons why the sale didn’t go through. Instead, the government bought the space and opened it to the public, making this a well-traveled and “must see” spot. While reading this article, I remember feeling excited that I would be able to see the cliffs and ready for our day trip. However, it wasn’t until I got there that it sunk in just how much this has affected the surrounding community.
On our way to the cliffs, we passed by a small town. In this town, they had hotels and restaurants named after the cliffs. Upon arriving to the site, I noticed the various shops available to the public, all celebrating Irish heritage. Personally, I felt more inclined to buy souvenirs after visiting such a beautiful place. I wanted to commemorate the moment, and share that feeling with friends and family through gifts. With hundreds of people hiking the cliffs, I imagine that these small shops as well as the town gets a lot of business. This economic windfall would not be possible if the person who owned this land had sold it to the German businessman.
I was amazed at how one decision like this could change the fate of an entire town. It reminds me that in the future, if I become a manager, I need to take into account the rippling effects of my decisions. It doesn’t matter how small it seems at the time, like selling land. It can change everything. In my project management class we often did risk analysis and one of the difficulties we found was predicting all possible risks. It might not be possible to predict everything, but now I have a better sense of how seemingly small decisions can have a lasting impact.