Into the Valley

Today we got the great opportunity to go visit the beautiful countryside of Ireland, experiencing a sheep farm in the Wicklow Mountains, some lakes in Glendalough, and the cozy city of Kilkenny. Once again tourists aboard the Wild Rover tour bus, we were reunited with our fearless bus driver Gerry who was a friendly and familiar face to see after waking up early for the second day in a row. The rural countryside was so much different from the sprawling urban city that we have called home for the last few days. I would say it feels much quieter, but the sheer number of tourists at every location we arrived at still made these back-road tourist attractions feel busy. While you do have a lot more space to roam in the woods of Glendalough or the lawn in front of Kilkenny castle, you still feel like you are running into huge crowds whenever you enter any street looking for something to grab for lunch. Because even these rural sites are such big tourist attractions and are promoted at every turn, it takes away the uniquely quiet feel of a lake in the woods or an iconic sheep farm. No matter which site we stopped off at, there was a full parking lot and a line of tour buses.

I believe that this also effects communication and tourist perception in those areas. I feel like the local population has become a lot more accustomed to tourists and have adjusted their communication styles to match the assimilation of cultures that come from all over the world to experience their country. Perception is also affected, as when you are seen stepping off one of the many tour buses lining the sides of roads in Kilkenny, it is immediately noted, not matter how conscious you are of cultural values in the country. I keep finding myself looking back on how I would feel if there were tour buses constantly coming through my hometown, filling up the restaurants I frequent, and clogging the sidewalks with foot traffic. It is never a necessarily pleasant thought, and I can only imagine that is how at least some of the locals feel.

On the topic of entrepreneurship, it is still present even in these smaller towns, just in a different form. For example, the sheep farm we visited, the owner has turned his family farm into a constant tourist attraction, with at least 100-200 people lining the fence to watch his demonstration. He was not only performing his job as a farmer but also giving the people an experience, bringing in an extra stream of revenue that could not be said for some of the other farmers in the area. It shows just how the unique Irish mindset that we have explored all throughout this week is still the same despite being in a more rural area. However, for now, it is back to Dublin, and back to exploring the growing tech businesses. I am especially looking forward to Google tomorrow!

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