Shear Brilliance

Baa! BaaAAA!! In large swathes of the country, sheep outnumber the Irish. Perhaps some parity is restored on Saturday and Sundays, when tour buses from Dublin descend onto farms for live demonstrations of this domestication demonstration. Extensive amounts of farmland split our journeys this weekend, with some humble Irish towns latching onto whatever claim to fame that they could muster to distinguish themselves. Consider yesterday’s Barack Obama Plaza or today’s short dash through the namesake of Hollywood, California. I can try to extrapolate on rural/urban differences from my knowledge of the United States, where county-by-county graphs put to rest the notion of a “red state” or “blue state”, or even the United Kingdom, where London buckinghammed the tide of the rest of England by fruitlessly casting “stay” ballots during the Brexit referendum. Alas, peering at the map of the 2020 Irish general election results does not clearly reveal to me just how much more conservative, populist, or whatever characteristic the rural people are. I can say that, from personal experience, Kilkenny and Galway were cities, with most of the trappings of big ol’ Dublin. My impressions, too, are colored by the context of having lived in Pittsburgh. If I were truly in tune with what separated a mid-sized city with a gargantuan American metropolis like New York, I might be able to raise more distinctions. And all of Ireland is linked together through the Gaelic Athletics Association. For womens and mens amatures to compete across the country in massive stadiums, each playing exclusively for their home county, shows that there are some tight bonds across all of the Irish. Furthermore, rural Irish, urban Irish, and the many tourists to Ireland are all fascinated by sheep, lambs, and shepherd dogs.

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