If you are thinking sheep, you are correct!
Sunday’s day trip was full of sheep and of course, more nature sights to see! I especially excited when our first stop of the day was to a sheep farm and dog trials site. Located at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains, Annamoe Village is home to many different sheep farms. At one farm, we got to see exactly how border collie dogs herd sheep. This was such a unique opportunity to experience as I’ve never seen this in real life before. Growing up in a rural area, I very much felt at home with the quietness and surrealness of nature around me. It was a much needed break from the sirens, horns of cars, and the hustle and bustle of the city life. After our time with the sheep we boarded the bus and headed to Wicklow Mountains. With breath taking views, the Wicklow Mountains were certainly no disappointment. Enjoying the stunning scenery, flora and fauna allowed me to escape and take a moment to ground myself. After, we loaded back on to which our final stop of the day was the city of Kilkenny. At Kilkenny, I was able to tour the famous 12th century Kilkenny Castle! This castle is a symbol of the city and is located on the banks of the River Nore. While I felt like my parents visiting a museum, I enjoyed getting to see the views from the castle as well as how they lived back then! Overall, it was a very exciting, fulfilling day away from Dublin.
After spending time outside of the city of Dublin, I can’t help but see and note the differences between urban and rural Ireland. When it comes to the urbanized parts of Ireland, to me I have noted the closer we are to the city and larger businesses along the Silicon Docks the more modernized and provisions there are for those in the city. The further we traveled away from urban Ireland, it was apparent there are stark differences in rural Ireland. For example, when I was looking out the window into the country side I couldn’t help but wonder about where children go to school or where the nearest grocery store was. In my hometown, the nearest Target is around 30 minutes away from me. In this case, I can’t help but wonder if this is the same case for some of the rural towns. Do they drive to Dublin or Kilkenny to get necessary items? The lack of stores in the rural areas was also interesting to me. In terms of communication, I noted that many of the city-goers do not appreciate Americans or find us to be annoying. With learning the culture of communication, it was interesting to learn that our perceived niceties can come off as disingenuous. With this in mind, I’ve had some more blunt or harsher conversations when shopping or dining in Dublin. This may be a result of my hurriedness and lack of cultural experience, which I do hope to become more aware of. When exploring the rural areas, I think it was easier to communicate in the touristy attractions such as the Cliffs of Mohr and Wicklow Mountains since they are used to tourists. These locations appear to be dependent on bringing in tourism as well. So with these differences in mind, I do believe the Irish perception of American tourists differ in terms of rural vs. urban settings.
Outside of Dublin, it was interesting to visit some of the businesses and various industries represented outside of the city. I think visiting the sheep farm probably was the most intriguing. Despite it seeming a bit more old fashioned and traditional, it made me see how even farmers still are important to industries within the city today. It also was a great example of entrepreneurship as this specific farmer has been passed down the family business through the years. When we visited Kilkenny, it was very similar to Dublin. Like Dublin, I saw many businesses boarded up or closed due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, it does not appear any new developments will be going in anytime soon. This is different from Dublin as it seems new businesses or even housing developments are popping up more frequently. I think it will be interesting to see how these areas will survive within the coming years. My overall thoughts is I hope that the rural areas of Ireland don’t die out as a result of the progressive advancements of urban Ireland.