Day 8: Countryside vs. Cityscape. Who Won?

Countryside all the way!! And when I say countryside, I mean the nature-infused, calming locations of Moher, Wicklow, Glendalough, and Kilkenny. We spent a lot of time traveling on the bus to Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher, Wicklow Mountains, and Kilkenny city today and yesterday. It was a contrasting experience to the business-oriented site visits and guest lectures we experienced during the past week in Dublin. I’m really enjoying the diverse range of experiences that have been planned for us during this program, and our day trips to the Irish countryside gave us firsthand exposure to the differences in communication and perceptions between urban and rural Ireland. GEC’s site visit taught me about the intricate collaborations and working relationships they have with the government, universities, and other incubation centers. Considering that Dublin is an urban city, it made sense to me that they were quite advanced in that area of business partnerships and collaborative relationships with the government and universities. I was surprised to notice a similar trend in rural Ireland as well.

Most notably, I found it fascinating that companies/stores in the cities of Galway and Kilkenny were also keen on building solid business partnerships with tour bus operators and locals alike. For instance, in today’s trip to Kilkenny city, our tour guide David recommended that we go to a certain gift shop (whose name I can’t remember, sadly) and have a chat with the storekeeper there–for he loves to talk about the historical and cultural significance of Kilkenny and rural Ireland in general. That in itself served as a promotion of the gift shop, and throughout the course of both day trips, our tour guides shared many recommendations of locations to check out at our destinations. So it makes me wonder what kind of business relationship exists (if any) between tour operators and local businesses to formulate such a collaborative partnership. We also visited a sheep farm today, where we got to see border collies (Milo and Rob) herd sheep! Richie, the owner of the sheep farm talked about how his business works and allowed the tourists to hold a lamb. I wasn’t a fan of the latter, as it was obvious that the lambs (and its mother) were anxious and did not like being held by people–so I didn’t pick up a lamb (as cute as they were). It was also quite unsettling to observe how the sheep were commercialized and reduced to the same level as commodities, but from my understanding, that is the reality of how farms operate in general–and it is very much a business just like any other business or corporation in urban locations.

One thing I can say for sure is that our visit to the sheep farm makes me want to rewatch my favourite cartoon as a child–‘Shaun the Sheep’–so I’m gonna get right into bingeing it! We will be taking a trip to the Google Headquarters in Dublin’s Docklands next, and I will keep you all posted on how that goes!

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