September 29th, 2016 / posted by paularath
The Cliffs of Kerry        Photo by Debbie Blum

The Cliffs of Kerry                         Photo by Debbie Blum

There is so much beauty in County Kerry. The rolling green fields and meadows epitomize the “30 Shades of Green” we were seeking, so everywhere we looked was a potential painting. In actuality, that can be quite intimidating. I needed to bite it off in tiny pieces to try to paint a single aspect of a single scene – or I became easily overwhelmed.

The Cliffs of Kerry. Photo by Debbie Blum

The Cliffs of Kerry.                        Photo by Debbie Blum

One of the day trips I have always dreamed of doing is the Ring of Kerry. We had a great bus driver named James who seemed to have an “in” everywhere, so he got us into the sheep herding demonstration, as well as up close and personal to the magnificent cliffs. Do all the drivers in Ireland have an outrageous sense of humor? Ours certainly did!

And a little wisdom, too, such as: “A bird is known by its song; a man by his conversation.”

A border collie, working as a sheep dog, shows us his value. Photo by Debbie Blum

A border collie, working as a sheep dog, shows us his work ethic and his value.            Photo by Debbie Blum

I must admit I have never thought all that much about sheep herding. It’s fun to watch the little lambs frolicking in the meadows with their moms, but I have never seen how the amazing sheep dogs (which are border collies by breed) manage to herd them into the areas where they need to be. So it was a special treat for me to see a full-on demonstration, by Ireland’s premier sheep herder. If you go to the Ring of Kerry, be sure to ask your guide to take you to Kell’s Bay to see this. I don’t think it’s well known by Americans. The other people there were either French or German.

The shepherd works his dogs with precision. Photo by Crystal Beshara

The shepherd works his dogs with precision. Photo by Crystal Beshara

First, did you know that there are many kinds of sheep, each with a specific purpose, whether for wool or for meals?

A few of the sheep varieties we saw.

A few of the sheep varieties we saw.

There are Welsh sheep, French sheep, Leicester sheep and so on. Some are raised for milk and cheese, others for meat (specifically either lean lamb or tender lamb). One type produces wool for tweed, another for Aran-style sweaters.

ireland-sheep-two-varieties

Sheep dog intensely working  Photo by Crystal Beshara

Sheep dog intensely working                                                 Photo by Crystal Beshara

All of them obey the border collies completely. The dogs seem to go into wolf mode to herd the sheep.

We also got to see another kind of wildlife in his habitat:

Photo by Michael Shepherd

Photo by Michael Shepherd

This guy was just finishing up a cold ocean swim when we all descended upon the beach. At first he tried to hide, but soon realized it was hopeless so he grinned (and bared it), walking up the beach to gather his clothing. Grace under pressure!

A chilly swim - definitely not the Pacific! Photo by Debbie Blum

A chilly swim – definitely not the Pacific!                     Photo by Debbie Blum

Another gorgeous vista in Ireland.  Photo by Crystal Beshara

Another gorgeous vista in Ireland. Photo by Crystal Beshara

Another view of the Cliffs of Kerry by Debbie Blum, who walked all over the peninsula to get her shots.

Another view of the Cliffs of Kerry by Debbie Blum, who walked all over the peninsula to get her shots.

ireland-kerry-typical-scene-by-debbie

Bucolic scenes such as this greeted us at every turn.                               Photo by Debbie Blum

Yes, I promise we will share our sketches and paintings with you soon. We have had a few technical difficulties getting them from our phones onto the blog.

Mahalo for joining us on our journey through Ireland!

– Paula Rath

 

 

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