A hillside ramble or a drive on the winding roads of Ireland's west coast will inevitably result in a sheep encounter. Ireland is home to over 2 million sheep and spotting them on the wild and rugged terrain of the western shore, makes the landscape even more spectacular.
This ram is definitely King of the Irish Hills!
I think everyone loves sheep, probably because they are some of the most docile and harmless creatures to roam the earth.
The connection between ewes and their lambs just plucks on the heartstrings. If you have ever heard the plaintive bleating of a mother separated from her little lamb, you know what I mean.
When you see a little lamb, you realize why Mary took her lamb to school. In rural Ireland children often raise pet lambs that have been separated from their flock or abandoned by their mothers. As a city child I often wished I lived on my family's farm in County Cork. I dreamed of hand feeding a milk bottle to a suckling lamb.
But my family were dairy farmers. I fed many calves in my youth but no lamb. Still they hold a special place in my heart.
Frosty mornings are barely noticed by sheep all wrapped up in their woolen coats. Spinning and wool production are traditional Irish crafts dating back centuries. To this day Ireland produces beautiful woolen sweaters, blankets, shawls and other handicrafts.
As children we learned "The Spinningwheel Song" at school. It tells the story of a young girl spinning wool. She is torn between the calls of her admirer and her duty to stay home to care for her grandmother.
"Merrily, cheerily, noiselessly whirring,
Spins the wheel, rings the wheel, while the foot's stirring.
Sprightly and lightly and merrily ringing
Sounds the sweet voice of the young maiden singing."
No prizes for guessing her choice. The song ends with the sounds of the spinning wheel slowly dying. Although Irish nuns taught us the tune, I doubt they approved of our young maiden's flight with her lover.
I think sheep become part of every Irish tourist's memories of Ireland.
If lucky enough, they may even pose for a camera shot!
"A sheep, is a sheep, is a sheep!"
So the old saying goes!
Just take one look at the alien horns on this beauty.
Sheep come in many shapes, sizes, widths, and degrees of wooliness and hardiness. Irish farmers are experts on the perfect breed for the specific conditions in their neck of the woods.
Hardiness is definitely a criteria for the herds that roam the cliff tops of Ireland's ocean battered coast.
"Don't look at me with those sheepish eyes!"
But who could resist these eyes. The term "sheepish eyes" refers to the innate timid and shy nature of sheep.
Lambs are possibly the cuddliest and softest creatures in the world. Lambs skipping playfully around a field make springtime in Ireland ever so beautiful. And trust me! Lambs are plentiful in April's fields.
And of course Ireland is notorious for traffic jams! That is traffic jams of the sheepish kind.
When driving on Irish country roads proceed with caution. You may think you are King of the Road, but you are wrong. It's the sheep who own the roads of Ireland.
Wishing you all happy days touring Ireland, and meeting the woolly friends of my homeland.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)