While studying abroad, I chose to complete a certificate on Irish Studies. Which basically meant I got the opportunity to travel around the country, look at old things, and get a grade for attending a field trip. Talk about best class EVER! Before coming to Ireland, I was told that cows and sheep outnumbered people in most parts. And really, they weren’t wrong.
On a beautiful, rainy, cold, windy day (basically an a normal day in Ireland) my class sought out the Boyne Valley. Having already been to Newgrange, I wasn’t amused. Our next stop was to Knowth. This was pretty cool. We got to climb on top of the burial mound. I also had the chance to crawl on my hands and knees in the wet mud through a tunnel created in the medieval era.
Finally we got to Dowth. Dowth is the least known and least visited of the three giant mounds. The state does not take care of. It is actually on a farmer’s property. Trees and shrubbery grow from the mound. The rocks surrounding it have fallen over or have been absorbed by the earth.
As soon as we stepped onto the property, we were met by a very shaggy little dog. He was our immediate best friend. He brought us sticks and did everything to get my professor’s attention. At one point, he jumped on top of a wall and began to lick Dr. Eoin. This is how we found out the dog’s name. Here’s the shocker. His dog tag simply read “Dog.” He stayed with our group the entire time, sometimes running ahead to the next stop and waiting for us.
Knowing we were on a farmer’s field, we wondered if we would encounter any livestock. No sooner had the thought recrossed my mind, a herd of sheep came running onto the field towards us. Dog growled, the sheep got distracted, and we thought nothing more of them.
Before we left, two of my classmates and I decided to walk across the field to get a better look at an old church with a few gravestones. As we journeyed over, I suddenly felt uncomfortable. Turning around, I was faced with roughly twenty sets of black beady eyes. I could reach out my hand and pet them if I wanted to.
But the ram in the front was stomping his hoof. I had a feeling he did not, in fact, want to be petted.
The three of us bolted across the field. We could hear the remaining members of our class laughing as we approached. They had been taking bets on who would notice the sheep first. Would the sheep actually attack us?
Lesson learned. While in Ireland, beware of the sheep. They will charge.
(And no, they don’t take Visa)