“Mother Nature is the Best Sculptor.”

“Mother Nature is the best sculptor,” is what my tour guide at the Céide Fields said when he was explaining the landscape around us. Looking to the horizon you can see an endless view of hills and grasslands. This is the view that the Irish grew up admiring. In 2001, the landscape of Ireland began to change. Slowly, large wind turbines were installed. Now a total of 2,878 wind turbines have made their way into Ireland’s hills. In 2015, these turbines provided 23% of Ireland’s energy. Wind turbines were one of the things that Ireland has done to try and use their environment to reduce the ecological footprint they were creating. Flying into Shannon airport, the few things I could see out my window were cows, and wind turbines. Whichever direction I looked, there were a cluster of windmills up close and off in the distance. Most people might think that these structures are obstructing their view of the landscape that Ireland has to offer or deem them “ugly.” However, when people understand what the wind turbines are doing for the environment, they will no longer see them as ugly, but rather something beautiful for something so important.

Another energy efficient step that Ireland has taken are their outlets. When I first arrived at the Park Inn, I immediately ran to an outlet with my adaptor in hand, to charge my phone before the days endeavors begun. I plugged in my charger to the adaptor and plugged it into the wall, and waited for my phone to  charge. However, nothing happened. It was as if my phone was not plugged into an outlet. After trying every outlet in the room, and my anxiety levels growing by the second, I finally noticed the little switch in the middle of the outlet. I plugged my charger into the wall, flicked the switch, and finally my phone began to charge. I was confused at first about this modification of the outlet here, because I had never seen anything like this in America. I later learned that the switch turns on and off the electricity in the outlet. That way when people are not using the outlet, energy is not escaping it in the process. I noticed that every time I plugged something into a wall the switch was always turned off because someone remembered to switch it off when they were done using it. For me, I always forgot to flick the switch when I was done using it. It occurred to me that for the Irish, it must be second nature for them to flick the switch when they are done. Exactly like it is second nature to get in the car and put on your seat belt. After a learning curve, I quickly learned to remind myself to shut off the switch when I was done using it.

As Des, our driver, was saying on a bus ride, we are the generation that is going to make these environmental changes, “It is our job to be the change.” Collectively, Ireland has been taking steps in the right direction to become an energy efficient country. They have learned to work off of the land to give them renewable energy. This way of living keeps the land whole so people can continue to enjoy those stunning views. While some of these methods might be unconventional to us Americans, the way the Irish are living can teach America about the small steps we have to take to become a more energy efficient country. 


Kyle’s Gallery

“Baaa” by Shelby Payanis

It has always been one of my dreams to hold a lamb, and at the Killary Sheep and Mussel Farm in Killary, Ireland, that dream came true! But I did not just get to hold one, my classmates and I were all given bottles of milk so that we could feed a whole bunch of them – it was amazing!

Me, feeding the lambs!

At this farm we also got to witness first hand how the sheep in Ireland are able to run free amongst acres and acres of land, and watch how they can be herded by a sheep dog – more specifically a 2-year-old sheep dog named Sylvie! Tom Lee, owner of the farm, told us that, “Sylvie is only happy when she’s working – she loves it!” Also, before coming to Ireland, I often heard the joke or myth that there are “More sheep in Ireland than people,” and after visiting, I have to confirm that this indeed may be true.

Sylvie takes a breather before returning to work.

There is a significant difference between the process of farming in Ireland and the United States. Although I do not agree with raising animals just to consume them, in Ireland, the farmers work tremendously hard and genuinely care about the lives of all of their animals before they have to turn them into consumable meat.

In America, cows, sheep, chickens, etc., spend their entire lives in small and crowded factories before they are put on a conveyor belt and turned into a package of meat that is shipped to the nearest Stop and Shop. However, in Ireland, the animals get to roam free and enjoy the beauties of nature before they are sold at the local market.

Sylvie leads the sheep back to their pen.

But even that shows the difference between Ireland and America. In the states, we often do not know where our meat comes from, and most of us only consume it because it is convenient. If we had the same process in our country as they do in Ireland in which a local farmer (who you know) is gathering this meat for you, maybe more and more people would not consume them. According to WorldAtlas, “Six percent of the Irish population are vegetarians.” This seems low, but Americans are not even on the list! This means that even though American citizens often do not know where their meat comes from, they are still willing to buy it and eat it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this trip to the farm and I thought it was fascinating to see the great quality of life that these animals are given before they are turned into consumable meat. This may be the vegetarian in me talking, but I hope that as more and more people visit this place they will start to see that eating animals isn’t always the “right” choice – just a convenient one.

And they’re off!

Shelby’s Gallery

Sean’s Gallery: My Irish Story