Sheep & peat

After Northern Ireland we visited Donegal & Connemara. I was there over 45 years ago also.

Everywhere you see sheep with lambs and you hear the bleating and bleating.

On one of our walks we encountered this man who was looking at the mountain. He was inspecting his sheep. He has a couple of hundred. Two more years and then he will retire. Then he sells his herd. His only son is not interested. He’s ‘barber’ in Sweden.

I was allowed to take a picture of him. ‘I am not wanted anywhere’.

He tells us – to my surprise- that these sheep and lambs are not for the production of wool but for meat consumption. A large part goes to France and Spain. The wool yields nothing. In his youth he was still sent into the field to collect wool. Wool now yields only 4 or 5 cents per kilo. The sheep are sheared every year to fight maggots en flies in the fur.

The sweaters sold in the stores are made of Merino wool, imported all the way from Australia and New Zealand.

In many places peat is cut and peat is also fired. A recognizable scent that we also know from Glasgow where Carel’s granny lived.

As for the peat, ‘our’ sheep farmer’ says, ‘it is in discussion’. ‘If it’s polluting, it might be good to phase it out’. It’s a hot issue in Dublin. If you see and smell how much it is still being used, it will be a huge revolution to transfer the households to another source.

We have now left Ireland and are on our way back to Amsterdam. But we will also continue to follow Northern Ireland from a distance.

Last week the elections were held in Northern Ireland. Since independence in 1921, the Unionist Protestants (who want to keep Northern Ireland with the United Kingdom) have been the biggest political players. But now the nationalist Sinn Féin (who is for the union of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland) has become the largest party. At the very least a historic event.