Through my years in Asia I have found that the secret to a girl’s heart is fluffy, adorable and huggable, sheep. And of course Fanfan is no different, where I remember on her first visit to my hometown in Northern Ireland, when she would sit in the back seats of the car, with my three year old nephew, glued to the window and pointing out “sheep”. Which I guess is a bit like me with the buffalo in rural Thailand, or with monkeys on the islands, where they’re just somewhat iconic to life and the landscapes of these parts of the world. So in Thailand they even have themed farms where people can go to feed and pet sheep (although goofy looking alpacas, with goofy looking scarves, seem to be hogging the spotlight these days). And the romance of it all comes from the iconic landscapes of movies and TV, or to be more specific romcoms such as “PS I Love You” and “Leap Year”. And for Fanfan, like many Asian travellers, they have no real interest in the Shamrocks, when visiting the Emerald Isle, or the Harps, Guinness, and Leprachauns. As they all a back seat to sheep. So on Fanfan’s last birthday I made her sheep dreams come true with a road trip to Ireland’s rugged west coast, following the Wild Atlantic Way in a search for sheep on Achill Island. A three day holiday focused entirely on sheep.
Achill is a remote and rugged island, made up of peat bogs and sea cliffs, which will probably be better known for its wild roaming sheep. Which we find lots of, just running wild and roaming free, on the roads and just all over the place. It’s like the Holy Grail of sheep. And it is riciulously easy to get up close as well, where we just stopped the car along the coastal road to Keem Bay, to soon be surrounded by sheep upon sheep. As they chase towards us thinking that they were going to be fed (they’re not so big on chips). But things did take a darker turn along the route, where on a winding cliffside road Fanfan spotted a sheep, gnawing grass on the top side of a towering cliff face. So she asks me to slow down, and while I photographed the sheep (below right), she pleaded with it to move away from the dangerous cliff edge. Unfortunately sheep are comically skittish, so instead of moving away from the edge, this sheep panniced before disappeared off the drop of the cliff. And Fanfan was too distraught to go and look back. So we never did know whether the sheep went snout first into the rocks below, or if it miraculously survived. So I now call it Schrödinger’s Sheep, as until we know for sure, Fanfan has both killed the sheep, and not killed the sheep. And this will likely never change. So she will forever be a sheep killer, and not a sheep killer, at the same time. And she hates this.