Eeps, Peeps and Fuzzy Sheeps

I am currently reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. It's making me think. A lot. The piece I'm writing at the moment is requiring more time than my weekly post allows so the following piece I'm posting here is actually my 31 March article for The Daily Irish News. Enjoy!

With the onset of spring and the approaching Easter Holiday I am assaulted by the disturbing image of sheep at every turn.

What’s so disturbing about sheep you ask?

Oh I know, they have this warm, cuddly, innocent and count me you’ll fall asleep image that we’ve been fed, but they have a darker side and I have seen it.

February 2005 I spent the entire month in one of my favorite places on this earth, Ireland. I spent the first three weeks there on my own for a kind of kick-start sabbatical of writing. On the flight over I was excited, I’d never been away on my own for longer than a couple days since college. I can never manage to sleep on the overnight flight so by the time I land at Shannon airport at 6:30 GMT I have been awake for about 24 hours.

Let’s do the math: I woke at 5 AM EST 31 January to get The Boy Wonder up and off to school, I then pack my bags (one giant and one medium case, my laptop bag, camera case and on flight tote bag), shower and drive the three and a half hours to The Hubster in NY and then he drove me on the 2-hour trip into JFK to catch the flight. Plane departed at 7PM EST.

When I landed at Shannon Airport it was still dark there. I picked up my rental car (after a helpful stranger I approached in the deserted lot—what was I thinking he could been a serial rapist/murderer—helped me find the dang car) and with map in hand started my four-hour drive down to Ring in County Waterford.

This would be my first time driving on the wrong side of the road on the right hand side of the car and I choose to take The Vee through the Knockmealdown Mountains because I had been that way before 2 years earlier, Hubster driving, and it would be familiar.

The Vee is named such because that’s exactly what it looks like on the map, a series of “v’s”. And it is by far the most narrow of all the narrow roads I’ve ever encountered in Ireland---I’m sure there are narrower still, I just haven’t met them.

However, before I would get to the Vee, I would miss my turning on each of the 2,468 roundabouts on the N24 between Limerick and Cahir.

I felt better after the sun came up and I could see more than just what the headlamps were illuminating. That was until it got to be time for the school age kids to start making their way to school and I swear they could smell my nervousness and were silently mocking me.

Sleep deprived is not too strong a description for what I was beginning to be.

I was so pleased when the familiar sight of Cahir Castle came into view and I excitedly waved and yelled, “I’ve missed you!”, as I made the turn onto the R669 and headed south towards the Vee.

The R669 is familiar and mostly deserted and I start to feel all proud of myself, driving on the left side of the road and from the right hand side of the car, and that should have been my clue that something lie ahead. I come around one particularly tight inside-out curve and have to jam on my brakes to avoid hitting a sheep.

Oh yeah, there are herds of them all through the mountains and they just wander around eating and occasionally they conspire to send sleep deprived tourists, driving on the wrong side of the road on the right hand side of the car for the first time, careening off the sides of mountains.

When I say wander around, I mean just that, there are no fencings to contain them. They have various day-glow paints; pink, blue or green, sprayed on their bottoms and on my previous trip thought that’s how the farmers told their herds apart. Now I have a new theory.

I think this is where the proverbial black sheep all end up and they have formed their own gangs. That’s right, those painted bottoms are sporting their gang colours!

He had me good too. There was no way around him. To my right I looked down the side of a shear drop and to the left was a vertical incline up the mountainside. So there I sat, the sheep and I, face to face.

The Hubster had spent two weeks coaching and quizzing me in preparation of my driving in Ireland but this was a situation that was overlooked in my training.

If I could put words to the look that sheep gave me it would be something akin to, “For F-sake! Get the bloody hell off my mountain you wanker or I’ll cut you.”

After a couple minutes, that seemed more like hours, I decided I needed to take control. The Hubster and Boy Wonder would be most disappointed that I got killed right off my very first day and all. So I made my move.

I rolled down the window and put on my very best dagger eyes as the Boy Wonder calls them and said loud and clear, “Look here you, I’m Whitey Bulger’s niece and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be moving out of my way. See?” (Who did I think I was, Jimmy Cagney?)

Luckily the sheep must have also heard the rumored sightings of Boston’s most notorious mob fugitive living a secluded life in Ireland because he slowly started walking up the mountain. But he never took his eyes off me.

Uh-huh, sheep may look all warm and cuddly but they can also be pure evil. I saw it that day and since there were no other witness’ it’s my word against the sheep and who are you going to believe?

Right, the poor, innocent, fuzzy, little sheep that I almost turned into Shepard’s Pie on an inside out curve on a mountainside.

Fine, but don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Of course, I'm not sure if it's more dangerous to write about the Catholic Church, The Priory of Sion, Opus Dei, Whitey Bulger or The Secret Society of Rouge Sheep ... I'm just saying.

©2006 Dawn Marie Kelly, all rights reserved.
posted by Angel @ 3:12 PM |


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