The New U.S. Liaison to God’s Forgotten Land

GlenColumbKille, Co. Donegal, Republic of Ireland

There are a number of stray dogs throughout Ireland. It’s heartbreaking, really. They wander the streets, hunt cars in packs and beg outside the local shops. I have to fight the urge to feed them all and take them back to the cottage. I’m a sucker for a stray dog.

One in particular, a female Springer spaniel does appear to belong to someone, though I don’t know who. I have an obvious soft-spot for her in my heart since she looks so much like our late family member, Sadie.

I first met her while paying for a bottle of water at one of the small markets here in the Glen. I turned to walk out and heard a scratching at the door. Looking out through the window, I noticed the head of a dog waiting to be let in.

“Uh, there’s a dog out here wanting in.” I said to the cashier.

“Oh, no mind her. Jus let ‘er trew.”

I opened the door and the springer burst in and ran through the market on through to the back.

We met again today when I stopped at the same market for smokes and a candy bar. The springer followed me in and stopped by to investigate. After a scratch behind the ear and a pat on the head, she wandered outside and lay by the door. I offered her a small bit of chocolate as I left.

[Can I keep her Mom, huh, can I? Pleeeeeaase….]

The owner of the shop, upon realizing that I was from the States, inquired as to how long I thought it would be before Americans returned to the area. Times have been horribly difficult for local shopkeepers since September 11.

He’s not kidding, either. Eating is a constant struggle within the Glen. I’ve seen more restaurants that advertise food “all day” though they haven’t opened their doors since I arrived.

According to the shop owner, at least through what I could interpret, 99% of all his business comes from tourists.

“You’re in God’s Forgotten Land” he called the highlands.

The Irish Highlands, which GlenColumbkille lies to the south within, truly are a barren placee. The nearest town with a population over 1000 lies an hour’s drive away. The Glen is not a place you stop along your way. Its a destination you reach because you meant to arrive here or you are really quite lost.

The population of the Glen is around 800 and humans are outnumbered by sheep at 20:1. In fact, the Republican government has established a false economy for the reesidents in Co. Donegal. For each sheep owned, a resident earns 40 euro per month. Sheep require little car from what I can see. They graze in fields and drink from natural springs. They also appear to be tearing the bogs to shreds. They’re everywhere, too.

My most wicked joy is honking at them when they lay in the middle of the road. Tourists are easy to spot. Instead of honking or driving around the sheep, they get out and take photos.

Apparently I am now the official liason of the USA to Ireland. At least, this is what the locals seem to think. I’ve been stopped in cemetaries and criticized for how the U.S. is supporting the Israelis. I’ve been chatted up in pubs regarding the beest way to obtain citizenship in the U.S. And now I’m being asked when we’ll all start coming back.

So, honestly people, where are you and why aren’t you here now? The Glen needs you.