This August, I traveled to Ireland with my family. After a few days exploring Dublin, we headed south to West Cork, where my husband’s family is from, and where many relatives still live. From the moment we left the city, my eyes were glued to the train window, and then the car window, soaking in the gorgeous countryside. It’s as green as its reputation.
At the house we were staying in, we had views of the Atlantic and wildflowers covered the surrounding slopes. Surrounding properties raise cows and sheep, and the narrow country roads are lined with thick hedges, full of ripe blackberries, smaller and sweeter than our own.
But I started to notice something strange. We took hikes and explored the countryside, but we rarely encountered any creatures. Almost all the birds we saw were gulls or corvids (in the crow family). The sun set late in the evening, but it was quiet, not even bugs were making themselves known! When in a bookstore in town, I noticed a book called Whittled Away: Ireland’s Vanishing Nature. I kind of regret not picking it up then, but I’d still like to read it. I guess it makes sense that a country so thoroughly agricultural would have some biodiversity issues.
It was a still a beautiful place to visit, and I hope to go back, but it was such a pleasure to return home to my suburban backyard, and immediately see frogs at the pond, a baby garter snake in the grass, and hear a cacophony of birds and bugs singing in the summer twilight.