By Tori Lock
CORK, Ireland – Coming to the Emerald Isle, I immediately thought of a large green patchwork quilt with hundreds of spots and when we stepped off the plane, the foreign air was rich with the scent of my favorite livestock- cattle.
Ireland’s dairy and beef industry are vital components to its economy. The rich, rolling farmland around the southern Munster and Leinster provinces suits the production practices of cattle perfectly; unlike sheep, cattle need good land to thrive. In many ways, cattle are symbol of prosperity. It’s no surprise that they feature prominently in Irish folklore and history.
Cattle speckle Irish history as well as hillsides here. Their products are a golden staple in Irish culture. There is the famous Butter Museum that wouldn’t be in existence without dairy cattle, a pub in Cork called the Holy Cow and even Saints in Celtic history who are devoted to cattle. Saint Brigid of Ireland is patron saint of cattle and dairy and many farmers ask for her blessing. Traditionally, many Irish bake oatcakes to welcome St. Brigid on her feast day.
Being surrounded by such a rich history of the cattle industry makes me feel right at home in the heart of cattle country.