Connemara sheep have black faces and legs, and matted white dreads partly sprayed blue, pink, or red. They look at you from between their horns with more interest than fear, and they will jump a stream, legs splayed, with a nimbleness that their round bodies shouldn’t have. I love them, these ovine can-can dancers.
A New York friend of mine was transferred to Clonakilty, Co. Cork a few years back. He took another American co-worker for a bike ride out the country one Sunday, a serious young woman who found it hard to adjust to the laid-back Irish. They passed several flocks of sheep, gaudily spray-painted.
“Sheep gangs,” he observed, “They’re pretty tough around these parts, the sheep.”
Several miles down the road, she corrected him gently. “No,” she said, “I think the farmers do that so they can tell who owns what sheep.”