12:00 pm

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[Galway, IRELAND]

Stone fences.
Just high enough
To keep the sheep in.

Crossing west from Dublin to Galway, we are struck by the strange beauty of the stone fences crisscrossing the landscape -- many of them more rock piles than fences as such, and most just high enough to keep the sheep from wandering into the next field. The contrast is all the greater after England, where 'fencing' is comprised mostly of hedgerows or a mix of green and conventional timber structures. When you see the sheer numbers of stones littered across the Irish landscape, though, you can see the sense in this practice. Most fences are 'unfinished' by conventional standards -- meaning they are very ragged on top, with no attempt to cap them as such. I joke that you only need do enough to make the sheep think twice -- and to get down the pub for a Guinness. This emphasis on 'just doing enough' seems characteristic of the Irish in general, part and parcel of their more relaxed attitude to life. I'm sure too it helps form the basis of the Australian 'she'll be apples' approach to life.

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