Sitting here in the kitchen on a sunny Sunday morning of a Bank Holiday and I am wandering the wide spaces of the world with deft strokes of my fingertips.
And here I found Billy Collins, the Irish-American poet with a poem about Irish-Dutch cows, if they are Holsteins, or Dutch-Irish cows if Friesians, or they could be a US bred strain of Holstein-Friesians imported back into Ireland. He didn’t say.
Cows it seems are not like people. We bring in a Friesian, or a Limousin, a Belgian Blue or a Scottish Angus. We set it on the land and it eats the green grass of Ireland and magically becomes an Irish steer, an Irish Bull, or an Irish Cow.
We don’t point at it in the field and shout “Go back to Hungary”, or “We don’t want your type of cattle round here”.
Ireland is sometimes personified as a cow. In his lament for Thomas McDonagh, Francis Ledwidge uses this analogy very powerfully. And of course the greatest ancient epic in Ireland, central to the tales of Cúchulainn and the Cycle of Tales of the Knights of the Red Branch is the Cattle Raid of Cooley.