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You’ve got to be tough to farm the Emerald Isle

Slideshow: Take this picture trip through sparsely inhabited rural Ireland.

Winds blowing eastward off the Atlantic chill September’s morning air. They carry just enough moisture to warrant a raincoat or umbrella. That’s what keeps Europe’s westernmost isle of Ireland emerald-colored — except where mountainous rock has refused to yield to grass and briars for millions of years.

Topping the last hill and rounding the curve into a small town as far west as one could get from Dublin, we wheeled up to two Irishmen. In Celtic brogue, they asked, “You lost?” They see a lot of that.

“Do we look lost?” I replied. They looked at each other and grinned. “What do you do for a living out here?” I asked. They pointed towards hundreds of sheep on the mountainsides and in stone-walled pastures. Rather than describing my visit there, you’ll have a far better picture of the fabled land of leprechauns, where sheep outnumber humans, with these images.

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