Monasteries and Milk Cows on the Emerald Isle

Matthew Elmore Merritt Dublin, Ireland


July 27, 2022

I grew up on a cattle farm in the small town of 2,000 in Bridgeport, Alabama. Attending college in a city has been a much needed change of pace, but I often found myself missing the tranquility of home. The sights, sounds, and smells of farms are where I feel most connected with my upbringing and most comfortable.

Over the weekend, a couple of my friends in the STEM summer research program and I took a short bus ride to Cashel in County Tipperary, a couple hundred kilometers south of Dublin. We went to see Ireland’s most famous castle, Rock of Cashel, which was founded in the 13th century. I photographed Rock of Cashel’s 70 meter tall Round Tower, adjoined by the cathedral of the castle. These medieval ruins are a sight to behold and offer 360-degree views of the hillside below. 

Although Rock of Cashel and its history were fascinating, my favorite part of the trek was visiting Hore Abbey in the valley below. Hore Abbey is situated in the middle of a farm, with public walkways provided to the medieval Cistercian monastery, which was founded in 1272! On the way, I couldn’t help but snap photos of the dairy cows on the property (my cows at home are Angus cattle, primarily raised for beef). I think they knew they were being photographed, so they posed for the camera. 

Hore Abbey and the surrounding farm gave me a real sense of home, which is super important when exploring a new place. Ireland’s landscape - its medieval castles, rolling green hills, and town pubs - give the island character. You’re bound to find something here that makes you feel welcome.


Ireland Summer STEM