When Liz and I moved our family from Upstate New York to the Northside of Dublin, we prepared ourselves to adjust to life in a new culture.

We knew of course that the culture in Dublin would be different from say the culture in Cork (the self-proclaimed “real capital”), or rural Ireland. But since we weren’t going to be living in either of those places, it was not on our radar.

Although neither Liz or I had ever lived outside of the US, we came to Ireland with a number of long-term relationships already in place here. Liz’s dad had grown up in Co. Monaghan (Republic of Ireland) and Co. Tyrone (Northern Ireland, UK). He emigrated to the US over 50 years ago, but still had family, friends and property here. And then once we moved to Dublin, it made sense for her to begin helping out with running her dad’s property over here.


Elizabeth’s Family Farm

The property here is in Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, about 90 minutes northwest of us. It consists of farm land which they rent out annually, and her dad’s family home, and two outbuildings which have been converted into two flats. There is also a two-room flat that the family keeps for when they are in the area.

Part of what Liz has been doing is working with contractors, auctioneers, and farmers, among others to rent out the land, the apartments and fix up the property. That has meant dealing with, among other things:

  • A farmer who rented the land but didn’t take care of it because he was in hiding.
  • A contractor who broke a wall last summer and will definitely be fixing it any day now.
  • Tenants who leave in the middle of the night, which led to,
  • Broken water pipes, which damaged both flats.
  • And now she gets to work with an insurance company that has said they will not pay for the damage caused by the water pipes.

I wrote previously about our first time ‘renting the land’ last year and how that experience clearly revealed there was a second new culture we were learning to swim in.

Well, the past couple of weeks have been a another new learning experience.

It is once again time to rent the land. And now that Irish beef can be sold in the US for the first time in 15 years, and the European Union has ended milk quotas, the land rental prices have increased. (I can’t believe I actually know this stuff.)

Because of that, there was greater demand for the land this year, and it rented quickly.

Only one hitch. One of the farmers had not removed his sheep from the land, despite the fact that he should have done that in November. Thankfully, a few phone calls and that was taken care of.

Well, except for the fact that he left a llama on the property.

One of the new pieces of information we now have is that llamas supposedly chase foxes and dogs away from the sheep and newborn lambs. But they also chase people. So the new person who wanted to rent the land would not rent until the llama was removed. Which makes sense as I can’t imagine ever renting anything that had a llama living in it.

The llama owner also wanted to rent the land again, and it seemed like this was his strategy to keep it. First the auctioneer and then Liz tried calling and texting him for several weeks. No answers, no returned calls.

Next came a series of phone calls to the Garda, the county council environmental officer, a lawyer, the local SPCA, various agricultural offices in the area, and the Garda again. No one was able to help. The most common response, was, “leave the gate open, and let the thing out.” Of course if a car hit the thing, or if it bit a kid, who do you think they’d be contacting?

So last week we had to head up to Ballybay so Liz could get this resolved.

While we were driving up, she  called someone with the sheep farmers association (I would not have guessed there was such a thing). This person suggested that the guards did not take Liz seriously because of her accent and that she should go into the station in person and report the llama for trespassing.

We arrive in Ballybay, drive to the farm, and sure enough there is a llama that begins running towards us. While Brenna, Méabh and I run to the gate, to get out of the field, Liz gets behind the thing and begins moving it towards a small pen at the front of the field. And sure enough, it walks right in and Liz shuts the gate on him. This is around 5:30 in the afternoon.

Here’s the proof…

A friend stops by and suggests that Liz text the owner of the llama and say he has until 7pm to get the llama off of her property or she goes to the Garda Station to report him for animal trespass/animal abandonment..

And by 7 o’clock, the llama was gone.

So that was a big part of our past weekend.

While Ballybay is not a huge part of our lives on a daily basis, it does keep our feet in two very different worlds.

If you need a bit more info on how different these two cultures are, below is the big hit song on the radio in the area, performed by a guy from Co. Monaghan. Warning…it is a bit of an ear worm.

Here is the version Méabh loves.