a kate west recommendation
One of the most ancient sports has to be falconry. From the age of the Samurai and Medieval times to present day royalty, people have flown falcons and hawks as part of an elite partnership with nature. It may not be as blatantly popular these days as it once was, but you can still find avid pockets of enthusiasts. The birds will also rid you of pests - if you can coax them to work for you. All you need to do is to provide them the precise amount of food, keeping them just barely hungry enough to come back to you. And it's best to resist the temptation to anthropomorphize, as they will stay with you as long as they feel like it and are never guaranteed to fly back to you, which is part of the inherent risk of the sport.
If you happen to be in Eastern Ireland (and really, why wouldn't you be - it's near charming old Dublin), please look up the Newgrange Falconry. Husband and wife team Brian and Barbara McCann provide lessons for the novice and advanced student alike. They will bring the birds to you and fly a few different types all afternoon, instructing you and giving you a history lesson, along with a side order of local Irish charm. You can hire them for corporate events or even a private party. They will tailor the lesson just for you and by the end of the day, you will have made new friends, both human and raptor. It will be the experience of a lifetime to watch the birds soar freely above picturesque landscapes and Brian's passion for his work will perhaps rub off on you a bit, inspiring you to reach new heights once you float back to reality.
Nothing you've experienced will match a day with the birds and you'll be surprised to find that you've amassed incredible details on the creatures, but in a much more gratifyingly special way than a day spent in a dry lecture hall. Reading about them doesn't cut it - you must trek out to the hills and give them room to be themselves. You are guaranteed not to regret this beautiful moment with magnificent birds and warm, good company. Where else can you find that interaction in this modern life of text messaging and TIVO? So turn off your phone, shut off your engine, and be still. Listen to the wind and watch the birds. They will break your heart.
My previous posting on falconry here: http://www.katewestreviews.com/2007/09/bees-and-raptors.html
Erin Go Bragh. Getting there: