Some modest proposals for dealing with our milk lakes
Published 15/03/2016 | 02:30
Ireland's greatest writers include Kerryman John Brendan Keane.
He was not too different from many of his fellow county men, in terms of wit, sass and cute intelligence; it's just he was able to put it down on paper. Cue the joke: Did you hear about the Kerryman who had an inferiority complex? He thought he was only as good as everyone else.
Thus, I feel John B would be sorely disappointed that the men (and women) of Kerry (by which I mean the dairy giant which carries the county's name) and those working in the country's other milk processors haven't come up with more innovative uses for the vast amounts of what is supposed to be liquid gold now flowing out of the milk parlours of Ireland.
CSO figures show that Irish dairy cow numbers were up another 10pc in December on a year earlier, while almost every week seems to bring a further deferral of the date by which farmers can expect to see an improvement in milk prices.
John B once came up the idea of heifer coursing.
Anyone familiar with the canine version of the sport would guess the gist of it. First round up a group of skittish heifers. Then get 32 of the stoutest farmers in the parish and hold an open draw to organise them into 16 pairs. One heifer is released with a pair of farmers in pursuit. The winner of each heat is the farmer who succeeds in roping the heifer, taking into account first, second and third turns, as in greyhound coursing.
"Imagine the excitement," said John B, "as the fastest of the heifers, specially confined for the final, is released. The last two farmers are slipped, and off they go after the heifer amid wild cheering from the crowd. They swing their ropes and emit ancient and traditional cattle-calls."
He saw it as a way for an enterprising individual to earn a few quid and for farmers to get fit. "Abulia, inertia and obesity would soon disappear from the face of the countryside."