Saturday 17 November 2018

Wexford heifers head off on journey to Kosovo

The cattle setting off on their journey
The cattle setting off on their journey
Pat Mullins (Bothar), Willie O'Gorman, John Nolan, Billy Greene, Fr. Felix Byrne, Aidan Grannell and Biddy Turner pictured at the Bothar cattle loading at Enniscorthy Mart recently

Pádraig Byrne

A total of 35 heifers were loaded into trucks at Enniscorthy Mart recently, bound for Kosovo with the goal of providing hope to some of the poorest families in Europe. This is not the first time that animals have made the journey from Enniscorthy to help those desperately in need. Parish priest at Monaseed, Fr Felix Byrne, along with local man Willie Considine, spotted an ad for Bóthar in the Farmer's Journal 25 years ago and donated a heifer.

Following this, the operation grew and Paddy Keogh and Gerry Maguire got involved to encourage farmers from around the county to donate animals to make the journey to needy families, primarily in Africa. At the ripe old age of 88, Fr Byrne still regularly attends the Mart and encourages farmers to get involved and he was delighted to see 35 heifers heading off to their new home this year. It is hoped that the animals will completely transform the lives of their recipients and that they will be able to make enough out of them to send their children to school.

It's not just cattle that find their way to poor families either. In 1991, Biddy Turner from Caim and her son Edward met Fr Byrne in Lourdes. They became great friends and Fr Byrne gave Edward a goat called Edwina to rear. Little did they know at the time that this would be the start of a major enterprise which would see over 3,000 goats reared at their home and sent to Africa.

Both Biddy and Fr Byrne have said that the operation would never be such a huge success were it not for the generosity of local farmers, who donate hay, straw and shelter as well as animals, local Vet John Bowler and school children from all over the county who donate money each year. In fact Ferns NS has donated over €20,000 to the cause in the past 13 years, with all the money going towards buying calves and feeding goats.

Following closely behind the heifers which have already set off for Kosovo will be over 100 goats which are currently in quarantine in Shelton Abbey and will be ready to make the journey by the start of December. All this hard work from the agricultural community across County Wexford will pay dividends as poverty-stricken families receive the gift of independence and hope this Christmas.

Enniscorthy Guardian