TWENTY one years to the week since Bóthar landed its first ever airlift of Irish dairy cows to an impoverished African community, the Limerick aid agency has been given a civic reception to mark its remarkable life-saving work worldwide.
Bóthar - who lifted 6,000 people worldwide out of destitution last year with livestock donations - was honoured by Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, both for its aid work and for flying the flag for the city abroad.
To mark the Treaty 300 celebrations in 1991, the farming community from the region, led by recently retired Bóthar founding CEO Peter Ireton and founding Chairman, the late TJ Maher, airlifted 20 dairy heifers to Uganda and very quickly what was intended as a one-off gesture developed into one of Ireland’s leading charities.
Addressing the event, Mayor McLoughlin said that Bóthar had spread the word about the greatness of Limerick worldwide.
“In terms of the perceptions of Limerick, Bóthar is really what it should be about,” he said.
“This is the organisation that we should speak about when we talk in terms of what’s great about Limerick,” he added.
His colleague on the council, Jim Long, who moved the motion for the civic reception for Bóthar in his final days as outgoing mayor last year, said that the organisation had created a worldwide reputation for Limerick as a ‘city of giving’.
“Bóthar has made Limerick a worldwide iconic name,” he said. “You have demonstrated the greatness of Limerick over the years across Ireland and across the globe. You have shown how to turn possible starvation into sustainability and made farmers out of destitute people.”
Mr Ireton was in attendance at the event, as was daughter of the founding chairman, Julianne Smith, plus Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dr Dermot Clifford, who devised the name for the organisation.
John Finucane, chairman, said the organisation had brought livestock to the centre stage of Third World development.
“Since then all those involved in development aid have come to recognise that livestock farming has to be an integral part of helping poor and rural communities around the world lift themselves out of destitution,” he explained.