WHAT started as a conversation over a cup of tea by the Wards of Tournafulla ended up helping over 400 farmers during the fodder crisis.
The family run business imported 50 loads totalling 2,300 bales of hay to assist farmers in the depths of despair.
Their drivers, and even some who don’t work for the company, volunteered their time for free. The Wards gave the use of their trucks as well for free. Everything was done to make sure the hay was as cheap as possible for struggling farmers who contacted them. And when they get the money from the Government’s fodder transport scheme they are even passing this back to farmers.
Deputy Patrick O’Donovan praised the work of the Wards during the crisis and invited Agriculture Minister of State, Tom Hayes to meet them.
“Minister Simon Coveney acknowledged the very special situation that farmers in Limerick were experiencing when he allowed a local company like Wards to participate in the transport scheme [operated through dairy co-operatives]. This came after a series of meetings between the Minister, myself and department officials where I impressed upon them the serious situation confronting Limerick farmers,” said Deputy O’Donovan. The business is run by Petie, Delia, Paula, Miranda and Johnie following the death of Peter Ward, who started it in 1965, last year.
“We were glad we were able to do this for the farmers as these are our customers and we were amazed at the amount of help people wanted to give to this crisis,” said Delia.
They wished to thank their office staff, and especially Mary Harnett, who gave up their evenings and weekends for five weeks. Their own drivers, Johnie and Petie Ward, Jack Lane, David Roche, Joe O’Keeffe, John Stack, John Horgan, Peter Keogh, Willie Joe Roche and Bill Curtin gave their time voluntarily to go to Wales. And a big thanks to Aidan Doody, John Harnett (Curly) and Noel Horgan who do not work for the Wards but volunteered to go. They all left Tournafulla at 3pm, got the ferry from Rosslare at 9pm, go collect the hay in the morning, get back for the 3pm boat and home to West Limerick.
“We would like to thank Francie Collins, Jimmy Cahill, Maurice Curtin who gave us their tractors to help with unloading the bales at our yard. Our yard staff Jack, Shane, David and George who were kept very busy loading and unloading trailers.
“Also thanks to Sam Foley, Springfield Plastics Ltd, who gave us the two trailers required for the bales as we did not have these ourselves and they gave them to us for five weeks at no charge, and Feale Oil who contributed to the diesel for the trips.
“It was a lovely community effort,” said Delia.