Aid agency Bóthar has announced that Shannon Airport will be the official aviation partner for its live cargo airlift from Shannon.

The flight marks the 25th anniversary of the first Bóthar flight, which left the same airport 25 years ago with a cargo of just 20 cows.

This year, the cargo will comprise 40 in-calf dairy cows, 260 pigs, 200 dairy goats and 1,000 chicks. The Bóthar Ark will be bound for Rwanda and the animals will be divided among widows of the horrific genocide of the mid-1990s.

The inaugural flight was intended as a one-off by a group of midwest farmers, among them farm leader TJ Maher, as their way of marking the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Limerick. The treaty, signed on 3 October 1691, ended the Williamite War in Ireland between the Jacobites and the supporters of William of Orange and concluded the Siege of Limerick.

Most significant airlift

Confirming the airlift and Shannon’s designation as the aviation partner, Bóthar CEO Dave Moloney said that final preparations are now in place for what will be the most significant airlift of Bóthar’s quarter of a century of livestock aid activity.

“This is the most important airlift we have ever pulled together, for many reasons,” said Moloney.

“It’s our biggest airlift in terms of numbers and species and, in that regard, a record in an Irish context. It also marks our 25th anniversary as an aid organisation and what a journey it has been.

“There’s also a great deal of nostalgia, not just because of the anniversary, but because we are back where it all started, at Shannon Airport. We have since turned into one of Ireland’s best-known charities which transforms the lives of thousands of the world’s poorest annually with gifts of food and income-producing livestock.”

Airport operations director at Shannon Airport Niall Maloney: “Bóthar is like an old friend now for us at Shannon and we are delighted to support them. They have been airlifting cows, in particular, from here to some of the most needy people in the world for a quarter of a century. It’s a remarkable contribution, not least when you think of the organisation’s origins.

“It was just supposed to have been a once-off. Thankfully, for tens of thousands of people across the world, whose lives have been changed beyond their wildest hopes by the gift of food and income producing animals, it hasn’t stopped rolling since.”

So if you fancy seeing pigs fly, make sure to head down to Shannon on 10 October.

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Pigs will fly... to Rwanda