Celtic donkey will have the last laugh

Far cheaper than a bullock, exempt from TB tests, your donkey will entitle you to a disadvantaged area payment, says Rathmore Elvis.

I sold a blast of bullocks at Macroom mart on Saturday, in an attempt to keep the wolf from the door. And with my business done, I went to a nearby bar in order to settle an account, and the nerves.

T’was while there supping a pint that I bumped into my old pal, Rathmore Elvis. He was in Macroom drawing the farmers’ dole. The king doesn’t miss a trick.

Rathmore Elvis is an old acquaintance of mine, a good friend, I might have mentioned him here before. He’s a sheep farmer who lives out there in the hill country that separates Cork and Kerry. He is also an occasional Elvis impersonator on the side, cash jobs only these days, for he has a desperate fear of the taxman.

The King is no fool. He knows what side his bread is buttered on. He avoids the taxman, the way he avoids a vegetarian supper.

In Macroom on Saturday he was one of the first to congratulate me over my farms recent induction into the disadvantaged area, or the ANC as it has become known in the more upmarket parts of the country.

“You’ll no longer be scraping the bottom of the barrel Denny, you’re out of the ghetto now,” the king hummed. “Getting the disadvantaged payment is a bit like playing Caesars Palace. There’s no better feeling, baby.”

But I was having none of it. For in the name of God, I felt the King was talking through his big backside.

“Sure how can I claim a penny now,” says I, “and I after selling the last of my cattle in order to keep my ship afloat. You need cattle to draw the disadvantaged payment, that’s how the thing is measured. And now I have none.”

Well the king had to laugh, curling his upper lip like he did in the ’68 Comeback Special.’

That’s alright momma, that’s alright with you,” he sung, “you don’t need cattle to draw the disadvantaged payment.

“And how will I draw it so?” I demanded to know. “Is it with pigeons?”

“No, sir.” says the king. “Donkeys, that’s how. They will do the trick just as well.”

“Are you gone mad again king,” I declared, for I thought he was truly talking through his backside this time.

But then over a pint or two, the king went on to explain how during the Celtic Tiger the donkey became a very popular article in Ireland.

Denis Lehane with Rathmore Elvis, always a great source of wisdom on Irish society.
Denis Lehane with Rathmore Elvis, always a great source of wisdom on Irish society.

So much so that when the boom died, the country was awash with asses and donkeys of every description.

“It should have been called the Celtic Donkey,” says the king, blowing the froth off a fresh pint.

“And the country is still full of donkeys,” the King told me. “Over 2,000 donkeys were registered to claim the most recent disadvantaged payment. Get your hands on an ass, and for just a fraction of the cost of any bullock, you will have no trouble in the wide earthly world in drawing the payment.”

“And better again, there is no trouble with testing a donkey for TB, the creature is exempt,” he adds. “Once the hooves are pared and your ass is looked after, the donkey will bring you nothing but good fortune.”

And with that fantastic piece of advice delivered from a bar stool in Macroom town, that no Teagasc man could hope to match, the king finished his pint and left the building.

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