By Denis Lehane
The announcement last week, that a ship by the name of the Stena Carrier will be ferrying calves to France, could not have come at a better time.
I’m very excited about it.
The Minister himself said that there could be 35,000 calves shipped out of here within a month.
This of course is great news for dairy farmers, but it could also be great news for the likes of you and me.
I studied the picture of the ship on this paper last Thursday morning while enjoying my egg, and came to the conclusion that it was one mighty sturdy tub.
A right roomy yoke of a boat for the calves.
I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if, on account of the comfort, the calves refuse to disembark on their arrival in Cherbourg. So fair play to everyone involved. Full marks all round.
Anyhow, with the summer coming fast, the new ferry route could be a right blessing for farmers intending to do a bit of travelling themselves.
Last year, myself and the family took ourselves to France by ferry.
It was my first holiday in 30 years, and we departed from the same dock in Rosslare, just like the calves bound for France.
The trip, it has to be said, was a most painful event.
I’m still suffering on account of it.
Not from sea sickness or injury or anything of that nature, you understand, but from paying for it.
Forking out the cash proved to be a very painful procedure. It hurts me still when I am reminded of it.
I can get terrible flashbacks, cold-sweats and nightmares, if a picture of the bill comes into my head.
The ferry trip to France and back cost more than the holiday. To ferry my old jeep cost more than the jeep was worth. It was an experience so fraught with expense, that I vowed to never journey back there again.
However, with the Stena Line calf ferry launch, suddenly hope has dawned again, for here I see a means of getting a man, his wife, and children, to France with the minimum of pain.
Would there be a chance at all that the ferry might have the room to carry a few farmers along with the calves?
Looking at the photo of the ship, I dare say that we could wedge a nice few farm families on board before the back door comes up.
A few under-pressure beef, sheep or tillage farmers could do well with a free boarding pass at this stage. The dairy farmer can pay his own way. Besides, isn’t the ship already doing enough for him? Taking his calves to pastures new.
All I’m looking for really is to hitch a ride on a ship that will be going to France with or without a few dozen farmers on board.
Along with the goodwill such a move would generate, having farmers on board would be the greatest asset with regards to the wellbeing of the calves.
Who better to look after the precious cargo on the high seas, than the very man who looks after the calf with such expertise on dry land?
We could ensure the calves are fed and watered, in exchange for some light refreshments offered to ourselves. There would be no losers in the arrangement.
So minister, please put in a good word with Stena Line for transportation of farmers to France along with the calves, now that things are going so good. Who knows, I may be sailing the high seas to the land of the croissant and the beret once more.