Jill Smith, a parishioner in the Carrigaline Union of Parishes in the Church of Ireland in Cork, decided that, after years of service and providing an income, her working dairy herd of 70 cows, who have all bonded over the years in their own unique way, deserved a life in retirement where they could continue to live as a herd together.
Jill knew she would be able to sell some of them but really wanted them to stay together. Charlies Equine Rescue in County Wexford supported her in her plan to save the herd, and began crowdfunding to raise the money to ship them to Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk, England.
In just one month, supporters oversubscribed the amount required to ship the animals and cover the necessary vet fees so the surplus will be given to Hillside Sanctuary to help with the costs of keeping the cattle.
Half of the herd left Carrigaline last week, on 19th September, and the Rector of Carrigaline, the Revd Elaine Murray, was on hand to say prayers before they were loaded onto the roomy transporter to travel to their final home.
It was a very poignant moment for all involved. According to Hillside Sanctuary, the herd bounded into the field when they arrive safely to Norfolk. The rest of the herd, together with Jill’s sheep , will be shipped at a later date.
In a BBC report, Catriona Lowry from the Equine Centre that raised the funds said:
This is historic as no Irish herd has ever left Ireland to live out their remaining years in a sanctuary …. it was a happy ending for a dairy herd who worked so hard for an owner who always had a dream that they would retire with her one day.