Amidst merited celebrations, a cloud engulfs the Lake County

Westmeath’s win last week will no doubt have been met with raucous – and merited – celebrations. As was best evidenced by one man who became a YouTube sensation. However, in other contexts, a cloud has engulfed the Lake County. Some of the reasoning for which was highlighted elsewhere, but, hereafter I wish to focus on the plight of the Dillon family from Kilbeggan had their lives upturned by the largest livestock theft in Irish history.

Before any conclusions are sprung to or proclamations delivered, one is in no way trying to compare the two situations. They were solely employed as a means to illustrate the flippant triviality of what happens in a football match. I do not know any of the victims or their families, that said, cognisance of what has befallen those people reduces to near irrelevance what was acute deflation following Meath’s rather dramatic implosion.

Nor are the Dillon family known to me. Admittedly, repetition is one of the greatest foibles in this trade. That notwithstanding though, if things retain a level of credence there’s no reason why they shouldn’t get another gallop. Over the years, the varied and often hurtful reactions to the reality that somebody in a wheelchair could be interested in farming have been well chronicled by yours truly.

Still, many understand the interest in and passion I have for farming. It’d be openly admitted, mind you, that the possibility of becoming actively involved in farming – to the extent which someone with a disability can – was never really entertained. Until this time two years ago when a family tradition was reignited and the reality that dreams can come true manifested itself.

The return of cattle to the horizon was the best thing that ever happened. Having an impact more profound than maybe even this corner has words to articulate. Yes, farming is a serious business – no matter to what scale you are involved therein – but, personally speaking, it has been a greater form of therapy than any doctor could prescribe.

Therefore, countenancing what has happened to the Dillons is near impossible. It will have been impactful to indescribable levels. The business and economic ones, whilst obviously the most profound, only occupy a fraction of the effect the heinous pilfering of 100 of their livestock will have had and will continue to generate.

One aspect which perhaps resonated greatest was the fact that Niall and Christa Dillon had planned to keep a calf each year for their son. A doubly significant thing. Firstly as it represented what is something of a farming tradition in passing on a love for all things farming from one generation to the next. More significantly than that, though, it represented a unique investment in the young lad’s future.

Those mindless criminals who perpetrated this shameful act have no idea – and assuredly even less regard – for what their callous actions have done to this family. Undoubtedly, the best traits of the Irish people come to the fore at the worst of times.

As someone for whom the ongoing battle with depression has been aided indescribably by farming, what the Dillon family are currently enduring has struck me at a level that goes to the very core. Somebody out there knows something – #cowarmy expand and unite and help these people return to the peace, stability and security that’s a basic human right.


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