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Dublin manager Jim Gavin plays "groomsman" to 5,300 animals being airlifted to Africa

The Bóthar Ark has flown with a cargo of Irish-donated animals which will be presented to farming families in Rwanda.

BotharRwanda 07 Source: Diarmuid Greene/True Media

NOT CONTENT WITH managing the most dominant team in recent Gaelic Football history, Dublin manager Jim Gavin has taken charge of an altogether different kind of team bus.

Gavin, a commercial pilot and director with the Irish Aviation Authority when he’s not winning All Irelands, has served as one of two “groomsmen” to 5,300 animals that have been airlifted to Rwanda, Africa, on a flight from Shannon Airport where the beasts will serve as food and income producers for that country’s farmers.

BotharRwanda 013 On board the flight Source: Diarmuid Greene/True Media

BotharRwanda 020 Source: Diarmuid Greene/True Media

The cargo included 37 pregnant heifers, three bulls, 260 pigs, and 5,000 chickens, all bound for Rwanda on a flight known as the Bóthar Ark, named for the Irish international aid agency who chartered the plane.

“Behind the excitement behind this trip is immense generosity, great organisation and, at the end of the line, great hope,” Gavin said before embarking on the historic flight.

Source: Matt Sullivan/YouTube

Upon arriving in Rwanda, the animals (the majority donated by Irish farmers, and up to six times more productive than the local Rwandan livestock) will be placed in quarantine to adjust to their new environment before being delivered to their recipient families.

Gavin himself first made contact with Bóthar with regard to being involved with the airlift – the 25th that the aid agency has undertaken.

“Winning the All-Ireland is, of course, a privilege but this is also,” says Gavin.

To be able to witness first-hand the transformation of the lives of some of the poorest people in the world is definitely a privilege.

BotharRwanda 025 Source: Diarmuid Greene/True Media

CEO of Bóthar DAve Moloney meanwhile says the airlift is the agency’s most important ever.

“It’s our 25th anniversary so that has a lot of nostalgia for us but it’s also the biggest ever multi-species airlift in the world,” says Moloney.

It’s the fruits of many people’s labour, from our own team, to those who donated money to help purchase some of the animals, the farmers who donated them and raised them, and the team at Shelton Abbey and Loughan House prisons for raising others.

Read: 800 new gardaí will be recruited next year – but who will want that job?

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