Livestock Auction Raises Over €40,000 For Cancer Support Group.
BY Christy Parker | Photo: Michael O’Connell
A charity livestock auction at Dungarvan mart has raised over €40,000 for the Youghal Cancer Support Group. The sum was reached at this month’s mart after 140 calves –and one grown heifer- were donated by farmers across east Cork and west Waterford.
On a morning saturated in generosity and good humour the total included a massive €5,500 raised through the sale of ‘a calf called Tubridy’ by the RTE personality of the same name. Organisers say the money raised brings the group “very close” to securing a premises and establishing a support and drop in centre in Youghal for cancer sufferers and dependents.
The event drew the largest crowd in the mart’s existence. Preceding the regular day’s business, the 10.30 am start saw an initial attendance of about 200 quickly double, then almost treble in size.
Variety vied with volume in defining the crowd; for dispersed amongst the regular ruddy-featured, rugged-handed farmers were the lip-glossed, hair coiffured urbanite ladies and their (relatively) urbane spouses from town. Seldom had so much pink been evident at a mart and rarely beyond a racetrack, a wedding or a funeral had town and country touched shoulders so suitably.
Speckled amongst the throng were some sporting and business high achievers, including champion jumps jockey Davy Russell and Munster rugby stars David O’Callaghan and Danny Barnes. “Are you selling horse meat?” some wit asked the top jockey. “There’s a few I wouldn’t mind bringing here!” replied the Youghal pilot. Representatives of Dawn Meats, East Cork Oil and Irish Herford Prime were also in evidence.
The names that most seduced however were behind the hammer. From the world of TV and radio came Tubridy, Brenda O’Donoghue, Maura Derrane and –locally- Noel Cronin of Community Radio Youghal. From Planet Comedy arrived ex-D’Unbelievable Jon Kenny and Bachelor in Trouble Tony Coffey. Approachable, relaxed and obliging all chatted, laughed and posed for photos either side of their auctioneering duties.
Jon Kenny commenced proceedings, in one instance urging buyers to consider “this stylish calf” and inquiring of a responder whether he was “bidding or a wiping your nose?” It set the tone.
Maura Derrane employed a softer approach to draw €300 and €500 from two sales, as one veteran farmer –perhaps married!- reflected that she was “too gentle.” The RTE and TV4 news broadcaster “enjoyed every minute of it,” while paying tribute to the “excellent” assistance of mart auctioneer Ger O’Sullivan.
They don’t come much more metropolitan than RTE radio’s Brenda O’Donoghue but the deep Dublin tones flirted some fine lines as she promised a solid investment to whoever brought home Brenda, a hat and scarf bedecked calf named in her honour. “He will grow meatier, like me!” promised the broadcaster. “Kilcullen says €300,” shouted a buyer as, ironically, the animal became destined for a parish in which his namesake had once walked the grass on Celebrity Bainisteoir. “I really enjoyed that. I’d love to do it again.” remarked the radio reporter afterwards.
Comedian and farmer Tony Coffey, in his famed ‘bachelor’ attire and totally at home, raised the “steaks” considerably, cajoling and charming his audience until Willie Keane of Ardmore met a final tag of €1,000 for a pedigree Friesian heifer calf.
Ryan Tubridy won much regard for an easy demeanour and a willingness to chat with anyone. He passed over half an hour on the premises before being called to auction his namesake -and another half hour afterwards posing for photographs with the creature and well-wishers in scenes more reminiscent of the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham!
Relaxing over tea and sandwiches in the mart canteen, the 2FM and Late Late Show said he hoped to raise “at least €800” for his ‘offspring,’ given that “Dungarvan 6” prices would reflect a higher grade than those of Dublin 4! He also joked that he would be insisting on “regular visiting rights” to his bovine heir.
Later, as he addressed his latest live audience, the slim broadcaster said he was “double as nervous” compared to his usual anxiety prior to presenting the Late Late Show. Nonetheless he took the bull Hereford by the horns with a first ask of €500, upping it by €200 per bid, past East Cork Oil’s €2,000 and Dawn Meats €3,000, past the “€4,000 and two tickets for the Late Late Show,” mark until an amazing €5,500 was registered and accepted. The buyer was, appropriately, Ireland rugby legend John ‘the Bull’ Hayes on behalf of Dublin’s Fire restaurant, its supplier Irish Hereford Prime and Pallas Foods Newcastle West.
The Fire, adjacent to the Mansion House, sells 1,000 steaks a year but ‘young Tubs’ won’t be providing any of them. “He’ll be reared in the Midlands for two years and then re-auctioned for charity,” said Michael Cleary of Irish Hereford Prime.
As for the disenfranchised ‘dad,’ Mr Tubridy said he felt “exhilarated” by the experience. “It was like The Late Late Show meets Farm News,” he observed. “And if they ever want a fast-talking bullshi*ter, they’ve found their man!”
As the regular mart began, Dawn Meats re-auctioned two purchases for the cause. Also CRY presenter Noel Cronin would entice €2,000 for ‘Therese,’ a black and white cow bearing the name of Youghal Cancer Support Group founder Therese O’Connell. “Don’t mention T-bone steaks to her,” urged the radio man, in deference to the four-legged Therese.
The human Therese said she was “overwhelmed” by the response and revealed that hours later cash donations and even animals for future sale were still being received. “I just want to thank everyone who donated and helped in any way most sincerely. It’s unbelievable,” she said. A day unprecedented and unique at Dungarvan mart was all that.