Dubs stars pitch in at prison farm to help Christmas appeal
Dublin stars swapped the pitch for pitchforks as they lent a hand tending to calves at the Shelton Abbey prison farm.
Manager Jim Gavin, All-Ireland winning captain Stephen Cluxton and Michael Darragh MacAuley crossed the county lines into Wicklow on Sunday to help out with aid agency Bothar's Christmas appeal.
Shelton Abbey open prison is raising calves and goats for the Bothar programmes in Africa, which transport livestock to countries like Rwanda, Malawi and Uganda.
The jail houses men aged from 19 years who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security. For the past nine years, as part of a restorative justice programme, the inmates have reared almost 1,500 animals that have been transported to African nations and the Balkans.
Dubs manager Jim Gavin has issued a final Christmas appeal to help raise funds for a new-year airlift by Bothar of cows to widows of the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
In October, Gavin joined Bothar on its 25th anniversary airlift to Rwanda and he said the trip was an eye-opener on the difference Bothar's aid can make.
"I saw for myself first-hand only two months ago just how much an Irish cow can turn lives around," he said.
"Many of the cows that were sent out there were reared in Shelton so it was great to see how their project works.
"The beauty of this programme is that these animals begin making a difference from when they are very young.
"The prisoners who hand-rear them get a sense of responsibility, which is important as part of their rehabilitation."
After getting an introduction to farm labouring, the trio met inmates and their families.
"Today was a big day for our inmates as there is just one more visiting day before Christmas, so there was a particular buzz to have Jim and the lads in," prison chief officer Padraig O'Brien said.
"He has been out to Rwanda to see for himself the impact that this programme can have. We have been partnering with Bothar on this programme for nine years now and it has been hugely successful."