Hail, Ireland's national herd

"Methane is the second most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland and is due to the large population of cattle. In 2020 estimated emissions of methane increased 8.5% on the 1990 level...The main contributor to the trend has been the agriculture sector and in 2020 this sector accounted for 93.2% of the total methane emissions. The sectoral emissions from agriculture increased by 18.4% between 1990 and 2020." 

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland

2026: It is a public holiday in Ireland. A new thanksgiving day has been set aside for the grateful populace to stand along the roadside waving tricolour flags as electric-powered trucks filled with cattle glide towards the slaughterhouse.

“Thank you, national herd, thank you,” the children shout. “Three cheers for the cows of Ireland.”

Stallholders are doing brisk business, selling toys and souvenirs: miniature plastic green cow figurines, milk jugs, butter dishes, “Proud of my steak in the national herd” t-shirts and “Irish cows are the best, accept no udders” posters.

Meanwhile, dignitaries and delegations from countries around the world gather at the abattoir gates to take turns expressing their gratitude to the cows of Ireland for feeding 45 million people. They cheer and clap as the trucks drive through the gates.

A couple of old men look up from their pints in The Sacred Cow. “Fair play to ye, Daisy,” mutters one grizzled old fella as he sips his Guinness.

Far away in Dublin, the Taoiseach takes to his feet in the Dáil to make the annual speech in praise of the cows of Ireland. Political commentators are all later agreed that it is a masterful eulogy to bovine contentment.

All over the nation, people make the traditional hand wave in front of their faces in tribute to the national herd. It is a hand gesture which has become synonymous with the country. There is a whiff of something in the air but no one notices.

They have all become acclimatised to the smell.