Friday 30 September 2016

Leading figure in Irish farming Rodney Cox has a few words of wisdom for the country's farmers

Tullamore Show chairman highlights importance of mental health as he chairs the famous show for the final year

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 07/07/2016 | 16:59

Aubrac champion Kelly Stephenson and his winning cow Glencara Isla with Tullamore Show chairman Rodney Cox, Irish Shows Association president Jim Harrison,Tullamore Show secretary Freda Kinnarney and AIB national agri-business development manager Noreen Lacey at the Tullamor Show 2015
Aubrac champion Kelly Stephenson and his winning cow Glencara Isla with Tullamore Show chairman Rodney Cox, Irish Shows Association president Jim Harrison,Tullamore Show secretary Freda Kinnarney and AIB national agri-business development manager Noreen Lacey at the Tullamor Show 2015
Frank Cashin, winner of the open final in the Sheepdog Trials with Jip at the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show in Blueball, Tullamore. Picture: Jeff Harvey
Dreamboy: The White's homebred Dermotstown Delboy was crowned Simmental champion at Tullamore show in 2013, and had buyers lining up the minute he left the ring
Frank and Alan Gibbons with Reserve Champion Charollais Ram Lamb and All Ireland Pair of Charollais Ram Lambs at the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show 2015 in Blueball, Tullamore. Picture: Jeff Harvey

A leading figure in Irish farming has called for greater support for farmers’ mental health and safety.

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Rodney Cox highlighted the issue of mental health in the farming community as a topic “we need to be more aware of and open about”, as the chairman of the Tullamore Show gears up to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

“I think a lot of the stigma surrounding mental health has faded in Ireland in recent years, but I think farmers are still a bit reluctant to talk about things like depression and isolation,” Mr Cox, now in his final year chairing the show, said in a statement.

“Farmers tend to want to be self-reliant, but we’re only human. It can be a tough, lonely existence at times; especially for those who live alone.

Frank Cashin, winner of the open final in the Sheepdog Trials with Jip at the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show in Blueball, Tullamore. Picture: Jeff Harvey
Frank Cashin, winner of the open final in the Sheepdog Trials with Jip at the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show in Blueball, Tullamore. Picture: Jeff Harvey

“There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out for help, whether that’s from someone you trust or, if that’s not an option, a professional counsellor or one of many free services available, like calling the Samaritans – even if it’s just to get something off your chest, it can help a lot.”

The 52-year-old also discussed the problems associated with farming accidents for families, and described the painful experience that led to him being wheelchair-bound for a period last year.

“I was just guiding a few cows through the cattle crush, something I’ve done thousands of times, when one of them kicked my leg. It broke in a few places; meaning a long, frustrating recovery.

“I’m still on crutches so I can’t do much around the farm. Thankfully, my son, Craig, has been able to pick up the slack or it would’ve been a lot worse,” he said.

Dreamboy: The White's homebred Dermotstown Delboy was crowned Simmental champion at Tullamore show in 2013, and had buyers lining up the minute he left the ring
Dreamboy: The White's homebred Dermotstown Delboy was crowned Simmental champion at Tullamore show in 2013, and had buyers lining up the minute he left the ring

However, some farmers may not be so lucky, and could find themselves in a difficult situation if they are unable to work.

“While prevention information is very important, I do think the relevant agencies need to do more to help farmers and their families when an accident actually occurs. Being unable to work leads to a lot of complications and worry in a farming household.

“I’ve tried to get support and advice from a number of places, but to no avail. Having spoken to other farmers, I’m certainly not the only one,” he added.

Mr Cox urged fellow members of the farming community “not to take your health and well-being for granted”.

Frank and Alan Gibbons with Reserve Champion Charollais Ram Lamb and All Ireland Pair of Charollais Ram Lambs at the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show 2015 in Blueball, Tullamore. Picture: Jeff Harvey
Frank and Alan Gibbons with Reserve Champion Charollais Ram Lamb and All Ireland Pair of Charollais Ram Lambs at the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show 2015 in Blueball, Tullamore. Picture: Jeff Harvey

“If you work with animals or machinery, one lapse of concentration can cost you very dearly," he said.

Over 60,000 guests are expected to attend the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show on August 14 at the Butterfield Estate.

Many will be competing in one of the 1000 competitions, ranging from livestock to baking to inventions, and hoping for a piece of the €168,000 prize fund.

Guests can also look forward to a country music jamboree with singer Michael English, a cooking tutorial from Neven Maguire, fashion shoes, vintage car and machinery displays and 700 trade stands across the 250-acre estate.

The final date for online entries to the competitions is July 20, and the full schedule can be found online on the show’s website.

Guests can save up to 20pc on tickets by buying them online up to one day before the show.

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