Friday 20 October 2017

Poignant scenes at memorial for farm fatalities

Former rugby international John Hayes at the Embrace Farm Accident Remembrance Service in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, yesterday. Photo: Don Moloney
Former rugby international John Hayes at the Embrace Farm Accident Remembrance Service in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, yesterday. Photo: Don Moloney
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

One by one, the families who tragically lost loved ones to farming accidents lit candles to mark their loss, as a list of names of those who have died in Ireland's deadliest workplace was read out.

Hundreds of people had travelled, some long distances, to come together for the second poignant Embrace Farm remembrance service.

Laois farmer Brian Rohan, who set up the support network with his wife Norma after the death of his father Liam in a farm accident, pointed out that unfortunately more families were joining the remembrance service each year.

"Most new groups that start out there, you want new members, but this group, we don't need any new members," he said, after 30 farm deaths last year. Seven have died this year.

Mother-of-two Diane Banville (37), whose husband Kevin died in an accident on St Patrick's Day last year when their youngest son was just a few weeks old, read out a heartbreaking reflection to mark the irreplaceable loss and toll a farm death takes on a family.

After the service in the Most Holy Rosary Church in Abbeyleix, she said the gathering gave those newly bereaved a chance to see others further along in their path of grieving and helped make them aware that the "dark days won't be as dark".

"It is the first thing you think about first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and probably a thousands times in between," she said.

"You're thinking about what your life should be and thinking what it is, and that feeling of being robbed."

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Stormont's Michelle O'Neill, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, rugby legend and farmer John Hayes, MEP Mairead McGuinness and a representative of the Taoiseach attended.

Irish Independent

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