Grassroots diary: Special mass to honour victims of farm tragedy
Published 08/06/2016 | 02:30
Five families have been left utterly devastated by the tragic loss of a loved one after a farm-related accident so far this year.
These are not just statistics - behind each story is a grieving family, a community in shock, and a farm that needs to continue being farmed no matter what's happened.
In many cases a widow is left to pick up the pieces, not knowing where to start. Meanwhile, her young son or daughter may have to take the reins a little sooner than planned - without the guidance of their mentor. Bills still have to be paid, cattle still have to be fed, the farm must live on.
A farm accident - whether fatal or causing serious trauma - can leave awful, potentially lifelong, consequences. But the main thing each family needs is support. On Sunday June 26, Embrace FARM (Farming Accidents - Remembered and Missed) - a nationwide bereavement support group, will hold its third annual mass to remember those lost and seriously injured on farms all over Ireland.
Embrace FARM was set up by Brian Rohan and his wife Norma, a farming family from Shanahoe, Co Laois in 2014. Brian's father, Liam, lost his life after suffering a serious head injury while fixing the rake on the back of a tractor in 2012. He was placed on life support but didn't recover.
"Our farm was one of the safest farms we knew of until dad's accident, he was a careful man. It can happen in the blink of an eye," said Brian. "Opening up and talking to people is a huge step. There's a lot to be gained from talking to people who know exactly what you've been through," he said.
Hundreds are expected to attend the service in Abbeyleix, Co Laois. Sean Finan, Macra na Feirme National president, attended the mass last year and will be present again later this month.
"Embrace FARM are doing huge work and the mass is another way of raising the awareness of farm safety. It really brings home the devastating consequences families can suffer," he said.
Mr Finan warns that families should be very conscious and cautious in carrying out their day-to-day faming activities, especially during the country's current spell of good weather.
"We don't have the sun for too long so we feel like we have to make use of it but sometimes that puts people under additional pressure and stress to get things done. That's when accidents can occur so it's all the more important to be safety conscious," he said.
With school holidays also on the horizon, Mr Finan urges parents to be aware that children are a high risk category on farms, particularly during their summer break.
Macra na Feirme Club of the Year
As the deadline for Macra na Feirme Club of the Year applications approaches at speed, reigning champions, Donoughmore, Co Cork, have offered some perils of wisdom to all clubs before the battle commences.
The Club of the Year competition is designed to encourage clubs to be dynamic and active, rewarding achievements and contributions at both a local and national level. The title is considered the highest accolade a club can achieve. Counties/regions can put forward one entry each with the group then shortlisted down to 14 clubs.
Sean Wallace, former Donoughmore club secretary and current national secretary, says a focus on planning since the start of the year is very important — including goals, calendar and financial planning. “Structure is key, you must show that you’re not just lurching from one competition to another,” he said. Sean says winning has been a “great honour” for the club which has also experienced a huge boost in young membership figures. “Each member put in serious effort to participate in our club, it wasn’t all about winning competitions, our community involvement and volunteer work was very strong. The closing date for applications is June 30.