Farmer and 'soulmate' dog viciously attacked by gang who broke into house for 'small sum of cash'

Stock picture
Stock picture

Eoghan MacConnell

A farmer who was beaten and bound by a gang of men at the weekend is still recovering in hospital in Co Offaly and it has emerged that his dog was also beaten in the attack.

It has been revealed that the four-man gang who forced their way into his home also viciously beat the man's dog, which was described by one local representative as the farmer’s "soulmate".  

The 54-year-old farmer was dragged out his bed and set upon by the gang at Glasderry beg, Brosna near Birr in Co Offaly on Saturday morning at 2am. He was beaten about the head with an implement and dragged out to a barn where he was tied up. 

Gardai have appealed for information in relation to the crime and say the burglars, who had Munster accents, used a high powered 4 X 4 vehicle in the crime and wore gloves and hats. 

Renua Ireland Leader and local councillor John Leahy said “it was a vicious attack and a vicious attack on the dog as well.”  He explained that “they grabbed the dog by the throat and gave the dog an unmerciful beating.” 

The drystock farmer, who grew up in the house, herds his cattle on foot and always has his sheepdog by his side, said Cllr Leahy, who is a family friend. The dog, which Cllr Leahy described as being “basically his soulmate,” was in the room when the gang burst in and began their attack. Since the beating, no-one is able to approach the dog because it is just “gritting its teeth” in response, explained Cllr Leahy.  

He said the gang savagely beat the man before dragging him out to a barn where “they tied him up and left him for dead.”  There he managed to free himself and make his way to a neighbours house, where the alarm was raised and an ambulance was called.

The farmer was recovering from his non life threatening injuries at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore and is expected to be discharged on Monday evening, but he is not expected to return to his home. 

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Around six weeks earlier the farmers house was burgled and all of the jewellery belonging to his mother was stolen. This time, Cllr Leahy said, “there was nothing there to get but they completely and utterly ransacked the house. He is not going back to the home house. The house is not habitable at this stage they did so much damage,” he remarked.  

Cllr Leahy described the injured man a typical bachelor farmer who would get the local weekly paper and cut out any pictures or mention of his godchildren, visit his mother in the nursing home and “keeps life very simple." He normally herds his cattle on foot and always has his dog as company, he explained.   

“This man has done nothing. He is a bachelor. He was going about his business and they nearly killed him,” he remarked.  “They came to rob him, but why did they have to beat the dog and beat him near to death,” asked Cllr Leahy. He said “where is the end game on it, where are they going to go tomorrow night?” 

“They have taken his livelihood. They have taken his security away from him and they have left the family to pick up the pieces,” said Cllr Leahy.

He spoke of the man’s only sister, who wasn’t allowed up to her home house after the attack as it was a crime scene. For her and the community in general, he said, “I think there is a deep sense of fear and disgust.”  Members of the local community and family members have been helping out with the farm since the attack. 

Gardai at Birr have appealed to farmers, residents and landowners in the Shinrone area to keep a look out for clothing possibly discarded in fields or hedges. 

They are also seeking information on any suspicious people or vehicles in the Drumakeenan and Glassderrybeg areas on the N62 Birr to Roscrea Road, particularly from 11pm on Friday night to 3am on Saturday morning, but also in the days leading up to the attack. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Birr Garda Station 057-9169710 or the Garda Confidential LIne 1800 666 111.

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