Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

'We saw his green cap floating in the water'

Father tells of the tragic death of his son in a farm accident

James (6) died tragically on the family farm
James (6) died tragically on the family farm
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Six-year-old James drowned on the family farm eight years ago, but the memory is still fresh in his father's mind

Speaking to RTE's Sean O'Rourke radio show, Padraig Higgins recounted how his son had just went across the farmyard to visit his grandfather.

But when he wasn't back shortly afterwards his parents were worried and went looking for him.

"After 15-20 minutes Joan went to see how he had got on but he hadn’t got there. We started to look for him and there was a hole in the garden and the water from the roof of the shed would filter into it and we saw the green cap floating on top of the water.

"It was meant to be filled in with stones and we didn’t realise the danger."

James, he said, was well used to farm life, helping out with chores on the farm near Shannonbridge, Offaly, but Padraig said a lot of farm accidents are caused by very simple things.

"He had his own farm tasks at the time and was well used to the farm, helping with calves, feeding cattle. The same as all children around the country he was involved in farming. It’s a great privilege to grow up on a farm.

"But children don’t understand the dangers and everything is new to the child on a farmyard."

Padraig said it was heartbreaking last Saturday as it was James' birthday, but the family had a cake for him.

Padraig also told the Today with Sean O'Rourke show that afterwards he became involved with Embrace Farm - the bereavement support group for families affected by farm fatalities or serious injuries.

He advised farmers that getting someone to visit the farm and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes could mean they spot things that you may not recognise as dangerous.

He also said that if farmers had to attend a half day or full day on farm safety it would be a good idea. "You have to keep hammering home the message of farm safety."

Yesterday the 18th farm fatality occurred when an 83-year-old man died in a farming accident in Cork.

"That’s 18 families and people should not feel in insolation. There is great comfort in knowing people who have gone through what you’ve gone through," Padraig said.

He previously spoke about the loss of his son for an Embrace Farm video.

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