The end of an era as the last island farmer of Shannon's Lough Ree dies
The death of the last remaining resident of the islands on the River Shannon’s Lough Ree is being viewed as the “end of an era” for the area.
The last farmer on the 65-acre island passed away on his 83rd birthday this week, after spending his entire life farming and fishing on the island, where he had grown up with his two brothers and sister.
John Connell of Inchbofin Island on Lough Ree near Glasson, Athlone in Co Westmeath he hit the headlines in 2010 when the Air Corps dropped fodder by helicopter for his cattle during an extremely cold spell.
The hardy farmer and fisherman had declined an invitation to return to the mainland, preferring instead to remain and tend to his cattle.
The lake had turned into a sheet of ice during the winter and the marooned cows, horses and sheep got some relief when an Air Corps helicopter began a series of fodder drops.
The rescue services also checked in on the elderly islander.
"When the guards went in, they went in to bring him out. He told them to go back and get some fodder," his nephew Mick Connell said this week.
But Mr Connell said he preferred to stay put. "I'm very thankful to them all as the lake is frozen and the animals could do with a feed," he said at the time.