Tuesday 20 March 2018

Community in shock as farmer dies within sight of the land that he loved

Gardaí pictured at the scene as the coffin is taken away Picture: Domnick Walsh
Gardaí pictured at the scene as the coffin is taken away Picture: Domnick Walsh
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Anthony O'Mahony (74) was killed within sight of the things he loved most in life. He died just metres from the land he had farmed with passion for more than 40 years and within sight of Rattoo Round Tower, the iconic symbol of North Kerry and which stood at the end of the land he had ploughed just last weekend.

The death of the single man, renowned throughout the area as "a genius" for tillage farming, stunned the tightknit Ballyduff community. The only outward sign that something was terribly wrong in the close Kerry community was the single garda patrol car parked just off the Ballyduff-Abbeydorney road throughout the day.

Passing motorists would have to strain to see the garda crime scene tape down a narrow local roadway that prevented access to the scene where Mr O'Mahony lost his life.

By late evening, multiple garda vehicles were parked at the scene as technical bureau officials did their work.

The only other clue that something was wrong were the small knots of locals gathered to whisper news of what had happened.

Fr Brendan Walsh said the tightknit area was "totally shattered" by the tragedy.

"People are shocked and in disbelief over this," he said.

"This is a quiet, close-knit area and it is the last thing anyone would have expected on a Tuesday morning."

Victim Anthony O’Mahony
Victim Anthony O’Mahony

Prayers were offered for all involved at Ballyduff Church yesterday.

Retired local teacher, Maurice O'Connor, knew the deceased and described him as "a lovely man".

"Anthony was a perfectionist in everything he did," he said.

"He was only in the post office a couple of weeks ago and I had a chat with him. He was talking about the weather and the season ahead.

"He grew tomatoes a number of years ago and they had to be perfect. In fact, I think they were so good that they were being exported to Covent Garden Market in the UK."

Mr O'Connor said that Mr O'Mahony, with his brother, Seamas, then moved into vegetable farming and proved enormously successful at it.

For a time, Anthony sold his vegetables via an outlet in Tralee.

"People would travel from all over to buy his produce, it was that good," one local said.

The brothers finally focused on corn as their primary crop with Anthony running the holding at Rattoo, overlooked by the famous round tower featured on so many Kerry flags.

"He was a very quiet man. He wasn't really involved in the GAA or the IFA.

"His own farming was his hobby and he was a perfectionist at it," Mr O'Connor said.

Fr Brendan Walsh at the scene in Ballyduff Picture: Domnick Walsh
Fr Brendan Walsh at the scene in Ballyduff Picture: Domnick Walsh

Anthony studied farming at Warrenstown College but took pride in always staying abreast of the latest tillage developments.

"He never stopped studying - he was very academic about it," Seamas explained.

"You'd have people coming to him and asking for advice about harvesting, diseases and the like.

"People knew that he (Anthony) knew his stuff - they put great faith in his knowledge of farming. You don't talk about your brother in that way but I suppose you could say he was a genius at it."

Eamon Stack, who runs Lowe's Bar in Ballyduff, said Mr O'Mahony would often call into the premises for food.

"He wouldn't call in every day - he would call in every so often. He was a very quiet, private man.

"I think farming was his main interest though he would go to the racing in Listowel when it was on.

"No-one can believe it," he said.

Mike Flanagan, who operates Flanagan's Takeaway said the entire Ballyduff community was shocked.

"I didn't know the man myself but everyone here is shocked by what happened," he said.

"It is the only thing that people were talking about today - everyone is stunned by it. This is such a quiet area - no-one can actually believe that something like this happened here."

Mr O'Mahony was involved in the local gun club a number of years ago.

However, he had stopped hunting and focussed solely on his tillage operations.

"Anthony was a very devout man as well," one local woman said.

"You would always see him as Mass each week.

"If ever there was a Church event on, he would be there."

The O'Mahony family are very well known throughout the Ballyduff-Causeway community. While Anthony was famous for his tillage operation and the production of top quality corn, other members of the family were involved in potato growing.

Seamas runs a very successful concrete and pre-cast business just 5km from Ballyduff. Anthony was one of the groomsmen for his brother's wedding in 1972.

Irish Independent

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