Sunday 19 August 2018

Community remembers the family man who 'always had a cheeky grin'

Crowds thronged the church for the funeral of the young ploughing champion. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Crowds thronged the church for the funeral of the young ploughing champion. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A small rural hamlet came to a standstill to mourn the tragic passing of a hard-working young farmer and family man who died in an accident on his family farm.

Thousands of mourners packed the church and grounds of St Aidan's Church in Clongeen, Co Wexford, yesterday to pay their respects to Martin Kehoe Jr (33), of Foulksmills.

Martin Kehoe Jr
Martin Kehoe Jr

His death on Tuesday cast a pall over the opening day of the National Ploughing Championships, where he and his father Martin Kehoe are household names.

Hundreds more accompanied Martin Jr on his final journey to the Clongeen cemetery as a mark of respect and solidarity to one of Ireland's most respected and prominent farming families.

Members of the Wexford Ploughing Association and others in the ploughing community formed a guard of honour along with members of the Clongeen GAA club, where Martin was an avid hurler.

President Michael D Higgins was also represented by his aide de camp, Commandant Conor O'Shea.

Martin’s wife Kerrie Kehoe and his brother Willie John Kehoe walk behind the hearse at St Aidan’s Church, Clongeen, Co Wexford, yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Martin’s wife Kerrie Kehoe and his brother Willie John Kehoe walk behind the hearse at St Aidan’s Church, Clongeen, Co Wexford, yesterday. Photo: Colin O’Riordan

Inside the church, family offered prayers for "all of those who work in the farming community".

It's understood that Martin may have died after being overcome by fumes at the molasses tank at the family farm.

There were heartbreaking scenes as his many friends openly wept.

Family members offered gifts as symbols of Martin's life: a hurley, a tractor and cow symbolising "not just his work, but his way of life", and his under-28 national ploughing trophy. Poignantly, a family photo of himself, his beloved wife Kerrie, his young daughters Aoibheann and Saoirse and his three-month-old son Tadgh was also brought to the altar to remember "the hero in the family".'

Among the chief mourners were Martin Kehoe Sr, and Martin's brother Willie John and sisters Eleanor, Christine and Michelle.

The family has been greatly comforted by the huge outpouring of support by the farming community, Fr Colm Murphy told the congregation.

"He always had a cheeky grin and a smile on his face," Fr Murphy said.

"But life is fragile and very unpredictable and as much as we'd like to think we're in control, we're not.

"Death is not the end and we pray for Martin's family."

Irish Independent

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