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Thursday 24 October 2019

Farmer's family attend ploughing event in memory of late loved one

Time for reflection: Willie John Kehoe on the family farm in Foulksmills, Co Wexford
Time for reflection: Willie John Kehoe on the family farm in Foulksmills, Co Wexford
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The family of a well-known farmer who died on the opening day of last year's Ploughing Championships have said they will attend this year's event in memory of their late loved one.

Martin Kehoe Jr (33) died in a tragic accident when he stayed behind to look after the family farm in Foulksmills, Co Wexford and be close to his newborn son.

The dad-of-three was emptying a feed tank when he was overcome by fumes and died on September 19, 2017.

His older brother, Willie John Kehoe, was manning the Kehoe Farming stand at the show at Screggan, outside Tullamore when he received the devastating news.

"The first day of the Ploughing last year is a day that has changed our family's lives forever. It devastated our family and everyone who worked on the farm," he said.

The Kehoes have been synonymous with the Ploughing Championships ever since Willie John and Martin's grandfather William Kehoe won the Irish senior title in 1941.

His son Martin Kehoe Snr claimed the World Ploughing Championship title three times in the 1990s. Both Willie John and Martin Jnr won national titles.

Willie John explained: "We will be going. We usually have a stand but I don't think we'll be up for it this year.

"The Ploughing has always been part of our lives. We have to keep going and keep Martin's memory alive.

"It'll be a sad time but life has to go on."

Willie John said it has been a tough year for farmers, but he urged people to take care while working the land.

He said: "Just be careful. Life is too precious. The heartbreaking anguish that is left behind is the tough part. It's not until it knocks on your door that you see that.

"There is a lot of pressure on farmers. At the end of the day, we are at the bottom of the pay scale. We suffer the consequences of all the weather. It's been very difficult. Farmers are already worried for the winter, but it's important not to panic.

"Everything will work out, and there are more important things in life."

He added: "It's the lack of thinking for one split second that changes everything. If all of us could just slow down for a minute. The work will be done."

According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), there were 24 work deaths in agriculture in 2017, marking the eighth year in a row that the sector recorded the highest number of work-related fatalities.

Irish Independent

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