Wednesday 21 February 2018

Thousands turn out to pay respects at funeral of hardworking young farmer and family man Martin Kehoe

'The National Ploughing Championships will never be the same for the Kehoe family'

The remains of farmer, Martin Keogh pictured leaving The Church of St. Aidan's, Clongeen, Co. Wexford yesterday after funeral mass. Pic: Colin O'Riordain
The remains of farmer, Martin Keogh pictured leaving The Church of St. Aidan's, Clongeen, Co. Wexford yesterday after funeral mass. Pic: Colin O'Riordain
The remains of farmer, Martin Keogh pictured leaving The Church of St. Aidan's, Clongeen, Co. Wexford yesterday after funeral mass. Pic: Colin O'Riordain
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A small rural community came to a standstill this afternoon to mourn the tragic passing of a hardworking young farmer and family man who died in a farming accident on his family farm.

Thousands of mourners packed the church and grounds of St Aidan's Church in Clongeen, Co Wexford to pay their respects to Martin Kehoe Jr., (33), of Foulksmills, Co Wexford whose death on Tuesday cast a pall over the opening day of the National Ploughing Championships where he and his father Martin Kehoe were 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 a avid hurler.

The remains of farmer, Martin Keogh pictured leaving The Church of St. Aidan's, Clongeen, Co. Wexford yesterday after funeral mass. Pic: Colin O'Riordain
The remains of farmer, Martin Keogh pictured leaving The Church of St. Aidan's, Clongeen, Co. Wexford yesterday after funeral mass. Pic: Colin O'Riordain

A large number of tug-of-war enthusiasts also attended and offered their condolences to Martin Sr., who won numerous tug-of-war titles.

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

Inside the church, family members 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. The Health and Safety Authority is investigating the accident.

Martin Kehoe Jr
Martin Kehoe Jr

There were heartbreaking scenes as "Little Martin's" many friends openly wept as a guitarist sang a haunting rendition of 'Be Not Afraid.'

Family members offered gifts as symbols of Martin's life: a hurley as a token of his love of his local GAA club, a tractor and cow symbolising 'not just his work but his way of life," his under-28 national ploughing trophy to represent his 'achievements and his family heritage' and a photo of Martin himself symbolising the friend he was too many 'who greeted all with a cheeky smile'.

And poignantly, a family photo of himself, his beloved wife Kerrie, his young daughters Aoibheann and Saoirse and his three-month-old son Tadhg and Father's Day gifts from them in tribute to '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, who learned the tragic news while attending the National Ploughing Championships this week, has been greatly comforted by the huge outpouring of support by the ploughing and wider farming community, parish priest Fr Colm Murphy told the congregation.

But he said, "The National Ploughing Championships will never be the same for the Kehoe family."

"But let's remember Martin not for the manner of his passing but to the contribution his life made," he said.

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