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Mum's desperate struggle to revive drowned toddler

A MOTHER fought desperately to save her toddler who fell into a water tank on a farm, an inquest has heard.

The case has been described by a coroner as "one of the most tragic accidents I have ever come across".

Patrick McDonnell was playing on his family's farm when tragedy struck.

His grandfather James discovered the 20-month-old's body in a water tank after he and Patrick's mother Caroline noticed the child was missing.

Drogheda Coroner's Court heard that after sharing breakfast with his mum and grandparents, the young boy had gone with his grandad to collect eggs on the farm.

The farm, at Roughgrange, Donore, Co Meath, has a free range egg production unit on it, and after he played while his grandad had collected the eggs.

His mum broke down as the inquest heard how the little boy had been playing beside her. She gave him eggs to throw at the cats and then she couldn't see him.

"I started to call out. I went down to the slurry pit but there was no sign," she said.

She checked at the house and in case he had gone on to the trampoline, which he had not done before, but still could not find him.

His grandfather joined her in calling for him and searching.

The inquest heard how his grandfather had got a stick and went to the tank and "put the stick in. The stick caught and Patrick came up. We took Patrick out and tried to revive him."


His mum was hysterical but along with his grandfather kept trying to save her sons life.

The inquest heard how both tried CPR and she said: "I was trying (CPR) also and stuff was coming out of him. I carried Patrick back down to the house and the ambulance arrived shortly afterwards."

When the paramedics arrived the boy was in the kitchen and more efforts were made to revive him but he suffered a heart attack as he was being brought to hospital.

Coroner Ronan Maguire heard the farm was leased to Jamie McDonnell, the boy's father, by Mr McDonnell senior, who had continued to live on the farm with his wife Irene.

Patrick had lived with his siblings and parents in another house nearby.

The court was told that although it was called the slurry pit by the family, it was actually full of water and was a containment tank to catch dirty water from the yard.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said: "This is one of the most tragic accidents I have ever come across as coroner.

"He was very young and was just being a kid. It is just an appalling tragedy."

Mr Maguire added: "Any words I say are grossly inadequate to describe the loss the family has suffered, you have our heartfelt sympathy. It is beyond words what you are suffering."