by Pat Brosnan

Farm Tragedies

There can be no doubt that the recent appalling tragedy in the farm at Hillsborough County Down in which the 3 people from the one family lost their lives in a slurry pit accident will surely bring home to everybody living in rural areas the ongoing hazards and risks that farmers, their families, their assistants, their children and others face within the vicinity of farms in the course of their everyday normal lives. There must be few people in rural Ireland who have not known either a family member, relative friend or neighbour who have been killed in a farm accident. This could have happened when operating agricultural machinery, falling from heights in the course of their everyday usual work, injuries that are the result sometimes of working with farm animals such as an attack by a bull or a boar, a kick or a bite from a horse, a colt or even a male donkey, being knocked over by a farm dog in full flight particularly in sheep farms. Children who have been known to have been injured by a ram or even a puck goat.  The latter has been one of my own experiences when a puck goat reared up at me when trying to control him and threw me into a swampy pool of water in a local bog.  Children are often killed or badly injured when they climb onto tractors or other farm machinery or get in the way where it is very difficult or even impossible for drivers to see them and a more modern hazard is of course the slurry pit which can be highly dangerous to either children or adults falling into but which is naturally an essential ingredient of modern farming. Children should be strictly warned to keep clear of slurry pits because there is a constant danger that if they are playing around the vicinity of these they may be at risk of falling in and anyway the methane gas emanating from slurry pits is another natural ingredient which by all accounts is harmless if left undisturbed.  There is no doubt that with a little bit of extra care a great many farm accidents could have been avoided. But then again it is of course in the nature of things that there is always some rushing about on farms. Those of us who grew up on a farm know very well the hurry and rushing about that was put on us when saving hay before getting a downpour of rain before the wynds could be completed in the meadows. Also the rush to get the corn crops into the haggard and stacked up before the early signs of winter and also of course to get the turf home out of the bogs before the passage ways became impassable. However in those times there seemed to be less danger working in farms than there is now.  Yet my mother used to tell us about a young cousin of hers who went with her mother when she took the tea to the men who were drawing out turf in the bog. While they were having the tea the little girl climbed into one of the carts over the rail. The jennet who was tackled to the donkey car pulled away and ended up being overturned into a bog hole in which the child who was 9 or 10 at the time was thrown out of the donkey car and killed. Her mother who was a first cousin to my mother’s family never really got over the shock of the tragedy.  Her own name was Lizzy Healey and she was married to an O’Connor man from the same town land Knockcorrin which was also my mother’s native place. We remember meeting Lizzy a few times and also members of their family particularly Jamesy who worked with us in the farm in Dromada when we were young schoolboys.  So even in those far off times when farms were less dangerous that era than at present, there was still the occasional fatality.  There have been instances of people being killed or injured when out working with harvesting machinery and we remember a man being killed in Kerry when his clothes got caught in a lime spreader.  Every year there are many more examples of people getting killed, sometimes in freak and unexpected farm incidents without any element of carelessness and through just sheer bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are instances also where farmers and members of their families have been injured by fallen trees or other accidents which resulted from storms. Most people living in rural areas will do everything possible to protect themselves from natural and unforeseen disasters as far as it is possible to guard against these. Another source of accidents on farms is of course electricity, if anything goes wrong.  There is no question but that rural electrification has been of great benefit to those of us who live in the countryside but like many another useful product it is a source of power that needs to be respected for if not it can sometimes be extremely dangerous.  We have all heard about instances in where contact with overhead power lines have had disastrous consequences and no one should take any chance s as far as electricity is concerned. We have in the above article outlined some of the things that can cause accidents on farms and rural areas. It goes without saying that there are many other hazards that those living in farms in rural areas generally should be constantly aware of and should guard against as far as possible. If this is done a great deal of the heartbreak caused by rural accidents and fatalities might be avoided.


Recent death

There were a number of deaths during the past couple of weeks of people who had never lived for any great length of time in Athea area but who nonetheless had connections with friends and relatives here.  Dan Chris O’Connell of Barragone, Askeaton who died during the week in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital at the comparatively young age of 62 was a regular visitor to Templeathea where his late uncle Jim Kiely and his family lived and he often also visited friends of his in Knocknagorna where he was always very welcome as he was a person with a very friendly and pleasant manner. He was for many years a member of the maintenance staff at the Milk Products Factory in Askeaton where he was highly thought of. One of his outstanding achievements was his delivery of food supplies from Ireland to the stricken people of Chernobyl on a number of occasions when he was a volunteer truck driver taking the food out there. Dan was also a nephew of Ned Kiely, Ita Stack and Peg Ward and he also leaves behind his brothers, sisters and other relatives to whom sympathy is extended. The removal took place from his home to Robertstown Church on Friday evening where many called to pay their respects and condole with the family. His funeral on Saturday to the local cemetery after Requiem Mass was also well attended.

Sympathy is extended to Noreen Brouder, her husband Gerry and their family, Templeathea on the recent death of Noreen’s Sister Marie Kelliher of Purt, Abbeyfeale who died recently at an early age and also to the Kelliher family on their sad loss.

The death occurred within the past 2 weeks of Eileen Neville (nee Quinn) of Fethard-on-Sea, Co. Wexford. Deceased, who was a native of Carrigkerry, was aged 66 and was the eldest of a family of 12. our condolences to her husband Tom and family , brother John in Glenbawn , her Mother in Newcastle West , her brothers and sisters in different parts of Ireland and Australia , nephews , nieces and other relatives.

The death occurred during the week of Michael Torley of Lenamore, Ballylongford. Deceased, who was in his mid-forties was a native of Newry, Co. Down. He was the father of 2 young children and had been ill for some time before his death at such a comparatively young age. His wife Elma (nee Kennelly) is a daughter of Alan and Brenda Kennelly, Ballylongford and a niece of well known North Kerry poet Brendan Kennelly. Elma has been a close friend of our own Brenda since their schooldays in Tarbert and often visited us in Knocknagorna and also stayed for a night on a few occasions. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Elma and her young family, to Michael’s people in Newry, to Elma’s parents and family members and to the  entire relatives on both sides.

‘May the Souls of All the above recently deceased people Rest in Peace with the Lord’


Donegal once again

For the 2nd time in their sporting history Donegal have taken All-Ireland Footballs highest honours in their convincing victory over Mayo at Croke Park on Sunday and once again the supreme Gaelic Football title has gone to an Ulster team. But Mayo too played their part in this great close and exciting final in their great comeback after the worst possible start. But there can be no doubt about it, this was surely Donegal’s year when they took on and conquered some of the established giants of the game. Well done too to Dublin who won the Minor final.


Sad News about Donal Ó Síocháin

It was with much regret that we learned during the past few weeks that the widely known  Sliabh Luachra poet from Kiskeam was terminally ill and had been admitted to Milford Hospice. In spite of his illness Donal and his partner of 26 years Patricia were married recently in a delightful ceremony in Templeglantine Parish Church and at the reception afterwards at The Devon inn Hotel at which Donal celebrated his life as a poet and social justice campaigner. Donal who was originally from Doon, Kiskeam was a fluent Irish Speaker. My first meeting with him was at a cultural function in Cork City attended by the late Dan Keane who was also with me. Later we met on many occasions and he often visited our own place in Knocknagorna. Once when he was launching the Abbeyfeale Journal and speaking in Irish he referred to me as his ‘sean cara’ which was indeed a great compliment. Donal’s first wife died at a very young age which at the time was a very sad loss for him and their girls.  We can only hope that Donal’s remaining time will be painless and strengthened by all the happy memories of all the poets and other fine people who he knew in bygone days.