Prayer service remembers ‘huge loss’ after farming tragedies

Prayer service remembers ‘huge loss’ after farming tragedies Canon Patrick Harvey CoI, Abbeyleix, Msgr Kevin O'Neill, Rev. Ruth Gill, Fr Gerard Ahern and Fr Michael Kelly PP Raheen. Photo: Roger Jones.

Hundreds of families and friends who have lost loved ones in “very traumatic circumstances” attended a prayer service in their memory over the weekend.

Over 300 people travelled from across the country to Embrace Farm’s (Farm Accident Support Network) Ecumenical Remembrance Service on Sunday June 30 in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary in Abbeyleix.

The service is in its sixth year of commemoration for all of the lives lost and affected by farm accidents.

It was led by local clergy from the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Church. Canon Patrick Harvey, Fr Gerard Ahern, Msgr Kevin O’Neill, Rev. Ruth Gill and Fr Michael Kelly all attended.

“The health and safety authority publishes every year the amount of people who have been killed,” said Norma Rohan, who set up Embrace Farm with her husband Brian in 2014.

“Behind the numbers is a person, a family, a Dad, a son, a grandad and they’re important members in their families and they’re a huge loss to their families. They die in very traumatic circumstances which leaves a lasting impact on the families not just from an emotional point of view, but also a practical point of view.”

She added that if the farmer is tragically killed in an accident, questions must be asked as to what will happen to the farm. She said: “Lots of decisions need to be made and some of those decisions can sometimes lead to further family breakdown.

“So it’s a good place for all of these families to come together to talk and to support each other on the different issues that they are facing both emotionally and practically.”

Fr John Cummins was given special mention. He presided over the service in 2018 but was tragically killed earlier this year in a freak car accident.

The names of 145 farmers known to have died in farm accidents were read out to the audience which included grieving friends, neighbours and relatives.

At the event Brian and Norma Rohan expressed their great appreciation for the work done by the Board of Embrace Farm and for the assistance they received over the last year from volunteers and sponsors.