8 in-calf heifers killed by lightning in Co. Offaly

A farmer in the area of Moneygall, Co. Offaly, made a distressing and upsetting discovery last Monday morning, August 5, in one of his fields.

Of the 10 animals present, eight of them – all in-calf heifers – were dead, apparently after being struck by lightning.

Gerry Larkin, who milks approximately 55 cows, described the scene while speaking on the News at One on RTÉ Radio 1 today, Friday, August 9.

“On Monday morning when I went over to herd my animals, I had 10 animals in one field, and I could only see two of them,” Gerry explained.

I didn’t think much of it for a while. It was then that I walked into the field, and it was a traumatic experience, to see the eight other animals lying dead right beside each other as if they were shot.

“The first thoughts that went through my mind were ‘what happened here?’ And then I suddenly realised that the previous Sunday evening, we had a very, very heavy thunder and lightning storm, and I said to myself it must have been lightening that killed these heifers,” he continued.

Gerry believes that the lightning struck a high bush that the animals had gathered under, which carried the lightning to the heifers.

“That’s the only conclusion I could come to really,” he said.

The dead animals were all in calf, with two of them due to calve next month.

That’s what makes it really sad, because two were due to calf in September, and they’re all home bred as well, all AI bred and five or six generations down along the line.

“I’m 40 years farming, and I don’t want to see it again, hopefully,” Gerry said.

He said that he had never suffered an event like this, and he explained: “You could never really dream of having a loss like that, because – apart from the financial thing – I think about it when I go to bed at night time. I’m just thinking about those animals lying over there. I can still picture them. So you know, its not easy really.

“I only milk 54 to 55 cows, so to replace them won’t be easy,” Gerry added.

Community response

Gerry told RTÉ that the response from his local community had been “excellent”.

“Everyone has commiserated with me, and what’s more, have all offered financial help as well, which is tremendous for a small community like here. But I didn’t expect anything else because we are a close knit community,” he said.

He added that: “We all look after each other down here. We’re a small rural community, but in rural Ireland we tend to look after one another.”