The trauma of the partner left behind after a farm accident

As the sixth anniversary of her partner’s death in a baling accident approaches, it’s a real wrench for Angela Hogan to see her 17-year-old son leave the house, to help out other farmers with their baling.

Ronan, who is now 17, was with his dad, Brendan Kelly, who was an agricultural contractor, on that fateful day – July 14, 2011.

Ronan loves baling and farming, but it’s very difficult to see him head out without his dad being there to advise him.

Hogan’s partner had gone out to a farm to bale when he got caught in the machine after trying to clear a build-up of dust. Tragically, he was killed instantly.

“The farmer he was working for had just gone to his jeep to get Brendan a drink, when the accident happened.

“I had always been trying to get Brendan to go on holidays, and I was at home – in Nenagh – on the laptop, booking a holiday for the following Christmas, when his brother came to tell me that he had been killed. Our daughter, Grace, was with me.”

At the funeral, she recalled, people commented on how safety-conscious he was. Life went on but in blur, she said. “You wonder if you grieved properly at all.

“I remember going to the funeral of a young person, killed in a farm accident locally – about two years previously, and hoping we would never have to go through that.

“Brendan didn’t have a will made, and we weren’t married. It’s only in recent weeks that matters have been finally resolved.

“Brendan’s family were a great support to me – particularly his brothers, and Brendan’s good friend, Roger Gleeson, who worked with him. They advised me on what I should do, and helped out.

“The machinery was lying there and was costing money to maintain, so we decided it would be easier to lease out the farm. It had been our plan to move out of Nenagh, and build a house on the land there.

partnerIt was a heartbreaking time for the family. “Grace, who was almost three at the time, didn’t really understand what happened.

“Her cousin who was the same age as her, and to whom she was very close, died suddenly eight months previously. She just disappeared out of her life, and then her dad was also gone.”

Family weekends away, organised by Embrace FARM of which Hogan is a director, have helped Grace to understand she is not alone in having lost her dad through a farm accident.

“Embrace FARM has done tremendous work in creating a network of support for those affected by farm accidents,” said Hogan.

For Ronan, attendance at a farm safety talk, organised by his mother, in his secondary school (Nenagh CBS) brought home the fact that three out of the 100 students present, had been affected by farm deaths.

“My advice to farmers is: to make a will; to discuss the future of the farm, in the event of a tragedy, with your partner; and to think about making it home in the evenings, before they take risks,” Hogan said.

She was attending a safety awareness event, organised by North Tipperary IFA in Nenagh mart, on Tuesday last.