‘Our lives changed forever that day’: Barn dance organisers

The family of a boy who lost his life in tragic accident on his grandparents’ farm will hold a charity barn dance in aid of Embrace FARM, in Glenamoy Hall, Glenamoy, Ballina, Co. Mayo, on Sunday, August 5.

Geraldine Donohue said the family is living a “terrible nightmare” and wants to remember their little boy who passed away on July 29, 2015, as well as to raise funds for Embrace FARM.

Our lives changed forever on that day. The little boy who brought so much joy to everyone, with his mischievous smile and devilment, a little boy with an old man’s head on his shoulders, was gone. It was like he had been on this earth before.

Declan Donohue junior was born to Geraldine and her husband Declan, who are both from farming backgrounds, in University Hospital Galway on December 20, 2010. Geraldine remembers him as “a gorgeous baby boy with big brown eyes”.

The little boy loved visiting his relations in Ballinaboy, Belmullet, Co Mayo, Geraldine’s family home farm where they keep cattle and sheep.

He also enjoyed visiting his dad’s home farm in Ballyhaunis. “It’s a beef farm and my brother, Michael, does agricultural contracting,” said Declan.

“We live in Galway city and he just loved the animals and the freedom of the farms,” Declan said.

“Little did anyone know that Wednesday, July 29, 2015 would be his last visit to the farm in Belmullet,” said Geraldine.

“Out of all tragedies, there should always be something positive. We want to keep little Deceen’s name and memory alive,” said Geraldine of her son who cycled into the path of a tractor and trailer on that fateful day.

“My sister Gillian and brother-in-law, Garda Michael McGrath, have erected a monument where Declan was pronounced dead on the Ballina Road, Belmullet, and we have a memory garden in the back of our own garden in Galway,” Geraldine said.

“We want his new brother Noah Pia, and our expected child in December, to always know little Deceen. His 10-year-old sister, Julianna, still misses her brother dearly, and it is only now that she is receiving counselling from First Light, a parent and sibling bereavement charity.

There are not enough services, or information on services for bereaved parents and siblings who are left behind, to help them to live with the loss of their loved one. It was only when I finally hit rock bottom that support was given to me.

“A head social worker, Maeve, in the Regional Hospital Galway, recognised that I was no longer able to function in my normal capacity as a wife and a parent because I was broken in half, and had no help with regards counselling or any other support.

“It was thanks to Maeve that I was referred to Margaret McGoldrick from First Light, Portmarnock, Dublin.

“Through little Deceen’s parting to heaven, we have crossed paths with so many special people who have also suffered the loss of a child in tragic circumstances.

“Things have happened along the way, which can only be sent from heaven via little Deceen,” Geraldine said.

The family still visits both farms but is extremely cautious while out and about, Declan said.

Due to the support the family had from Embrace FARM, Geraldine and Declan want to give back to the charity that initially helped them.

There will be an auction on the night of the barn dance, with sports memorabilia which includes: a fully-signed authentic Manchester United jersey, courtesy of Martin Donohue via Old Trafford; a fully-signed Mayo football jersey; a fully-signed Galway hurling jersey; a fully-signed Connacht rugby jersey; a fully-signed Dublin 2016 commemorative jersey and an Ireland rugby jersey, courtesy of Embrace FARM.

There will be other substantial prizes at the barn dance, due to great support from Connacht businesses.

Tickets for the barn dance are priced at €10, with all proceeds going to Embrace FARM – the farm accident support network.

They will also be available on the night; by phoning: 083-8167462; or emailing: [email protected]