Farm tragedy victims remembered at ‘influential’ service

There was an outpouring of support for bereaved families who lost loved ones in farm accidents last weekend, as Embrace Farm held its fifth ecumenical remembrance service at the Church of the Most Holy Rosary in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois.

The poignant ceremony was led by the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty and Canon Patrick Harvey, along with other clergy members.

Relatives of 140 bereaved families from throughout the country were present for the service which was attended by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

There was strong representation from farming organisations and the agri-business world.

Attendees included representatives from the following: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Health and Safety Authority (HSA); Health and Safety Executive, Northern Ireland (HSENI); Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA); Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA); Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA); Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU); Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster; Teagasc; and Farm Relief Services Networks (FRS).

Among the many high-profile figures to travel to the event were: Aidan O’Driscoll, secretary general at the Department of Agriculture; Mairead McGuinness MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s aide-de-camp Capt. Larry Scallan; ICMSA president Pat McCormack; ICSA president Patrick Kent; UFU president Ivor Ferguson; UYFC president James Speers; IFA director general Damian McDonald; Pat Griffin HSA senior inspector; Keith Morrison, HSENI chief executive; John McNamara health and safety specialist at Teagasc; and Peter Byrne CEO of FRS Networks.

Larry Goodman ABP Food Group owner and legendary Irish rugby international, John Hayes, were also at the Sunday (June 24) service.

Tree of life

Embrace FARM was represented by co-founders Norma and Brian Rohan and the voluntary board of directors.

The Rohans praised the representatives of the farming and political world for “making the time” to be there – adding that their presence was “important” to the affected families.

It was also critical in helping to “influence thinking” on farm safety, the congregation heard.

On entering the church, people were given feather-shaped tags on which they were asked to write the name of the person they wanted to remember.

The tags were then hung on the tree of life on the altar.

Sponsored refreshments were served at the Manor Hotel, Abbeyleix.

Meanwhile, a spouses’ weekend was recently organised by Embrace to facilitate support and the making of connections.

It comprised a day trip to Kilkenny Castle; a bereavement workshop and dinner.