‘Prevention is important, but more support is needed when a farm accident happens’

Having become accustomed to flying around the Tullamore Show-site by quad, tractor, and foot over the years, 2015 was a strange experience for the lifelong cattle farmer after the Show Chairman was confined to a wheelchair following a farm accident.

In 2015, Rodney Cox was pushed around the Tullamore Show in a wheelchair after a farm accident left him with a broken leg.

“I was just guiding a few cows through the cattle crush, something I’ve done thousands of times, when one of them kicked my leg. It broke in a few places; meaning a long, frustrating recovery. I’m still on crutches so I can’t do much around the farm.

“A lot of attention has been drawn to the issue of farm safety in recent years, and rightly so. We often hear about the fatal accidents, but there must be hundreds of serious injuries to farmers every year that go unreported.”

He also said that while prevention information is very important, the relevant agencies need to do more to help farmers and their families when a farm accident actually occurs.

“Being unable to work leads to a lot of complications and worry in a farming household. I’ve tried to get support and advice from a number of places, but to no avail. Having spoken to other farmers, I’m certainly not the only one.”

He also said that mental health is a topic Ireland needs to be more aware of and open about.

“I think a lot of the stigma surrounding mental health has faded in Ireland in recent years, but I think farmers are still a bit reluctant to talk about things like depression and isolation.

“Farmers tend to want to be self-reliant, but we’re only human. It can be a tough, lonely existence at times; especially for those who live alone.

“There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out for help, whether that’s from someone you trust or, if that’s not an option, a professional counsellor or one of many free services available, like calling the Samaritans – even if it’s just to get something off your chest, it can help a lot.”

As one of Europe’s largest agricultural events, the Tullamore Show & AIB National Livestock Show, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with over 60,000 expected to attend on Sunday, August 14.

It promises to be the best year yet for the hugely successful event with a prize-fund of €168,000 across 1,000-plus competitions in everything from livestock to baking to inventions.