Grieving families remembered those lost to farm accidents at Embrace Farm’s service on Sunday, June 27th.
The 8th annual Embrace FARM (Farm Accident Support Network) Ecumenical Remembrance Service took place in Most Holy Rosary Church, Abbeyleix.
This service was also broadcast a week later on RTÉ 1 on Sunday, July 4th at 11 am.
Brian and Norma Rohan, a farming family from Shanahoe, Co. Laois, founded the charity in 2014 after Brian lost his father, Liam, in a farm accident in 2012.
Liam was a popular farmer who represented Ireland many times at the World Ploughing Championships.
Like most farming families, the Rohan’s experienced great and invaluable support from neighbours and friends.
They were surprised to find that there was little or no emotional or practical support networks available to farm families suffering such loss.
So, they established Embrace FARM, which remembers those who have lost their lives, have been injured, supports survivors of farm accidents, their family members, friends, and the wider community.
Farm accidents in 32 counties
Speaking at the virtual remembrance service, founder Brian spoke about a recent trip to Aras an Uachtarain.
“Today, we will remember all who have been affected by farm accidents in the 32 counties of our island.”
“Farm families, extended family members, neighbours and friends who have lost a loved one and also those who have survived accidents.”
“All of you are part of a story involving a long journey of loss, grief, and trauma.”
“Early last week, Embrace FARM was kindly invited to Aras an Uachtarain by president Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina to be presented with a tree to acknowledge the work that Embrace FARM does.”
“What an honour it was to ring the Peace Bell in remembrance of all the lives lost and injured on the farms of Ireland.”
“Embrace FARM are delighted and grateful to be joined today by the Most Reverend Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, Canon Patrick Harvey and Fr Paddy Byrne, who will lead today’s service with the help of our local resident musicians.”
“We speak their names because they are a part of everything that we do, everything that we are. We speak their names because they are still, and always will be, a part of us.”
Farm accident victims
Brian Rohan read out the names of 228 deceased victims of farm accidents from Ireland going back to 1945.
Embrace FARM records show that 15 of these were from his own county Laois.
- Cork was top of the list with 33 deaths;
- Wexford: 18 deaths;
- Kilkenny: 17 deaths;
- Tipperary: 16 deaths;
- Galway: 8 deaths.
- 29 deaths from the 9 counties of Ulster.
Embrace Farm service
John Keane, national president of Macra, read a poem by Brendan Kennelly.
Liam McCarthy from Portaferry, Co. Down and representing the ABP group, did a reading from the book of Genesis (9: 8-17).
Mairead Lavery, an agri journalist, who lost her father at 12 years of age, was the keynote speaker.
Martin Heydon TD, Minister for State at the Dept. of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine with special responsibility for Farm Safety, lit four candles representing the four provinces.
A notable feature on the altar, which took two hours to prepare by Embrace Farm volunteers, were the photos of 105 farm accident victims.
Kairos Communications, based in Maynooth, filmed the service and live-streamed it on Embrace Farm’s website.
Tina Cuddy led the group of local musicians with the instrumental accompaniment to the service.
Their vocals and harmonious tones brought home the poignancy of the service in what it means to so many to have their loved ones remembered each year.