Family’s farm tragedy sowed seeds of support for local farmers

Embrace Farm's 'Wear Our Wellies Day' takes place on January 31.

WHEN Broadford native Norma Rohan met and married her husband Brian, moving from the Treaty to his family farm in Laois, she thought life couldn’t get any better.

Things got better still when the couple welcomed their first baby. But within six days of giving birth “our idyll was shattered”, she told the Limerick Post.

“We had a routine visit from the community nurse and my husband wanted to be there with me, so he left his dad, Liam, outside doing some work on a piece of farm machinery,” the Limerick woman explained of the fateful day.

“A part of the machine flew back and hit Liam in the head, knocking him to the ground. He was a bit dazed and shocked but said he was okay. An hour later, he wasn’t well at all and he went to hospital.”

Liam Rohan was put on a ventilator and would be dead three days later on June 22, 2012.

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In his day, Mr Rohan was a popular farmer in his local area and represented Ireland a number of times at the World Ploughing Championships.

The whole community came together to help the family over the time of the funeral, bringing food and taking care of farmwork.

“But people have to go back to their own lives,” Norma says. “Afterwards, Brian and his brothers were terribly worried about their mother. Liam was 74, but he was fit and active. He won the National Ploughing Championships, now he was just gone”.

Norma was worried about her own husband too.

“I knew he was carrying a lot. There were so many ‘what ifs’ – what if he had stayed out in the yard with his dad instead of coming in to be with me, what if he had been repairing the machine instead.”

Some months later, Brian approached Norma asked asked her for help in looking up support sites for families bereaved by suicide.

“My blood ran cold. I was so worried about what he might be thinking,” she said.

“He asked if there were any groups online to help farming families who had lost someone through a death on the farm. I was relieved and then shocked to find there was nothing.

“I was able to find out how many cattle were slaughtered in the previous year in Europe, but not how many people had died in farm accidents”.

That was the beginning of the couple asking questions, making contacts, and meeting with officialdom. Now, more than 10 years later, the organisation which emerged as Embrace Farm is a registered charity, employing a staff of four and offering support and services to people bereaved or injured through farm accidents.

Now, the organising is hosting a novel event to help raise money for its charitable work, and it is inviting all across Limerick to join in on the inaugural ‘Wear Our Wellies Day’ on January 31.

Schools, businesses, groups, and individuals are encouraged to wear their wellies wherever they are on that day and help raise funds for Embrace Farm.

Funds raised will help the charity to continue to facilitate services including family and widow bereavement weekends and survivor support groups. It will also ensure that those in need can access to a team of mentors who specialise in the areas of counselling, legal, financial, and farm business.

For full details of how to participate in ‘Wear Our Wellies Day’, visit