Up to 150 gather to pray after farm tragedy claims boy

Maguiresbridge Methodist Church
Maguiresbridge Methodist Church

A raft of visitors descended upon a church in the tiny settlement of Maguiresbridge after news spread that a farming tragedy had claimed the life of a four-year-old boy in the area.

The child is understood to have died as a result of some kind of mechanical incident, believed to have involved a loader, at a farm to the north of the village in rural Co Fermanagh.

The tragedy unfolded shortly before 8.20pm on Thursday, and news of it broke widely on Friday.

To help the community cope, Maguiresbridge Methodist Church opened its doors from 7pm to 9pm on Friday so people could gather, in what was a “last minute gesture”.

Rev Mark Durrell said: “We had people from all different parts of Fermanagh, people who wouldn’t normally come to our church.

“It was an opportunity for silent prayer. It went very well, in the sense that it was well supported.”

Up to 150 people attended, he estimated.

He added: “It’s a hurting community... There’s no words. We just have to be there for one another.”

A paramedic car and an ambulance were dispatched to the scene of the accident, but the efforts of the crews to save his life were in vain.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident happened at Greenhill Road, to the north of Maguiresbridge in the east of the county.

The Ambulance Service said four family members were taken to South West Acute Hospital. The Western Health Trust said none were admitted for treatment.

The Health and Safety Executive said it was investigating, but revealed little else.

Arlene Foster, DUP leader and MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, said it was “devastating news”.

“In the close-knit farming community of Fermanagh, news of this untimely death has caused a great deal of shock,” she said in a statement.

“The family will be in my thoughts and prayers today and in the weeks to come, as they mourn the loss of a young life taken under such tragic circumstances.”

Meanwhile, UUP MP for the region Tom Elliott said: “This is a highly respected and hard-working family, who I am sure are devastated at this very difficult time...

“As a farmer and parent myself, I am only too aware of the dangers on a farm. No-one ever thinks these accidents will happen and all I can do at this time is to offer the family my sympathy and support in the aftermath of this tragedy.”

A group called the Farm Safety Partnership (which includes the UFU as members) states that from 2009 to 2012 there were 29 farming-related fatalities in Northern Ireland, compared with eight in the manufacturing sector.