Tragedy as hurler dad is crushed by tractor
THE father of Clare hurling star Gearoid O'Connell has died after being crushed by a tractor in a farm accident.
Father-of-five Gerry O'Connell, who was in his 50s, was found dead under the tractor beside a shed near the family home at Ballyea on Wednesday night.
He was last seen alive at around 7pm when he went to move cattle from his uncle's land to another location close to the Shannon estuary.
It is believed he had been moving the animals from a shed into a trailer when he was crushed by the tractor.
A neighbour said: "This is a terrible tragedy and the family is devastated.
"One of the daughters had been up around nine o'clock when there was no sign of him coming home.
"She saw the tractor at the shed and it was still running and there was no suggestion there was anything wrong."
It is understood that family members returned to check on Mr O'Connell a short time later and found him beneath the tractor.
Emergency services responded, but Mr O'Connell was pronounced dead at the scene.
The area was sealed off and a preliminary examination was undertaken before Mr O'Connell's body was removed to University Hospital Limerick for a post-mortem examination.
The cattle were unloaded again and the tractor and trailer moved away.
An inspector from the Health and Safety Authority and a garda forensic expert visited the scene early yesterday and examined the vehicle.
Mr O'Connell is survived by his wife Frances, sons Gearoid, David and Paddy and daughters Louise and Emma.
Gearoid is a member of the Clare under-21 hurling side that will play in the All-Ireland final next week. Paddy is also a well-known club hurler and footballer.
Another local person said: "Gerry was a hard worker and a lovely man. This is an awful tragedy. All the family is very sporting and very well-known not just in Ballyea but all over.
The tragedy is the second to occur on a farm in Clare in a fortnight.
On August 20, TJ McDonagh (38) died when a tyre he was fitting exploded near his home in Liscannor.