A FARMER was stung to death by wasps as his teenage son and father looked on helplessly.
The swarm attacked Oliver Gacquin (47) from Curraghboy, Co Roscommon, when he lifted an old silage bale and disturbed their nest.
The father-of-two was rushed to hospital after being stung numerous times last Wednesday, but he died eight hours later, probably due to an allergic reaction.
Mr Gacquin was laid to rest yesterday at St Brigid's Church in Curraghboy, four days after the incident.
His father, John (86) said: "They attacked his head and face. He went up the back with the rake and when he lifted the bale to move it, that's when the whole swarm came up and attacked his head.
"I was nearby and so was Oliver's 13-year-old son Raymond and they didn't come near either of us."
He explained that Mr Gacquin -- who was "blessed with a good head of hair" -- "just couldn't get the wasps out quickly enough".
"We live just 250 yards away and he ran into the kitchen of our house trying to swat them out of his hair with a towel.
"The doctors seem to think it might have been an allergic reaction. If he had got three or four stings he might have been all right. But he had been stung too often and the poison was in his blood.
"My wife told him to run out quick to his own house and get in the shower to cool his head and that's what he did. I went over behind him but by the time I arrived he was already slumped down in the shower."
Mr Gacquin is the second man to have been killed by wasps this year.
John Butler, from Co Kildare, who had a known allergy to wasp stings, died in July after being stung once after he failed to reach his anti-histamine drugs quickly enough.
An adult of average weight can usually withstand up to 1,000 stings and a child 500, but an allergic reaction to the stings can become life-threatening as the airway closes in and blood pressure drops.
Local Co Roscommon councillor Tony Ward paid his respects to the Gacquin family yesterday and spoke of the man who was his neighbour.
"There has been a dark cloud over the whole parish since the news of Oliver's death broke.
"In my lifetime, there have been a lot of tragedies in the parish but this has been the worst, such was the freak nature of this terrible accident.
"Oliver was a next door neighbour of mine. He was a nice, quiet, decent man."