By Gordon Deegan
Tributes were paid today to popular and well-known east Clare builder and farmer, Pat O’Connor who died in a workplace accident.
Named locally, the father of 10, Mr O’Connor (71) died as a result of crush injuries he received while carrying out maintenance work on a mini digger near his home in the Magherabawn area of Feakle.
Insp David Finnerty of Killaloe Garda Station said that Gardai are treating the fatality as a “tragic accident”.
Mr O’Connor’s death brings to 17 the number of people who have lost their lives in workplace accidents to date this year with agriculture accounting for six of those fatalities.
It is understood that Mr O’Connor’s body was discovered by a family relative in the early hours of Tuesday morning after he failed to return to his home from carrying out the repairs.
Mr O’Connor only enjoyed his 71st birthday in March of this year and was well known in the building industry in Co Clare and through his construction firm, built the private Sean Dun housing estate in Ennis and also completed a number of local authority housing schemes.
Member of Clare Co Council, Pat Hayes (FF) lives around two miles from Mr O’Connor’s home place and Cllr Hayes said yesterday the local community was ‘numbed’ by the tragedy.
Cllr Hayes said: "The local community will do its best for the family. It is a real tragedy for the family. Pat had a number of teenage children and they are now without their Dad.”
Cllr Hayes said that Mr O’Connor was very popular and very well known. He said: “He was very involved in the local community and enjoyed going to his hurling matches."
Another local man said that Pat “was a very likeable character".
Insp Finnerty said that the deceased man’s body was removed to University Hospital Limerick for a post mortem.
Two separate investigations by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the Gardai were yesterday underway into the accident.