Man choked eating pig head

A man who choked while eating a pig’s head for dinner had been looking forward to the meal for a number of days, an inquest has heard.

Patrick Joseph O’Brien, 76, of Glenarusk, Fermoy, Co Cork, suffered a “cafe coronary” while eating his evening meal at home on Oct 14, 2011.

His son Padraig O’Brien told Cork Coroner’s Court that his father had been very excited about the meal.

“He was looking forward to this pig’s head so much… maybe he gulped it down too fast,” he said.

Mr O’Brien rushed to his father’s aid when noticed there was something wrong.

He removed food from his father’s mouth and performed the Heimlich manoeuvre, before contacting emergency services.

He was taken to Cork University Hospital where he died the following day.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said the cause of the cardiac arrest was impaction of food at the top of Mr O’Brien’s windpipe, known as a “cafe coronary”.

“The food caused the cardiac arrest,” she said.

Mr O’Brien’s age, the presence of dentures and the combination of alcohol and sedative drugs present were all “risk factors”, she said.

An autopsy by assistant state pathologist Dr Margot Bolster found that Mr O’Brien suffered a brain injury due to a heart attack caused by foreign body airway obstruction in the presence of alcohol, sedative drugs, and an enlarged heart.

A toxicology screening found Mr O’Brien had a low level of alcohol in his system. Two sedative drugs were also present.

The coroner expressed her condolences to the family and recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Home Delivery


Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.