“I would definitely have been killed if there wasn’t a ring and chain on that bull” – says Liam O’Keeffe – a dairy farmer from Ballydesmond, near the Cork-Kerry border.
In this video – produced by the HSA – Liam speaks about the injuries he suffered after he was attacked by a bull in June-2007.
It was just like any other morning for the farmer who was heading off to town to get a number of machinery parts to repair his mower.
When Liam was preparing to leave the farm, he noticed that his employee had finishing milking; he discovered that his bull was not in his usual place in the yard - what happened next has changed his life forever.
“Once I saw the bull, I got a dung fork, caught his chain and I was walking him around the yard.” Liam recounts.
“It was like a bus hit; he had me struck five or six times in a couple of seconds. I fell down on the ground; I could see the coffin. At this stage, he was trying to stand on me.” He added.
He caught the bull’s chain, hitting the animal as hard as he could before escaping to seek assistance.Liam rang his neighbouring shopkeepers who along with a number of customers time, came to his rescue as he hid behind a bale of straw.
His mother – Alice said: “The ambulance came but that was a long wait. Helena – my daughter who is a nurse - and Gerard from Shannon went to the hospital.”
After the accident
Alice said that Liam underwent an 8-hour surgery following the incident as the bull broke Liam’s pelvis in two places and the end of his backbone; he also sustained numerous bowel injuries and has had at least ten operations.“It was such a powerful belt you just couldn’t believe it,” Liam said.
“I was very lucky; if I had turned around and knew that he was coming at me, he would definitely have killed me if I got those injuries in the front or if he hit me a few inches higher, I would be in a wheelchair.”
Liam is still farming and doing most jobs but said when the workload is heavy in the spring, he has to leave the farm for a 30-minute period to get relief from pain, before he can complete the necessary jobs.
“Farmers are so slow to take the signs and deal with getting rid of a bull if needs be. I would definitely have been killed if there wasn’t a ring and chain on that bull.”
“Life is not cheap; people don’t put a value on life until it is too late,” Liam concluded.
Bulls and livestock attacks are one of the major causes of death and serious injury on Irish farms. The HSA has warned farmers to ‘stop taking risks – farm safely.”
Image source: Health and Safety Authority (HSA).