A RURAL community is coming to grips with the devastating loss of a neighbour with a 'heart of gold' who was regarded as one of the most progressive farmers in his locality.
Gerard Naughton (50), Killeen, Ballindine, was killed instantly yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon when part of a shed he was demolishing fell on him.
The popular father of three was found dead by a member of his family.
Neighbours and friends are rallying around today (Thursday) to support the grief-stricken family.
Mr. Naughton is survived by his heartbroken wife, Ann Marie, and three children, two girls and a boy.
Amongst those to express condolences were represenatives of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), of which Mr. Naughton was a longstanding and valued member.
Roy O'Brien, the organisation's regional organiser, said: “Apart from being a lovely man with a heart of gold, Gerard was regarded as the best farmer in the parish.
“He worked hard at his dairy and suckler enterprise but always found time to help out his neighbours whenever they needed assistance.
“What happened is truly harrowing, especially for his wife and family but also for the wider community in which Gerard was held in such high esteem.”
A post-mortem examination to determine the medical cause of death is being held this afternoon at Mayo University Hospital, Castlebar.
Both An Garda Síochána and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) have launched seperate investigations into the circumstances of the tragedy.
Tom Connolly, a member of Mayo County Council in the south Mayo area, has described the fatal accident as 'a shocking start to the new year' and expressed his sympathy with Mr. Naughton's family, relatives and neighbours.
Councillor Connolly recalled a similarly shocking farm tragedy in 2013 when John Meehan, a close friend of Mr. Naughton's, was killed in a farm accident.
Mr. Meehan (45) lived at Lisduff, Ballindine, close to the Naughton holding.
Joining in the expressions of sympathy today, Councillor Richard Finn, a Claremorris-based member of Mayo County Council, said the death had left a void in the Ballindine community which can never be filled.
“Gerard will be sadly missed in the community and in the wider region,” Councillor Finn commented.
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Naughton have yet to be announced.