Evidence of the terror at Clare farmer’s home remains two years after attacks

Supporters of elderly call for a coordinated response to the case of Michael McMahon

The home of Michael McMahon (68) which he abandoned after being terrorised by thugs near Cree, Co Clare. Photograph: Press 22

The home of Michael McMahon (68) which he abandoned after being terrorised by thugs near Cree, Co Clare. Photograph: Press 22

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 01:10

Standing outside the abandoned home of pensioner Michael McMahon yesterday, Bill Chambers remarked: “Michael was really happy here.”

At the house in Cree in a remote part of west Clare, there is still evidence of the two nights of terror the farmer (68) endured two years ago.

The window near the front door of the modest home remains boarded up – one of three smashed the first night robbers called looking to rob Mr McMahon in February 2012.

After they returned four nights later to rob €7,000 from him, Mr McMahon abandoned his home and got on his high nelly bike to take what Fianna Fáil Cllr Chambers described yesterday as “the lonely road” to Ennis. There, he checked himself into a nursing home – after a gruelling 30-mile eight-hour cycle through the night.

Yesterday, a former neighbour said: “Michael is a very neighbourly, friendly man. When he was passing on his high nelly, he would always stand and salute you. There has been a lot about him living without electricity or water, but he was always well turned out, wearing a shirt and tie for his weekly trip on his bike into town for his shopping.”

Meanwhile, supporters of the elderly and of rural communities have called for a co-ordinated response to the case of the bachelor, who said he was frightened into leaving his home.

Irish Rural Link, Age Action and Victim Assistance stressed the potential of householders to be the “eyes and ears” of their communities which could become a formidable deterrent to wrongdoing.

They said the well-meaning intentions of neighbours and community watch groups needed to be placed in a formal structure, with instruction given by the Garda or other authorities on how communities could build deterrents to crime through networks of people looking out for each other.

Irish Rural Link which supports the interests of rural communities said co-ordinators must be deployed to show communities the range of actions they could take to protect themselves, and make their networks stronger. Chief executive Séamus Boland also urged individuals to “learn to integrate” and “to encourage people, their neighbours, to come to their door”.

“People need to learn to build up a network and to recognise when someone is living alone and to call on that person,” he said.