Tributes paid to farmer in her 70s who died rescuing sheep near Gap of Dunloe

Mary Tangney was a ‘great, hardworking woman’ with a ‘heart of gold’ whose death has left community of Beaufort and Black Valley in Co Kerry in shock

Tributes have been paid to mother of five Mary Tangney, who died while out tending sheep in the Brandon’s Cottage area at the eastern end of the Gap of Dunloe in Kerry on Friday.

The death of the farmer, who was in her 70s, has shocked the close-knit Beaufort and Black Valley community.

Mary Tangney was rescued from the Gearhameen river near the family farm by one of her sons shortly after 11am on Friday. Gardaí and emergency services were alerted and the pensioner was treated at the scene.

However, she was pronounced dead a short time later. Her body was removed to the mortuary at University Hospital Kerry for a postmortem examination. It is understood she had been attempting to rescue sheep.


Ms Tangney worked as a sheep farmer alongside her husband, Eugene. They were also involved in the Gap of Dunloe pony business.

Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae, speaking on Saturday with Colm Ó Mongáin on RTÉ Radio 1, said that he was deeply saddened to hear about the farming tragedy.

“We are so sorry for the events of yesterday where a local lady lost her life. Local farmer Mary Tangney, nee Dennehy, from Beaufort, was tending her sheep as she always does.

“A great, hardworking woman. A very welcoming woman. To her husband Gene and to her family and all the extended family we are so sorry for their loss. We had a minute of silence last night in Beaufort for her.”

Local Fine Gael councillor Patrick Connor-Scarteen said Ms Tangney was very well respected in the local community.

“Her death is so sad, especially coming up to Christmas. The close community of the Black Valley and Beaufort is one where sheep farming and tourism are mainstays of life. She was much loved.”

He previously told Radio Kerry that the local community wouldn’t “get over the loss for a long time”.

“It is heartbreaking. We are so sorry for the entire Tangney and Dennehy families.”

The Black Valley Facebook page also paid tribute to Ms Tangney, saying that she had a “heart of gold”.

“Mary was a hard worker who had a deep love of the outdoors, farming and her animals. Her greatest treasure, though, was her family. She had a heart of gold and was a friend to young and old alike. Mary will be deeply missed by her community.”

Ms Tangney, of Gearhameen, Black Valley in Beaufort, is survived by her husband, Eugene, her adult children Karen, Patie, Niall, Eugene and Donnacha, and her extended family and friends. Funeral details are being finalised.