Man’s death helping cow give birth to calf shows stresses of farming, coroner says

John Harrington collapsed and died in a field adjacent to his home due to heart disease

The coroner said it is advisable for those involved in farming to have regular check-ups. Photograph: iStock

The death of a 66-year-old Co Mayo man who died while helping a cow give birth to a calf highlights the strenuous nature of farming especially for those with medical conditions, a coroner said on Monday.

Pat O’Connor, coroner for the District of Mayo, was commenting at the conclusion of an inquest into the sudden death of John (Johnny) Harrington on his farm at Bushfield, Charlestown on February 29th last.

Mr Harrington, who was single, collapsed and died in a field adjacent to his home while pulling a calf, using a calving jack, and collapsed.

The newborn calf was found close by and the calving jack was still in the hands of its owner.


The medical cause of Mr Harrington’s death was explained by Dr Fadel Bennani, consultant pathologist, who carried out a postmortem examination, as “ischemic heart disease due to occlusive coronary atheroma”.

The coroner ruled that Mr Harrington, whom he knew on a personal basis, died from natural causes.

Mr O’Connor said that the deceased would be greatly missed in his community.

He added that Mr Harrington had been involved in a strenuous task, pulling a calf with the aid of a calving jack.

The coroner said it often was not appreciated that farming is a very strenuous endeavour and it is advisable for those involved to have regular check-ups.

The coroner expressed his deepest sympathy with Mr Harrington’s relatives. He was joined in the condolences by Sgt Noel Crinnegan, on behalf of An Garda Síochána.