Farmer (82) died during effort to rescue calf after cliff fall

Inquest told Anthony O’Sullivan suffered fractured skull in 40ft fall after rope snapped

An elderly farmer suffered catastrophic head injuries when a rope snapped and he fell more than 40ft from a cliff top while trying to rescue a calf with his neighbours near his home in west Cork, an inquest has heard.

Anthony O'Sullivan (82) from Gortahig, Allihies, Beara, Co Cork suffered a fractured skull resulting in traumatic brain injury and other injuries when he fell from the cliffs at lands he was renting at Reentrisk, Allihies on October 7th 2017.

The inquest heard how a number of people including Monica van Elferen and her husband, Christiaan Muijzert, Derek Lowes and Luke Lewis had gone to assist Mr O'Sullivan after he contacted them to say a calf had fallen from the cliffs on to the beach below.

Mr Muijzert told how when he arrived at the scene his wife was on the beach along with Mr O’Sullivan and Mr Lowes and they were trying to get the calf back on his feet with the use of some straps but it was not working so they had to abandon plans to try and walk the calf off the beach.



They decided to try and hoist the calf up the cliff face using some straps and a rope which they attached to Mr Lowes’s tractor on the cliff top, from where Ms Van Elferen gave directions.

Mr O’Sullivan was holding the gate which was anchored to the ground with ropes and a metal spike driven into the ground when the knot which tied the straps to the hauling rope met some resistance on the gate and snapped.

Mr Muijzert, who was on the beach, told the inquest: “ The rope snapped and the animal immediately fell on to the rocks below and Anthony, while trying to regain his balance, toppled over the edge and he fell head first on to the rocks below .”

The inquest heard how Mr O’Sullivan survived the fall and was breathing but was pronounced dead at the scene by a local GP.

Coroner for West Cork, Frank O’Connell returned a verdict of accidental death and extended his sympathies to Mr O’Sullivan’s widow, Eileen, on her loss while he also extended his sympathies to Mr O’Sullivan’s friends and neighbours who had witnessed “such a horrible tragedy”.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times