Henry Shefflin speaks of anguish over son’s lawnmower accident

‘I sat at his hip, because I didn’t want to look, I didn’t want to know what happened’

Former hurler Henry Shefflin recounts the lawnmower accident that saw his son, Henry Jr., lose four toes in 2016. Video: RTÉ


Former Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin has spoken about the guilt he feels following an accident in which his son, also Henry, lost four toes when he fell into the path of a ride-on lawnmower.

“I knew what had happened straight away,” the former Kilkenny hurler said before going on to say that despite his family’s feelings to the contrary, he still feels guilty about the incident.

“I had to pick him off the ground,” Shefflin said. “And I suppose my first thoughts were ‘Please let this little boy walk again’”.

His wife Deirdre said she started dialling 999 even before she fully knew what had happened because she heard the lawnmower cut out and her girls screaming.

“It wasn’t a scream that they’d fallen and cut their knee – they were terrified.”

She said when Henry junior, then aged six, was brought into the house “I sat at his hip, because I didn’t want to look, I didn’t know what happened, I didn’t want to know.

“For me I felt by holding him I was making him better.”

As the little fellow alternated between apologising for wrecking his new shoes and asking if he was going to die, an emergency helicopter arrived to bring the boy to hospital.

Speaking on the opening night of the current season of RTÉ’s Late Late Show, the couple told Ryan Tubridy their family dynamic had changed since the accident.

They said they were a “stronger unit” after Henry junior now aged seven recovered from the accident.

Speaking from the Ploughing Championships on Saturday Henry Senior expanded on the incident saying “It was a traumatic time. He had a lot of surgery and stuff.”

But he said the family “ got some good news the other day that we’re out the other side of it”.

“He’s back in school, he’s been amazing. It’s been a learning curve for me. I learned children adapt, they are so resilient, they just get on with things, whatever is in their way.

“Sometimes for me, a lot of sporting pressures with media and all that stuff that goes on and sometimes you can be concerned about what everyone else thinks and I think sometimes in life you have to be yourself and what matters most is your family.

“As a family unit it has really pulled us together but he has been the star.”