EXCLUSIVE: Limerick farmer relives moment he was shot at in tractor

John Hayes speaks of devastation at loss of sheepdog Lassie

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery



A County Limerick farmer who was hospitalised after he was shot at this Friday morning has spoken of his relief saying "I survived the day".

John Hayes, 65, sustained a number of pellet wounds to his right shoulder during the incident which happened as he was opening a gate on farmlands near Kildimo at around 10.30am.

His beloved sheepdog, Lassie, who was in his tractor died during the incident which is being investigated by gardai.

One man - aged in his early 70s - who was arrested near Patrickswell a short time after the incident, remains in custody at Newcastle West garda station.

Speaking at his home this Friday evening, Mr Hayes described how when he was shot it initially felt like he had been stung and that he did not realise the seriousness of his injuries until he felt his arm getting wet.

"I got a  belt, I was shocked and I heard the dog screaching inside the tractor, I thought it was a fright she had gotten but she was dead in a few minutes," he said.

"I was standing right beside the front wheel of the tractor we'll say. I got out to open the gate and bang, I was hit. It blew the window out of the tractor and shot the dog who was just sitting inside (the tractor) next to the seat," he said.

Mr Hayes says while waiting in his tractor for gardai and ambulance personnel to arrive, the culprit pointed his shotgun at him a second time at which point he backed away from the area.

The farmer was treated by paramedics at the scene and was later taken to University Hospital Limerick where he received further treatment for his wounds.

The scene of the shooting was preserved by gardai and a major investigation into the incident is continuing.

One line of inquiry is that the incident is linked to a local dispute over a right-of-way.