The untimely death of Monageer native Frank Rath, resident at Ballintlea in Barntown, at the age of 63, has deprived Wexford and Ireland of a leading agriculturalist.
The large attendance at Trinity church in Monageer who attended the funeral reflected the respect and high esteem in which he was held. A graduate of UCD, Frank from Avonbeg was well known through his career in the Teagasc advisory service and as an inspector with the Department of Agriculture. He specialised in farm finances after taking a masters degree in agricultural economics in 1979 under the direction of Professor Seamus Sheehy.
Based for a while at the Teagasc regional office in Kildalton, he made an outstanding contribution during the 1980s as a front line advisor to farmers affected by the burden of debt and high interest rates. In 1990 he became an inspector with the Department of Agriculture, moving in due course to Johnstown Castle.
In Johnstown, he was chief architect of the REPS programme, in which about 60,000 farmers enrolled. Under his guidance REPS (the rural environment protection scheme), which was launched in 1994, not only became a channel for millions of euro in EU grant aid and protected the environment.
The deceased was a man of vision, an excellent communicator blessed with a practical approach to his job. His intelligence, expertise and insight grained him an international reputation and he advised several of the newer EU member states as they in turn set up similar schemes.
While he was stationed in Kildalton, Frank met his future wife Hannah O’Mahony, who was a colleague working on socio-economic matters. They married in the Honan Chapel at UCC in Hannah’s native Cork and the couple shared 22 happy years together.
Although not resident in Monageer in recent years, he always retained his interest in local affairs, especially the parish GAA club, of which he was a trustee.
An accomplished fiddle player in his youth, he won national honours as a member of his local Macra na Feirme branch’s Gaelic cabaret team. He also represented Wexford Macra in an All-Ireland winning quiz team.
Frank is greatly missed by his loving wife, his brothers and sisters and extended family.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis – ni bheidh a leitheid aris ann.
– Courtesy of the Wexford People, 7th December 2011