The accident occurred on a farm in the Kilcolgan area of Co Galway on the morning of Saturday 19 December. The boy, named locally as Mark Fordham, was fatally injured after he fell into a machine on the family farm at about 11am.

It is understood that Mark fell into an item of machinery which sorts potatoes. A spokesperson for An Garda Siochána said Mark, an only child aged seven, was rushed to University Hospital Galway soon after the incident, but he passed away later in the day due to serious injuries.

The scene on the farm is currently being preserved and Health and Safety Authority officers are investigating the incident.

Mark was a second class pupil at Kiltiernan National School in Galway. Bríd Fenlon, the acting principal, issued a statement the following day, saying the school learned of Mark's death on Sunday morning.

"We learned this morning of the untimely death of Mark Fordham, a Second Class pupil in our school. This is a terrible tragedy for the Fordham and extended family, our school and our community. We are deeply saddened by this event. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Mark’s family and friends. Mark will be greatly missed by all who were privileged to have known him. We have been in contact with Mark’s parents who have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this time."

The acting principal went on to say that the school has implemented a critical incident management plan: "Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have supported and advised our staff at this time. The school will be open on Monday and Tuesday in an effort to support our pupils and parents deal with this tragic event."

Pat Murphy, IFA Galway county chairman, said the community is in "shock" at the news. "It is an awful tragedy, devastating for the family. And to happen so close to Christmas, it is beyond description really," he said.

Farm deaths in 2015

This is the second farm fatality to occur in Co Galway this year and it brings to 17 the number of deaths on Irish farms in 2015. While the figure is lower than the 30 who died last year, it is up on the number in 2013. In 2013, a total of 16 people died on Irish farms. One quarter of those who died were children.

Mark's death also brings to four the number of minors (aged below 18 years of age) killed in farm accidents this year.