They are a species in decline, with the isolation of Ireland's backwaters fading. Electricity, the Internet and mobile phones are available to all, and a man no longer needs to live in solitude to pursue his career as a farmer.
During Ireland's land boom, the bachelor farmers were courted by business men who wanted to buy the land and grow houses. For men with no children to leave the land to, it was a reasonable solution. With all the cash from the sale, a man could find himself a little place in a town with people to talk to and a pub to walk to.
Matthew Hayes died a bachelor farmer, perhaps not expecting to pass away at the young age of 82 or perhaps waiting for the right price for his Wexford holdings.
Who stood to inherit the property of the man who never had a family of his own?
As luck would have it, a distant relation appeared with Mr. Hayes' last will and testament, which declared that said distant relation got it all. The land, the savings in the bank, the lot.
Noel Hayes took possession of his legacy in 1998, but he came to learn that an unequal sharing of the wealth fostered bitterness and ill will among a group of conspirators.
The millionaire owner of South-East Vegetables turned to Willie O'Leary for assistance in forging a will that made him the sole legatee. Mr. O'Leary's brother, who was given a lump sum payment for his help, told the authorities all about the scheme to forge the will and steal the land.
At some point, the O'Leary brother might have noticed that Mr. Hayes was already rich and could easily afford to give him more, but extortion doesn't always work as one would like.In the end, Charlie O'Leary was sentenced for his role, although the courts recognized his assistance by suspending the eighteen-month sentence.
Mr. Hayes was convicted by a jury that believed Charlie's story. He plans to appeal his six-year sentence and Eu200,000 fine.
It should be noted that Noel Hayes is not, in fact, a bachelor. But he does appear to be quite greedy.