I grew up on our beef farm. We’re up on Tallaght Hill, it’s called. It’s kind of up the Dublin Mountains. I’m a farmer, but I’ve a thick Dublin accent.
In Dublin we’re seen as farmers, but if you go to Wicklow we’re seen as Dubs. So we’re just in a weird spot.
My grandad was from Hollymount in Mayo and they’d a farm down there. He was born in 1918 and moved to London to work on the construction sites. Then he went to World War II to fight in northern Africa and Italy.
When he came home he worked again for a while on the sites. In the early 60s he had enough money from that and his salary in the army, and he bought the farm then.
He ran it for a good few years. Up until he was in his early 90s he was out on the farm. My dad took over then. My grandad died a few years ago. He was 99 by the time he died. My dad now is the head man up here and we’re all still here as well.
I’ve a brother and sister. My sister, she would have been mad into the horses, because my grandad used to breed Irish Draughts.
Some of my best memories growing up are going around on the tractor with me da or doing fencing, any sort of stuff like that. Every summer we’d be up here. We had no shops to walk to or no real neighbours, so it was just the farm.
I would have helped out a lot, I still do. Moving cattle or testing, me and my brother would go down and help, but obviously we’ve our own jobs now.
When you say you’re a farmer from Dublin a lot of people think you’re in tillage, because a lot of farmers up the north side would be. Then you say: “No, I’m actually a beef farmer, we’ve cattle” and they don’t believe you. I don’t think the accent helps.
I went to school in Clondalkin, which would be very urban Dublin. I’d be bringing friends up and they couldn’t get their heads around the farm and that we were still so close to Dublin.
When I went to college then with lads who would have come up from farms in Mayo and Galway, they were through and through farmers, you could tell. Whereas you’d probably pick up the street smarts as well living in and around west Dublin. It was a really good balance, my dad was the same.
I studied business entrepreneurship in Maynooth. I started my business, The Cleaning Company,, part time while I was in college and then I went full time after. It’s predominantly window cleaning, gutter cleaning and power washing.
When the pandemic came in I thought it would stop a lot of those services from happening. So I had an idea to start disinfecting as a new service.
We now do interior and exterior disinfecting with mist blowers and foggers. It peaked after the first lockdown, when things started opening up again. That’s when it was just absolutely insane. Whereas now there’s not a lot open. I’d say when the lockdown eases again we’ll be busy.
We were doing the disinfecting for RTÉ’s show, Home Rescue. They were going into private houses, so we had to disinfect the whole house beforehand and then after the filming again.
The farming helped with this side of the business. I planted Christmas trees a few years back, just having the experience of weed control and spraying them was a great help. Then, where we are, there’s a lot of deer up here, so we’ve awful trouble with TB (tuberculosis). I would have done a lot of power washing of the cattle sheds and disinfecting also.
With the Christmas trees, I planted Nordmann and Noble Fir from 2017 onwards. The plan was that I would sell them to the urban community in Tallaght from our yard here and offer a tree picking and cutting service.
However, an injury I got in the second year cycle of the trees meant I couldn’t take care of them for a few years. Unfortunately, they’ve become overgrown with weeds and eaten by wildlife. It’s a venture I’ll return to in the future though, with a fresh plantation on a new site on the farm.
I think I always had an entrepreneurial streak in me. At one stage I was collecting scrap metal that was left around that farm as a kid. I was gathering it up and bringing it to get weighed and sold.
When I started up cleaning business there was a big demand for a local, reliable window cleaner. I went down that route, I’m glad I did now. It worked out pretty well.