Larry Sheedy, one of the founder members of the Irish Farmers Journal, died over the weekend. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, I had seen neither Larry nor his wonderful wife Annette for about two years. Larry was born into a well-known farming family from Lucan, Co Dublin, in 1932. It was truly a different Ireland. The farm is now under a housing estate.
Larry had his secondary education in Terenure College and after school, gravitated into writing, press work and broadcasting. He joined the Irish Farmers Journal while it was still in Mount Street Crescent. It then moved to Earlsfort Terrace, just up from the present National Concert Hall. The young IFA occupied a house just two doors up, also on Earlsfort Terrace. Throughout the 1960s, Larry became more involved with the Irish Farmers Journal, working with his friend Michael Dillon and mentor Paddy O’Keeffe, who had become editor of the paper in 1951 following its purchase by John Mooney.
Larry was a gifted writer and broadcaster – he also had an uncanny way of putting people at ease. In the mid 1960s, he became deputy editor and it was in this role that he made the move with the rest of the staff, as well as the IFA and Macra na Feirme, to the new Irish Farm Centre in 1973. When Ireland joined the then Common Market in 1973, Larry realised that not only was agriculture going into an era of new opportunities beyond the controlled access to the British market, but so would the whole agri service sector and those connecting with farm families as consumers.
He left the Irish Farmers Journal in 1973 after 20 years, having introduced such writers as Patrick Kavanagh, John B Keane and the remarkable Myrtle Allen from Ballymaloe to its pages. He founded a specialist agricultural advertising and public relations agency, Farm Link, based in the Irish Farm Centre. It was so successful that after a few years, Larry recognised by those operating well outside the agricultural space and he moved office to Dublin’s premier business and professional location, Fitzwilliam Square. There, he re-christened his firm Sheedy Communications and built up a blue chip list of clients. He successfully ran the firm until his retirement at age 65 in 1996. In the meantime, he and Annette moved from Dunboyne, Co Meath, where they had built their home, to Ballsbridge. His later years were devoted to friends and family, but he still came to farming occasions and greatly enjoyed the 60th celebrations held by the IFA in Dublin’s Convention Centre, as well as devoting time to Leinster Rugby and the Guild of Agricultural Journalists, of which he became international president. To Annette, his wife of over 60 years and children Fin, Niall, Tina and Orla, we offer our deepest sympathy on his passing. May he rest in peace.