28 May, 2021

Case Study: Overcoming Difficulty

After a difficult year for people around the world as we tackled Covid-19 and Brexit, we spoke with Eric Lally on how a love of farming helped him overcome personal and business challenges to build a successful business.

How a love of farming helped Eric Lally overcome personal and business challenges to build a successful business.

On the 9 July 1990, Eric Lally (17) had been farming with his father in Fohenagh before heading to Kenny Park in Athenry, the home of Galway hurling, where he was a member of the minor hurling squad. Setting out that day, little did Eric know the life-changing events that lay ahead. By evening, a serious road traffic accident had taken away the use of his legs and, along with a long list of other medical complications, meant that he would never hurl again.

For a while after the accident things looked bleak for Eric’s future career because although his love of farming was not affected, his disability meant that attending Agricultural College was no longer feasible. However, after several tough years of mental and physical adjustment, Eric’s interest in farming helped his career take off. Today, he not only runs the family farm but has expanded it, adding an agricultural contracting business that covers round baling, slurry spreading and tillage work.

Currently, Eric has a herd of 40 sucklers bringing their progeny to finish, 200 ewes and 60 acres of tillage.

Like many farmers, he is worried about the future of the beef industry both from his own perspective and from that of his contracting clients. Over the last few years he started growing beet which he harvests and stockpiles in October and December. He also sells rolled barley to a client base that is predominantly made up of beef farmers trying to minimise costs.

Eric has two full time employees, Shane and Colin, and carefully manages the business to ensure he has work all year around. He is acutely aware of how hard it can be to attract and retain good labour.

On life’s challenges Eric says the biggest thing for him is the sense of independence he gets from being able operate farm machinery which means he is not in his wheelchair 24/7.

New technology also means that every few years innovations come along that enhance his working day— from his reversible plough, to his one pass system, McHale fusion baler and GPS for fertiliser spreading.

Eric’s ‘can do’ attitude is a breath of fresh air and his farming operation and contracting work are truly inspiring. His only complaint is that running the business involves too much paperwork so he gets ifac bookkeeper Dympna Delaney to call to him every two months to keep him on the straight and narrow.