The late Tony O'Reilly.
The roads and byways around Grange, Clonmel were busy on Saturday, July 14 when over 2,000 people called to the home of the late Tony O’Reilly, farmer and businessman, to pay their respects.
Tony was a successful tillage farmer, who will be remembered as a kind and generous man and who always had time for people and community.
From the prominent O’Reilly Ballypatrick family, Tony’s father Eddie established one of the first agricultural contracting businesses in the country in what was then ‘post-war’ Ireland.
Running an almost unheard of fleet of 10 tractors in the 1950s, Eddie bought the first self-propelled combine harvester in Ireland in 1953 and was known as being at the leading edge of agricultural innovation at the time.
In 1968, Tony set out on his own at the age of 25, buying his first farm near Grange, Clonmel. A short number of years later, he bought ‘Ballymackee’ near Newcastle, Co. Waterford.
Over the years, he expanded both, purchasing neighbouring lands and created farms of exceptional productivity and beauty.
The late 60s and early 70s was a period of dramatic change in Irish agriculture. New methods and technologies in relation to agricultural production were being developed.
Tony embraced this opportunity and travelled extensively throughout Europe to study developments, then adapting these to work in the unique Irish growing environment.
For this, he received many accolades and was visited frequently by university students, academics and overseas farming groups.
During the 1980s, Tony continued to expand his farming operations and was a founding member of Clonag Co-op, a grain drying and trading business based between Clonmel and Cahir.
This gave Tony and his fellow members the opportunity to process and store grain for sale directly to end-users, rather than selling directly ‘off the combine’.
The 1990’s saw him continue to develop his business interests. During this period, he both entered the Polish farming scene, acquiring farmland and development land in Lower Silesia and established his piggery at Garrentemple, Clonmel.
It was reported in newspapers at the time, that he was the first Irish or UK national to be granted to a state permit by the Polish authorities for land acquisition, where his family continue to hold property interests.
His success as a tillage farmer was as a result of the exceptionally high standards that he set. He was respectfully feared for his precision generally and for leaving nothing to chance, especially the Irish weather.
One piece of advice that Tony was well known for ‘treat every fine day like it’s the last one’.
As a businessman, he will be remembered for his honesty and integrity. His word was absolute, and if he said something would be done, it would be done.
Most importantly, it was widely known and appreciated that Tony was selfless with his knowledge and was a mentor to many of his peers.
Tony was well known for his travels and adventures. Up until recent years, he would head away every January for a month and always to unusual destinations.
Even for a trip made 30 years ago, he could recall the details of each and every day, the towns passed through, sites seen, and the people met, famous or infamous.
He was always happy to recount a travel story and in the pre-internet days, provide advice to those travelling to where he might have been.
A keen flyer, having held a pilot’s license earlier in his life, his love of adventure saw him take up helicopter flying in latter years.
A keen sea fisherman also, he kept a boat in Dungarvan for many years which sat on stand-by for a day’s fishing out beyond Helvic Head, if nothing more pressing required his attention.
Well-known for his kindness, integrity and personality, his real interest in and concern for people made him many friends in many walks of life. He was a true gentleman of the strictest ethics, highly-respected, selfless to the end.
Tony is survived by his son Edmond, daughters Susan, Valerie and Laurann, his much-adored grandchildren Phillipa and Robyn, sons-in-law Barry John Ryan and John Bohan, and daughter-in law Pamela Newenham, and by his siblings Breda, Ebbie, Anne, Bill, Jack, Bunny and Terry.4
“Tony is being laid to rest in Kilcash this Friday, 10th August following 7pm public mass.”