Punctuality and precision to the fore at Old Mill Contractors

11 Jun , 2024  

Operating out of Kilmallock in County Limerick, Old Mill Contractors Ltd. is a relatively new agricultural contracting / plant hire business that has hit the ground running under the watchful eye of Feilim Reilly, for whom invariably delivering prompt, professional and efficient services is a prerequisite.

For five years and counting, Old Mill Contractors / Feilim Reilly Plant & Agri Services has been providing farmers in County Limerick with unrivalled lime spreading services. With the on-time delivery of high-quality, value-added workmanship non-negotiable, the in-demand business has grown organically to today offer a wide range of services that also includes slurry, silage, baling, fertiliser, hedge cutting and much more.

The growth of Old Mill Contractors has been driven by the founder’s insistence on setting the highest standards and by consistently being good to his word: “Time is everything in contracting and I pride myself on always being there on time,” the Cavan native confirms. “If you say you are going to be there at 9am, then be there at five to nine! Farmers really appreciate it when you are punctual.”

Once on site, Feilim provides unrivalled contracting services, using the best machinery and know-how to achieve outstanding results that not only meet but exceed farmer expectations. Arriving in the Treaty County via New Zealand and starting out with just one digger and one tractor before taking over an established lime-spreading business, Feilim has quickly built up a successful contracting enterprise that is both sustainable and busy all year around.

Reflecting on the genesis of Old Mill Contractors, he notes: “I came down to Limerick in 2018, having been in New Zealand for five years prior to that, and started contracting in 2019. My father milked cows all his life on the home farm in Cavan and we did all our own machinery work, etc. – that’s where my interest in machinery and contracting came from.”

Spending time farming in New Zealand armed Feilim with invaluable experience, expertise and enthusiasm, which have been channelled to telling effect into Old Mill Contractors. “You get a great variety of work out there and the kind of opportunities you won’t get here. It was a great experience and I definitely learned a lot.

“When I came home and settled in Limerick, I initially went working for a contractor here for a year and a half or two years, then bought a digger and started doing a bit of work part-time on my own.”

One thing led to another and Feilim gradually established his own contracting business, an early defining moment arriving when he moved into lime spreading by taking the reins of a business that had already built up a wonderful reputation locally… “I bought the lime business in 2021 off Jeremiah Danaher from West Limerick, who had been working at it all his life but was retiring.

“The lime business was a good one to buy and it opened a lot of doors for me. Things have taken off since then. Last year I bought a baler and started at silage and baling. I’ve also been doing slurry, hedge cutting and fertiliser, so we’re providing a good range of services now.”

Is the business still growing? “To be honest, I think we have enough now and there’s work there for each machine. I built up the fleet in response to demand that was there from farmers. From going in and out of farms and talking to farmers, they were telling me what other services they needed, so I added new machines as and when I needed them.”

Feilim took a leap of faith by investing in the local farming community and he fully appreciates the support they have afforded him: “A good few lads around us have given me a start and got me going. They gave me a chance and the least I can do now is repay them with good quality work. Only for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They really have given me a go in life.”

At the heart of Old Mill Contractors is the expansive and immaculately-maintained fleet of machinery Feilim has painstakingly assembled, comprising virtually something for every eventuality. Alongside five tractors (two John Deere, two Claas and a Massey), one can find 13-tonne and 3-tonne diggers, a 3-tonne fertiliser spreader, slurry tank, set of double mowers, baler, rake, two hedge cutters, mulchers, three shears and a skid steer loader. A nice investment and all preserved in top-class condition at all times!

“I started out with a Volvo digger and a John Deere 6820. I still have that tractor but have replaced the original digger with a Hitachi 130. I mostly buy good-quality second-hand gear. I try to source all the implements new and the rest would tend to be second-hand, although I did invest in a brand-new tractor for the first time in 2022.”

Feilim is assisted in the day-to-day running of Old Mill Contractors by his partner, a local lady who looks after the books and also runs her own dairy enterprise. The contracting business generates employment for one other man full-time as well as another two or three during peak times. Feilim also takes on a student from Pallaskenry Agricultural College during the Spring time, to gain experience working on the mechanical side of things.

Old Mill Contractors covers a large catchment area going out as far west as Ballylongford, which is more than 70km away. “With the lime, you could be going anywhere,” he comments. “You often have to travel quite a bit to spread lime but we try to keep the baling local enough. Ideally, you’d like to be close to home every day but we’re happy to go where the work is.”

Weather-wise, 2023 was something of a wash-out for the agri sector. “It was a tough year all around for farmers and for contractors,” Feilim concurs. “With the persistent wet weather, it was a case of pick and grab when you can. Even the back end of the year wasn’t great so we’re all hoping for a good Spring now.

“With the diggers, I’d be going 52 weeks of the year and there’s also hedge cutting during the winter and I’d fall in sometimes with a fella who does shuttering for farmers for tanks,” the friendly Kilmallock contractor concludes. “You’d be at the lime all year around, too, when the weather allows it, so we’re kept going for twelve months of the year and that’s a nice position to be in

“I’m really happy with how the business is going. So far, so good – and hopefully it stays that way. When things are going good, this is a really enjoyable job. Of course, the weather can get in the way but you have to take the good with the bad and we’re all hoping for more favourable conditions in 2024.”

Amen to that!

Old Mill Contractors Ltd.,

Sherin’s Cross,


County Limerick.

Tel: 087 4184842

Email: [email protected]

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 12 No 1, March/April 2024