At 32-years-old, Eoghan Mulligan is living his dream, driving machinery on a daily basis.
Eoghan is one of the core members of Mulligan Plant & Agri, a company in operation since 1986. The company is run by Eoghan and his brothers, Petr and David, operating out of their homestead near Geashill, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
If that were not enough, Eoghan and his family also run their own 300-acre tillage enterprise, focusing their efforts on spring and winter barley crops. Some of whatever is harvested is then sold as straw, whilst the rest is sold to local feed merchants.
“We do a lot of tillage there ourselves. We would be farming about 300-acres between everything, tillage and grass.” Eoghan informed Kevin of That’sFarming.
“It is mostly barley, with the odd bit of wheat...A lot of our grain goes locally to Quinns in Baltinglass and Farmhill in Rathangan as well.” he continued.
This is not only agricultural enterprise run by the family either, as they have always kept Sucklers on their farm, a tradition started by their father, Sean, and one continued by Eoghan’s brother, Wayne, to this day. Wayne keeps roughly 50 Suckler cows, generally continental crossbreeds, whilst his other brothers focus their efforts on the contracting end of things.
“Dad would have been a Suckler farmer at home with a bit of tillage...One of my brothers is farming the home place. He would have about 50 Sucklers now,” Eoghan explained.
“He is at that (cattle) and myself and the other two lads are at the contracting end of it. But the four of us all work together too, Wayne drives our harvester in the summers and that,” Eoghan noted.
Eoghan’s brother Wayne also rears his own Purebred Charolais cattle too, usually selling any young bulls and buying in replacement heifers for flushing. He also has shown his Charolais cows in the past as well.
“He also has a certain amount of PB Charolais’. " said Eoghan to Kevin.
"He buys replacement heifers every year and puts embryos into them…He then sells Purebred bulls,” he added.
Eoghan and his other two brothers, Peter and David, recently began a calf-rearing business as a side-project. They generally take on 70 dairy-bred calves at two weeks old and finish them at approximately 22 months.
“We rear 70 calves every year and finish them out on a two-year cycle, Friesian bull calves.” Eoghan said.
History of Mulligan Plant & Agri/Journey -
Mulligan Agri, as it was originally known, was a contracting venture started by Eoghan’s father, Sean, back in the late 1980’s.
“Back in the 80’s my father would have started it (contracting).” Eoghan explained.
Sean began carrying out contracting work in the locality, first for himself and then neighbouring farmers. His venture quickly began to grow and before long Sean carrying out mainly pit silage work.
“He started contracting in 1986 on a small scale” said Eoghan.
“He then started cutting pit silage but it wasn’t until the 90’s that he was baling and wrapping.” he continued.
Sean’s involvement in the contracting industry meant his sons all held an interest in machinery from their earlier years. In fact, Eoghan says they were only eager to help out from a young age and keen to become involved at home. It was this interest that led to Eoghan's brothers, Peter and David, setting up their own plant machinery business and they were joined by Eoghan not long after in 2005, but only after he first did an apprenticeship.
“Peter and David started out with diggers and then I went working for them in 2005...I did an apprenticeship first,” Eoghan told Kevin.
Tragedy then struck for the brothers five years later in 2010, as their father Sean was killed in a slurry accident.
“It all changed on us in 2010. My father was killed in a slurry accident.” Eoghan informed That’sFarming.
“He was only helping out a neighbour one cold morning. He was meant to be gone hedgecutting, but he got a call to go give a neighbour a hand and that was it,” Eoghan recounted.
This tragic accident saw the brothers rally together to carry on the work started by Sean almost 25 years beforehand. They decided to merge the two companies to form what is now known as ‘Mulligan Plant & Agri’.
“We were always at the plant end of it ourselves and our father on the Agri side.” Eoghan noted.
“So we joined up everything together as one after my father died.” said the contractor.
The brothers have now been back and working in unison for what is nine years this year, a true family-run operation.
“It is just always in us and that’s it.” The Offaly native said.
Team involved & services provided -
The main core of Mulligan Plant and Agri is Eoghan and his two brothers, David and Peter. They also have four full-time employees working alongside them, with further drivers taken on during the summer when needed and their brother Wayne called upon to help too.
“We have four full-time employees with us the whole time.” Eoghan said.
Service wise there is not much the lads do not cover. On the plant machinery end, they carry out any type of site work, both on and off-farm, with the main focus of their work on slatted tanks. They also carry out laneway work and offer both land drainage and reclamation services.
“We do a lot of concrete work and slatted tanks would be a big end of what we are at...It doesn’t matter where the job is, whether it is in a building site or out in the backyard of someone's house, we try and cover all areas,” Eoghan explained to That’sFarming.
“We have our own pit out the road as well, so we can supply and draw the stone. We’re covering all angles,” Eoghan laughed.
On the agri end of the company, Eoghan and the rest of the team offer the full pit and baled silage services from start to finish, harvesting an average of 2,500 acres of pit silage and making 9,000 bales last year.
“I made around 9,000 bales or that last year, but then again second cuts were poor,” Eoghan said.
They also carry out ploughing, reseeding and hedgecutting work, whilst slurry and dung spreading are another focus for the team. They also sow and harvest corn for their ever-expanding list of clients.
“For the hedgecutting, we have a saw head one a 13-tonne track machine and we have a telescopic spear/flail head for the back of the tractor.” said Eoghan.
“We do a lot of slurry...We sow a lot of corn and cut corn as well”
The team of Mulligan Plant and Agri are currently working with a fleet of six tractors, with one fresh after arriving. They also hire in other tractors during the summer, when needed.
Tractors: John Deere 6810. John Deere, 6530, John Deere 6930, John Deere 7530 (x2), John Deere 6195R.
Grass: McHale Fusion 2, John Deere 7450 Forage Harvester, Deutz-Fahr 4070 Topliner combine, Claas 2900 Rake (2018), Krone Butterfly mowers, Amazone One-pass, 3m.
Plant: Hitachi Zaxis 130 (x3). Hitachi EX 215.
Other: Smyth Silage trailers (x4), Telescopic spearhead hedgecutter + Sawhead fitting for plant machinery. Volvo L70G loading shovel. Abbey 3,000 gallon slurry tanker, Cross 2,250 Slurry tanker. K2 14-tonne manure spreading. Kverneland plough. Two 20-tonne dump trailers (Smyth and McAuley), 16-tonne NC dump trailer. Tri-Axle Dooley Low-loader. Mobile Crusher. Mobile Screener.
“We only bought the John Deere tractor brand new,” said Eoghan.
Future Hopes -
The future looks bright for the Mulligan family and they are looking to continue their upward trajectory in the years to come, keeping their loyal customer base happy and providing them with the high-end service for which they are now known.
“Keep moving forward is the plan.” said the contractor.
There will be some new arrivals at Geashill, however, as soon to arrive at the family’s base is a brand-new Smyth Supercube silage trailer as well as a new tractor. This probably won’t be the last arrival either, Eoghan admits. Although beef prices are currently on the floor, Eoghan admits it would be “hard to move away” from the calf rearing enterprise started with his brothers and this is a venture likely to continue in the coming years.
“When you're at something it’s hard to move away from it,” he stated.
Otherwise, Eoghan and his family will keep doing what they do best, all things contracting and plant related.
Why Contracting -
For the Mulligan brothers, they feel immense pride in continuing the family business started by their father over thirty years ago. This is what drives them forward and their job is made all the easier by the fact they love what they do, or as Eoghan says “it is a love for the game”.
“You would have to be mad to be at this racket if you didn’t love it,” Eoghan laughed.
To Eoghan and his brothers, contracting is not a career but simply all they have ever known. They will continue to fly the Mulligan flag in their native Offaly for many years to come, with their father Sean, watching on with pride.
You can visit the Mulligan Plant and Agri Facebook page here. Are you a contractor or working behind the wheel for one? Want to share your story like Eoghan? If so, contact Kevin via email with a short bio at firstname.lastname@example.org