Padraig Giblin takes advantage of the land available to him and establishes a set of multi-million-euro businesses while at the same time aiding the Irish rural economy.
Padraig started a business producing retractable nets to use in sports as a protective barrier to keep balls from flying out of the pitch, that way limiting the danger posed to neighbouring traffic and cheering fans. His business quickly took off so he decided to retire from the ESB and officially establish his company, Sportsworld Netting. He soon started running out of space as he struggled to keep up with the demands of this untapped market.
Until Padraig’s father inherited a 14-acre farm, which he immediately saw as the opportunity he’d been waiting for. He wasted no time and quickly got rid of the cattle it came with, using the space available as storage for his fast-growing retractable netting business instead.
Yet he didn’t stop there. Padraig understood the vast potential his land had, and decided to set up a boat and fishing company as well, that way maximising the profit he could make from his farm.
Seeing the success diversifying was bringing him, he went on to buy an additional 20 acres of land by Lough Derg, using it to set up a team-building centre for local sports clubs and school groups.
"I see farmers today focused on fattening cattle and getting the best beef prices but I feel they are not getting full value for their hard work," says Padraig.
"I often wonder why they don't dig out ponds to breed fish or get into snails - there are huge markets left untouched.”
Rural decline is heavily affecting the future of traditional farming in Ireland, which is why diversifying presents the traditional farmer with a wealth of opportunity to tap into other markets and that way help revitalise the rural economy.
"Any man who has 10 acres has a gem, he has an emerald," says Padraig. "There are 142,000 farms in the 26 counties and I just can't understand why farms aren't diversified. There are huge markets out there that are being untouched.”
Padraig's success story is a brilliant example of how finding alternative uses for your land can prove incredibly lucrative, while at the same time helping save rural businesses.
He urges farmers to be creative and break away from the norm, emphasising on the huge potential small holdings can have:
"Some parts of the country would be very scenic, so why not set up activities to bring tourists, like bike trips through the woods, fishing, kayaking, adventure centres?"
"Farmers could do up old sheds to rent as an artist studio or upgrade an old farm-house for self-catering."