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'I knew I couldn't make a living by keeping the farm'


by Ken Whelan

January 27 2018 4:00 PM


On Good Friday in 1992, Billy Kelly had a decision to make - continue the mixed enterprise at the family farm in Streamstown near Mullingar, Co Westmeath, or literally "branch out" and develop the 35-acre holding into a nursery, which was more in tune with his horticultural qualification.

He had just taken over the family farm after the passing of his dad Bill and it was a "poser" for the youngest of the seven Kelly siblings. Billy, who has a horticultural qualification from Warrenstown agricultural college, opted for the nursery and hasn't looked back since - despite some tough times for the enterprise during the financial collapse of 2008 and the desperately cold weather the midlands suffered in 2010, which nearly destroyed the business. But most of his stock goes to Irish and British nurseries and Billy is currently trying to expand his continental business with the help of Bord Bia.

"When I took over the farm it was a mixed operation and a bit of tillage but I knew I couldn't make a living and rear a family on the 35 acres," recalls Billy. "So I went into the nursery business and started off with three small polyhouses, gradually building the business up over the years."


At the moment, he is putting the finishing touches to a ¤700,000 five-acre extension to the nursery, which should cover the remaining acreage of his farm with his conifers, laurels and Portuguese laurels, which he produces for foreign and domestic markets on a strict 12-month cycle.

"We have a stong Irish market but we also have good customers in Britain and we are going to the international trade fair for plants in Essen, Germany to promote our nursery", says Billy - the trade fair is taking place this week. He admits to having some lucky and some unlucky times in business since that Good Friday in 1992 

In conversation with Ken Whelan


Aerial view of Kelly's Nursery 2018




 Looking good at the moment AUGUST 2017




Kellys Nursery Latest News  



Earlier this month we hosted a trolley fair here in Kelly's Nursery, which proved a great success. 

It was great to catch up with other suppliers and meet our customers! A huge thanks to all of you who came along on the day and we wish you all a successful season and hope our weather will be good to us!

A few photos of the day:








  Verbena                     Penstemon Hidcote Blue            Agapanthus

Cherry Laurel         Kniphofia                      Dahlia

Crocosmia Croscosmia       Miscanthus Zebrinus     Echinacea    

             Rudbeckia           Scabiosa                       Solanum  

          Geranium Rozanne   Abies koreana Cedrus libani glauca