After spending a lifetime working abroad this man has returned home to take over a farm
After a globetrotting life with more than a few careers under his belt, Joe Healion has returned home to start farming from scratch on a 52ac farm in Belmont, Offaly.
"I suppose you can take the man from the land but you can't take the land from the man," says Joe who was born and reared on a farm in Durrow near Tullamore. "I was never fully involved in our farm growing up so I know little about it, but I always wanted to return to the land."
One of a family of nine, Joe left Offaly in the late 1970s and his first port of call was NIHE Limerick (now UL) where he studied mechanical engineering. His career in engineering spanned 20 years and a number of locations.
He was working and living in Scotland in the 1990s when he discovered a love for teaching so he re-trained as a maths teacher and worked in Scotland and London. After a number of years of teaching he changed tack again and took on the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFAL) qualification.
Teaching English took him to the Ukraine, Russia and latterly to Colombia. "It was while I was in Colombia that I decided it was time to come home, and I began to surf the net looking for a farm," Joe says.
"I have seven sisters, some of whom are married to farmers so, along with their husbands they helped me choose. I saw this particular farm on one of the websites and asked the family to have a look at it. They did and gave their approval."
Joe bought the property without even seeing it; in fact the first day he set foot on it he already owned it. He made a good choice. Located two miles from Belmont in West Offaly, it is reached by a fine gravel avenue through a lovely field of lush grass. The farmhouse is a neat bungalow and the yard, set away from the house, has a series of modern sheds around a concrete apron.
"I bought the place lock, stock and barrel; the tractor, tools, machinery, silage, the furniture in the house, everything including a seven-year supply of saved turf. I brought a duvet cover, a set of cutlery and a cup and a plate with me the day I moved in. That was all I needed," he says.