John O’Reilly & Son is a Castlepollard-based painting and decorating company run by father and son duo, John and Conor O’Reilly.
The company works primarily on new builds and private decoration, and their craftsmanship is clear to see from their social media posts.
The firm celebrated 25 years in business in September, but its story is three generations in the making.
It all started on Patrick Street in Mullingar with John’s Grandfather, John Reilly, who painted a number of prominent buildings in the town in the 1940s and 1950s.
“All my grandfather wanted to do was paint the cathedral, St Loman’s, Finian’s and Loreto,” John Jr told Topic.
John Snr died in 1974 but he had already passed the trade down to his six sons, Tom, Jim, Jack, Larry, Billy, and Joe.
Tom Reilly had ambitions which brought him across to Rochdale in Manchester in 1967 two years after the birth of his son, John.
Tom, who passed away in 2022, changed his name to Tom O’Reilly while they lived in England. He left painting and decorating and took up a job in the Dexine rubber factory where he later became Managing Director.
John grew up in England and his upbringing was punctuated by regular trips home to Mullingar.
He left school at 16 to serve a four-year apprenticeship to become a time-served painter and decorator with a City and Guilds qualification.
John initially worked in Birkenhead in Merseyside before he gained the attention of contractors in Dublin who flew him over for a job. John kept getting recalled to the capital and everything changed for him at this point.
“The money was just unreal in Dublin compared to Birkenhead. I said we either stop this or we sell up and move, lock, stock and barrel over. We put the house on the market and it sold in about ten days and we moved across,” he said.
John and his family moved to Ireland in 1998 when Conor was two years of age. He initially wanted to live in Dublin but the family eventually moved to Castlepollard.
John worked as subcontractor after a stint in the resource centre opposite St Loman’s when he first came back. He was getting work all around Leinster thanks to the contacts he made on the Dublin jobs.
His big break came when he was contracted to paint an allotment of houses in Lakepoint. This formed a springboard for John to launch the company and he “took off”.
Fast forward a quarter of a century and John is delighted he made the move back to Westmeath.
“In the last 25 years I’ve not had a day off. It’s been the best move ever. The kids are well settled and we love Castlepollard,” he said.
Conor is now 28 and helping his father to drive the business forward.
“He’s got the hunger of youth,” said John. “He’s enjoying it and he’s proud of what we’ve achieved.”
“I’m very proud of both my children — Conor, who is the 4th Generation of our family painting and decorating business, and my daughter Breean who works in childcare,” he added.
Conor is working full-time with his father and is responsible for the firm’s social media presence.
“The lad has set the ambition alight again,” explained John.
“We don’t refuse anything. If a job comes it’s never too small and it’s never too big.”
John O’Reilly & Son approach each job with the same diligence and provide a personal touch on every project.
“Myself and the boy are very clean and conscientious,” said John. “We want to walk away from a job and the client says ‘wow, that’s some improvement’.”
John likes to build up a level of trust with the customer and said it is important to establish a face-to-face rapport with clients.
“We’re very personal. I’m on 99.9% of the jobs. If you’re going to employ John O’Reilly & Son, you’re going to get John O’Reily and son on the job,” he said.
25 years in business is a remarkable achievement and John has enjoyed every step of the journey.
“It only seems like 5 minutes to be honest,” he said.
“It’s amazing to think when I came over my lad was two and running around the floor chasing me. Now he’s working alongside me and almost leading the company. It keeps you young.”