Quality and passion permeate every project delivered by meticulous, highly-driven County Kerry based O’Callaghan Brothers Ltd., a family-run contractor that turns out superbly-finished buildings. We travelled to the Kingdom and met director Ciaran O’Callaghan to find out more about this truly exceptional operation.
With a keen eye for detail and boundless enthusiasm for the art of construction, O’Callaghan Brothers is renowned for consistently delivering industry-leading high-end turnkey homes and prestigious commercial projects.
Fronted by brothers Ciaran and Aidan O’Callaghan and based in scenic Castleisland, County Kerry, the family-run business has in the nine short years since its inception forged a stellar reputation for invariably meeting if not exceeding client expectations.
The siblings possess a genuine love of construction and their passion for their work shines through on each project undertaken, with every building an embodiment of inspired workmanship, stylishly crafted to the very highest standards possible, both structurally and aesthetically, the finish always breath-taking. Little wonder O’Callaghan Brothers has become the contractor of choice for high-end residential projects as well as an array of commercial, leisure, retail and schools projects throughout the Kingdom and into bordering counties!
Before founding O’Callaghan Brothers in 2011., Ciaran and Aidan both received Honours Degrees in Construction Management from LIT and had been employed as a site manager and site foreman respectively, gaining invaluable practical experience before the economic crash brought construction to its knees.
The brothers realised that there was a niche in the local market for a building contractor with a keen emphasis on high-quality work. “We decided to set up something solid from the word go and quality has always been at the heart of the business,” Ciaran reflects.
“In the beginning we concentrated on small projects like extensions and it grew steadily to the point where we were soon taking on houses and schools. The growth was natural and I believe it derived from us always being ourselves, being approachable and transparent, dealing directly with clients and being upfront and honest with them.”
Both directors are imbued with a great work ethic and this is wholly apparent from looking at any of their completed projects. Take a look at the photographs accompanying this editorial and you’ll sense the passion the O’Callaghans have for construction. It’s never far from the surface…
“Even when I’m on holidays, I find myself looking into construction sites and studying buildings,” Ciaran reveals. “I have a genuine love of construction and it’s something you can’t switch off.”
This enthusiasm is expressed in all the company’s work. High-end, one-off residential homes currently account for about 60% of the workload but O’Callaghan Brothers are equally as comfortable taking on any type of commercial project. Before Christmas, for example, they completed work on The Birches – a stunning new-build, twelve-bedroom Bed & Breakfast at the heart of Killarney.
In 2018, they delivered an extension at Muire gan Smál Presentation School in Castleisland, which was for a beautiful new ASD unit complete with sensory room and sensory garden.
“We have a very good mix of domestic and commercial work now, which is ideal really as it means we aren’t over-relying on one area,” says Ciaran. “We get a lot of referral work from previous jobs and we’ve built up good relationships with engineers as well. We’ve developed a good reputation and the business is in a strong position at the moment.”
Direct employment is generated for a team of seven as well as a substantial number of tried-and-trusted subcontractors who meet the exacting high standards demanded by Ciaran and Aidan – two men who have made a point of surrounding themselves with good people. “We stay loyal to our subcontractors and stick with a small group of select people,” Ciaran confirms.
“It’s all about a high-quality finish – you need that or you won’t get repeat work. Close attention to detail is vital and you need to be there on-site yourself, dealing with clients face to face.” Indeed, the O’Callaghan brothers are both on site all the time and make themselves readily available to clients before, during and after the construction phase. “You have to be available 24/7. If you get a phone call or a text from a client at 11pm on a Sunday night, you have to listen and respond to them.”
Although running a contracting business is obviously demanding and stressful, Ciaran admits he derives a lot of job satisfaction from his work: “When we are working on a high-end project and we bring that quality finish, that’s where we get the job satisfaction from. When you love what you do, you enjoy delivering a quality project.
“It’s always nice to see the buildings as we move about the county and to know that we completed those buildings to the very best of our ability.”
When you set such high standards and invest so much of yourself into every project, how difficult is it to also sustain O’Callaghan Brothers as a viable commercial entity? “It’s challenging, but we like a challenge. You could focus on the negatives and the hardships – meeting insurance costs, etc. – but we are able to provide an excellent service, whilst remaining competitive and enjoying our work.
“There has been a steady pick-up in the economy and things seem to be improving year on year. We’re getting busier and there seems to be plenty of work out there.
“This business has grown steadily by about 20% per year and it will grow again in 2020,” Ciaran continues. “It could grow by a lot more but we want to make sure the growth is controlled and sustainable and that our quality levels are maintained and managed. We’re in this for the long term. We each have three kids coming up and it would be great to one day hand a reputable business on to the next generation.”
At the time of writing, O’Callaghan Brothers had ten high-end residential homes at various stages of completion, including work in Killarney, Castleisland and Abbeyfeale. Ciaran says he couldn’t ask for a better business partner and colleague than his brother, Aidan:
“It’s great working with him because at the end of the day you always know he’s got your back,” the personable Kerry contractor concludes. “We always got on well and we work well together and that strong relationship is another strength of the business.”
One of many strengths.
O’Callaghan Brothers Ltd.,
Tel: 086 3582372 / 085 7302696
Email: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, May/June 2020, Vol 6 No 3