Modern Quarrying

It is always lovely to hear about our quarrymen who have made good in other parts of the world, and a while back Eike Grunwald, whom many of our older industry members will know, let Modern Quarrying know of a visit he had paid to Ireland recently as part of a European vacation. There he caught up with an old friend and colleague Rod Taylor who, some 16 years back was quarry manager at Ridgeview and Rooikraal before emigrating to Ireland.

Modern Quarrying contacted Rod Taylor to ask how this Durbanite ended up in Ireland of all places: “In 2002 at the age of 42, with two small children and one on the way, I decided it was time for a change. I had been working for Lafarge for 20 years and was managing Rooikraal Quarry at the time.

A Dream Come TrueRod Taylor’s dream comes into fruition with the establishment of the quarry.

“Murray Alston, who had been my boss, had already left for the UK and I contacted him and enquired about the job market over there. I hit the jackpot when he sold a crusher to an Irish quarry owner and passed my name on to him,” he says. “A few weeks later I received a call from Frank Harrington asking me to come over and have a look.

“Apart from me battling to understand Frank’s accent, we seemed to get on well together at the interview, and within two months, the Taylor family had moved to Ireland.”

The Harrington Concrete & Quarries and Harrington Concrete (Sligo) group, is one of the largest independent manufacturers of concrete and quarry stone products in the Republic of Ireland.

It is a family-run company, formerly known as Frank Harrington Ltd, with experience in the sand and gravel business for over half a century. The head office was first established in 1971 at Kilkelly, County Mayo, and has grown to incorporate concrete production facilities in Castlebar, Claregalway and Ballisodare.

Killala Rock Quarry

The Killala Rock Quarry in Mulafarry area of Killala County Mayo started operations in January 2005.

Taylor says Ireland was booming during that period, and it wasn’t long before he attempted to open up a quarry of his own. “Armed with a partner, I started the process and drove around Ireland every weekend looking for suitable quarry land. I also placed an advertisement in the local newspaper which earned some response, and went out to investigate.”

Taylor’s partner, Brendan Mitchell, is a native of Ballina County Mayo with various business interests in the UK.

“One of the land sites in the Mulafarry area of Killala County Mayo seemed ideal, so we bought it and started the two-year stringent planning process.”

Discussing this further, Taylor says he was delighted when he finally received the requisite planning permission. “I went out and bought my wife the biggest bunch of roses I had ever seen,” he adds.

“The real difficult part was telling Frank that I was about to leave to start up my own business venture, but he understood and we have remained good friends.”

Killala takes shape

“At this stage it was January 2005, and the equipment and plant we had ordered arrived from the UK. Our work was about to start: haulroads, removing overburden, creating a quarry face and most of all, looking for customers,” Taylor tells MQ, adding that this was the right time to place an advertisement in the local Western People newspaper: 

Killala Rock – new quarry opens for business

A new limestone quarry opened up in the Mulafarry area of Killala County Mayo recently and is now ready to supply the market with crushed stone products and topsoil. It will be trading under the name of Killala Rock Company.

The owners, Rod Taylor and Brendan Mitchell, who is a native of Ballina, are proud of their achievement of moving on site on the 31 January 2006 and were up and running to supply products within a record three weeks. They feel that they have been lucky to get such a dedicated team of employees to help them with this challenge.

Rod has over 25 years’ extensive experience in the quarrying industry and who, until recently managed the quarry in Carrowscoilte for Frank Harrington. He strongly believes that good staff are an integral part of any business and the quarry business is no different.

He will take charge of the day-to-day running of the quarry at Killala, while Brendan will combine this venture with his other businesses in the UK. They say that the planning application was a challenging process as it involved the submission of very detailed drawings and documents as well as various technical reports on environmental impacts of the development. This was handled most professionally by Patricia Calleary, chartered engineer, Ballina, who prepared the application and followed it through from beginning to end.

The owners are delighted that they have received full permission for their operation particularly in light of the new stringent planning regulations being implemented for all quarries.

The quarry is a very welcome addition to the area as it will bring great opportunity for new employment to North Mayo. It is seen as a major boost in an area that has come under some negative limelight in recent times.

In addition to this, it will also create much needed business to suppliers both in and around Ballina and Killala areas and indeed Mayo general.

The quarry is naturally well screened with existing vegetation. In fact, one would be able to drive past and not even know that there was a quarry there. The owners are committed to respecting the landscape and to the restoration and rehabilitation on final future completion.

Both Rod and Brendan are committed to having good, transparent relations and consultation with home owners adjacent to the site and will make all necessary efforts to minimise any impacts affecting them. They are looking forward to meeting all the residents in the area and establishing good neighbourly relations.

– Western People, April 2005

Determined to succeed

Taylor says that he soon found that with the will and determination to strive for prosperity, “I was able to succeed. Although there were many hurdles to overcome and many risky decisions to make, we were there. The booming period called the Celtic Tiger was in full swing and the orders started to flow in. It certainly was a dream come true.” (Celtic Tiger is a term referring to the economy of the Republic of Ireland from the mid-1990s to the late-2000s, a period of rapid real economic growth fuelled by foreign direct investment).

“The Irish economy hit a recession in 2008 with sales dropping substantially and our business being affected. Fortunately, the recovery has picked up pace and things are returning to normal,” he says.

Taylor’s next venture includes a friend of his, who he says is a “computer whiz-kid from Postmasburg, who between us have designed an exciting truck movement weighbridge monitoring system. Installation is quick, the monthly cost is low and it can be installed with or without the knowledge of the dispatch staff.

“It gives the quarry manager or owner a daily printout of the time and weight of each load that left the quarry the previous day, which can be sent to his phone or email or both,” he says. “It is a complete separate plug in from the existing weighbridge software and as such, the printout can be compared with the daily documentation handed in by the despatcher.”

The package is being launched in July this year in Ireland and Rod can be contacted on or by telephone: +00353877561754. He is also available on WhatsApp.

MQ will be writing more on Killala Rock in other issues and thanks Rod Taylor for his time and assistance taken in putting this article together, and to Eike Grunwald for bringing us together.

A short video taken at Killala Rock can be seen on:

Report by Dale Kelly and photographs courtesy Killala Rock Quarry.

Contact Modern Quarrying

Title: Editor
Name: Munesu Shoko
Phone: (011) 622-4770

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Bennie Venter
Phone: (011) 622-4770
Fax: (011) 615-6108