Fifty years of friendship

The friendship between Colm O’Donnellan and Tony Joyce has survived thirty five years in business and is stronger than ever.

O’Donnellan & Joyce auctioneers started building its foundations about 50 years ago when Colm O’Donnellan and Tony Joyce became friends. Little did they know that one day they would be celebrating 35 years in business. Celebrating the big 3-5 this September means this has been a landmark year for the business duo. O’Donnellan and Joyce became friends at a very young age.

Sport was, and still is, their main interest, with Colm’s main focus being on rugby and Tony spending his time on the soccer pitch. From the very start there were clear differences between these two — Tony being the reserved introvert and Colm most certainly the outspoken extrovert. Tony believes “it is the balance that we needed to make this work, if we were both the same we definitely would not have made it this far”. Due to the personality balance there is an air of calm at the O’Donnellan & Joyce offices - one certainly balances out the other.

In the late seventies and early eighties both Colm and Tony were working for auctioneers in Galway city. In 1982 they decided to bite the bullet and start their own business, opening the doors at No 5 Mary Street, Galway. “When we started people genuinely thought we were mad,” Tony Joyce recalled.

“There was a recession and we were going into property. We knew we would have to work hard and go above and beyond all the time. It was probably the best place to start because if you can survive a recession you can survive most things. When we started it was Colm and me and we hired Jacinta Elwood as our receptionist, we had no phone and would use my uncle’s across the road, things were so different back then but we made it work because we had to.”

In the beginning they worked mostly in lettings and private treaty sales. Back then they worked long hours and weekends. But with youth and hard work on their side there was little they could do but succeed. Shortly after this they developed a partnership with O’Malley Construction, selling new developments in Galway. This is a partnership that still exists today. Many years after Colm and Tony had developed their private treaty sales, they handed over the reins to the next generation with Tony’s daughter Kate and Niall Browne taking over. This allowed Tony and Colm to focus their attention on other aspects of the business. Private treaty is still a huge part of the business, with a large number of developments in the works with companies such as Burkeway, O’Malley Construction, JRBOC, Renaissance property, and Kinport in 2018. Although there is a plethora of new developments, private residential sales are on par with these. When buying or selling your home through O’Donnellan & Joyce private treaty you are guaranteed a single agent dealing with your property and the same service which has been provided since 1982. Customer service is a key part of their ethos. “No property is too big or too small,” explained Niall Browne. “We understand how important it is for any client buying or selling property, for us a happy customer is our ultimate goal.”

The business is divided into three different departments — auction, private treaty (sales and lettings ), and valuations. Colm decided to focus more on the auction side of the business, and this allowed Tony to do more valuations. Tony believes that local knowledge, national identity, and international profile form the template for a successful business. Colm and Tony, with their staff, have a vast amount of knowledge not only in Galway but also all along the Wild Atlantic Way — something they have been working on for some time. O’Donnellan & Joyce auctions started on the Aran Islands in 1984 with the sale of land and a pub. Although it was a small auction, Colm says: “It is definitely one of my highlights over the past 35 years, everyone needs to start somewhere and it was a fabulous start.” The auction was held outside in the summer and is a far cry from the auctions held today. This week alone there are more than 70 properties going under the hammer, trailing the west coast of Ireland from Donegal to Limerick. And there are two more auctions coming up before the end of the year, taking place on November 10 and December 14. As the auctions grow, the business is expanding across the country.

Both Colm and Tony are fully qualified members of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI ) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS ), which is internationally recognised. As a consequence, their expertise in all areas of the valuation process, including professional standards and ‘Red Book’ valuations, is recognised on a local and national basis.

“As well as progressing the business we had to take the time to progress ourselves also, by studying and doing exams,” Tony Joyce said. O’Donnellan & Joyce auctioneers provide detailed valuations and informed property decisions in all areas of the commercial and residential property market.

O’Donnellan & Joyce auctioneers was recently featured on the RTE One series Find Me A Home. RTE followed clients buying properties through the auction process. This is the second time O’Donnellan & Joyce has appeared on the show. “When we were contacted about being involved we knew it was a great opportunity for us to not only showcase our business, but also Galway and the west of Ireland,” Colm O’Donnellan said. “It was a new experience for all of us in the office and something we can look back on in years to come.” You can catch up on the episode on the RTE player.

Like most businesses, it is the people who make the business. O’Donnellan & Joyce has 17 full time staff but there are three staff members who stand out. Miriam Keane, Mary Fahy, and Niall Browne have spent their professional lives working at O’Donnellan & Joyce auctioneers. They have progressed through the ranks and the three of them have done every job there is.

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