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Foundation Of Dungarvan Co-op

Dungarvan Creamery

2. Foundation Of Dungarvan Co-op
It was not until 1920 that a co-operative creamery was set up in Dungarvan.  The extensive correspondence records in relation to Dungarvan Co-op in the IAOS files in the National Archives give no indication as to why a group of local farmers decided to set up a co-operative creamery in the town in that year.  It has been surmised that dissatisfaction with the milk price being paid by Shandon Dairies was the main motivating factor.  It was hardly the most propitious of times to set a co-operative, given that the economy was still at a low level following the major slump in prices arising from the ending of the First World War, and also given the unsettled conditions caused by the War of Independence, with many co-operative creameries being destroyed by the Black-and-Tans and widespread disruption of goods transportation.

In any case, a premises was acquired and fitted out at the northwest corner of Grattan Square (backing on to the rear of Shandon Dairies) and Simon Fitzpatrick, previously of Dromtariffe Co-op in Cork was appointed first manager.  The first milk was taken on in May 1921.  The committee of the new co-op clearly were an ambitious group, as a grain mill was quickly installed and began operations in 1922.  The first branch was opened in Old Parish in June 1924, followed quickly by Grange and Clashmore.  Additional milling capacity was added and the new co-op expanded strongly in the late 1920s.  Ned Maher, formerly of Muckalee Co-op in Kilkenny, replaced Simon Fitzpatrick as manager in 1928 and remained in that position until 1954, during which period he was to oversee major expansion of the co-op.

The onset of depression and the Economic War with Britain led to a lull in activities in the early 1930s, and by 1934, there was nothing exceptional about Dungarvan in comparison with the other co-ops in the county, which by that stage included Kilmeaden, Millvale (located between Rathgormack and Carrick-on-Suir), Stradbally & Comeragh Valley (based at Durrow with a branch at Mahon Bridge) and Blackwater Valley at Cappoquin, which supplied milk to Knockmeal.  However, events transpired in that year which paved the way for Dungarvan to move to the forefront of the Irish dairy co-operative movement.

Author: Proinnsias Breathnach

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