PARISH CO-OPERATIVES Liscarroll and Churchtown Creameries

In view of the special conference taking place in Churchtown Community Centre to honour the United Nations Year of the Cooperative, it is only fitting to look at the history of the cooperative movement in Churchtown and Liscarroll. Liscarroll Co-op Dairy Society was registered in December 1890 and the forty shareholders raised the £400 needed to set up the operation.  A site for the ‘factory’ was secured from John Lane (whose farm was afterwards owned by the late John Paul Guiney).  Sir Horace Plunkett addressed a meeting in 1891 in which he extolled the co-operative movement. Mr. William Buckley, great grandfather of Dermot (now living in Dromina) was the main contractor with the stone coming from Wigmore’s (now Paddy Barrett’s quarry). Net profit from the first years trading was 152.11.6 (£.s.d.) according to the auditors Messer’s Scotts and Anderson.

During the 1930s Liscarroll entered into an agreement with the neighbouring Freemount Dairy Society.  Under the terms of this gentlemen’s agreement, Freemount undertook to purchase all Liscarroll’s milk and the making of butter ceased in Liscarroll.  This agreement remained in force until 1971 when Liscarroll merged with Ballyclough Co-op, and henceforth was merely a branch of Ballyclough.  The main activity of the creamery was the purchase of milk from the farmers.  Other activities which came on-stream included sales of animal feedstuffs and fertilisers.  Later again agricultural machinery such as a mover, reaper and binder, thresher and combined harvester were provided to hire out to farmers as needed. Ballyclough finally closed the store in the late 1980s.

Churchtown Creamery was founded on 23rd March 1889 and was not technically a cooperative but operated as such. Churchtown Creamery was owned by a group of local farmers operating as the Churchtown Dairy Factory Company.  Its first manager is believed to have been a Mr (later Professor) Lyons. He was succeeded by a Mr O’Callaghan who held the post until 1893. He was succeeded by M. Rahilly, who was succeeded in 1895 by T.E. Barrett. He remained until 1897. An important later manager was William O’Connor of Burton. Peter Curtin became manager of the Creamery in 1925. Michael Aherne was manager from 1929-71; initially, he was unable to find accommodation and so he lived over the Creamery store for some time. James Doody succeeded him and held the post until 1975. Michael Casey was manager from 1975 until the closure of the Creamery on 31st December 1982.

Up to the mid-1940s, workers at the factory assembled wooden boxes, which, lined with greaseproof paper, were filled with 56 pounds of butter for export to the United Kingdom. In its early years, Churchtown and Castlecor creameries had a contract with the British Government for cheese manufacture for the use of British troops in India. The cheese was taken (in butter boxes) by Denny ‘Booney’ O’Sullivan to Buttevant station on the first stage of its lengthy journey. Patsy O’Connor retired in 1948 after 50 years’ service. He was replaced by Bill O’Flynn, who remained at the Creamery for 35 years. Tom Treacy retired in 1945 and Jackie Flynn replaced him until he resigned in 1949. Patie Fehan, who replaced Jackie Flynn, retired in 1980. Michael O’Keeffe was one of the earliest employees to take in the milk from the suppliers and local man, Jack O’Mahony, followed him in 1939. Research for this article provided by Dónal Ó Cáinte in relation to Liscarroll Creamery and from The Annals of Churchtown in relation to Churchtown Creamery.