On Sunday 16th Sept-ember, Milford Historical Society hosted the unveiling of a comme-morative plaque on the site of the former Milford Creamery. Monsignor Michael O’Gorman cele-brated Mass which was dedicated to those con-nected to the creamery, their families and the wider community. The following is the text of the homily given by Monsignor O’Gorman.
“Milford Historical Society, through their hard work and research, has given us the opportunity to celebrate a very important event in the life of this community. After Mass this morning we will witness the unveiling of a plaque that will remind us from here forward of what took place 131 years ago and what for many of those years has been such a focal point and much appreciated establishment for the community.
It all began in 1887, which was only 40 years after the Great Famine that caused such havoc to our island. It is not difficult to imagine what life must have been like during those 40 years. While it was a time of pain and challenge, brave minds and hearts did so much to open the door to a better future and from that dedication and commitment places like Milford Creamery came to be. The founding manager, a man of insight, courage and hope was Mathew J. Murphy. We are most grateful to him and so glad that his grandson Mahon Murphy is with us today to be the person to unveil the plaque. This year is the hundredth year anniversary of the creamery becoming a Co-op. This ongoing development of the creamery was not an easy task especially when 27 years down the road, the Great War (1914-1918) broke out causing untold devastation to all Europe. As that experience ended the War of Independence (1919-1921) began and as you know we had many visitors who were not welcome guests.
In journeying through Milford the first time they decided to do here what was done in many places. Their emphasis was the destruction of co-operative creameries. While doing some damage it was not complete, but when they came back on November 26th, 1920, the destruction of the creamery was very significant. What took place was a massive financial blow to the local com-munity and left a lot of people unemployed. However, the spirit and dedication of the people was not broken and so the recovery began and much progress was made.
Milford Creamery was very much a focal point for those of us who were so well served by what it offered. As a result the memories are many and we feel privileged to have them. Almost everything that was needed – except drapery – was available to the farming community and the employment it offered was a blessing for many local families. As we travel down memory lane we are reminded of the threshing machine, potato spraying machine, coming to the creamery with a bag of oats to be crushed or taking home the bag of meal, parata etc., or going in for a pound of butter and watch Danny O’Donnell (R.I.P.) putting the butter paper on each pound skillfully and fast. Coming to school in the morning – except during winter time of course – the village was packed with people and carts drawn by various sorts and sizes of animals, lined up from ‘98s to Gene O’Mahoney’s and back the bridge, all awaiting their turn to deliver the milk. If you happened to be waiting for the milk at the back of the creamery you would be exposed to many a hurling game, especially if Cork had beaten Limerick or Tipperary the day before. There were sliothars flying in all angles. As we unveil our Commemorative Plaque this morning we do so with pride for it will always renew our gratitude in the generosity, dedic-ation and commitment of those who came before us. Today and every day we pass by with grateful heart.”
Following the Mass, Joanne Gould, Piper, led Monsignor Michael O’Gorman, Mahon Murphy and the large congregation to the site of the old creamery where Mr. Mahon Murphy, a grandson of the founding manager, Mathew J. Murphy unveiled the plaque. In the course of his address Mahon spoke of his grandfather’s various roles in the community: Postmaster, Secretary of the local Land League Branch and of, in 1887, taking on the role of founding manager of Milford Creamery. Mahon recalled his own father Michael recollecting the burning of Milford Cream-ery and other atrocities carried out by Crown Forces.
Following the blessing by Monsignor O’Gorman the fine gathering of people adjourned to the local community hall where refreshments were served. Milford Historical Society would like to thank Monsignor Michael O’Gorman and Mr. Mahon Murphy for their central roles on this very special occasion. Many thanks to Joanne Gould who did a superb job playing the pipes. Thanks also to Milford Church Choir, Sacristan, Marie Horan, Ellen Curtin Russell who did the readings and to Paddy O’Brien and Eamon Newman who took up the gifts. A huge thank you to the stewards who kept everyone safe and traffic free flowing. A special mention also to Gerard Falvey for his photography. Sincere thanks to the Social Committee of Mil-ford Community Council who catered superbly for the occasion. The His-torical Society are indebted to Kerry Foods who permitted the installation of the commemorative plaque on their premises and who contributed most generously to the cost. Special thanks also to Dromcollogher Credit Union and friends of the Milford Historical Society for their contributions. The whole project would not have materialised without the financial support of our parent body Milford Community Council for which we are most grateful. Finally, sincere thanks to Liam O’Connor and his staff at Curchtown Memorials, Newcastlewest for their splendid work on the design and installation of the commemorative plaque.