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Friday 21 July 2017

Bridging the gap to Moate Mart memories

Bronagh Leonard, Mayo with Kate Downey, Athlone and Tommy Gallagher, Donegal at the Macra Na Feirme Fundraiser 'I'm a Macra Member Get me out of here'. Pictured at the event in Na Fianna GAA clun in Mobhi Rd Glasnevin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Bronagh Leonard, Mayo with Kate Downey, Athlone and Tommy Gallagher, Donegal at the Macra Na Feirme Fundraiser 'I'm a Macra Member Get me out of here'. Pictured at the event in Na Fianna GAA clun in Mobhi Rd Glasnevin. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Claire McCormack

There were some serious celebrations in the Westmeath village of Moate at the launch of Moate Mart Memories - a collection of old stories and photographs of what was once one the busiest marts in the midlands.

Moate had a thriving sales ring throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, and was a Mecca for Dublin and British buyers because of the quality of the livestock reared in its catchment, and the fact that it had a ready-made railway connection to the livestock boats in the Dublin Docks.

The mart was founded back in the early 50s and was run by two local livestock-dealing families - the Dolans and the Conlons - until it closed in 2004.

At one time, Moate Mart used to be mentioned in the same breath as the premier Smithfield Mart on Dublin's northside.

Denis Watson, who helped compile what he describes as a "book about the characters and goings on at the mart", says the demise occurred because of the prevalent economic conditions in farming during the Noughties.

Once the new road network was constructed through the midlands during the "build and build again Bertie years", the railroad connection in Moate became less important for transporting the animals, while the actual mart site itself, like many other marts throughout rural Ireland (think Trim, Edgeworthstown, Maynooth), became a valuable development site. With the mart located in what was becoming another Dublin satellite town, it was inevitable the site would be earmarked for new housing at the time.

However, Denis - along with his friends Paddy Duffy and Martin Dolan - thought the memories and the old mart should not be allowed to disappear, and the characters who worked and traded there should be remembered.

Moate Mart held livestock sales three days a week at its commercial height: Monday for cattle and sheep, Wednesday, pigs, and Friday, weanlings. And under the gavels of well-known local auctioneers, Theo Robinson and Henry McGowan, most of the livestock which went through the ring were destined for the British market.


The auctioneers of course were helped and hindered by all manner of local characters who made a reappearance in this book. What would a mart day be without them?

Friday night's launch was preceded by Mass, which was celebrated by local priests Mgnr Noonan and Liam Farrell in St Patrick's parish church in the town, as a remembrance of all those associated with Moate Mart down through the years, before the official launch of the book in Denise's Gap Inn, which was attended by over 100 guests.

North West Women in Farming Ireland

Dozens of “like-minded” rural women gathered for the first meeting of North West Women in Farming Ireland (NWWFI) in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, last weekend.

The new group is the latest offspring from a current nationwide movement aimed at mobilising women in agriculture to come together and build a new voice.

Manager at Donegal mart Eimear McGuinness, Teagasc education officer Ciara McGowan, Ann Stenning of the South East Women in Farming and guest farmer Eileen Woods all spoke at the event, each sharing their personal experience of women in agriculture.

Organisers Hannah McNelis said the recent establishment of South East Women in Farming Ireland (SEWFI) and West Women in Farming Ireland (WWFI)  inspired them to get involved in their region.

“I set up a group to create an environment for women in the North West to come together and discuss topics that are important both to the farm and the farm family, and allow group members to meet other like-minded women and share their experiences.


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