Paddy The Cope gets a stamp of approval
Anita Guidera A CO-OPERATIVE Society, located in one of the most remote corners of Europe, and its founder have been celebrated with the launch of a commemorative stamp to mark its centenary year.
The Templecrone Co-operative Agricultural Society Ltd in Dungloe, Co Donegal - which became known as 'The Cope' - was founded by Paddy Gallagher 100 years ago yesterday when 14 shareholders each donated half a crown.
That princely sum - less than ?2 today - sowed the seeds of self-sufficiency in a community ravaged by poverty and unemployment on the edge of the Atlantic.
The Cope provided everything from agricultural supplies, to food and clothing in a one-stop shop where credit was available and even sale discounts were given in the form of coins to be spent in the store at a future time.
But the visionary Paddy - who became known as Paddy The Cope - did not stop there.
His personal experience of the hardship endured by potato pickers in Scotland helped him understand the importance of a community taking control of supply and demand.
Over the years he established a knitwear factory, a bakery, a mill, a fishing fleet and a hotel giving employment to hundreds of people. He even harnessed the local river for electricity, years before rural electrification came to west Donegal. In 1945, the original Cope building burned down in a major fire, but it rose from the ashes and today The Cope employs approximately 150 people, while work has just got underway to build a new ?4m builders' providers premises. Marine Minister and grandson of the founder, Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher, said he was proud to have inherited the name and the history.
"Wherever I go I take delight in telling his story. I was even presented with an Icelandic translation of Paddy The Cope's autobiography when I visited Iceland with an EU delegation in 1983," he said.
Seamus Rodgers, who worked at The Cope for 25 years, said Paddy The Cope had "sowed the seeds of the industrial revolution in The Rosses.Undoubtedly, he was a man before his time. The Cope was like a university." Launching the 48c in Dungloe, chairperson of An Post, Margaret McGinley, said it was a fitting way to mark the centenary.