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How North Cork creamery helped save fledgling Irish co-operative movement

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Farmers queuing up for milk deliveries outside the Lombardstown creamery in the early 1950s.

Farmers queuing up for milk deliveries outside the Lombardstown creamery in the early 1950s.

Photo of the busy creamery shop front captured during the mid-1950s.

Photo of the busy creamery shop front captured during the mid-1950s.

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Farmers queuing up for milk deliveries outside the Lombardstown creamery in the early 1950s.

corkman

A NEW book detailing the story of the historic Lombardstown Co-Operative and Dairy Society Creamery will be official launched in the village by County Mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan on Saturday, October 30.

Founded in 1890 just a week after Dromcollogher became the first co-op in the country, Lombardstown was the first co-operative in Ireland to be sponsored by the Anglo-Irish agricultural reformer Sir Horace Plunkett.

The failure of the Dromcollogher operation some years later was a sharp contrast to the success of Lombardstown, which played a significant role in saving Plunkett’s fledgling co-operative movement from collapsing.

Over the following decades, Lombardstown continued to prosper, becoming a flagship for the co-operative movement, diversifying into several processes and employing more than 80 people at its peak.

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Around the middle of the last century, a combination of aging buildings and more stringent regulations left the creamery in a position where it would either build a new complex, close down, or amalgamate with Ballyclough. The shareholders chose the latter option, which came into effect on January 1, 1967, and the hardware store, fuel pumps and the agri-sales yard continued to thrive.

In 1982 – thanks in no small measure to the foresight of the Lombardstown management committee who in 1947 purchased a 17-acre land bank in the village – one of the foremost animal-feed manufacturing plants in the country was established there.

This has since been established by new owners Dairygold and has around 100 employees, many of whom are drawn from the local community.

A spokesperson for Lombardstown Community Council said the new book delves deep into the story of the creamery, bringing history to life through its pages of historic photographs and memorabilia stretching back to the late 19th Century.

“The book traces the progress of this illustrious creamery from its founding in 1890 to its progression through the decades to becoming a leader in its field before amalgamations led to the creation of super consortiums,” said the spokesperson.

“It will provide fantastic memories for older citizens and, hopefully, enlightenment to the younger generations. The book will make a marvellous Christmas present for emigrants and locals alike and will also be of interest to anyone interested in the history of the co-operative movement in Ireland.”


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