Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, recently visited Lombardstown village in Co. Cork in advance of the launch of a book by local historian Donie O’Sullivan. 

‘Lombardstown Co-Operative Dairy Society: A Complete History 1890 – 1966’ details the story of the historic Lombardstown Co-Operative and Dairy Society Creamery.

The book was officially launched by Cork county mayor councillor Gillian Coughlan.

All proceeds from the sales of the book are going towards the building of a footpath from Gortroe to Lombardstown, which recently got underway.

“I was brought up on a dairy farm in Lombardstown, just a half a mile from the creamery and spent eight years going to national school, cognisant of the horses and carts around the creamery. I had good memories of the creamery,” Donie told Agriland.

An only son, he was given the option of staying at home to farm or going to secondary school and seeing what choices he had after that. He decided to attend the Patrician Academy in Mallow,

“My parents had to buy me a bicycle so I could get to school and they got that in the creamery shop in Lombardstown,” Donie said.

“The creamery boasted that there was nothing that you could get in a country town that could not be purchased in the creamery stores, making it a one-stop-shop before the phrase was invented.

“It had several different counters in a shopping mall built in the 1920s and bought steam engines, threshers and various other farm machinery that it loaned out to members but also undertook to carry out work on contract,” said the Cork historian.

“The creamery expanded to add numerous processes and manufacturing plants and employed over 80 people at its height.

“In the 1960s it began to show its age and more stringent hygiene regulation forced the creamery to amalgamate with Ballyclough Co-Op on December 31, 1966.

“Thanks to the foresight of its managers, the creamery purchased 17ac of good quality level ground beside the village in 1946 and Dairygold’s ultra modern animal feed mill has been established there, employing over 100 people there at present.”.

After getting a scholarship to agricultural college in Clonakilty, Donie moved into a career in forestry, starting off in Kinnitty Castle and Shelton Abbey and then working in various parts of the county with the Department of Lands as a forester.

When he got married in 1972, he built a house on the home farm in Lombardstown. At the time of his retirement, he was production and marketing manager for Coillte’s southern division.

Cork creamery history

Now 79, Donie is delighted to have captured the co-op history in this book.

“In 2012, I wrote a book on the fatal rail crash that happened in Lombardstown in 1912. Then I compiled a booklet on local heritage,” said Donie.

“When the centenary of the founding of the creamery passed by without being marked, I thought something should be done to highlight its importance.”

Tracking down information on the 31 founders, identifying people in photographs and pinpointing major milestones was a challenging task for the local historian.

“Lombardstown was the second co-op to be founded in the country yet very little was recorded about it. I got a lot of information from minute books in the archives in Mitchelstown. It took me about four years to do all the research,” said Donie.

Plans to erect a wall plaque have been delayed due to planning issues but restored churns are on display in a paved area beside the former creamery.

The book is available at various outlets in Glantane parish and at some Dairygold stores.