UP to 300 people turned out at the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery, on Friday night last for the launch of a book on the history of Lisavaird Co-Op.
Dan MacSweeney, former CEO of Carbery Group, was to do the honours, but regrettably, due to a family bereavement, he was forced to withdraw. Jerry O’Donovan, the retired general manager of the co-op, stepped into the breach and proved a worthy and able replacement.
In a wide-ranging address, Jerry struck the right chord with his audience, mingling humour with some serious commentary. He was particularly taken by one photograph in the book of two nuns, from Glandore Convent, delivering milk to the local creamery with a donkey and cart.
Jerry wondered why it took two nuns to accompany the donkey, but having carefully examined the demeanour of the donkey, he concluded that the animal was in training and that one of the nuns may have had expertise in that field.
Jerry recounted that when he took over as general manager of the co-op in 1986, the finances of the Society were in poor shape and it took a huge team effort to redress the situation. When it came to the purchase of Carbery in 1992, the co-op’s bankers were concerned that Lisavaird would not have the capacity to fund their share of the deal.
An indication of this concern was that they asked Jerry if the co-op would consider selling their farm at Kippagh in order to avoid further borrowing. As Jerry pointed out, the Society’s finances were making very strong progress at that time and so there was no need to sell off any assets.
This book is the brainchild and creation of Chris Collins, who spent 50 years working with Lisavaird Co-op. On retiring, he was anxious to tell the story while some of the older generation were still in a position to relate their experiences.
As he pointed out, ‘the story of Lisavaird Co-Op belongs to people from all over West Cork and beyond.’ Elaborating, he pointed out that the co-op movement is a community movement and so this book is very much a community effort, with many people contributing very interesting articles.
Michael O’Mahony, who researched and edited the publication, provided some insights into what the reader might expect. Primarily, he said, this was a human story about the people who shaped the co-op’s journey from 1925 to the present time.
Pat Moriarty, general manager, presided over the launch and kept his promise to have the formalities concluded within 30 minutes.
Before the Society’s chairman, Paddy Ryan, brought the formalities to a conclusion, John O’Donovan, Castlefreke, asked for a special thought of appreciation for the personal risk and self-sacrifice taken by the founding fathers in 1925.
The book, which is well illustrated throughout with photographs and images, would make a make an excellent Christmas present for anyone with an interest in Lisavaird or indeed the wider co-operative movement.