Call-out for memories of Drinagh Co-op to mark centenary next year

May 11th, 2022 1:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

Drinagh in an image dated 1928: today the local co-op is a large, multi-purpose co-op with 15 retail units, over 200 employees and an annual turnover of €151m.

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DRINAGH Co-op is gearing up to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

And to mark the occasion an archive of material and a history of the society is being compiled to which West Cork people are being urged to contribute to.

Drinagh Co-operative Creamery Limited was founded in 1923. It was officially registered on November 13th with its office in Drinagh village. At the time, the Irish agricultural industry was completely underdeveloped. Poverty was endemic and emigration was still a blight on the fabric of rural Ireland. Drinagh Co-op was born out of necessity.

Canon John Crowley was the driving force behind the founding of the co-op. For 10 years his involvement was the single most important factor in the development and growth of the society.

The indefatigable Canon Crowley got full support from farmers in the area whose voluntary work was crucial in developing the co-op. The 13 men who were elected to the first committee of management all played important roles in establishing and developing the society.

They were: Charles Bryan, Denis Collins, Cornelius Connolly, James Dullea, RJ Donovan, Charles Ellis, Robert Ellis, Daniel McCarthy, Cornelius McCarthy, Patrick McCarthy, William J Regan, James Young, and Robert Levis, secretary.

The creamery in Drinagh opened on  May 12th 1924 and 2,268 gallons of milk were taken in on that first day. By June the average daily supply had increased to 4,000 gallons.

Initially, Drinagh was to accommodate farmers with land within a radius of seven statute miles of Drinagh Catholic Church.

However, in 1926 it added three branches, Hawthorn, Adrigole and Kilmeen. It continued to expand and at one time had as many as 28 branches spread throughout West Carbery.

A century on, Drinagh is a large, multi-purpose co-op with 15 retail units, over 200 employees and an annual turnover of €151m.

To mark its centenary in 2023, Drinagh is compiling an archive of material and writing a history of the society. Philip O’Regan is leading that project.

Drinagh is appealing for any material or information that may be of interest. Each of the 28 branches has its own individual story. In particular, it is interested in any photographs that people may have.

These photographs need not necessarily be confined to Drinagh Co-op specifically but can be of country life in West Cork over the past 100 years.

• Philip O’Regan can be contacted at [email protected]

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