Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 42)
Austin Cregan, retired creamery manager, wrote an engaging and informative article about creameries for the Grange book. Austin charted the history and evolution of the creamery from the 'Travelling Creamery' to the co-operative movement which saw the establishment of rural creameries throughout Ireland that many readers will remember. By the advent of this century, the rural creamery had ceased to operate, and creamery buildings disappeared from the landscape or were, in many cases, adapted for other purposes.
In his early career, as a UCC graduate, Austin managed a travelling creamery in County Clare before taking over as manager of the Tullybrackey Creamery and subsequently as manager of Greybridge Creamery, where he remained until his retirement in 1996.
Austin charted the history of the Grange Creamery, which operated from around the turn of the twentieth century until the early 1920s. The fact that a creamery had operated in Grange was, probably, news to many readers of the Grange book.
The following are extracts from Austin's article:
The travelling creamery was built onto the chassis of a Ford V8 lorry. At first, a steel floor was welded onto the chassis, and a timber structure was fitted to the steel floor. This formed a complete enclosure. Two doors were then fitted, one at the back and
one at the front on either side of the timber enclosure. An opening was cut out, low down near the rear door, to allow the cans of milk to be poured into a container attached to weighing scales. When the manager had weighed and recorded the amount of milk of each supplier, he released it into a three-hundred-gallon holding tank which was bolted to the floor of the truck. A separator was positioned on the floor of the ‘creamery’ behind the cab of the lorry. Piping had been fitted underneath the steel floor to take the milk from the holding tank to the separator. This operation was done by a small milk pump which was fitted for the purpose. The cream flowed into cans placed under the cream outflow chute, and the separated skim milk was pumped out to a drum, which was attached to a weighing scales, to be collected by the supplier when he pulled around to the other side of the ‘traveller’. The truck driver did this part of the operation. He also looked after the separator and milk pumps as well. The whole operation was powered off the drive shaft of the truck.
A whole new era commenced with the introduction of pasteurisation by the Department of Agriculture in 1967. An order was made that all milk for human consumption had to be preheated to 75-80 degrees centigrade. The travelling creamery became obsolete, and small branches were built to accommodate suppliers in the more populated areas. Others diverted to the central creamery, and the very small suppliers ceased production altogether. This method of milk separation finally ended as did a simple way of dairy farming life.
The milking machine took over from milking by hand, the bigger farmers couldn’t get on without automation. My own father had a milking machine in Manister in 1947/48, when I was just a young fellow. They were available for a time before then, but for not very long. In the early days of automated milking, the quality of milk did not always improve - in fact, the opposite was the outcome in some cases - this was because farmers didn’t clean the equipment adequately after milking. Rubbers, buckets and other parts, coming in contact with the milk, needed to be thoroughly cleaned. Otherwise, there was a significant risk of contaminating milk as it flowed through the equipment from cows. Over time, people became more aware and more expert.
The building of Tullybrackey Creamery commenced in 1927. There was a problem in boring for water, but, eventually, a sufficient supply was found at a depth of eight hundred and eighty feet. The creamery commenced operations in 1930. Work at the
creamery commenced in the morning at seven-thirty, and it was eleven o’clock in the morning before all suppliers had delivered milk. In the summertime, the creamery was taking in between 3,500 and 4,000 gallons of milk a day - a lot of weighing, separating and testing, indeed. The creamery was a separating station and didn’t make butter or cheese. Each day, twelve to fifteen cans of cream were collected by lorry, around midday - the cream was taken to Greybridge and placed in vats, where it was cooled down quickly. When rationalisation came in 1975, machinery was dismantled at Tullybrackey, which was reduced to a milk intake station only, with Greybridge operating as the principal station, with all business of the suppliers transacted there. Tullybrackey Creamery closed its door finally in 1979.
Grange Creamery was founded as a Co-Operative Dairy Society at the turn of the twentieth century and operated until the early 1920s. The first chairman of the Co-
Operative was James O’Connell, Grange Hill, whose son John was the member of the committee in Greybridge, representing Tullybrackey. They lived at Grange Hill where the O’Sullivan family now reside (not to be confused with Lough Gur House). Mr J Lundon was the first manager at Grange (1907/1908), followed by Mr TM Manly in 1910, Mr W Grogan in 1915 and Mr Wm O’Brien in 1920. Mr MJ Harnett (later at Manister Creamery) became the manager in 1924, followed by Mr P Hickey in 1927.The manager’s residence was the house where Mrs Annie O’Keeffe subsequently resided for many years. When the creamery closed in the late 1920s or early 1930s, it was bought by James Connolly NT. He converted it into three
residences where the Hynes, O’Connell and Ryan families now reside. The former creamery building (now three private houses) is listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (Reg No 21903201), the category of special interest being “architectural”. The NIAH’s recorded details of the ‘building’ include the following - Detached nine-bay two-storey former creamery, built c. 1890. Now divided into three private houses. The former creamery is a notable feature in the landscape. Converted into three houses in the early twentieth century, it still retains its overall form. The building forms part of a group of related structures with the former school and butter-making building in Upper Grange. (www.buldingsofireland.ie/niah).
A way of life that will never be seen again came to an end with the closing of creameries. Similar impacts arose from the closure of rural post offices and local shopping outlets. Back in the 1930s through to the 1960s, a store of information was collected at the creamery. In those times, radios were scarce, and many people did not buy newspapers. Those who had access to such media, passed on information gleaned to others, whether in respect of war events, results of hurling matches, local gossip, birth, deaths and marriages, and indeed about national and world news in general. When farmers or farmers’ boys came home, the first question asked of them was, “Any news at the creamery?” How life has changed since then; a unique and simple way of living is never to be experienced again.
Austin's book article contains much more history, and a full reading is highly recommended.
Next week (week 43) we will suggest another book article for reading.
Kind Regards to All.
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