Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Friday, October 14, 2022

Upcoming Lecture : Private Creameries, a little-known aspect of County Waterford rural economy 1886-1937 by Proinnsias Breathnach


The popular perception of creameries in Ireland associates them with cooperatives. However, most of the early creameries were privately-owned, and as late as 1920, almost half of all of Munster’s creameries were still in private ownership. This was particularly the case in County Waterford where, of the 30 creameries established between 1886-1900, 28 were privately-owned. This illustrated lecture gives a detailed account of the initial waxing of the county’s private creameries and their subsequent decline, with the last private creamery closing in 1937. There are fascinating stories behind many of these creameries and the people involved, such as the remarkable Dungarvan-based entrepreneur Annie Sheehan. These stories will be a key focus of the presentation. Ultimately, the late-arriving cooperatives came to exert control over the industry, with a lot of state support, bringing an end to this little-known facet of Waterford’s creamery history.

Proinnsias Breathnach is originally from Dungarvan, where his first paid summer job as a school student was in Dungarvan Co-op. He studied for his BA degree in Geography and Economics at University College Dublin, moved to Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada for his MA and completed his PhD (on the diffusion of the cooperative creamery system in Ireland up to 1920) in what is now called Maynooth University. He began lecturing in Geography in Maynooth in 1972, and although now officially retired, remains attached to the university with emeritus status. His specialist field is economic geography, with a particular focus on the spatial aspects of economic development, especially industrial geography, foreign investment and regional development. He is currently working on a book on the historical geography of creameries in Ireland.

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