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Re: Bacon factory

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Posted by Johnny Mee on August 14, 2002 at 15:47:05:

In Reply to: Re: Bacon factory posted by spiceloft on August 10, 2002 at 13:14:15:

Background to Castlebar Bacon Factory. The factory, I understand, was built on Lord Lucan's farmyard, in fact, one part of the farmyard was known as the 'Bull Yard' so there would have
been some buildings in this location prior to the setting up of the Bacon Factory. The factory was originally established as a co-operative and one of the prime movers in the project was Fr. Hughes, a priest in Islandeady. First secretary of the company was Thomas H. Gillespie, the then editor of the Connaught Telegraph, and grandfather of the current editor, Tom Gillespie. This was possibly around 1917/1918. The factory probably went into production in 1919 and its first manager was Joseph Edward Prosser. He is buried in the Church of Ireland cemetery, Westport Road, Castlebar (opposite the County Clinic). Succeeding managers included George Boyden, grandfather of George O'Malley, Mountain View, Castlebar, and Owen O'Malley, Flower Shop, Mountain View. Other managers later on were Mr. De Jong, Holland; Mr. East Zwanenberg, also possibly from Holland (he had son, Brian Van), Mr. Danclesfen, Blair Holt, Jim Brennnan, Charlie O'Toole, Roger Connolly and Tadhg O'Driscoll, who was the last manager before the closure of the factory in the mid-1980s. In addition to killing pigs and curing bacon, the factory became famous for the quality of its sausages and puddings. Beef was also processed in the factory and during the war years, 1939/1945, turkeys were killed, plucked and exported to England from the factory. I plucked turkeys with my late mother at 4 old pennies a turkey, which, incidentally, was the entrance to the County Cinema on Spencer Street at the time. Rabbits were also skinned and processed in the factory for export. Mrs. Catherine Redmond,McHale Road,Castlebar, now aged 96, was in charge of this section. The making of powder puffs was also tried in the factory, but my recollection is that this initiative never really took off. Some great characters worked in the factory over the years and its closure was a shocking blow to the workers, farmers and businesses in Castlebar . . . another victim of so-called rationalisation. At the height of production close on 600 workers were employed in the bacon factory. I could go on a great deal more about those men and women, committed and dedicated workers. Most of the history of the Bacon Factory has been well documented in past issues of Castlebar Parish Magazine. Incidentally, Frank Griffin, Station Road, paymaster in the factory, is still going strong at 95.

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