Kilbehenny Branch of Mitchelstown Creamery was started up in Kilbehenny in 1928.
The ground on which the creamery stood was a haggard owned by Mrs. Staunton. The
builder was David Moher from Ballygiblin and the contract price was £85.
It was opened by D.J.Barry and the first manager was John Morrison, followed by John
Burke, and then came Pat Condon, Pat Quish, Tom Clancy and finally Batt Begley. The
Creamery brought massive employment to the area both locally and further afield.
L/r Tom Fitzgibbon, Con Carey, Pk O’Mahony, Frank Hogan, Paddy Ahearn
Local historian, Donie Casey, gave me the following very descriptive account of life
in Kilbehenny village during the Creamery days:
‘The milk was weighed and sampled and put through the separator. Farmers then
went to the rear of the building to get their skimmed milk from Mick Jones. This
was used to feed pigs and calves. The cream was piped into churns to be taken to
Mitchelstown Creamery for butter and cheese making. Each farmer had his own Pass
Book and his daily delivery was recorded in it and also in the creamery ledger by
the creamery manager. In the 1950's Pat Quish was one such manager and he was followed
by Tom Clancy and Bat Begley, who was the last manger from the 70's until the closure
in 1982. There was a store at the rear of the creamery where people could get their
supplies of coal, meal, fertilizer, cement, flour, etc. All these items could be
purchased against the proceeds of the milk cheque which came out on 18th monthly.
Kilbehenny had 300 hundred suppliers from the following places: Gerah, Carhue,
Shrove, Kilbehenny, Behenagh, Loughananna, Carrigeen, Knocknagalty, Skeheenarinky,
Black Road, Coolagarranroe, Kiltankin, Ballygiblin, Carrigane, and Cooleregan. Work
was hard, cows were hand-milked, and the 20gallon churns had to be physically lifted
into carts and from there on to the creamery floor. However, people helped each other
and there was great camaraderie and banter during these happy hours. Many a trick
was played on an unsuspecting farmer, but this was taken with good humour and 'revenge
was sweet' t was at the creamery that people learned of births, marriages, deaths
and all sorts of events. If one had grazing to let, cabbage plants or a pony for
sale, a notice was put up at the creamery. At harvest time, anyone who was threshing
on a particular day let it be known to all and sundry at the creamery that he was
having the machine that day. All the local gossip was reported at the creamery and
the common reply to a query regarding the origin of any news item was invariably
'I heard it at the Creamery'.
There were four public houses in the village, Mick Mullins, Dan Casey, The 3
Counties, and O'Farrells. The Forge beside the creamery was operated by Blacksmith
Johnny Guiry and later on by Johnny Connolly. Their job was shoeing animals, welding
etc. There were 3 shops (1) O'Sullivans/ Post office, tended by Ned, (2) Carey's
on the site of the old R.I.C. barracks tended by James and Hannie (3) Mai Mahony
on the Cahir end of the village. Everything could be purchased in these premises
-from pigs heads to needle and threads.
The local cobbler was Jim McKenna and the tailor was Bill Ahearn. 4 bread vans visited
the village daily: Finns, Houihans, Cliffords and Mitchelstown Co-op. There was a
Holy Well at the rear of the quarry, visited annually on 15th August.
Monday was egg day, Rabbits were also bought at the creamery, and the proceeds
from the eggs and rabbits was known as 'pin money'.
The demise of the creamery in 1982 left a huge void for the local shops and the
people generally. So much was lost by the arrival of the bulk tank, which was free
of charge initially, to encourage its usage. People began to shop in Mitchelstown,
and by degrees, business deteriorated in the village of Kilbehenny.’
Progress may have been made, but at what price? Will anyone be able to tell the story
of life like Donie Casey in the future- and will there be any story to tell?
Sincere thanks to Donie for his time and invaluable history of ‘Creamery Days in