BACON FACTORY DEMOLISHED
The final nail in the coffin of meat production in Mitchelstown was hammered in this week as work continued on demolishing the famous Galtee bacon factory at Cahir Hill. The works started a few weeks after the sale of parent company Breeo Foods to the Kerry Group was confirmed in March, a month which also saw the Save Galtee Action Group (SGAG) concede defeat in their attempt to save the plant.
The group’s ten month history often grabbed headlines in their attempt to save the Mitchelstown brand. Formed by Fianna Fail TD Ned O’Keeffe last June following the announcement by Breeo Foods that production was to stop, the initial meeting during which the group formed was a poorly attended affair in Paki Fitz’s Bar, Mitchelstown.
Commenting at the time County councillor Kevin O’Keeffe noted how the low turnout reflected on how Breeo chairman Jerry Henchy had “broken the will of the town.” The controversial call to boycott the Dairygold-sponsored Mitchelstown Good Food Festival was made in this first meeting, during which it was also suggested that the Dairygold brands be boycotted in an attempt to hit the parent company’s pockets.
The food festival was a success and largely unaffected by the boycott call, but SGAG continued to call on consumers to ignore the Galtee brands, with signs erected on the outskirts of Mitchelstown championing their cause. A public demonstration outside the gates of the plant was somewhat overshadowed when media attention focused on Deputy O’Keeffe’s absence from two high profile Dail votes, rather than the plant’s closure.
The group did a lot of work behind the scenes, however. A delegation from the group met with Minister for Agriculture, Food and Science Mary Coughlan, CEO of Board Bia Aidan Cotter and CEO of Enterprise Ireland Frank Ryan in Dublin to express their concerns and plead with shareholders to use the influence they had to put a halt to the closure.
Despite their ambitions, which many felt were doomed from the start, the SGAG went about their efforts in a pragmatic fashion, and attempted to dissuade shareholders from going along with the closure by highlighting the possible negative ramifications in outsourcing the product and selling the brands. The group realised that sentimentality would not save a business and sought to show those with an investment in the company that alternative business plan that would prove profitable were viable.
All this was in vain, however and despite some assertions from people within the SGAG, the group has all but given up hope of reviving the Galtee brand as many generations knew it. The demolition work will signal the end of Galtee meat production, a once proud Mitchelstown tradition that provided employment for generations of local men and women.
Thursday 10th April 6:32pm