History of Rearcross
To describe the events that have led to the setting up of Rearcross Food Centre, one must go back over a hundred years to the foundation of the Co-operative Movement by Sir Horace Plunkett. It was in 1894 that Plunkett, a man of vision, founded the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (IAOS). This was the umbrella organization that was instrumental in setting up co-operative creameries all over Ireland in the years that followed.
The building of the co-operative creamery in Rearcross was begun as early as 1903 and Rearcross Co-Operative Society opened for business in the following year. The first manager was a Mr. Riordan. Initially there were thirty shareholders – nearly all local milk-suppliers. This number increased to 100 in time, as dairy farmers realized the benefits the co-op was bringing to the area.
At full strength, it employed twenty people and was large enough to process a throughput of 1,000 gallons of milk a day. The by-products, such as cream, butter and skim milk allowed it to diversify and became an integral part of the sales of the co-op.
At the height of the War of Independence, in 1920, the co-op was ransacked and set on fire by the Black and Tans. However, due to the heroic work of the management committee and of the local people, it was re-built in 1921 and normal trading resumed.
In the 1940s, a Meal and Grain Store was added at the Newport side of the main building. This was a great boon to the local community. By initiatives like this, the cooperative shielded the local community from the worst effects of the Emergency, during World War Two. Under various managers, such as Tim Kennedy, Tom Downes and Brendan Owens, the co-op had its ups and downs over the years but it remained true to its original aim of serving the community of Rearcross.
In the 1960s, poor economic conditions forced its amalgamation with Cappamore Creamery. The move saw a downgrading of its activities and under the new regime; it became merely a Farm Supplies’ Depot. It retained this status even after Dairygold Co-operative Society had taken over the management of the premises in the 1980s. However, the depressed economic conditions of that period, as well as rationalization plans, sadly meant that the entire plant had to close.
In 1996, Dairygold sold part of the premises, including two of the old creamery buildings, to Tipperary Slieve Felim Holidays Co-operative Society, a group founded in 1991, to promote in rural tourism and small enterprise development in the Slieve Felim area. The chance to expand in the latter area came in 2006, when the North Tipperary County Enterprise Board (NTCEB) offered to co-operate with the Society in founding a Food Centre in the creamery premises. The offer was grabbed with both hands by the committee of management of the co-op, whose name had been changed to Slieve Felim Voluntary Community Development Cooperative Society Ltd. Plans were put in place and construction began in 2008. The funding of the project was guaranteed by Enterprise Ireland, by the NTCEB, with a substantial local contribution thrown in by the Slieve Felim Co-op. It was an enormous undertaking. Thanks to the initiative and drive of Ms. Rita Guinan, CEO of the NTCEB, and of her assistant CEO, Ms. Eleanor Forrest, it succeeded.
The brand new premises of Rearcross Food Centre were officially inaugurated by Minister Batt O’Keefe in October 2010 and since then have been open for business.
North Tipperary Food Works is a community initiative backed and facilitated by the leading economic agencies in North Tipperary including the Tipperary North County Enterprise Board, North Tipperary County Council and Tipperary LEADER Group.
The food centre was built as a response to exploit the food sector in North Tipperary where it was found there was a serious lack of food grade industrial workspace in the area. An independent feasibility study was carried out by the Tipperary North CEB in 2005 to determine the achievability of developing a business model for the establishment of a viable integrated food enterprise centre in North Tipperary.
The group led by the TNCEB has organised finance from the appropriate agencies and worked tirelessly to create and build the state of the art commercial food centre that stands in Rearcross today.
If you have any questions please contact us.