Ballinrobe Agricultural Co-operative Society Ltd

Ballinrobe Co-operative Agricultural Society
John Meehan

Following the dark and dim journey through the 19th century, a gradual but consistent development and upsurge of quiet self-confidence gripped the Irish people as we entered the 20th century.

This intellectual breakthrough became almost endemic for the next few decades in every discipline of society through the land.  Amongst the small and medium-sized farmers the co-operative ideas of Horace Plunkett, himself from landlord stock, took an active hold.

In this field Ballinrobe too had its pioneers.  The first communication requesting information regarding the formation of a co-op in Ballinrobe came to the OCOS from Pádraig Cavanagh, NT, Cregduff National School.

Progressive step

ICOS, the umbrella organisation, recorded this as the 22nd Jan 1920 and, in light of the turbulent times, a unique and courageous progressive step.

This was followed by a well-attended meeting in Cregduff School on 6th Feb 1920.   From the result of this meeting, the ICOS was instructed to send out leaflets to Peter Fleming, Liskillen and Michael Jennings, Rahard, with a view to holding meetings in Roxboro and Cloonliffen NSs.  These meetings were duly held on 4th March 1920, and despite the fact that it was a Fair Day in Ballinrobe, the meetings were well attended.

Society established

In a follow-on to those meetings, a further meeting took place on 10th April, 1920 in Cregduff, where, on the foot of a resolution, the Ballinrobe Agricultural Co-operative Society Ltd was established and on 4th May 1920 it was registered with the ICOS.

The officers were as follows:

President: P. Powers, Knockgloss

Secretary:  Pádraig Cavanagh, NT, Cregduff

Manager: Mr. McCarthy

Listed as special members were:

John Burke, Lavally, John Tierney, Gallowshill, Pat Mullaney, Bawn, Patrick Kelly, Gallowshill, John Toole, Cavan, James Tuohy, Cregduff, William Haire, Cregduff and Pádraig Cavanagh NT Cregduff.


The committee then enthusiastically embarked on acquiring premises in Main Street (now the property of J. Gannon and trading as Gannon’s Hotel) and preparing the opening of a retail business, with plans for further developments.

Business flourished to an extent, considering the economic climate, but was bedevilled by litigation concerning sub-standard produce and in many cases failure to honour debts by some customers.

Pig slaughter house

Plans for the development of a pig-slaughtering unit and a storage unit close to the railway station were seriously discussed but never came to fruition.


By 1926 the business was beginning to decline, and some shareholders were trying to recoup their share money.   Patrick Mulrooney took over as manager, but his best efforts failed to arrest the decline.  He was father of the late Joe Mulrooney, long time member of Mayo County Council.

Wound down

By 1928 the Ballinrobe Agricultural Co-op Society was wound up, and with that the ideal of the co-op movement remained dormant until the 1960s when the local Dairy Co-op was established.  This was followed by a Co-op Cattle Mart which, happily, survives today.

Reasons for failure

Three main reasons for the failure of the original project were: a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the co-op ideal by the broader community; the mass exodus of the most revolutionary thinkers of the independent movement; and the covert manoeuvrings of the local business community.



Comments about this page

  • Thanks for sharing. What a pleasure to read!

    By Jacklyn (30/07/2011)

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