1941, Drinagh Co-Op, A Real West Cork Success Story Report 1942 Effects of ‘Emergency’, Attempting to Trucks Driven by Gas from  Irish Anthracite, Visit by Committee Members R. Ellis and T. Sweetnam to Pig Farm of Sandy McGuigan, Cloughmills, Co. Antrim

Sandy McGuigan was reputed to be the world’s largest pig farmers at that time.


1941, Drinagh Co-Op, A Real West Cork Success Story Report 1942 Effects of ‘Emergency’, Attempting to Trucks Driven by Gas from  Irish Anthracite, Visit by Committee Members R. Ellis and T. Sweetnam to Pig Farm of Sandy McGuigan, Cloughmills, Co. Antrim

Sandy McGuigan was reputed to be the world’s largest pig farmers at that time.

Sandy McGuigan was reputed to be the world’s largest pig farmers at that time.

Alexander (Sandy) McGuckian (1895-1952) was born in Cloughmills, Co. Antrim, and as a young man started a piggery on the family farm which, through his expertise in animal husbandry, became the biggest pig farm in the world. He was also a leading expert on grassland management and served on many agricultural and government advisory bodies during his lifetime. The McGuckian family is still active in the pig and farming business on the Drumbare Road.


The next generation of McGuigans:

How John B. McGuckian, hurling enthusiast got on the pig’s back (Ar Mhuin Na Muice), October 28 1999

12:11 AM John B McGuckian, chairman of UTV, is one of Ireland’s most successful businessmen, writes Charlie Weston JOHN B McGuckian is one of the wealthiest people in Northern Ireland and one of the first Catholics to make it big there.That may be why he felt it was time to give something back when the church in Harryville came under siege recently from angry Orangemen frustrated at not being able to march down Portadown Garvaghy Road. Although it’s not his church and he is not overtly political, Mr McGuckian was one of a number of prominent Northern Catholics who turned up at Harryville to lend their support. He may also have been influenced by the fact that three of his brothers joined the Jesuit Order. However, the captain of Northern industry has never spoken about the Harryville gesture and it has not been reported before. In fact, Mr McGuckian is of the view that most of what he does should go unreported. But trying to be intensely private sits uneasily with the range of businesses he is involved in all over the island. He is director of AIB, Unidare and Irish Continental Group, has extensive property interests across the North, heads the family textile business, is chairman of Ulster Television, a former chairman of the Industrial Development Board, and was a ground-breaking proVice-Chancellor of Queen’s University.

Add to that a failed bid to buy Belfast Airport, losses as a Lloyd’s name and court battles with the taxman, and you begin to realise why he arouses such interest in the North. “John B has his finger in every pie. They say he is in everything but the crib, but as far as the media is concerned he likes to keep out of the way,” one observer of the Northern business scene noted. But it is hard to stay out of the limelight when the company of which you are chairman and the largest individual shareholder decides to pay a special dividend and you end up with stg£1.6m out of it. When that company is UTV and is beamed into every home in the North, being a shy multi-millionaire is a hard station. Mr McGuckian has come a long way.

The glamour of the media is a far cry from pig farming in north Antrim, where his family made its money. The family that sired John originated in Cloughmills, near Ballymena, and his father made his money in textiles and by pioneering intensive pig-farming techniques. John’s cousins, Patrick and Alastair, founded the international agribusiness company Masstock.

He was not raised with any airs and graces, and Mr McGuckian makes no attempt to disguise his unglamorous roots. “There’s a lot to be said for having an Antrim accent.” Those who know him say he tends to play up his regional accent. “It is a disarming accent and tends to put people at ease, but it disguises a fairly cunning business approach. His accent is part of his character.” But his “good ol’ country boy” persona is also resented by some business people who see him as shrewd and hard-nosed. John B, as he is invariably referred to, was educated at a Catholic boarding school, St MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower, and at Queen’s University, where he graduated with a degree in economics. At 24 he joined his father’s textile business as a trainee executive.

The father-son relationship was a close one. In the family firm he is remembered as a hard worker who earned the respect of the employees. Within two years he joined the board of Cloughmills Manufacturing. Other clothing firms he owns include Regatta Fashions and Cooneen Textiles. Mr McGuckian moved up a gear when he joined the board of UTV in 1970, following in the footsteps of his late father who had helped found the station. Business Newsletter Read the leading stories from the world of business. Monday to Friday. Enter your Email Address Sign Up He hit the headlines when he replaced the indomitable Unionist figure Brum Henderson as chairman of the broadcasting company. Mr McGuckian and former chief executive Desmond Smyth were unhappy at the management style of Henderson.

The station has been hugely profitable under McGuckian and Smyth, but the situation has come full circle with many now questioning the strategic focus of the group. A lack of commitment to local broadcasting and timid approach to expansion has led one Dublin broker to wonder why UTV bothers being on the stock market: “UTV has no real corporate strategy. They are very unexciting and cut costs all the time but have no strategy for new income.” When McGuckian upped his UTV stake, he was seen as well placed if an expected takeover from Scottish Media went ahead. But takeover talk at UTV subsided when Canadian group CanWest took a 29.9pc shareholding. What the future holds for UTV only McGuckian knows, but it is understood CanWest is anxious for greater links with Dublin-based TV3, where it is the largest shareholder. Mr McGuckian, who will be 60 in November, may be forced by the institutions to come up with a growth strategy for UTV soon.

The Northern industrialist has had a stint as chairman of the International Fund for Ireland. This position brought him into contact with influential Americans and prepared him for his role as chairman of the Industrial Development Board (IDB). He is no longer chairman, but in his years in the position in the early 1990s he steered the jobs agency through the embarrassment of poor results during recession to record job creation success. “He brought a strong private sector ethos to the agency, which had been shackled by a civil service mentality,” one observer noted. As IDB chairman he created controversy when he lost a court appeal to the House of Lords over a tax avoidance scheme. He was forced to pay stg£400,000 and endure criticism from judges. But McGuckian has little need to worry about tax bills. His investments include extensive property interests with large shareholdings in Newry Buttercrane Shopping Centre along with Foyleside in Derry and Abbey Centre in Newtownabbey. As a director of Dublin-based Unidare, he was influential in forcing through a huge acquisition that was opposed by shareholder Dermot Desmond. At AIB, he was one of the directors called on to resign at this year’s agm over the bogus non-resident accounts scandals.

Outside his investments, his time as Queen’s pro-Vice-Chancellor was notable for him setting up an equal opportunities committee there and telling a college gathering: “There absolutely was discrimination in Queen’s University.” But the personality that has won him friends throughout his life has remained as magnetic as ever. “He is a great raconteur, the kind of person everyone is gathered around at a party to hear him tell a joke,” one industrialist said. Another commented: “He’s one of those people who you are pretty sure is a warm guy. You get a warm feeling, but you don’t get close to him.” He works day and night, but is understood to be upset by suggestions that he is a workaholic. “I would be ashamed if I saw myself as that. I believe in balance in life having friends and taking exercise,” he has said. He and his wife Carmel have four children two sons and two daughters. Conscious efforts have been made to avoid lavishing luxury on them just because their father is a multi-millionaire. However, Mr McGuckian has been transferring many of his shareholdings in quoted companies into trusts for his children lately.He lives in the same house he grew up in in the rural setting of Antrim’s Cloughmills and has a second home on the banks of Lough Erne. What spare time he has is spent skiing abroad, and watching horse-racing and hurling at home.


Origin group buys Masstock for €81m ORIGIN Enterprises, in which IAWS holds a 71.4% stake, has bought Masstock Group for a total of £61 million (€81.78m) which includes £30m (€40m) of debt. WED, 23 JAN, 2008 – 00:00 BRIAN O’MAHONY, CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT Masstock has operations in Britain and Poland and provides specialist agronomy services directly to arable and grassland farm enterprises. It services more than 8,000 farmers in Britain and 2,300 in Poland and employs 550 people in delivering that process to its customer base. Since the early 1970s Masstock was involved in development farming systems throughout the world. It was the brainchild of two Northern Ireland brothers, Paddy and Alastair McGuckian. Origin said it will fund the deal through borrowings and that the acquisition will be earnings enhancing from the start.

It has emerged also that the existing management team, led by group chief executive Declan Giblin are to stay on with the group. “Masstock provides system-based solutions directly to more than 10,000 farm businesses throughout Britain and Poland,” said Origin chief executive Tom O’Mahony. This business combines an extensive arable research and development capability with add on sales, said Mr O’Mahony.

Origin is a big player in animal feeds and fertilisers and expects to build those sales as a direct result of the takeover. Leading food analyst John O’Reilly, of Davy Stockbrokers, said: “In addition to Masstock Autonomous growth prospects, there is also potential to add other farm-related services to its existing capability.” He also said the deal, expected to be completed in early February, could add about 7% to his EPS growth forecast of 21.7% for the year. Mr Giblin described the move “as an important milestone in the development of Masstock”. As a result, he said the company would become a core part of a group that is focused on delivering value added to primary sectors of the food industry.



Drinagh Co-Op Creamery, Durrus

There were various private creameries in West Cork in the 19th century and an early Co-Op was set up in Bandon in 1903.  The English Co-ops dipped their toes into Irish waters but withdrew with the advent of the troubles.  The Drinagh Co-Op was set up by Canon Crowley who was a man of considerable talent.  During a strike in Cork which stopped the export of pigs, he chartered boats to export from Bantry. From the 1920s on there was increasing legislation to improve dairy production standards and this assisted the development of Co-Ops such as Drinagh. 

A major influence in establishing the creamery in 1933 was the Church of Ireland Canon Johnny McManaway.  It was largely built by cross community voluntary labour.  The contractor was Cahalanes of Drinagh who built Drinagh Church and the main creamery there.  Work started in 1933 and it opened in the spring of 1934 with the formal ceremony in July.  At the opening which was performed by Fr. Crowley from Drinagh he singled out Canon McManaway for special praise and he set the machinery in motion saying that he regarded Fr. Crowley as a special friend. Farmers gave a week at a time with horses and carts. Gravel was sourced from the strand and rock was quarried east the Ballycommane Road, the ground was soft and took a great deal of fill. It was necessary to register 1,000 cows and guarantee £1,000 over 3 years.  Canon McManaway was also involved in starting the creamery at Dunmanway, and worked closely with Fr. McSweeney. He may have had some involvement in the starting of the creamery in Kilcrohane in 1938 where the prime movers were the National Teacher Mr Fitzsimons and two progressive small farmers Danny Daly of Dromnea and James Daly of Caher.

In  November 1934  Drinagh was expanding the creamery network tendering for new creameries  at Lowertown in Schull and Kealkil.

1935 Father Cotter, P.P., Durrus presented a silver cup to the creamery supplier with the highest average butter fat throughout the previous 12 months. Prizewinner Miss Mary Ward, Coolculaghta, average content 4.15%, runner up James Swanton, Mollogh, Bantry, 3.85%.  She won again the following year.

The report of the opening of the Durrus creamery stated that the most modern equipment available was utilised and its operations beat all expectations. The creamery was opened before those at Caheragh, Kealkil and Bantry and apart from Durrus farmers, others suppliers from those areas sent their milk there on floats carrying 15 or more churns of milk. Included was Eddie Hurst of Beach House, Bantry (now owned by Mrs Wagner) he was known as a very progressive farmer and involved in the Durrus and Bantry Agricultural Shows. He married Miss Shannon of Clashadoo. They are the parents of well known Bantry historian Hazel Vickery. Before the creamery, butter was sold to Jeremiah O’Sullivan’s (Jer the shop) stores for 4d a lb and was packed in 56 lb. boxes.  It went from his store by horse and cart to Durrus Road Station and thence to Cork.  Apart from taking in milk, the creamery operated as a general store where farmers could make purchases against their cheques.  It purchased chickens and turkeys and supplied meal and other farm supplies. The creamery was a huge benefit to the smaller farmers who were extended credit over the winter and this was paid off from the summer milk deliveries. The creamery had a mill which ceased operations during the war, due to a lack of fuel.   It was an important social outlet where news was exchanged and daily contact made. When milk collection at the creamery ceased this was a major loss to the community.  Improvement in 1939 included a new water supply and a milk heater.  In the late 1930 and 1940s Tom Deane (former Dublin Metropolitan Policeman) and J. Clarke from Durrus were on Management Committees of Drinagh Co-Op.  Tom Deane’s brother Barnabas was on the Committee of Management in 1956.  Creamery Managers from the 30s included M. Meigan, Jack O’Sullivan, Mr O’Mahony from 1944, and Sean Keane Dan Hurley.

In 1948 the creamery managers including the Durrus manager had a case before the Labour Court seeking a pay increase to £6 10s a week.  Evidence was given that Drinagh Co-Op was generally doing very well and milk had increased significantly in price, and the management countered that many of the managers have sidelines in the turf and flax industries and pointed out that they were unable to secure the services of a manager in Kilcrohane.  In the end the Court awarded £5 5s.

In 1956 Drinagh Co-Op with the other West Cork Co-Ops set up the South West Cattle Breeding Society.  Up to the early 1970s farmers received the skim milk back which was fed to the pigs and calves.  From that time on all the milk was processed at the Carbery Milk Plant in Ballineen, which the West Cork Co-Ops had set up with Express Dairies and was run by the late Bernie Cahill. In 1991 with the other West Cork Co-Ops it purchased the outstanding 80% interest in Carbery Milk Products Ballineen. 

In its heyday the creamery had 150 suppliers; this has now dwindled to 14 and their milk is collected by bulk tankers for processing in Ballineen. Sadly, both the creamery in Durrus and Kilcrohane are now closed and for sale (2007).  Jim Dukelow, Coomkeen has lived to see the creamery built and closed in his lifetime.

Drinagh is one of the four West Cork Co-Ops who own Carbery Carbery Milk Products:

Carbery Group is a global leader in food ingredients, flavours and cheese.

Carbery Group is recognised as a leading international manufacturer of speciality food ingredients, flavouring systems and as an award-winning cheese producer. We are owned by four Irish dairy co-operatives, employ almost 800 people, and manufacture from 10 facilities worldwide, including Ireland, UK, Italy, USA, Brazil and Thailand.

Our timeline, Carbery since 1965

Carbery was founded in 1965 as a joint venture between four creameries and Express Dairies, UK. Since then we have grown, taking market leading positions in dairy, ingredients and flavours. This timeline explores our journey of growth and significant milestones along the way.

1965  Carbery Milk Products was formed – a partnership between Carbery Creameries (four West Cork dairy co-operatives) and Express Dairies, UK.

Much of the early success was driven by the late Bernie Cahill of Beara.