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Fred Matthews

Past Projects On Our Locality > Clonaslee Co-Op > Interviews

Local man Dick Davis died and Mr Matthews was
Executor of his will and the selling of his farm which he sold to Clonaslee co-op. When Mr Matthews started working as manager he was earning £720 and 5 years later when he finished he was earning £999.

We interviewed Mr Fred Matthews about the starting of Clonaslee Co-op. He was the first manger of the committee and wrote the first cheque. He told us the names of the committee they were, P.D. Brickley Chairman, Fred Matthews Secretary (We interviewed to get this information), Willie Flynn, Donnie Conroy, and Michael Dunne. Ned Smith was the first pig man and Jack Conway was the first miller.
Mr Fred Matthews had to travel from Lough Neagh to the south of Ireland looking at piggery’s. He also had to go to Rath Coop to be trained, but he said that he didn’t learn much there. Donaghmore and Roscrea had a major say in what had to be done. So they employed an architect from Plunkett House (Horace Plunkett was the first founder of the Co-op movement). The architect knew more about doing big houses in Dublin than Piggery’s so he didn’t do a very good job and the pig houses were very expensive and didn’t hold enough pigs only about 1,100. They were cold and pigs need heat so some died.
Mr. Matthews also told us about the shares. It was £25 for a share. Donaghmore bought 1,000 shares. Mr Brickley bought a few hundred shares, and Fred Matthews bought 200 shares. A lot of local farmers and business people bought shares so they all became shareholders.
They were buying pigs from three different places at the same time so they were all bringing in different diseases to the pigs, it was dangerous. The bills that were costing them the most was from vets and drugs.. There was not enough profit being made because of the high bills and not enough staff as there was no money to pay them. At this stage there was no milling plant and Donaghmore supply was unsatisfactory, sometimes wet and late. Then Henry Dunne built our own milling plant and this worked very well with Jack Conway (a former past pupil) being the miller. In 1968 Mr Matthews had a disagreement with the manager of Roscrea bacon factory and decided to resign.

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