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Sir Horace Plunkett.

Famous Irish People.

Sir Horace Plunkett.

Plunkett was the son of a County Meath landowner Lord Dunsanny. When a young man he went to north America where he engaged in ranching in the mid west. Upon returning to Ireland in 1889 he embarked on a campaign urging farmers to form themselves into cooperatives, to process and sell their produce and jointly buy in bulk the many things farmers required. If his proposals were implemented they would eliminated the middle man at both ends of the market and leave the farmer with a significantly improved profit margin.

Farmers are a notoriously conservative bunch, and initially his proposals met with little support, as a landlord he was distrusted by the people. Being a Protestant the Catholic church distrusted him and shop keepers feared losing their trade. However by 1914 many of these fears were overcome and in that year there were there were over 1,000 'co-ops' under the umbrella of 'The Irish Agricultural Organizations Society' which Plunkett founded in 1884.

Dairy farming was the most successful sector of the movement, previously each farmer made and sold their own butter and quality varied enormously, this was largely the cause of the demise of the famous Cork butter market. The co-ops established creameries made the butter in hygienic conditions, and packed it in convenient one lb blocks, it was not long before creamery butter replace farm butter in the shops.

Many creameries in operation today probably owe their origins to Plunkett, although the ownership of most has passed from the farmers to the hands of large business.

Plunkett was also involved in aspects of setting up the Department of Agriculture in Ireland.

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