Lack School - 1863 to 1975

A History of the School and its Pupils
by James Hehir


15. Industry

The territory served by Lack school could best be described as low grade farmland and bog. In addition to mixed farming it had a few unusual and perhaps interesting industries. In this history I give a brief account of some of the activity in the area in the period of the school's existence.

(a) The Creamery 1932 - 1985

The dairy industry was probably the greatest source of income to the many small farmers that populated the Lack school catchment area over the 20th century. This labour intensive industry experienced a revolution through this period affecting the lives of every household in the area. The golden age was the era of the creamery from about 1932 to the early 1980s.

At the beginning of the 20th century butter making in the home had changed little over many generations. The cream was removed from the cow's milk by a process known as skimming. The milk was held in large vessels such as pans and the layer of cream which settled on the surface was removed. The cream was used to make butter which was sold at the various local markets.
The first major development was the introduction of the milk separator. This machine which entered the market early in the century was an efficient means of removing the cream from the milk. In a short time every household had a separator. As the farmer could now remove all of the cream from the milk he produced more butter and his income increased accordingly.

Lissycasey Creamery

Lissycasey Creamery

The milk separator died a rather sudden death in the early 1930s with the building of four creameries serving the area, located at Clondegad, Cranny, Kildysart and Lissycasey. All were of similar design. This is a picture of the Lissycasey creamery taken in the early 1980s.

Now the farmer took the milk to the creamery where the cream was removed and he returned home with what was known locally as the skimmed milk. It was fed to the calves, pigs etc. The cream was taken to the central creamery in Kilrush where butter was made from it.

The effect of the creamery on the local population, as all were farmers may be summarised as follows:

The production of milk grew rapidly as farmers improved their herds and fertilised the land reaching a peak in the 1970s. Ireland's entry into the EEC in 1973 boosted incomes greatly. Gradually the number of farmers declined due to old age, others found it uneconomic due to the size of their holdings to upgrade their milking arrangements to meet new EEC requirements relating to quality control and abandoned the creamery. The industry went into rapid decline through the 1980s. The creameries had already ceased to separate milk and instead became collection points. One by one they were demolished. The contribution of the creamery to the local economy, through out the 20th century, cannot be overestimated.