Friday, May 13, 2011

Athenry Western Sack and Bag Factory by Ronan Killeen

Extracts from the Connaught Tribune in 1935 (I decided not to extend it its fine the way it is)

On Tuesday 28 May 1935 the Athenry Western Sack & Bag Factory was officially opened by Mr. Gerald Boland T.D. who was Minister for Post and Telegraphs. The road that led to the building was decorated with bunting, and a large crowd had come to see him, the local GardaĆ­ gave him a guard of honour at the entrance of the factory under Chief Superintendent Clenton, Ballinasloe and Garda Kelly, Athenry.

On the platform were Mr. Weir, managing director of the factory, T.D’s Stephen Jordan and Sean Broderick; J.J. Ruane; Haley B. Murtagh and C. Taylor; directors of the company, Dr. C. Foley; R.M. Burke; Tohermore, Tuam; R. Collins superindent of the Agricultural College Athenry; Rev. Mr North Bombfard, M. Hession, Mayor F. Carr, Newtown; Mr. Bowes Dale Dunsandle and Dr. Tom Powell.
   Mr. Weir said he was proud and happy to see the fruits of their labour of the past eighteen months realised in the shape of that handsome factory, and he expressed the home that the undertaking, though small would help in the promotion and growth of other industries in Ireland. On behalf of the directors and shareholders fo the company he welcomed the Minister.

 Larry Lardner read a public address of welcome from the Athenry Industrial Development Promotional Committee.

The sugar beet factories had required one million sacks for pulp and another million for sugar and because the Government could induce the sugar companies to give orders for the sacks to the Athenry Western Sack & Bag Factory. Boland was happy that the Minister for Industry and Commerce would do all he could to induce the directors of the sugar company to place their orders with this factory.

Both Mr. R.M Burke and Broderick stated that they were glad to see support given by all political parties joined together and supporting industrial revival in the country. Jordan, said it was through Mr. Weir’s technical knowledge and expert advice and sound judgement they had that factory established. They also had to thank the Government for helping them with the loan and also the promptitude with which local capital was subscribed.

Ruane was confident that if the people of Athenry stood together as they did in promoting the factory and forget the politics they would have everything as a centre of distribution that a small town wants to make a success of any industry.

After the public address the Minister and visitors were then shown inside the factory and saw about forty girls at work at different sewing machines in the cutting, make-up and stitching of bags. The factory had a capacity of turning out a million bags each year or 100,000 bags per week.

In the Irish Times on 18 October 1952 a photograph of women working in the sack factory was included in an article Energy and enthusiasm to one man are helping to revive a ‘forgotten town’. The names of those women photographed were N.Higgins, Peggy Hanley, W. Holian (forewoman), Annie Hanley and Kathleen O’ Toole.

In 1962 the Athenry Western Sack & Bag Factory was for sale in the classified section in Irish Times on 21 July with the words SALE OF MODERN FACTORY PREM ISES.

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