Sweeney's Bakery Cashel
Recently Sweeney's Bakery closed down in Cashel and brought to an end a long tradition of baking in the town. Four workers lost their jobs as a result of the closure: Mary Crowe, who ran the office and vanmen, Michael Hogan of Gortnahoe, Pat Cleary of Ballinure and Michael Burke of Drombane. The last two bakers had been let go in April 1984 when the baking operations were concentrated in Thurles. At that time eighteen to twenty sacks of flour were baked daily. This amounted to about three and a half thousand loaves.
If we cast our minds back to the mid-twenties we find the bakery turning out about two thousand loaves daily. In May 1924 the business had nineteen people on the books. Seventeen were paid full wages, one, P. Stapleton, was on pension and received five shillings a week and a second, D. Leamy, was an apprentice and received no pay. The total wage bill for the week ending May 17 was £49-18-0. It would have been £1-14-9 more but for the fact that Chris Looby was absent from work on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The total was made up of manufacturing expenses of £30-3-5, distribution expenses of £9-4-0 and storage expenses of £8-7-8. As well, the employers contribution under , the National Insurance Act of 1911 came to £0-17-0.
The highest paid man was M. Perry, who was on the rate of £4-2-9. Plus bonus he received a gross amount of £4-11-01/2. He was followed by F. Kennedy, who was on a rate of £3-18-0 and received £3-19-4 for his week's work. Six men were on the rate of £3-13-0. One, J. Leamy, got a gross of £3-17-31/2. The others, William Looby, William Kennedy, Pat Leamy, F. Burke, and Chris Looby were paid £3-11-31/2. E. Farrell was an engineman and was paid at the rate of £2-9-0 and received £2-17-2 for the week.
The next four workers. Paddy Noonan, Jas. Rochford, J. Harding and D. Comerford were involved in the distribution of the bakery products. Noonan and Rochford were on a rate of £2-6-0. Harding was on £2-0-0 and Comerford on £2-7-0. Noonan continued to work there until 1963. He drove the last horse van used by the company and continued to drive thehorse until the latter expired in that year.
The final group of workers were in the store, James Bergin, William Jones, George Purvey and Miss Trayer. Bergin was on a rate of £2-6-0, Jones and Purvey were on £2-0-0 and Miss Trayer, who was the clerk, was on a rate of £2-0-0.
Under the 1911 National Insurance Act the employees had to make contributions for ill-health and unemployment. All the workers, with the exception of Miss Trayer who contributed 3d and 7d respectively, made a contribution of 4d for health and 9d for unemployment benefit.
The head office of the business had originally been in Cashel and was known as Going and Smith Ltd., Cahir and Suir Mills Office, Cashel but early in the 1920s the office was transferred to Cahir. (Sweeney's were to take over the business in 1966). In April 1926 W.H. Going issued a directive to Mr. J.E. Harris, the Cashel Manager, to reduce the wages of the bakers by five shillings and the engine-man by nine shillings a week. This reduction was brought about by arrangement with the seven permanent bakers 'to go towards paying the engine-man'. No explanation was given as to why the bakers were forced to pay the engineman at that point in time.
If we go forward in time to April 1933 we find seventeen workers baking forty-five and half sacks as against twelve more nine years previously. Gone since 1924 are M. Perry, W. Kennedy and the apprentice D. Leamy. Also, J. Harding, Miss Trayer, James Bergin and George Purvey. They have been replaced by John Dee, the new head baker. Jack Rochford, Miss Bailey, W. Comerford and E. 0' Farrell.
There is a dramatic change in wages. The head baker received a rate of £3-12-9, ten shillings less than in 1924. The remaining bakers received ten shillings less also. The engineman is down from £2-9-0 to £2-0-0. The change in the wages of the distribution workers isn't as radical. Paddy Noonan and Jas Rochford are down from £2-6-0 to £2-0-0 but D. Comerford is up from £2-7-0 to £2-10-0. The .workers in the store had held their own.
The total wage and insurance bill for the week came to £32-16-5, a large drop from the comparable figure of £49-18-0 nine years previously. The insurance contribution had gone down in the meantime. The health contribution had remained at 4d a week but the unemployment contribution had come down from 9d to 6d for the employee and from 10d to 7d for the employer. The contribution was to go back up to 9d and 10d respectively in the first week of April 1934 under the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1933, which became law on April 1, 1934.
Going and Smith Ltd. went into liquidation in 1966. The Cashel bakery was going well at the time but there were problems in Cahir. The mill there was taken over by the IAWS and the bakery by a former employee. Sweeneys took over the Cashel bakery in April of that year. The bakers working there at that time were the two Leamys, Dick Looby and Arthur Bowen
Distribution workers were Willie Conry, Billy Keane, Dinny Hickey and Tommy Butler. Mary Crowe was in the office and there was always a boy employed for odd jobs. All of this is now history and it's sad to see the baker's skills passing away with many more skills that used to be such an important part of the life of the town.
An advertisement from 1942
There's Something Different about Our Bread
IT'S MADE FROM THE FAMOUS "BAKERS XX"
TRY IT !
Our "HOUSEHOLD" Flour is "out on its own." Ask those who use it.
If any difficulty in obtaining, please inform us.
Going & Smith
Post Advertiser, July 21, 1986, Vol. 2 No. 2