Drifting around Kildorrery July 2014


Drifting around Kildorrery July 2014

by Frank & Lena McCarthy


Our group met at the new car park in Kildorrery on Friday morning.  The car park is situated on the site of what was the former Mitchelstown Co-Op creamery.  Liam Allen attending the tour informed us he had once worked at the creamery and knew its history.  It was built and opened in 1954 and served as the milk collection point for the area until the 1990s when bulk tank collection took over.

Next we went to the nearby graveyard to have a look at a medieval church ruin contained in it.  It was this church that gave Kildorrery its name, ‘Cill Dairbhre’, which means the ‘Church of the Oaks’.  It was listed in papal taxation records as early as the 12th century.  The current ruin probably belongs to the 14th or 15th century.  It was listed in the early 17th century as in ruins, probably a victim of the political and religious upheaval of that time.  Its most interesting features today are the cut stones imbedded in the walls which depict human faces.

Then on to the crossroads where we saw the plaque which commemorates the site of the first Cow & Gate creamery in Ireland.  The factory was opened in 1887 by William Gates who operated The West Surrey Dairy Company  with his brothers.  His brothers ran 3 similar creameries in Guildford, Surrey, England (http://goo.gl/s3rEQf).  William whose health was fragile decided to open a branch in Ireland and found the perfect place in Kildorrery, a village in the middle of one of Ireland’s richest dairy valleys, which has a pollution free environment and plenty of fresh air. 

Next we went to see the house down the hill on the Mitchelstown road where William Gates and later his son Charles lived until the 1950s.  The house is now in private ownership. To hear the gory details of William's dental career make sure to attend one of our regular heritage tours. On the way back we gave a look into the roadside park which was developed by the local community development.  The park has been named ‘Gates’ Meadow’ and the theme there is biodiversity.  

Next we went back up the hill to St. Bartholomew’s Church which is the main Catholic Church in the parish.   Construction of the church was started in 1838 and it opened the following year.  It had many alterations and additions in its 175 year history some of which can be seen in old photographs ;such as the belfry which was rebuilt from the ground up in the 1930s.   A room known as a 'mortuary chapel' was built on the western side of the church in the days before private removal homes.

This blog post is written by Frank & Lena McCarthy as part of a training project funded by Ballyhoura Development Ltd. Contact Kildorrery Community (http://kildorrerycommunity.ie or https://www.facebook.com/KildorreryCommunity) & Tourist Information office if you would like a tailored tour or help with family history research Tel 022 25777 email communitykcda@eircom.net.