2017 marks the 60th anniversary of Bandon Mart, Co. Cork, one of Ireland’s leading livestock marts.
The history of the institution is one that Tom McCarthy, the current manager of Bandon Livestock Mart can unveil with pride.
Being a central point in West Cork, Bandon was always a hive of activity when it came to traditional fairs.
Down through the years trading continued as normal, with a major decision made in 1957.
“A number of forward-thinking farmers came together and decided to set up a mart. Their aim was to create a more controlled environment, with more transparency and more fairness on the farmers’ side when it came to the selling of their stock.” Tom McCarthy, manager of Bandon Mart told That’s Farming.
The doors of the mart first swung open in July 1957 and it has been operating ever since.
Cattle Dealing procedures transitioned from the “waiting at the side of the road for a potential bid to be put on an animal” to the ringside, just like the initial group of farmers had envisaged.
The mart flourished as a co-operative, with all capital generated from sales pumped back into the enterprise and utilised to employ local people.
Predominately the mart has developed as a trading platform for cattle, but a number of pigs and sheep entries have also passed through the gates.
Bandon Mart continued to expand and the whole movement has now grown to what is now known as ‘Cork Marts Group.’
“There were nearly ten marts at one stage, but now we are down to six due to closures. It was Bandon that started the whole thing”. Tom explained.
Bandon Mart Manger for close to one decade
Tom was appointed the manager of Bandon Mart nine years ago and speaks highly of his time there.
“It is a great honour to be working in a place like Bandon Mart. A lot of people have a connection with Bandon mart, because a lot of cattle would have moved from Bandon up the country. Many would remember it.” Tom explained.
During the springtime, the mart operates a total of three rings but closes one ring as it progresses into the autumn period.
Approximately 30,000 calves pass through the gates during an entire year, with calf entries peaking to 2,000 for a single sale on a Monday night in the spring.
Being in the heart of the dairy country, springers are sold in a separate ring on a Monday, while in the cattle ring numbers can reach 700-800 on a Monday in the spring.
Celebrating 60 years
Earlier this week on Monday 9th October, Bandon Mart marked their 60th anniversary in style.
As part of the annual tradition, a special store cattle show and sale is hosted and this year, the committee decided to stage the event with a little difference.
“We wanted to mark the occasion and to remember the people that have gone before us. Old and new customers joined us on the day. It was a memorable celebration.” Tom explained.
700 top-quality stores were offered for sale, with a number tapped forward as champions in their classes, aswell as winners drawn from a promotional draw held by the mart.
Joe Healy, president of IFA was in attendance for the proceedings and he addressed a jam-packed Bandon Mart.
“We want to thank everyone that has supported the mart over the past 60 years and hopefully we can hold onto it and drive it on over the next sixty years, to leave something there for the next generation,” Tom added.
Looking forward to the future of Bandon, as an operation that follows an inspiring mantra to “work very closely with the farming community”, the mart has intentions to continue to offer a quality service to their dedicated client base.
“Farming is changing very fast. Over the last few years and possibly over the next few years also, we will probably see a more particular focus on dairy, down this side of the country.” Tom explained.
As Bandon Mart handles large influxes of calves, a well-organised and structured system tailored to suit the needs of farmers is what the mart strives to offer.
“Labour is a major issue on some farms and we need to make sure that we can respond to the needs of farmers. They don’t have time to spend in the mart and we have to offer that quality service that they require.” Tom added.
A short-term plan to invest further in the calf facilities and the shed is going to take priority over the next while, while the mart already also offers an export lairage for calf exporters.
Tom expects that a large number of dry cows will be coming onto the market and this is something that he identifies as yet another potential area of focus.
“We are adapting with the changes in the farming world, as we are providing all of the services that are needed. We are working in the environment that is out there and we will once again, add further developments and apply more changes in a few years.” Tom concluded.