I paused behind two shoppers at the fridges in our local O’Leary’s SuperValu near the shelves where Glenisk yoghurt is usually stacked.
It’s a corner fridge and the first of a long line.
The two bottom shelves usually house Glenisk yoghurt. A few lone cartons remain.
My fellow shoppers agree and we chat about the fire that gutted the factory in Co Offaly last week
There were two people in front of me reaching for the 450g pots. I wait my turn.
I sigh and say: “Isn’t the news about the Glenisk factory awful?” My fellow shoppers agree and we chat about the fire that gutted the factory in Co Offaly last week. We have huge sympathy for the Cleary family and selfishly hope that our favourite yoghurt will be back on the shelves soon.
There are only three pots of vanilla yoghurt left. I take two leaving one for someone else. It was a hard decision! My daughter Julie and I love the Vanilla Bio Organic Yoghurt. It is creamy and a top-class product. My grandson Ricky has also developed a taste for it. He climbs up on my knee to scoop up the velvety yoghurt, licking his lips with delight.
Last year the company planted a million trees in partnership with Self Help Africa and 100,000 native trees in Ireland
The following morning at break time I removed the cover off the vanilla yoghurt. It is a beautiful carton and now has climate-neutral packaging. It carries the green dot symbol which means that the company contributes financially to recycling in Ireland.
I read the blurb on the foil top. Last year the company planted a million trees in partnership with Self Help Africa and 100,000 native trees in Ireland. The company plans to do the same again this year.
In the staff room, the conversation begins about the fire at the Glenisk plant. Quite a few of us pour Glenisk creamy yoghurt over our fruit mixes at break time. I was touched by the genuine heartfelt support and sympathy for the Cleary family in our staff room.
We talked about the farmers that supply the factory and what a shock it must have been for them. Sometimes, we imagine that there is a large chasm between farmers and non-farmers in Ireland, yet when the chips are down and farmers are in trouble, our local communities have nothing but goodwill towards us.
It is a lesson to every company, farmer and householders that fire is dangerous and can happen quickly
One imagines that something like this could not happen in broad daylight. It is a lesson to every company, farmer and householders that fire is dangerous and can happen quickly. It is insidious and unforgiving, devouring and destroying everything in its path. Metals twist and bend, glass shatters, hard and soft plastics melt into pools of hot liquid and rubber bubbles and liquefies.
I’m quite sure that all of that happened at the Glenisk yoghurt factory on Monday 27 September while the owners and employees watched, aghast.
Fire at Foods of Athenry
This has been an enormous body blow to the Cleary family and everyone connected to the Glenisk plant. I have met managing director of Glenisk Vincent Cleary in agri circles on a number of occasions.
On the radio I heard him say that pretty much everything that gets a yoghurt to a supermarket shelf has been destroyed. I can’t imagine what it must be like to deal with the devastation of one’s business in a few hours.
A fire destroyed the gluten-free bakery, a family business, in 2011. Nothing remained
The Glenisk fire brought another farm family business to mind that experienced a similar fate in its infancy. Siobhan Lawless of Foods of Athenry described her experience to one Women & Ag Conference.
A fire destroyed the gluten-free bakery, a family business, in 2011. Nothing remained. They picked themselves up and started again older, wiser and stronger. The business today is thriving. Siobhan wrote a blog on the 29 June this year remembering the fire. It is a good read for anyone close to Glenisk and can be accessed on the Foods of Athenry website.
It is heartening to hear that Glenisk’s competitors are also offering help
We know from public statements that Glenisk is continuing to collect the milk from its 50 organic farmer milk suppliers and that it will rebuild and be back in production as soon as possible. I want Vincent, the Cleary family and his team to know that the level of goodwill around the country for Glenisk is enormous.
During the dark days ahead, know that your customers are waiting for your lovely products and wishing you well. It is heartening to hear that Glenisk’s competitors are also offering help. Isn’t that typically Irish and genuine admiration for all that Glenisk do in Killeigh, Co Offaly.