THE MART in Carrick-on-Suir opened its gates for the first time in December 1955 and has maintained an unbroken service to the farming communities of Waterford, Tipperary and Kilkenny since.
It’s a considerable record and one which auctioneer John Curran is particularly proud of. “Sixty two years is a fair stretch, the longest of any mart in the country,” he beams. “We’ve worked hard but we’ve survived because of the loyalty of our customers.”
Apart from the obvious business benefits that a mart brings to the town, John also stresses the importance of the mart as a focal and social point for those involved in farming. “Not everyone goes to the pub,” he comments.
“I remember after the last foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, the first Friday we were back I saw more handshaking and smiling than you’d get at a wedding. Lads were delighted to be back amongst their own.” On mart day the silver-grey holding pens, walkways and sales rings are transformed.
First to arrive is office head Maureen Finucane and her team of administrators. Next in are the yard men — the majority of them natives of the town — and then gradually the trucks, trailers and jeeps arrive.
The pens fill. Knots of buyers and sellers congregate, conversations are had, well-trained minds assess the prospects. Positions next to the ringside rail fill first, then the amphitheatre of seats. The auctioneer and his teller settle themselves on the rostrum.
Another sale is about to commence at Carrick-onSuir’s Livestock Sales yard — 62 years and counting.
WORDS: MARTIN COUGHLAN PHOTOS: PAT MOORE
This Hereford Cross which weighed 230kg sold for €520; (below) cattle being unloaded at the mart (above) Two Limousin Cross weighing 305kg sold for €755; (left) Mossie Murphy and John Walker get a bird’s-eye view