Irish Independent - Farming - - ANAL­Y­SIS -

DUR­ING the 1980s and 90s, the mart trade experienced many a cri­sis, but the one that re­ally stands out for Kilkenny-based auc­tion­eer, Ge­orge Can­dler, was the Foot and Mouth Dis­ease of 2001.

When move­ment re­stric­tions were lifted, cat­tle num­bers, “had fallen off a precipice” and many small marts never re­cov­ered.

“Some peo­ple don’t like to hear this but there are just too many marts in the coun­try,” says Ge­orge who has been in the busi­ness for 45 years. “Kilkenny only has one but other sim­i­lar coun­ties might have eight. It is a par­tic­u­lar issue in the west.”

Ge­orge him­self was born in that part of the world, in Roscom­mon, in 1950.

His fa­ther James was born in Dublin but moved to Lon­don where he joined the Bri­tish Army and met his wife-to-be Ur­sula, mar­ry­ing in 1946. His un­cle James Conry lived and farmed at Tinny House, Ball- in­tub­ber and, hav­ing no heir, left the farm to his nephew. It was here that Ge­orge was raised, along with his five sis­ters.

James was chair­man of the IFA na­tional live­stock com­mit­tee in the 1950s and was found­ing chair­man of Roscom­mon Mart in 1959, a po­si­tion which he held un­til his death in 1986.

“Marts were rare at the time and my fa­ther thought they were a great thing,” says Ge­orge, who jug­gled his time in sec­ondary school with reg­u­lar for­ays to the mart, “where I did ev­ery­thing, from read­ing cat­tle, to pen­ning them, to clerk­ing,” he says. “It was a great ground­ing.”

Through his work with the IFA, James got to know Michael Gib­bons who was chair­man of Kilkenny Mart and, in 1972, Ge­orge was dis­patched to the Mar­ble City, to train as an auc­tion­eer.

When Ge­orge’s train­ing was com­plete, he was of­fered a job to stay on. Hav­ing made a lot of friends in the area and got­ten in­volved in var­i­ous choirs and mu­si­cal groups, he took up the of­fer.

Look­ing back now, Ge­orge realises that his fa­ther en­vi­sioned that he would come home to farm while do­ing a bit of sell­ing at some of the marts in the west.

“He must have been dis­ap­pointed when I didn’t but never said a word.” At the time, Kilkenny Mart was a very busy place, han­dling up to 3,500 cat­tle a week. The fig­ure now is less than half that.

In terms of re­port­ing prices, Ge­orge firmly be­lieves that “per kilo” is the only method that means any­thing.

“A price of €X over the 100kg’ means some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent when an an­i­mal is 750kg com­pared to one of 350kg.”

As well as his mart job, Ge­orge also does some pedi­gree cat­tle and sheep sales.

It might seem like an ob­vi­ous thing to say but Ge­orge be­lieves it is im­por­tant for an auc­tion­eer to be able to be un­der­stood. Es­pe­cially when do­ing pedi­gree sales, as there may be over­seas buy­ers present. He also points to the need to have a knowl­edge of pedi­grees.

On one oc­ca­sion, he was asked to do a pedi­gree cat­tle sale in West­meath.

The farmer felt that the stock were worth more than they were mak­ing. He re­fused to sell and after the first eight to

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