St. Columcille, who lived in the sixth century is said to have prophesied in his teachings that "all the milk of a parish would be churned in the one churn". Such practical wisdom is reflected in the ideals of co-operative farming which has strengthened Ireland's economic and social fabric and has made a major contribution to the international reputation of agricultural excellence which Ireland has today.
Building on the experience of over a century, Lakeland Dairies is one of the key drivers of dairy industry growth in Ireland, providing a sound economic base for producers and laying the groundwork for continuing decades of innovation and progress.
Lakeland Dairies has a heritage of success spanning 120 years. The modern day Lakeland Dairies Group was formed in 1990 through the merger of the then Killeshandra and Lough Egish Co-operatives, established in 1896 and 1902 respectively. Since then, through a process of organic and acquisitive growth, the co-operative has created a dynamic business as one of Ireland's top dairy processors.
1896 - Co-Operative Beginnings:
Drummully Co-operative Society was founded on 23rd September 1896 when the first ordinary business meeting of the Society took place. At that time the grand total of 222 shares were issued with the vast majority of members taking just one share at £1 each.
1897 - The Creamery Project:
With the milk from 987 cows promised by local farmers the Committee decided, on 16th December 1896 to take the steps necessary to establish and form a creamery. This decision was confirmed the following 10th February 1897 and with Cornelious Lyons having been appointed as its first Creamery Manager on a salary ‘not exceeding £65' , the Killeshandra Creamery opened for business on 10th May 1897.
On its first day of business the Killeshandra Creamery took in 260 gallons of milk from fifty-six suppliers. As the season progressed milk supplies and supplier numbers grew with 1,300 gallons a day being delivered by early August from more than 170 farmers.
The accounts of the Co-operative for the first year of operations recorded a turnover of just under £3,000 for the dairy division and £1,630 in the Co-op Store and a ‘tidy’ profit of just over £20.
1898 - A New Name
By unanimous decision of the shareholders at their half-yearly meeting held on 25th March 1898 the name of the Society was changed with ‘Killeshandra’ replacing ‘Drummully’ in the title.
1902 - Lough Egish Co-Op is founded
Having held its first business meeting on Monday 30th December 1901 Lough Egish Co-Operative Society was registered on 14th January 1902 with Fr. Eugene McKenna PP as Chairman and the prime mover behind the formation of the Society.
On 1st June 1903 the new creamery in Lough Egish opened to receive milk. Following a number of difficult early years Lough Egish recorded a profit to 31 December 1905 of £146 having had a loss of £1 at the end of 1904.
1911 - New Creamery in Killeshandra
Under the management of James Gannon the Society approved the building of a new creamery at a build cost of £920 with its water supplied form a purpose drilled artesian well providing some 2,600 gallons of water per hour sunk at a cost of £325. The new creamery was officially opened on 20th April 1911.
1929 - 1930 - A New Creamery in Lough Egish
Having come through the difficult years of World War 1 and the post war years under the management of John Daly who steered Lough Egish to heights its founders could only have dreamed of, construction of a new creamery commenced in July 1929 and a year later on 7th July 1930 the new creamery was opened.
In 1929 Lough Egish broke all previous records with more than three quarters of a million gallons of milk churned at the creamery and sales rising to £31,000 an increase of almost £10,000 on the previous year.
1965 - Bulk Milk Collection
Lough Egish Society was the pioneer of ‘bulk collection’ on the island of Ireland.
1990 - Agreement to Merge
In January of 1990 the Killeshandra Co-Op and the Lough Egish Co-Op came together in a ‘very harmonious merger’ and the name ‘Lakeland Dairies’ was announced by Des Boylan and Pat Flanagan (the Chairmen of the respective Society’s) as the title for the new Co-Operative.
2002 - Bailieborough becomes part of Lakeland Dairies
Following a period of many changes in ownership the future of Bailieborough was assured when it became part of Lakeland Dairies in 2002. Since then through a programme of targeted investment the processing facilities at Bailieborough have been expanded and it is today the main production centre for the Society’s Food Ingredients Division.
2003 - Lakeland Dairies acquires production facilities of LE Pritchitt in Newtownards Co. Down
The LE Pritchitt business was acquired from the Lawes family who have had a history of innovation and association with the dairy industry in this region over many years. Lakeland Dairies immediately set about the integration of the two businesses and shared technologies on the Killeshandra Co. Cavan and Newtownards Co. Down sites. A Research & Development Centre of Excellence was opened in 2003 and the company’s efforts have been acknowledged through numerous awards over the following years. The business won the Inter-trade Ireland and All Ireland Trade & Business Award in 2004. In that same year the business was announced the FFB NI Exporter of the Year. Since then the business has continued to grow and innovate selling its range of long life dairy products in over 70 countries throughout the globe.
2008 – Order placed for new 7 tonne per hour Dryer
The Society embarked on a major expansion of its milk powder processing capacity by placing an order for the purchase and associated site developments of a new 7 tonne per hour milk dryer.
2008 – Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP Plant) Commissioned in Bailieborough
The Society demonstrated its commitment to sustainability and the environment with the commissioning of a CHP Plant on the Bailieborough site.
2010 – New Milk Dryer Commissioned
The processing capacity of Lakeland Dairies was increased significantly with the commissioning of a new 7 tonne per hour drying plant in Bailieborough. This expansion further enabled Lakeland Dairies to meet the growing demands of its international customer base for the highest quality milk powders.
2014 – October – Further Expansion of Milk Drying Capacity Approved
Planning Permission was granted to Lakeland Dairies to further expand its milk powder drying capacity in Bailieborough to 500 tonnes per day with the addition of a new 7 tonne per hour milk dryer.
2014 – November – Butter Packaging Plant Extension
Butter packaging facility in Bailieborough was upgraded and expanded to enable the business to meet the growing market demands and expansion into new markets for a wide rage of butter pack formats.
2015 - New Global Logistics Centre - Newtownards
Lakeland Dairies completed an €11m investment in a new Global Logistics Centre at our major dairy foodservice manufacturing plant in Newtownards, Co. Down. The major new Global Logistics Centre is highly automated with new technology, robotic systems, over 14,000 individual pallet spaces and a simultaneous loading capacity for up to 11 forty-foot container vehicles at any one time.
2016 - Acquisition of Fane Valley Dairies, Banbridge
This development expands Lakeland Dairies’ milk pool, creating further efficiencies in the interests of milk producers and strengthening our position in global markets as a leading provider of high quality dairy food ingredients.
2017 - New €48M Milk Dryer Opened at Bailieboro, Co. Cavan
The Bailieboro Dryer Number 3 facility is among the most advanced milk powder plants in the world and one of the largest such plants in Europe. This is Lakeland Dairies’ third milk drying plant at its Bailieboro processing centre, which produces over 200,000 tonnes of powders and butters on a single site.
2018 - New High-Tech Packing Facilities opened in Newtownards
HRH Princess Anne opened a new £5m high-tech product packing facility at Lakeland Dairies in Newtownards. The state-of-the-art new facility further enhances the capabilities of this major dairy processing site which plays a key role in the Foodservice Division of Lakeland Dairies.
2019 - Merger with LacPatrick Dairies
In 2019, Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick Dairies finalised a historic merger to become the largest dairy processing co-operative on the island of Ireland.
Lakeland Dairies was established in 1990 through the merger of Killeshandra Co-operative (estd. 1898) and Lough Egish Co-operative (estd. 1902).
LacPatrick Dairies was established in 2015 following the merger of Ballyrashane Co-op (estd. 1896) and Town of Monaghan Co-op (estd. 1901).
Lakeland Dairies now has a milk pool of 1.8bn litres from 3,200 suppliers across a catchment area including 16 counties on a cross border basis.