For the first time, the history of farming in Connacht has been captured in one lavishly illustrated hardback volume that is destined to become a real collector’s item. Commissioned by Aurivo Co-operative Society Ltd, Fields of Gold is the result of several years of research by award-winning author James Laffey who was granted unprecedented access to the extensive files in the National Archives in Dublin relating to co-operative farming in Connacht and Co Donegal, as well as conducting numerous interviews across the West and drawing on many other local sources.
The result is a 576-page volume that contains over 250 pages of photographs, including many rare and previously unpublished images, some dating as far back as the late 1800s.
Aurivo Co-operative Society Ltd is one of the largest indigenous businesses in the West of Ireland, with an annual turnover in 2017 of €426m, export markets in more than 50 countries and a staff of over 700. It’s a remarkable success story, especially when one considers Aurivo’s humble roots, which can be traced back to the late nineteenth century when co-operative creameries were established the length and breadth of rural Ireland. Those little dairies became the principal – and, often, sole – source of income for countless families along the western seaboard, providing financial security in an era of mass emigration, and giving the farming community a sense of pride and ownership in their local co-operative.
It is no coincidence that when the Black and Tans sought to strike at the heart of local communities during the War of Independence, they targeted creameries, and this book sheds new light on the Tans’ terror rampage in Connacht in the early 1920s, which resulted in several creameries being burned to the ground. The focus on the War of Independence is just one example from a book that combines social and political history with an in-depth account of the evolution of farming in the West of Ireland from the Land League to the present day.
In Fields of Gold, James Laffey has produced an intriguing, engaging and sweeping narrative that takes readers from the lush fields of South Mayo to the Finn Valley in Donegal and from the Erris Peninsula to the Leitrim/Cavan border. Fields of Gold is not merely the story of the creation of a modern, multi-million euro business with export markets in five continents.
It is an enlightening and inspiring reflection on the lives of past generations; a homage to a very different era in rural Ireland when the co-operative movement aroused a can-do spirit among communities still struggling to emerge from the dark shadows of the Great Famine. Ostensibly a history of the co-operative movement in Ireland’s Northwest, Fields of Gold is an absorbing account of farming in rural Ireland across three different centuries, capturing for posterity a precious part of our heritage that was in danger of being lost forever.
Fields of Gold
- Author: James Laffey
- Publisher: James Laffey
- Availability: In Stock