We are honoured to have our clinic in the old Buttermarket Building in Tipperary. A huge amount of work has gone into renovating our precious new home. While there has been blood, sweat and tears gone into the renovation in 2020, there have also been lots of smiles, laughter, goodwill and love.
Please enjoy some of the history of this amazing building, a big thanks and credit goes to Gay Lowry for taking the time to write all this down.
No exact date is known when the old butter market building was constructed, however, a lot of construction took place in various nearby areas at this time (Churchwell, St Mary’s Church and the Presbyterian Church (now Webster Insurance).
According to Slaters Directory of Tipperary 1856, the occupier was James Harcourt and his wife who had a shop selling wool, linen and haberdashery.
1860-1880’s Post Famine Era
The Buttermarket was set up in Church Street and it was to become the second-largest Buttermarket in the British Isles behind Cork. After the famine, a seller’s market existed and both the quantity and price of butter exported from Ireland to Britain increased. In the pre-creamery era, the dairy industry was home-based. Milk was skimmed and butter churned on the farm. The butter was put into a barrel called a firkin which had a capacity of 70 lbs. It was hard work and filling a firkin took several days. The firkin, when full, was taken to the butter market where it was weighed and sold to one of the buyers. The buyers stored the butter in premises around the town before sending by rail to Waterford from where it was exported to Britain. As the years went by demand for butter increased and by 1875 exports of Irish butter to Great Britain amounted to 30,000 tons. The butter market in Church St was a busy place. In the hustle and bustle, once the weighmaster certified the produce it was sold to one of the buyers. However, the good times didn’t last and European countries entered the lucrative British market. Having enjoyed good times for so long the Irish farmers became complacent. The European butter was of better quality and they streamlined the regularity of supply. The price of Irish butter fell dramatically and the industry was in deep trouble. Farmer-owned creameries were a new way and Condensed Milk Company at Station Road Tipperary town opened in 1898. In 1909 the Tipperary Co-operative Creamery was opened at the top of O’Brien Street. By now the Butter Market was a minor player in the market and eventually, creameries processed most butter.
1900’s- Church St building became a garage.
With the increasing demand for cars and trucks, it became a major business premises again. From the 1940s to the 1960’s it operated under the name of O’D & O’D, named after its joint proprietors, John O’Dwyer from Barronstown and John O’Doherty from Donohill. The two ‘O’D’ men had a main Ford dealership, displaying the latest Ford models of Anglia, Prefect, Consul, Zodiac etc. New and used car models were displayed on the big glass showrooms of the former Power DIY premises. All repair work and servicing was carried out at the old butter market building. The mechanics worked hard six days a week, sometimes late into the night. Covered in oil and grease, not having the modern technology of hydraulic lifts, they carried out their work from deep dark pits where they repaired the undercarriage of cars and trucks. Each year the garage ran a special week when prices were reduced and festivities took place. Colourful bunting was erected on the surrounding streets and loud music was played to attract customers. They did not forget the children. One of the rooms at the rear of the Church St building was converted into a mini cinema and each evening they showed free cartoons and gave sweets and lollipops to those children who turned up. The delighted local children filled the room every day. Attached to the Church St garage were fuel pumps, selling Esso petrol and to a much lesser extent diesel, on the main road to Limerick. Young boys from the area were employed as pump attendants. It was a lucrative job that was very much in demand among the local kids. The pay was low but the main attraction was tips from drivers. Most motorists would give a few pence.
In the early sixties, O’D & O’D sold their garage on Church Street to the ESB. The ESB used it as their main garage and store for almost thirty years, while operating their shop and showrooms from Main Street (beside Dorothy’s flower shop). The ESB bought their own site on Link Road in 1990 where they built modern showrooms and offices and used the large yard as their garage and store.
The building was bought by Maurice Power who ran a very successful DIY business until his retirement in 2018.
The building was bought by Arra Veterinary Clinic and renovated into the Buttermarket’s first Vet Clinic!!