62 years (and counting) for Castleisland Co-Op Mart

21 Oct , 2021  

Established in 1959, Castleisland Co-op Livestock Mart Ltd is a farmer owned co-operative which provides a livestock auctioneering service. Irish Tractor & Agri touched base with Mart Manager Nelius McAuliffe recently to hear about the popular mart which holds its weekly sales every Monday and Wednesday.

Situated in the heart of Castleisland, Castleisland Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd has been part of life in the Co Kerry town for more than six decades now. 

The Co-Op Mart was set-up by a group of local farmers that felt it was time for a more organised way of selling stock and today it has over 300 shareholders and a committee of 12.

It is one of the largest such centres in the country, attracting sellers from Kerry, Cork and Limerick and buyers nationwide.

Irish Tractor & Agri spoke to Nelius McAuliffe, who took over as Mart Manager at the start of 2021, about business right now at Castleisland Co-Op Mart in what are unprecedented times for the industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Overall, business is good,” Nelius stated. “It is hard on farmers that can’t go into the seller’s mart and it’s a lot of extra work ringing them up but, hopefully, we’ve turned a corner now.

“With the restrictions easing, we’re limited to about 30 people in the ring, two metres apart from May 17th, so hopefully that will help to improve the situation.”

Nelius himself started working at Castleisland Co-Op Mart in 1988 and took over as Mart Manager in January of this year.

He is also Mart Manager at Dingle Mart, which is just an hour away, and has enjoyed combining both roles even in these difficult times.

“I’m in Dingle 16 years now and I’ve enjoyed running both marts over the past five months or so,” he said.

“It works well because the Castleisland Mart is on Monday (calves) and Wednesdays (bullocks, heifers and cows), with dairy sales every second Friday from November to May.

“Dingle sales are on a Saturday, so it suits me to do both.

“Both marts are co-op owned and Dingle would do a lot of sheep, as well as cattle.”

At Castleisland Co-Op Mart, Nelius is one of six full-time staff employed with 20 more part-time working in the office and inside and outside its sales ring which is based on Convent Street.

The ringmen at Castleisland Co-Op Mart boast a wealth of experience and knowledge in how to handle stock in all situations and enjoy a great rapport with buyers and sellers alike.

So, what has been the secret to success to date for this well-established mart in the Kingdom?

“Castleisland is renowned as the gateway of Kerry and its mart is so well established, well laid out and comfortable for farmers,” the manager pointed out.

“It has the capacity to hold 2,000 cattle at its ease, making it one of the largest such centres in Ireland.”

Castleisland Co-Op Mart is also known for its unique access to a regular supply of top-class suck calves of all breeds, as well as some of the finest suckler weanlings in the country. There is also a huge selection of store cattle and cows for further feeding, as well as finished stock.

Since ‘Day One’, it has been its objective to provide both buyers and sellers with the fairest platform.

Castleisland Co-Op Mart is part of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) whose core business is to provide vision, leadership and value to the co-operative movement in Ireland.

ICOS member co-operatives and their associated companies collectively have over 150,000 individual members, employ 12,000 people in Ireland (a further 24,000 abroad) and have a combined turnover of almost €15 billion.

With so many dairy and suckler farmers in the region, the team at Castleisland Co-Op Mart endeavours to make sure that the highest standards are always met.

As well as this, it strives to improve its service and ensure its customers have the best marketplace in which to sell and buy livestock.

It’s location in the middle of a town, which as Nelius pointed out, is considered as the gateway of Kerry is one of its main selling points.

Looking towards the coming months, the Mart Manager hopes to see more and more farmers flocking to Castleisland as government restrictions continue to ease.

“I hope that things will get back to the way they were,” he stated.

“There’s a great vibe here when you have a packed ring and it’s an atmosphere that you simply cannot beat. It’s a great social gathering.

“It’s hard for people that aren’t tech savvy nowadays to log in online and watch the sales, so hopefully it (the pandemic) will sort itself out soon and we’ll get back to some sort of normality.”

On behalf of its shareholders, committee and staff, Castleisland Co-Op Mart wishes to take this opportunity to thank its customers and hauliers for their loyal support.

Castleisland Co-Op Mart
Convent Street,
Co Kerry
Telephone: 066 714 1247
Fax: 066 714 1881
Email: [email protected]

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 5, September/October 2021