Established in 1959, Castleisland Co-Op is one of the oldest and largest livestock marts in the country, selling over 60,000 cattle per year. It comes alive every Monday and Wednesday when farmers from far and wide converge for the popular calves / weanlings and general sales.
Situated in the heart of the Co. Kerry town, Castleisland Co-Op Livestock Mart is a farmer-owned co-operative which has been providing an exceptional livestock auctioneering service for almost 65 years.
The cattle-only mart attracts sellers from Kerry and the surrounding counties of Limerick and Cork, and buyers from all over Ireland. It was founded by a group of local farmers who felt it was time for a more organised way of selling stock. The Mart afforded them the opportunity to have their stock weighed publicly and sold at public auction. It continues to be run by members of the local farming community, having over 300 shareholders and a committee of 12 which is chaired by Timmy Horan.
The Mart continues to go from strength to strength under their watch, and that of manager Neilus McAuliffe. Neilus is supported by six full-time, including assistant manager Adam Coughlan, and 25 part-time staff working in the office and inside and outside the sales rings. The ringmen have a wealth of experience and knowledge of how to handle stock in all situations, and enjoy a great rapport with buyers and sellers alike.
While Neilus has only been manager since January 2021, his association with the Mart goes back to 1987 when he started as a 15-year-old drover. He joined the Mart full-time in 1995 when he became procurement officer, a role he served until 2005. The following year, he was appointed manager of Dingle Mart, a position he continues to hold to this day.
“Dingle is a smaller sheep and cattle mart, so I’m able to combine the two jobs thanks to the support of the staff and the respective committees. There are a lot of early mornings and late nights involved, but it’s not an issue. It’s always a pleasure to deal with great hauliers, buyers, sellers and agents,” Neilus says.
Committed to providing buyers and sellers with a fair platform, Castleisland Co-op Mart is part of the ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) 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 Mart plays host to a top-class range of suck calves from all breeds, while some of the finest suckler weanlings can also be sought there. There is a huge selection of store cattle and cows for further feeding, while finished stock are also a common sight. The cattle in the region are renowned for their quality and ability to thrive after purchase, hence the reason why Castleisland attracts buyers from other parts of the country.
“We have the best of cattle here in Castleisland,” Neilus proudly states.
“We’re recognised as one of the leading calf marts in the country. We sell 60,000 animals a year and that figure is growing all the time. Our motto is to get them in, sold and out as quickly as possible so as no-one has to hang around too long.”
Proceedings get underway at 9.15am every Monday with the sale of calves and weanlings. This is followed by general sales, including heifers, bullocks, cows, bulls and sucklers, every Wednesday from 10.30am. There are also dairy sales held every second Friday from November to May as well as annual weanling, suckler, fat stock, dairy and in-calf show sales. The Mart comprises two sales rings and can hold up to 1,800 cattle at any one time. The auctioneering duties are performed by Neilus, Adam and Rory Doyle from Kilkenny.
Major investment has gone into the Mart over the years in order to maintain its position as one of the best and more modern in the country. A strong emphasis is placed on the health and safety of visitors and staff as well as on the welfare of the animals. The Mart uses Newline Auction Management Software which provides all the information buyers and sellers need to know from the weight of the animal to its movement, test dates and whether it’s from a quality assured farm. The Mart also features ringside display screens which show relevant ICBF breeding values for beef and dairy replacement stock, and which detect 4 and 5-star in-calf heifers.
In addition, Castleisland Mart has invested in LSL online auction technology that enables it to offer live bidding facilities. This allows customers from far and wide to purchase livestock with the tap of a button.
“Online bidding became very popular during Covid and now accounts for 8-10% of total sales. It was one of the best things to come out of the pandemic,” the affable manager adds.
The Mart is committed to maintaining the high standards it has set for itself, and strives to improve its service and ensure its customers have the best marketplace in which to sell and buy livestock.
Despite being located in the middle of the town, Castleisland Co-Op Mart is easy to access and boasts a large parking area. Indeed, its location in a town which is often referred to as the gateway to Kerry is one of its biggest selling points.
With hundreds of buyers and sellers flocking to Castleisland every week, Castleisland Co-Op Mart contributes handsomely to the local economy. “The town is rocking every Wednesday. We also support and sponsor local charities and organisations.”
On behalf of its shareholders, committee and staff, Castleisland Co-Op Mart would like to take this opportunity to thank its customers, hauliers and agents for their continued support.
Castleisland Co-Op Mart
Old Chapel Lane,
Telephone: 066 7141247
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 4, August/September 2023