It was with regret that we note the passing recently of one of the last men to manage a mart during its heyday of the 1960’s.
Batt Twomey, the face of Kilkenny Mart for 28 years from 1968 to 1996 went to his eternal reward.
Eldest of a family of 12, Batt was born into a farming family at Coolfada, near Bandon in County Cork in 1929, the year of The Wall Street Crash. Even in the dark days of the 20s, dairying and involvement in the Co-op Movement were important to the family, his father being on the committee of Bandon Creamery. This tradition was continued by his brother Donie, and his nephew Jeremiah is currently involved with Bandon Creamery.
After finishing in Agri-College at Pallaskenry Batt trained as a Creamery Manager at UCC from where he emerged with a strong commitment to the Plunkett-ICOS ethos. The Co-op system was the most practical way for farmers to uplift themselves and take control of their own business.
He started his career at Fethard Creamery and Millvale, coming to Kilkenny Creamery as Assistant Manager via Athboy. He ?then went to Ballypatrick Creamery as Manager before returning to Kilkenny as Manager of Kilkenny Co-op Mart in 1968. During his 28 years at the helm his name became synonymous with Kilkenny Mart.
Batt took on the task of management with determination, diligence and diplomacy. His arrival was a new beginning in the relationship between management and committee. He had a reputation of being fair and would not tolerate unethical practices from farmers, buyers, sellers, dealers or auctioneers. On more than one occasion different patrons were told that their business was not welcome and over the years a number of people were suspended.
As Batt’s reputation grew, so too did confidence in the Society as a fair place to trade. Annual turnover peaked at £55 million. On one particular sale day, almost 3,000 cattle passed through the ring with a value of close to £2 million.
Batt oversaw many changes, particularly the development of the premises to become the biggest single sales centre in the country. The ever-changing new regulations and decimalisation brought their own challenges.
At ICOS meetings and particularly at managers’ meetings his opinions were sought and respected, and in the aftermath of official duties he enjoyed the social gatherings as a raconteur and contributed an odd song.
During his tenure Kilkenny Mart generated substantial profits and he was an expert in investing funds to best advantage.
Outside of work, he took a great interest in the GAA. Always a Cork man, but I am sure that after more than 50 years in Kilkenny and much family participation locally, he held a generous respect for Kilkenny.
He was very proud to be associated with the Gowran Development Association. He enjoyed gardening and also assembled a well- stocked library to satisfy his reading pursuits.
Progressive by nature and with close links to the soil he took great pride in his own cattle. He lived to provide for his late wife Margaret and his family. He was very proud of their achievements and those of his grandchildren.
Apart from his family, he left a great legacy to Kilkenny Mart, a thriving business, a modern premises, well funded and well respected. His son Philip is an integral part of the operations of Kilkenny Mart today.
To all his family we extend our most sincere sympathies. A good life well lived.
May he rest in peace. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann. l,p