Oatfield era finally comes to an end

The partially demolished Oatfield  factory.

The partially demolished Oatfield factory.

A reminder of a different era in Letterkenny has disappeared with the demolition of the Oatfield factory in the town.

Demolition of the famous factory has been ongoing for a number of weeks but the main part of the building was razed on Thursday morning, bringing to an end an association with the town that went back to the founding of the Oatfield company in Letterkenny in 1927.

Planning permission was granted by Letterkenny Town Council last year to the owners of the site to allow demolition of the factory. The application by Zopitar Ltd, a subsidiary of Donegal Creameries, saw concern expressed by the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland about the demolition.

The company, which produced the famous Oatfield Emerald brand, was bought by Donegal Creameries in 1999.

Donegal Creameries sold the Oatfield brand to Irish company Zed Candy in 2007. The Letterkenny factory ceased production in 2012.

At one stage the company produced 65 tonnes of confectionary a week.

The Oatfield Emerald sweet was exported all around the world. As well as the Oatfield Emerald, other well-known products that came from the factory included Liquorice Toffees, Chocolate Eclairs, Irish Butter Toffee, Barley Sugar and Glucose Fruits.

Reacting to the demolition of the factory, local councillor Dessie Larkin said the people in the town were sad to see the factory finally disappear. But the loss of the factory is less of a loss than then loss of the brand. “People are sad to see what would have been an iconic facade in Letterkenny going,” he said. “The demolition has rekindled memories we all would have had of the sweet smells coming from the Oatfield factory and the horn sounding the clocking off alarm. But there is a greater loss than the building and that is the loss of an iconic brand recognised throughout the world that has been lost to Donegal and Letterkenny. It is very sad and people can reminisce about the building but we lost the battle when the brand was sold. Now we are focusing on developing the artisan side of things and bespoke craft makers but we had it, we lost it and now we are trying to recreate it.”


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