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Arklow factory saved from closure
A town saved from a ‘dreadful calamity’? A view of Arklow, Co. Wicklow Photo: National Library of Ireland

Arklow factory saved from closure

Arklow, 19 February 1918 - The threatened closure of the Kynoch factory in Arklow, Co. Wicklow has been averted following an intervention by John Redmond and his Irish Party colleagues. The factory employs 3,500 people and is a mainstay of the town’s economy.

The decision to close, which was reported last week, was believed to originate with Winston Churchill, the Minister of Munitions. However, there have also been reports that the planned closure was the consequence of ‘personal animus’ against a leading figure within the firm by a member of the Munitions Ministry.

When the plans emerged, Canon Flavin, the parish priest in Arklow, wrote a strongly-worded telegram to Mr Redmond and others stating that it was a dreadful calamity and would result in over £250,000 in wages being lost to the town. The repercussions would be felt not only in Wicklow but in the neighbouring counties of Wexford and Dublin as well.

Redmond, in co-operation with Capt. Donelan MP and John Donovan MP, had for some time been in communication with the Ministry of Munitions over reduced output from the Kynoch plant and the threat it posed to employment. In light of the announcement of a closure, these efforts were redoubled, with Redmond leading a deputation – consisting of Kynoch directors and local town and county officials – to meet senior ministry representatives and make their case.

The Kynoch plant pre-dates the war and for almost two decades beforehand it was a leading manufacturer of explosives.

Once the war broke out it was expanded which resulted in more employment. Although the announcement that the factory would now remain open comes as good news to those dependent upon it, no assurances were forthcoming that the facility would not be downsized.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.