Carlow Sugar Factory was closed down by Irish Sugar in March 2005. The factory had been in production for 80 years. The sugar industry in Ireland can be traced back to 1851. In that year the Royal Irish Beet-Root Sugar Factory was founded in Mountmellick Co Laois. The aim was to produce sufficient sugar to replace sugar imports to Ireland. However the factory failed after being in operation for just 10 years.
Following independence in 1922 the Irish Government set as one of its priorities the development of a Sugar Beet Industry. In 1924 the Government announced that Ireland’s first sugar factory was to be built. A strong local campaign was mounted by Carlow people to have the sugar factory located in Carlow town.
During the campaign it was emphasised that Carlow was a rich tillage area and had good rail and waterway connections. The campaign succeeded in winning government and investor approval to locate the factory in Carlow. The factory was constructed on a green-field site on the Athy Road on northern side of Carlow town. The sod was turned for the building of the Carlow Sugar Factory by the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Patrick Foley on January 5th 1926.
By 1945 Ireland was almost self-sufficient in sugar. As time went on the sugar industry diversified into areas such a soil testing, lime production, food production and machinery manufacture. The industry gave rise to many downstream industries and produced many highly skilled workers. Though the Sugar Factory has ceased production a campaign is underway to establish a similar industry in Carlow.
Carlow Sugar Factory was closed down in the year 2005 On This Day.