The Kiernan mill at Granard, a small town in the north of County Longford in the centre of Ireland, was set up in 1978 by three local pig farmers. This was the time when the pig industry in Ireland was starting to establish itself on a real commercial level and the three farmers wanted access to a consistent source of quality feed to help grow their businesses. They were called Pat Hanly, Buddy Kiernan and Benny Maguire and hence the feed business was originally known from their initials as HKM Milling.
Patrick ‘Buddy’ Kiernan had been born in New York to Irish parents who, in the 1930s and 40s, ran several bars which had been Speakeasys during the time of Prohibition in America. But it was during the Second World War, when soldiers had money and were willing to spend it, that the family really prospered. Things got harder at the end of the war and, in 1945, Buddy’s father Willie sensed it was time to move his family on. They returned to his native home town of Ballinamore, where they invested their savings in the local pub. It was the backyard here that the young Buddy began keeping pigs.
Over the years, Buddy experimented with different husbandry systems and facilities, all the while adding to his knowledge about what his animals required to thrive. And all the while, his herd expanded.
Fast forward thirty years, and what had begun as a few fatteners behind a pub had grown into several-thousand-sow pig operation. “He was,” says Sean McGlynn (six years with Kiernan Milling, now the company’s commercial and technical manager and also host for my visit) “a real go-getter.” So it is unsurprising to learn that just 10 years after the mill had been established, Buddy as the largest of the three owners in terms of pigs produced, was able to buy out his two partners.