An intriguing parcel arrived in my postbox last week from my good friend John Haire of Strabane. I was pleasantly surprised to find a book about the history of the parish of Urney. Urney parish consists of townlands from counties Tyrone and Donegal and it was where Urney Chocolates first began trading in 1919. Leafing through the book I came upon the chapter "Urney Chocolates, Sweet Success" written by John's brother William. It details the history of the factory from its inception to its closure.
There is a lovely anecdote about factory founder Eileen Gallagher in her role of traveling saleswoman during the factory's early years. Eileen noticed that one shop down the country was placing large orders for Urney produce. She asked the shopkeeper how the customers liked the sweets only to get the reply "The farmers find them great in their tea as sugar is still rationed." Probably not the answer Eileen had hoped for! Luckily, this lack of appreciation for her efforts as confectioner did not dampen her spirits too much and the business went from strength to strength.
The publication, titled Urney, History, People, Place (ISBN: 978-0-9568891-0-2) covers all aspects of parish life from remarkable individuals that came from the area to religion, farming and industry. Published by Doneyloop Youth Club and edited by Daniel McMenamin, many authors have contributed to the publication resulting in a valuable and engaging local history resource. Thank you John!