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Story of Crannac furniture makers to be told this week

Wednesday, 15th February, 2017 11:13am

Story of Crannac furniture makers to be told this week

Fr Andy Farrell who was involved in the establishment of the co-op.

On Thursday 16th February there will be a talk on Crannac by Noel French at 8pm. in the Columbanus House, Canon Row, Navan, organised by the Navan and District Historical Society.
The Society is appealing to former workers or those involved in the factory or co-op to attend the meeting. It will be an opportunity to recall old times and provide some information for an upcoming journal which hopes to address the story of Crannac. Photographs of the factory or workers would be particularly welcome.
In 1945 John Hogg and Co. Ltd. furniture manufacturers was founded. Wilfrid S. Elliott joined John Hogg as joint manager in 1957 and in 1960 the Elliott family purchased the company. In 1961 with the assistance of Coras Trachtala Teo John Hogg and Co. changed over the style of furniture it was producing. In April 1961 the firm employed Arthur Edwards to design a new style of chairs and settees. This new style, Crannac, was launched in Dublin in early 1962 on the home and export market. The word “Crannac” is derived from the Irish word for “a little copse or wood.” The designs were aimed at the hotel, public lounges, public buildings and offices but were also suitable for private homes. The Crannac frames were made from afromosia, a wood which was imported from Ghana. The finish was not stained or varnished but oil finished by hand which preserved the natural features of the wood. The seats and backs were of special quality polyester, the seats resting on Vitaweb rubber strapping. John Hogg and Co. were positioning themselves as specialist chair manufacturers.
In August 1964 Gael Linn took a controlling interest in John Hogg and Co. Ltd. In 1971 Gael Linn sold all their shares to Edward McElroy of Castleblaney for the reported sum of £14,000. In April 1972 the workers sensed something was happening and formed a workers action committee with the assistance of Jim O’Brien who acted as chairperson. The workers began a sit-in which lasted three months. At the end of May the workers decided to purchase the factory and operate it on a co-operative basis. Twenty five of the forty three workers were interested in the co-operative and each invested £200 and public subscription had raised a further £8000. In 1976 Crannac decided to sell directly to the public. Sales to the retail trade had reduced over the previous year. The business would open on a Saturday and Sunday and be able to sell on a hire purchase plan.
By the 1980 AGM Crannac had experienced a difficult year, partly due to a six week petrol strike. Due to reduced sales workers at Crannac were laid off for six weeks in early 1986. In 1993 Crannac Co-op celebrated its 25th anniversary. At the time it employed 22 workers.
By 2000 the co-op decided to move to new premises. In May 2003 the future of Crannac was causing concern. The future of the enterprise was the main item on the agenda for the annual meeting of shareholders held on 29th May. The meeting having decided to wind up the enterprise. Crannac was the longest running worker’s co-operative in Ireland.
The Academy Square apartment development now stands on the site.