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O'Keeffe Clan

Gathering and Rally

9, 10 and 11 Sept 2016

guided tours, lectures

historical and genealogical exhibitions

cultural and musical events,

buffet banquet Saturday evening
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James O'Keeffe 1920-1981

Jimmy O'Keeffe was born in 1920 in Scarteen, Newmarket, Co Cork where he lived, farmed and reared their eleven children with his wife Nora (O'Connor from Fairyhill, Kanturk).

As the eldest of his own family of nine he finished school at thirteen to work on the sixty acre family farm which, as normal at the time, was a very labour intensive mixed enterprise, including fifteen cows. He worked closely with his mother Eileen and they had some outside help as his father Mort worked as the local roads supervisor.

As he grew up Jimmy thrived on the local neighbourly interaction (and drama) which was heightened at the time through shortages caused by the economic war and, later, World War Two.  His experiences of those times, and the benefits of mutual support and fair play gave him a respect for his own and other local communities, and an idealism, that he never lost.

Jimmy o'keeffe

He became very active socially, particularly in playing hurling and football at which he excelled and played well into his forties. All his life he remained deeply involved with the GAA.

He also became involved in the development of his local Newmarket Co-operative Creamery during the early fifties of which he became a committee member and then Chairman from 1974 to 1981.

In the late forties farming in Ireland was very depressed and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) was founded in 1950 as the only country wide farming organization at the time, in reaction to the reduction by the government of an already low milk price.  Along with many small to medium dairy farmers at the time he joined the new organization which gave them badly needed new hope. 

The fifties and sixties although still poor were exciting times for Irish farmers with the growth of organisations which gave them a voice for the first time both individually at meetings and collectively as a movement.  It all helped greatly towards developing their industry, marketing their products and improving their incomes.

Jimmy, like many others, embraced the enthusiasm and hope generated by the ICMSA among farmers and enjoyed playing his own role in helping to build it up all over the country while running his own farm with the help of his wife Nora whom he married in 1955. He became a council member in 1962 and was President from 1968 to 1978.

During that period through joining the EEC in 1973 the Irish agricultural industry developed greatly and, on behalf of ICMSA, he was involved with other organisations which played a part in that development including ACC, Bord Bainne (of which he became Chairman), the Economic and Social Committee, the Governing Body of NIHE (now University College Limerick), and in 1980 as first Chairman of ACOT which later became Teagasc.

Despite a healthy lifestyle he died in November 1981 at the age of 61 having suffered from cancer for over a year.

One of his hopes had been to see the establishment of dedicated institutions around the country to promote appropriate local training and rural development.

Following his death, that was delivered in his local Newmarket through the James O'Keeffe Institute, by the work and generosity of many of his friends and by organisations both local and national.

James O'Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co. Cork.
jok institute