End of the line for Emerald in this isle

The last batch of one of Ireland’s most famous sweets has rolled off the production line, bringing an end to almost 100 years of tradition.

Hundreds of thousands of Emerald chocolate toffees have been exported around the world in recent years.

The “emerald” became Co Donegal company Oatfield’s firm favourite since it was first made in the 1920s.

However, the owners of Oatfield Sweets, Zed Candy, decided to close the Letterkenny factory on May 27, and will switch production to England.

Workers watched as the final rows of the famous sweets were covered in chocolate and packed for the last time.

The move will lead to 17 workers losing their jobs and bring an end to one of the north-west’s most famous firms.

At the height of its production, Oatfield employed 85 workers and produced a range of popular sweets including orange chocolates and Irish butter toffee.

The company was founded by Ira and Haddon McKinney in 1927. They first made sweets on an open coke fire in a shed before they moved to the site of the current factory in 1930.

Workers are negotiating their redundancy terms and are seeking three weeks’ pay for each year of service.

Local senator Jimmy Harte, who has represented workers on several occasions, said he hopes management at Zed Candy will give workers the redundancy packages they deserve.

“The Oatfield workforce have always been a loyal and hard-working group of people,” he said. “I spoke with management at Zed Candy and they have assured me that they will do all in their powers to accommodate the workers.”


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