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Tears and Smiles as the HB Factory Closes
- 21st August 2003

Ireland's best known ice cream factory closed its doors for the final time today with the loss of 170 jobs. The HB factory located on Nutgrove Avenue (beside Nutgrove Shopping Center) has provided employment for the residents of Rathfarnham for decades. HB has played an integral part in Rathfarnham's history and its closure has signalled a change in the times.

Many of the employees were in tears as they left their workmates for the last time. ''It's a very stressful day, a very emotional day, and jogs back a lot of memories of a lot of good times'' said one worker of 27 years. Debbie Farell who worked in HB for 19 years told the media of her time -''I left school and came here for one season...and ever since that I just loved the job and the people I worked with and I stayed ever since''. Some workers were very upset as they had worked at the plant for over 30 years and were not too sure what to do next.

HB wasn't always an ice cream factory. Initially, HB was a dairy and they started manufacturing ice cream in 1926. Later they split the two businesses and HB Ice Cream became part of the multinational company Unilever. Unilever owns brands such as Persil washing powder, Birds Eye frozen food and Ck One Perfume.

HB stands for Hughes Brothers and for Hazel Brook - the name of the farm house that William Hughes built in 1896. There is even a stream called Hazel Brook that runs through the grounds of the primary school located beside the dairy. In times gone past, horses used to graze on the grounds where the factory is situated and they would pull the carts of milk to the shops and houses in South Co. Dublin. Soon they were replaced by electric vans but the deliveries slowed down since they could not keep up with the horses.

There are many reasons for the closure of the HB factory. One is that the consumption of ice creams has fallen significantly in recent years. People are more inclined to buy fewer but more expensive ice creams. Another big factor is that the HB plant is too big and too small. It is too big for the Irish market and it is too small for the European market and therefore Unilever didn't see much merit in it's existance.

HB won't dissapear from Ireland yet as they are going to continue the production at a dairy plant in Cavan in the Autumn.