SHER Mohammad Rafique, Clare Road, Ballyhaunis, who died last week, was a central player in the community life of Ballyhaunis and the farming fraternity in the province for many years.
The Pakistani businessman (pictured) came to Ballyhaunis in the mid to late 1970s and established the Halal Meats company on a site at Clare Road where the Webb family previously had a butchering facility.
Mr Rafique, who was in his mid-80s, became the public face of the business enterprise that was to have a transforming impact on the town and region. The late Seán Clarke from Ballindine was the first General Manager at Halal Meats.
Ballyhaunis councillor, John Cribbin, said Mr Rafique brought life and hope to Ballyhaunis and to the farming community in the late 1970s. “He opened up markets for beef and lamb in countries some farmers had never heard of. He had agents at all the marts around the province and they were competing with the established factories which resulted in increased prices for farmers.
“He was a good community man and was noted for his generosity and great support for local ventures in Ballyhaunis. He met Msgr Horan when the Knock PP was campaigning for the airport and it is well known that he gave the Monsignor a sizeable donation at the time to assist with the airport project. You could say they were men who were both in a hurry,” said John Cribbin.
Avonmore, based in Ballyragget in Co Kilkenny, purchased the Halal enterprise in 1992 and later sold it on to Dawn Meats in 1999. This company, established by Peter and John Queally and Dan Browne, has its headquarters in Grannagh on the Kilkenny/Waterford border, about two miles from Waterford city. Dawn Meats is Ireland’s largest red meat processor and one of the largest suppliers of Irish and British beef, pork and lamb in Europe.
Many former workers from the 1980s and 90s, together with the current staff at Dawn Meats, attended the funeral ceremony in Ballyhaunis last Tuesday with some making long journeys back to the town to pay their respects to a man who helped provide many jobs at a time when farming was in a valley period.
The local business community was also out in big numbers while many people from the Ballyhaunis community and hinterland swelled the large attendance.
Reposing took place at The Mosque from 10am to 12 noon today with removal to the local cemetery at 2.30pm.
The community extends deepest sympathy to his wife, sons and daughters, members of the extended Rafique family circle and friends throughout Ireland.