TWENTY years after it closed its last factory in Donegal, former employees of Fruit of the Loom are planning a reunion.
In its heyday as many as 3,500 workers were employed at the clothing manufacturer’s four Donegal plants dotted across Milford, Malin, Raphoe and Buncrana.
At its height Fruit of the Loom employed staff from all over Donegal, Derry, Strabane and Fermanagh in its North West factories. With little sign that the company was in trouble, Ireland was left stunned when in 1999 Fruit of the Loom bosses pulled the plug on all four operations.
To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the closures, former workers are organising a get together to remember the camaraderie of the factory floor and to pay tribute to the Fruit of the Loom workers who have since passed on.
Among those organising the reunion, taking place in Biddy Friel’s, Drumoghill, tomorrow, Saturday, April 13, is Evelyn Ayton.
Evelyn worked in the Raphoe branch for a decade and says they were some of the best days of her life.
“If Fruit of the Loom came back tomorrow I would be back there,” Ms Ayton said.
“I loved it, I really did. You got to know people who you might never have met, people from Lifford, Strabane, Clady, Castlefinn, we even had people travelling from Glenties to work in the factory.
“There was a real community feel to working there and there was a lot of sadness when it closed.”
A number of music acts are being lined up to perform at the reunion, among them country music star Chrissy Mac.
Ms Ayton added, “Some of the people who worked in the factory, I haven’t seen them since the gates shut so it would be nice to catch up and see how everyone is getting on.”
Tickets for the Fruit of the Loom reunion are €10 and can be purchased from Evelyn Ayton, Bernie Ayton, Margaret McConnell or Fiona Curran. Evelyn can be reached on 0876411786 or any of the sellers on 0876541336, 0864897712 and 0879850217.
Check out Facebook and in particular Chrissy Mac’s page for further details.