Made in Ireland

since 1882

sketched image of house in countryside
Cleeves Toffees owes its origins to the entrepreneurship of one man, Thomas Henry Cleeve. His father was an Englishman who emigrated to Canada and married an Irish woman of Huguenot background. Thomas was born in Quebec

in 1844.. He was reared and educated in Canada and came to Limerick, Ireland in 1864 to assist his uncle, Mr Ben Journeaux, who had a large agricultural machinery business there called J.P. Evans and Company.

However it was the dairy industry where Thomas came to make his mark. Again Thomas acquired a mill that had been used for textiles and then flour but which he rearranged for the manufacture of butter and other dairy products in 1882.. His brothers were instrumental in establishing a large number of creameries throughout Munster and their output was channelled into a second factory which Thomas opened in 1889 and which he situated across the road from his mill.

Within 10 years, the Cleeves Brothers operated the largest milk processing factory in Ireland. But ahead of his time, Thomas saw the advantage of adding value as well as forward integration to his operations and so aside from processing the cream and skim milk, the factory branched out into the manufacture of butter, chocolate, tinned condensed milk, cream, boxes and most importantly for our business, sweets and particularly toffee.

image of sketched cow
cleeves irish confectionery truck
cleeves irish confectionery milk chocolate image wiht children in boat
cleeves irish confectionery image of milk company
cleeves irish confectionery toffee tin
image of badge
In the early 1900’s, the factory was producing not just 60,000 tins of condensed milk each day but was also producing the tins and transporting the various products of the factory to all parts of the British Empire. Business peaked with the start of World War One in 1914 and condensed milk sales boomed throughout the war. The factory employed in excess of 1,000 workers in the period from 1900 to 1918 whilst the overall business employed a further 2,000 in its creameries drawing in milk from a network of some 5,000 farmers throughout Munster.

However the business suffered a massive decline once the war ended and the company went into liquidation in 1923. Such a change in its fortunes can be attributed to a number of factors:

image of plaque for cleeves milk factory
image of women making sweets in factory with machines