The Connolly Family
The Connolly family is more than just a business. It is a legacy for future generations who share a commitment to delivering premium equine well-being and nutrition solutions
A long line of Connollys has grown the business into what it is today. Connolly’s RED MILLS is the embodiment of advanced equine nutrition. What began as a mill on the River Barrow in Ireland has grown to become one of the most world-renowned equine feed manufacturers in the world, with the Connolly family still playing a leading role in every aspect of the business today. The Connollys are committed to delivering the most advanced feed for generations to come while expanding the Connolly’s RED MILLS portfolio of products to include both Foran Equine supplements and Carr & Day & Martin care products, providing a comprehensive equine nutrition and care solution to our customers.
A strong lineage of Connollys with a story that dates back over 100 years
Connolly's RED MILLS is the product of a long-standing family tree of Connollys who share a mutual passion for the health, well-being and performance of animals.
Returning to his inheritance in 1866, Michael Connolly foresaw a family legacy that would be bigger than he could have imagined after his purchase of the mill on the River Barrow.
In the 1800s, the Great Famine and the repeal of Corn Laws confronted the Connollys in Bagenalstown, County Carlow. With the nation starved of its most prominent crop, the Connollys fled Ireland for America, like thousands of others.
At the age of 36, Michael Connolly returned to inherit the family’s bakery business in 1866. During his time away in Long Island, New York where he worked as a head lad for a French horse trainer in the 1840s, the Great Famine and economic turmoil had resulted in the flour mill industry consolidating to the ports of Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick, shutting down almost every rural mill there was.
Despite this, 1908 saw Michael purchase a mill on the River Barrow that was built by Englishman John Handy in 1758. He restarted the mill in Goresbridge as William Connolly & Sons Ltd, named after his youngest son, William.
Creating a landmark, defining the brand through innovation, and expanding the product range in the midst of the technological era.
With four other mills in the area all producing similar products for the local farming community, William painted the roof of the mill red to set Connolly’s apart from the rest. Unbeknownst to him, a brand icon was born that is now known worldwide as Connolly’s RED MILLS.
After two World Wars, the Depression, and Foot and Mouth Disease in 1841, William handed over the company to his son, Liam, who embraced the role at the birth of the technological era. A high-tech, modern mill was born in the 1950s after connecting to the national electricity grid.
As the third generation of Connollys, Liam steered Connolly’s RED MILLS for half a century and laid down the blueprint of innovation in the form of new product technology, sales and marketing that would inevitably globalise the brand. From connecting to the national electricity grid and investing in the first pellet mill to implementing the first computerised payment system and high-temperature extrusion for fish and pet food, Liam revolutionised Connolly’s RED MILLS.
The birth of Connolly's RED MILLS' first cooked horse feed gave way to a series of racehorse winners, and it all began with a local racehorse trainer.
In 1963, Paddy Mullins approached the Connollys seeking advice on a horse that refused to eat. While they didn’t produce horse feed at the time, Liam decided to take on the challenge. He created a formula that comprised all the horse’s nutritional requirements, cooking it to make it more appetising and digestible.
Paddy Mullins spread the word, hailing the formula as the turning point in the horse’s development. The horse, Vulpine, proceeded to win the 1966 Powers Gold Cup and the 1967 Irish Grand National.
This was the beginning of a new arm in the Connolly family business which has expanded to feed 93 winners of group and grade 1 in 14 countries worldwide.
Expanding onto the world stage
Connolly’s RED MILLS branched out internationally in the 1990s following a fire at the factory, which gave rise to new business advancement and the scaling of our product ranges.
After the factory suffered immense damage in 1992, new opportunities for further modernisation arose as the rebuilding process commenced. Additionally, our ranges of equine, pet and agricultural feeds expanded during this time.
By 1997, we introduced Connolly’s RED MILLS into the UK and USA markets. We also acquired two smaller companies in Ireland, namely E Morrin & Sons Ltd, and Rothwell Grain & Seed Ltd. Just two years later, we launched our new state-of-the-art pet food manufacturing facility in Gowran, a mere five kilometres from the original Connolly’s RED MILLS farm in County Kilkenny.
2006 was the year we entered the Asian market with exports to Japan. We introduced our exclusive Nutrient Fresh Management System™ (NFMS) manufacturing equipment, a world-first in animal feed innovation.
Connolly’s RED MILLS also became the first feed company to secure licensing for the importation of horse feed into mainland China in the year 2012. Today, we proudly export to seven Asian markets.
Striving for complete nutritional excellence
Connolly’s RED MILLS continues to make its mark around the world through naturally sourced ingredients, advanced technology and testing, and our dedication towards brand acquisition and expansion.
At present, Connolly’s RED MILLS is available in more than 80 countries worldwide, with our reputation continuing to speak for itself through converting fresh, natural ingredients into a reputable and trusted feed aimed at peak performance on a global scale.
Through the use of our on-site testing laboratories, we quality-test every ingredient upon arrival, monitoring for Naturally Occurring Prohibited Substances (NOPS) throughout the feed-making process. We utilise the same technology employed at the Olympics for testing athletes to ensure the utmost quality is delivered to our customers.
In 2012, Connolly’s RED MILLS acquired the renowned Foran Equine brand. As an industry leader in equine healthcare products worldwide, this was a tumultuous step that saw us further develop our Precision Nutrition ethos. Our first retail store was launched in Cillin Hill, Kilkenny in the same year in an effort to service our customers’ country lifestyle and cater to their animal nutrition requirements.
2020 was the year Connolly’s RED MILLS acquired Carr & Day & Martin, the world’s oldest equine product manufacturer. This further illustrates our commitment to providing a comprehensive range of equine and animal nutrition and care products to our customers.