The closure of a food plant in Co Tipperary means the loss of over a hundred jobs for the small town of Fethard.

Dawn Fresh Foods (DFF), a part of the Queally Group, has confirmed the closure of the plant, which produced chilled and frozen convenience meat dishes for the Irish and UK markets, reports the Irish Independent.

Jobs at the plant, which opened in 1984, will be phased out with all jobs expected to be ended by November -- a devastating blow to the town of Fethard, which has a population of only 1,000.

A decline in sales is to be blamed for the closure of the facility, along with rising costs, said the firm.

"After lengthy thought and consideration and exploration of all avenues, including a 30-day consultation period with staff, it has become evident that a viable rescue plan is not achievable," said a DFF spokesperson.

The firm has reduced the workforce at the Co Tipperary from nearly 150 workers down to 104 over the past three years.

"The closure is going to have a huge knock-on effect for business in the town, which has been badly hit over the last few months," said Fethard businessman Larry Kenny.

Junior agriculture minister and local TD Tom Hayes said he was "very disappointed" by shuttering of the plant, and has scheduled a meeting with DFF/QK managing director Peter Queally about the closure.

"My initial thoughts are with the families of the staff of those concerned at this difficult time. I will be meeting with the staff and management in the coming days to discuss this announcement and the future plans for the plant," said Hayes.

"Unfortunately, this decision follows five years of tough trading conditions for DFF.

"The demand for ready meals, especially in the UK market, has reduced considerably since the horse-meat controversy and considering that 80pc of all output from the Fethard plant is exported, the continuing weakness of sterling has also compounded matters," he added.

The closing of the plant is said to be unrelated to the horse-meat controversy that DFF was drawn into last February. Oak Farm Foods, a UK subsidiary of DFF, produced the pies that were recalled after sampling showed that some tested positive for horse DNA.