Searching for Midleton’s ‘lost’ 19th century brewery.

View of Drury's Avenue through the archway under the granary which marks the north-eastern boundary of the site of the 'lost' brewery.

View of Drury’s Avenue through the archway under the granary which marks the north-eastern boundary of the site of the ‘lost’ brewery. This archway seems to be too low to be the main entrance to the brewery. Very likely the entrance was on Charles Street, now Connolly Street.

When researching the history of Midleton, one must admit that it can be very frustrating trying to put together an accurate picture of the town’s past. There really must be something in the local water supply that allows people to forget that there were once TWO distilleries in Midleton. And there were TWO breweries. As already noted on this blog, Midleton had a brewery established and run by the Coppinger family from at least the 1790s to the late 1830s when it closed, probably under pressure from Fr Theobald Mathew’s temperance campaign. The site and the main brewery building are still extant at the southern end of Main Street.

In his Topographcial Dictionary (1837), Samuel Lewis mentions ‘….two very large breweries and two extensive malting establishments….’ We know that the malting establishments were in Ballinacurra, and one brewery was the Coppinger establishment in Midleton, which was noted by the Ordnance Survey in its first edition six inch map of the town c.1843. But the Coppinger brewery had closed by then. William Shaw Mason’s Statistical Account or Parochial Survey of Ireland (Vol 3), from 1819, notes only one brewery in Midleton. So where was the other brewery mentioned in Lewis?

Midleton's 'lost' brewery (outlined in orange) was located between Main Street and Drury's Lane (now Drury's Avenue) but seems to have closed as a brewery before the first edition six inch Ordnance Survey map of the town was published.

Midleton’s ‘lost’ brewery (outlined in orange) was located between Main Street and Drury’s Lane (now Drury’s Avenue) but seems to have closed as a brewery before the first edition six inch Ordnance Survey map of the town was published. The ‘Old Brewery’ at the bottom of the map was the establishment of John and Joseph Coppinger.

A gentleman who joined my second Heritage Week walking tour of Midleton’s commercial and industrial heritage on Sunday 30th August has supplied me with information from the preliminary maps made by the Ordnance Survey. These preliminary maps or surveys were never published, but they do show the presence of a brewery on a site just off Main Street.

It seems the site of the brewery stretched from Main Street to Drury’s Lane (now called Drury’s Avenue, although it is still a laneway in its dimensions). It seems that the premises on Main Street may have been a public house or a shop selling beer. Because the old archway into the site from Drury’s Avenue is so low, it is likely that the entrance to the brewery was almost certainly on Charles Street (no Connolly Street), at the former Tattan’s Yard, now redeveloped into an apartment complex called Granary Court. The granary referred to by this name is actually located on Drury’s Avenue and stretches down both the northern and southern side of the site. The large building is now converted into apartments. Almost certainly part of this was actually a malthouse for supplying malt barley for brewing.

The site of Midleton's 'lost' brewery was a long narrow town plot with tall maltings and grain stores on each side. Behind the building on the right was a tannery.

The site of Midleton’s ‘lost’ brewery was a long narrow town plot with tall maltings and grain stores on each side. Behind the building on the right was a tannery. The buildings are now converted into apartments. The spire in the distance is that of St John the Baptist’s Church (Anglican). The archway noted above would be located behind the viewer.

The key difficulty now presented to us is to identify the owner. Pigott’s directory of 1824 gives us John and Joseph Coppinger as brewers and maltsters in Midleton. But it also gives us John Lomasney as a maltster. No address is given for him so we must presume that, like the Coppingers, he was based in Midleton itself rather than in Ballinacurra. To make matters even more interesting, the adjoining plot to the north of this brewery was a tannery. One can hardly imagine two less congenial neighbours. Obviously the brewers had to ensure that their water supply was not contaminated by runoff from the tannery.

Two things come out of this. First is Lewis’s description of TWO…’..very large breweries…’ in Midleton. The scale of the buildings remaining on this second site seems to support this. Midleton could easily have developed into a major brewing center in County Cork. Secondly, the fact that the second brewery seems to be omitted from the local memory or even the local record is striking, almost as if the town wished to forget its association with brewing, whilst acknowledging its links to distilling.

There’s more work to be done on this! Watch this space!

I wish to acknowledge the assistance of Caen Harris in providing valuable information for this post.

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A funeral, culture, history and football…a busy weekend in September.

Thomas (left) and David Kent under escort to Fermoy Military Barracks in 1916. Thomas was executed in Cork on 9th May, but David was taken to Dublin and tried there. He was sentenced to five years of penal servitude.

Thomas (left) and David (right) Kent crossing Fermoy Bridge under miltiary and police escort to Fermoy Military Barracks in 1916. Thomas was executed in Cork on 9th May, but David was taken to Dublin and tried there. He was sentenced to five years of penal servitude. Thomas will finally be buried in the family grave in Castlelyons on 18th September 2015.

Tomorrow, Friday 18 September, sees the State Funeral of the ‘forgotten man’ of 1916. Thomas Kent of Bawnard, Castlelyons, County Cork, was executed a few days after his violent arrest, following a court marital in Victoria Barracks, Cork.This happened in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising when the authorities were nervous that there might be further disturbances. Ninety-nine years after his execution, Kent’s remains were exhumed from the yard of Cork Prison, the former military prison, where he had been buried in accordance with British law. The government offered his family a State Funeral to honour him, but also, one suspects, to make up for decades of official refusal to exhume his remains. The funeral, in a way, will mark the beginning of the official commemoration of the 1916 Rebellion.

Midleton Endowed School was founded by Elizabeth Villiers Countess of Orkney in 1696. However the main building (on the right) wasn't completed until 1717 under the direction of Thomas Brodrick of Midleton. The wing on the left was added in the 19th century.

Midleton Endowed School was founded by Elizabeth Villiers Countess of Orkney in 1696. However the main building (on the right) wasn’t completed until 1717 under the direction of Thomas Brodrick of Midleton. The wing on the left was added in the 19th century.

Later that evening, Ireland celebrates Culture Night. In Midleton, we will have traditional music in the Library from 6.30pm,  followed at 7.15pm by an illustrated lecture on the Architects and Architecture of Midleton 1717-1908 presented by myself.The aim of the lecture is to encourage people to LOOK at the buildings around them, and to dismiss erroneous attributions or claims made for some buildings.

The Australian Gunner Ambrose Haley died of wounds received on the Western Front and was buried by his relatives in the family plot in Holy Rosary Cemetery, Midleton.

The Australian Gunner Ambrose Haley died of wounds received on the Western Front and was buried by his relatives in the family plot in Holy Rosary Cemetery, Midleton. (Australian National War Memorial)

The weekend sees a busy schedule. In my last post I wondered if anyone had got around to cloning a human being. This could prove useful! Firstly, Midleton sees the official opening of MY Place, the converted former fire station, now splendidly transformed into a community and yought facility (from 12.00 noon on Saturday 19 September). Then, on Sunday 20 September, the same venue hosts a World War I exhibition and lectures by the Western Front Association (Cork Branch).

With Cork, Youghal was the most important town in the county in 1600. It was the center of commerce in the eastern part of County Cork.

Youghal, as we know it, was founded by the Fitzgeralds. This weekend celebrates their influence in Munster and especially East Corka and West Waterford, especially the foundation of the Dromana estate 800 years ago.

However, the same days see the annual Youghal Celebrates History Conference at the Mall Arts Center in Youghal and at Dromana House in County Waterford. This year’s theme is the FitzGeralds of Desmond which links into 800 years of Dromana. Now you know why I wondered in my last post if someone had figured out how to cone a human being.

Sunday's prize - capturing the Sam Maguire Trophy is the goal of Kerry and Dublin on Sunday.

Sunday’s prize – capturing the Sam Maguire Trophy is the goal of Kerry and Dublin on Sunday.

And just to top it all off – Sunday also sees the All-Ireland Football Final between Kerry and Dublin, a contest that promises much excitement. Hopefully Kerry will do Munster proud again!

Links:

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/castlelyons-village-prepares-for-thomas-kent-funeral-354029.html

http://culturenightcorkcounty.ie/events/324/midleton-library/

https://www.facebook.com/MY-Place-Midleton-219145221590464/timeline/

http://youghalcelebrateshistory.com/

http://www.rte.ie/sport/gaa/2015/0916/728318-column/

‘…a good market for flesh and fish….’ Celebrating good food and drink in Midleton.

Main Street, Midleton, was designed as a market place - and with the Food and Drink Festival in September, it reverts to this function.

The broad and straight Main Street in Midleton was originally designed as a market place – and with the Food and Drink Festival in September, it reverts to this function.

Does anyone know how to clone a human being? I fear I may have to subject myself to the procedure this month. Tomorrow, Saturday 12th Sept, Midleton celebrates its annual Food and Drink Festival. The whole Main Street from the Courthouse to Brodrick Street will be closed off for the festival, which will spill over into Connolly Street. The festival actually started on Friday 4th September with Fishy Friday – an appropriate celebration of Midleton’s proximity to the sea and the fishing port of Ballycotton.  Wednesday 9th Sept saw the official launch banquet with a medieval feast in the Jameson Heritage Center. Tomorrow’s street festival is the main event.

What I suspect is that most visitors will not be aware that Midleton had a good reputation for produce as early as 1750. In that year, Dr Charles Smith published The Ancient and Present state of the County and City of Cork. This survey of the county included the remark that Midleton (or Middleton, as he wrote it) possessed a good market for flesh and fish. The remark was interesting in that it almost certainly reflected the reputation of the town’s produce at the time. Alas, in keeping with the eighteenth century tradition of emphasizing the importance of meat and fish, Smith does not discuss the vegetable produce of the town. One would give much to know what people thought of the local vegetables and fruit at the time.

The earliest list of grocers and food shops in Midleton dates from 1824 (Pigot’s Directory). One gets the impression that the listing may be incomplete. It lists just three bakers, two butchers, a couple of grocers….and eight or nine spirit dealers, which gives an idea of the priorities. There was one distillery (Hackett’s) in 1824. Market day was, of course, on Saturday and there were four fairs during the year.

MiddletonFoodAndWineFestival2013 Slater’s Directory of 1856 gives us more detail: eleven bakers, eight butchers (five on Charles Street – now Connolly Street), fifteen grocers, nine spirit dealers and nineteen public houses (pubs). The Murphy brothers ran the only distillery (Hackett’s had closed by 1850). In 1870 Slater’s listed fifteen bakers, eleven butchers (all on Charles Street except for one on Main Street) and twenty-two pubs. In 1881 there were just ten bakers, still eight butchers, thirty two grocers (!) and only nineteen pubs.

These changes reflected the changing economy of Midleton from 1824 until 1881. The directories also show how the railway completed in 1859 had a major effect on the shopping habits of the people with more imports being made more readily available.

The Ballymaloe Quartet. Rachel Allen, Myrtle Allen, Darina Allen and Rory O'Connell.

The Ballymaloe Quartet. Rachel Allen, Myrtle Allen, Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell.

Midleton’s modern obsession with good food can be traced to Myrtle Allen. The doyenne of modern Irish cuisine opened a restaurant in the dining room of her home, Ballymaloe House in 1964. Myrtle had the bizarre notion of serving food produced locally and in season instead of relying on imported, and out of season, ingredients. Nowadays this is considered to be a standard policy in the best restaurants. With cookery courses being launched a couple of years later, Myrtle and Darina O’Connell (now Darina Allen) have had an enormous influence on the Irish restaurant trade. But it went further than that – they also had a huge impact on Irish artisan food producers, making the Ballymaloe effect even more important in the whole world of Irish food.  A very good reason to celebrate good food and drink during the harvest season in Midleton..

Link: http://info660993.wix.com/midletonfoodfestival

The first Sunday in September – the seasons turn again.

Padraig Mannion (Galway), John Power (Kilkenny)

Padraig Mannion (Galway – maroon* shirt), John Power (Kilkenny – black and amber shirt) in the Allianz National Hurling League game earlier this year. (When first published, the colour given here for the Galway shirt was ‘burgundy.’  However, I have been advised that the official colour is maroon. I must have been thinking of the 16th century wine trade between Galway and Spain!)

When does the autumn (the Fall to you North Americans) begin? Traditionally in Ireland it started on the first day of August. A meteorologist would state 1st September is the scientific date. Parents would suggest it starts when the children go back to school (this year some schools opened during the last full week in August!). But more and more in Ireland it seems to be the first Sunday in September, that is 6th September this year. All because of a hurling match.

As noted last year, the first Sunday in September is sacrosanct in hurling circles in Ireland – it’s the date of the All Ireland Hurling Championship Final in Croke Park, Dublin. This year’s final will be contested between last year’s winners Kilkenny (known as the ‘Cats’) and Galway (the ‘Tribesmen’). Having shocked everybody by defeating Tipperary in a thrilling semi-final, Galway are very welcome contestants for Kilkenny – and I’m saying this as a Corkman! Much as I admire Kilkenny, I feel the time has come for somebody to snatch the Liam McCarthy Cup away from them, if only to keep them on their toes!.Besides they’ve won that trophy seven times in the last nine years. Galway are aspiring to prise Kilkenny’s grip from the McCarthy cup for their first title since 1988! For this match, neutrals will be as rare as hen’s teeth.

The nobleman Culainn had a ferocious guard hound (cu) that was killed by the boy Setanta who struck a sliotar (hurling ball) down the hound's throat. Setanta then offered to become Culainn's new guard hound. Hence the name he was given - Cu Chulainn, or Culainn's Hound.

The nobleman Culainn had a ferocious guard hound (cu) that was killed by the boy Setanta who struck a sliotar (hurling ball) down the hound’s throat. Setanta then offered to become Culainn’s new guard hound. Hence the name he was given – Cu Chulainn, or Culainn’s Hound. Hurling is still a game that creates near mythical heroes.

The weather forecast looks good – dry and sunny with some small risk of showers hater (hopefully MUCH later). We’re enjoying something of an Indian summer at present although the temperatures are not exceptional. It’s dry – that’s all that matters!

For anyone who has never seen a game of hurling, I’d say, if you’re visiting Ireland during the summer months – go and watch a local club game! You may not understand it, but someone will try (and usually fail) to explain it to you. Or better, watch a major championship match on television. It’s unlikely you’d get a ticket to the big games – they get snapped up instantly. And remember the players are ALL ‘amateurs’ – that is they are not on a salary of any kind and yet they boast fitness levels that would rival that of most professional footballers on six figure sums. They play for pride of club, parish or county and for the honour of being a hero – in the true Corinthian spirit.

Made of hair. The earliest dates from the later twelfth century - between 1150 and 1200!

Made of matted cow hair with a horsehair covering, these early sliotars (hurling balls) are very different from the modern cork and leather sliotars. The earliest dates from the later twelfth century – between 1150 and 1200! The English tried to suppress hurling but its modern revival dates from the spread of the Gaelic Athletic Association in the 1880s.

Our official national festival is St Patrick’s Day, but to see 80,200 intermingled fans in Croke Park screaming on their respective counties probably gives a better indication of Ireland’s entrenched localism. There is a very real claim that the game is some 2,000 years old, with the modern rules being formulated in 1881, But it seems that the passions aroused by the game  haven’t aged one bit – there’s life in this old game yet!

Hurley used by Pat Madden of Meelick in the 1887 All Ireland Hurling Final against Thurles.

Hurley used by Pat Madden of Meelick in the 1887 All Ireland Hurling Final against Thurles. The modern hurley is somewhat more ergonomic, but every bit as deadly on the field of play.

Kikenny won’t have the mighty Henry Shefflin, who has retired. Not that they missed him – they have so many good players. Galway have already beaten Kikenny in the Allianz Hurling League and will play the irrepressible Joe Canning. Who is likely to win? It’s genuinely difficult to say, but I’m rooting for Galway!