Production transfer calls time on Beamish, Ireland's oldest brewery


IRELAND’S OLDEST brewery, a landmark on South Main Street in Cork since at least 1650 and home to Beamish and Crawford since 1792, ceased operation yesterday.

The Tudor-fronted counting house of Beamish and Crawford was unusually quiet yesterday as a small band of long-term employees said their final goodbyes to a much loved workplace.

The taster’s room was opened for one last time yesterday morning as head brewer Rory Bevan and a group of other employees sampled a glass of Beamish to ensure its consistency and quality for the very last time at the South Main Street site.

Production of Beamish is being transferred to the Heineken Lady’s Well brewery in Cork following a decision made last year. This means that Beamish and Murphy’s, once bitter rivals, will now be housed under the same roof.

Mr Bevan, who is moving to the Heineken site, said the closure of the South Main Street brewery represented the end of an era for generations of Cork families.

Mr Bevan started as a junior brewer at the site 25 years ago. He spoke of his fond memories of all the Cork “characters” who worked at Beamish.

“ It is a jolly industry. At the end of the day our product is beer. It is about fun. It is a great product to empathise with and all the employees had a great empathy and loyalty and pride in the product.

“It has been a sad time but underpinning that is the fact the takeover by Heineken has consolidated the brewing of beer in Cork. For a city of Cork to have a brewery retained is great.”

His colleague Eamonn O’Sullivan said Beamish and Crawford was an enjoyable place to work. It was more than a workplace – it was a way of life for its employees.

Head of IT Dave Dilloughery said Beamish and Crawford prided itself on the fact that there wasn’t much in the way of turnover of staff. Once people started working at the brewery, “they felt part of a family and there was great pride in the Beamish brand and the Beamish brewery and being in the heart of the city”.

Heineken Ireland meanwhile has presented the Beamish archives – probably one of the most complete brewing archives in Ireland or Britain – to the Cork city archives.

Cork city and county archivist Brian McGee is set to trawl through 400 boxes of material and about 400 architectural drawings over the next few months. Mr McGee described the documents as a unique record of everything that happened on the South Main Street site for more than 200 years.