Tullamore

The below is taken from The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom by Alfred Barnard first published in 1887.

Tullamore Distillery, Tullamore, King’s County.

LEAVING the interesting town of Monasterevan, and the kind hospitality of Mr. Cassidy, we once more entered the train, this time for Tullamore, where, on arrival, we were just in time to see a National Demonstration. A procession, headed by a band of music, came in sight, followed by a rickety jaunting car, drawn by a venerable horse, rather groggy on his legs. The animal’s harness was decorated with sprigs of evergreen, while on the car, under an arbour of the same, sat a middle-aged lady, with a pleasant air of jollity on her face, who, we were informed, was an evicted martyr, just released from prison. She was followed by hundreds of nondescript vehicles, and a great crowd of sympathisers. Whilst the first band was playing “Wearin’ o’ the Green,” the second, which brought up the rear, gave us “God bless Ould Ireland,” and although we hailed from the land of the Saxon, “We were not afraid.” Indeed we enjoyed the fun immensely, and got mixed up with the crowd, feeling quite content for the time being to quaff Daly’s Whisky, so freely offered us, and were almost induced to join their ranks.

The weather was bright and sunny, so we took a drive to see the beautiful environs of the thriving town of Tullamore, and later on to visit the Distillery which we had come so far to see. It is situated in the heart of the town, on the banks of the river Clondagh, and with its buildings and grounds covers about ten acres. It was founded in the year 1829, by Mr. Michael Molloy, uncle t the present proprietor. Being planted in the midst of a fine home-grown corn of the finest quality. There is an unfailing supply of water from the celebrated Lough, which feeds the Grand Canal, brought from a great distance direct into the Distillery.

In olden times the town of Tullamore was called Kilbride, but it was destroyed by fire, and rebuilt by the Earl of Charleville, whose beautiful estate comes right up to the town. Afterwards it was called by its present name, and later on it was the terminus of the Grand Canal, before it was extended to Shannon Harbour, which caused it to increase rapidly in prosperity and population. The town is the chief market for all kinds of agricultural produce from a large extent of surrounding country, and contains, beside the Distillery, a tobacco manufactory and several other industries. It is an assize town, and its county court-house is a fine building, in the Grecian style; near to it is the county gaol, a castellated building. The demesne of Charleville is an estate of great natural beauty and richly wooded; the mansion has all the appearance of an English baronial castle. In the park, which is beautifully laid out, there are two pretty lakes, the largest of which is studded with islands. The river Clondagh, which runs through and under the Distillery, drives a huge water-wheel which supplies the motive power. It passes through the Policies of Charleville, where, running through a deep glen overhung with trees, it forms several fine cascades, adding to the natural beauty of the park.

Not far distant from Tullamore Distillery are to be seen the ruins of a castle, built in 1326, and there are besides three small square castles of very ancient date. The district also contains several fine chalybeate springs, whose virtues were appreciated in ancient times, but are not now in use for medicinal purposes.

But to return to our subject. The Distillery came into the hands of the present proprietor some thirty years ago, having been bequeathed to him by his uncle, and since that time Mr. Daly has not only improved and considerably extended the works, but has added new machinery and all the recently invented appliances used in distilling. The Whisky made is of the same class and make as manufactured by the noted Dublin houses, and it is not only sold and appreciated in the district, but is supplied in large quantities to England and the colonies. At the front of the Distillery, facing the main street, there is a fine residence, formerly an old manor house, occupied by Mr. Daly, when he is in Tullamore. This gentleman, however, has a fine estate at Hazelbrook, Terenure, near Dublin, where he usually resides, and where we hope to spend a few days during the ensuing summer.

The Distillery is superintended by Mr. Bernard Daly’s son, Mr. B. Mara, his nephew, and Mr. Charles Comyn, his son-in-law, but the general management is under the control of Mr. Daniel Williams.

The farmers deliver the corn to the Granaries, of which there are eight, capable of holding 60,000 barrels of grain. One of the stores has three lofts, each being 120 feet square, and capable of holding 10,000 barrels of corn. After being run through the self-acting cleaning machines, the grain is sent by elevators into four Kilns, each with open roof, and floored with patent wire flooring. These Kilns are capable of drying 1,000 barrels in each per week. The Dry Corn Lofts are attached to the Kilns.

The Mill Building contains eight pairs of stones, and the two Meal Lofts are over the two Mash Tuns, which are 24 feet in diameter and 8 feet deep, each capable of mashing 1,000 barrels weekly, so that Mr. Daly uses up 2,000 barrels, as he works a period every week. There are five sets of ponderous three-throw Pumps, and four of Morton’s Refrigerators.

In the Back House there are ten Washbacks, each with a capacity of 16,000 gallons, and in the yard which commands the Stills, a Wash Charger, a fine metal vessel, holding 17,000 gallons.

Built on stone pillars, over the river, are to be seen, three Worm Tubs, very handsome vessels.

The Still House is a fine open building, containing four old Pot Stills (there are no others on the premises). The following is their capacity:Two Wash Stills, each holding

In the Running Room there is a fine Safe and Sampling Safe, a Spirit Receiver, holding 4,000 gallons, and Low Wines and Feints Receivers, capable of holding 30,000 gallons.

The Spirit Store is adjoining, and contains a Vat, holding 8,000 gallons, where the Whisky is reduced to 25 o.p., casked, branded, and delivered into the Warehouses, of which there are eleven large buildings, covering nearly five acres of ground, and containing at the time of our visit 900,000 gallons of Whisky, of various ages, principally in butts and hogsheads.

The Malting is a large department. There are four Barns, capable of malting 30,000 barrels, if necessary, with four Steeps and four large Malt Kilns, floored with perforated tiles.

The Coal Yard holds 5,000 tons. Mr. Daly charters a ship, and the coal is brought in barges by the Grand Canal to the Distillery.

In the Yard are two Chimney Stacks, that for the stilling being 108 feet high, and the other, for boiling, 60 feet high.

The Grains House and Spent Wash Tanks are conveniently arranged for the farmers to fetch away without going into the Distillery.

The following is a list of the industries pursued inside the establishment. A millwright and fitter’s shop, with a steam lathe and other appliances, carpenter’s shop, cooperage, &c., and it may be mentioned that a resident certificated engineer resides in a capital house on the premises, who is capable of making and fitting an engine if required. There are three very fine engines, one of them 200-horse power, and four boilers, 30 feet by 7 feet in diameter, and there are four large heating tanks, for brewing by steam.

The Whisky is Old Pot Still, and is sold all over Ireland, but principally in Dublin, whilst a large quantity goes to Liverpool, London, and Australia. We tasted some eight years old, which was so good that it reminded us of Moore’s lines:

“Never was philter found with such powerTo charm and bewilder, as this we are quaffing,The magic began, when in autumn’s rich hour,As harvest of gold in the fields it stood laughing,There having by nature’s enchantment been fill’dWith the balm and the bloom of the kindliest weather.This wonderful juice from its core was distilled,To enliven such hearts as are here brought together.And though, perhaps - but breathe it to no one -Like caldrons the witch brews at midnight so awful,In secret this philter was first taught to flow on,Yet - ’tisn’t less potent for being unlawful.What, though it may taste of the smoke of that flame,Which in silence extracted its virtue forbidden -Fill up - there’s a fire in some hearts I could name,Which may work too its charm, though now lawless and hidden.So drink of the cup - for oh there’s a spell inIts every drop ’gainst the ills of mortality:Talk of the cordial that sparkled for Helen,Her cup was a fiction, but this is reality.”

On the right-hand side of the main entrance are the clerks’ and general offices, and on the left those for the seven Excise gentlemen.

We were informed that no malt is purchased for this Distillery, as it is all made on the premises. The works are within ten minutes’ walk from the railway station. One hundred persons are employed, and annual output is 270,000 gallons.