The Irish Glass Bottle Company, Ringsend

Ringsend was a good location for making glass. Glass manufacturers needed a lot of sand, of which Ringsend had plenty. They also needed lots of coal to melt the sand so it was handy to be near the port. The Irish Glass Bottle Company started in Ringsend in 1871.

This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.

The Irish Glass Bottle Company, Ringsend

Not so long ago, at the beginning of the 1990s, milk in glass bottles was still being brought  to your hall door by the milk man in some parts of Dublin. These bottles were made by the Irish Glass Bottle Company on South Bank Road in Ringsend.

Bottles have been made in Ringsend for over 200 years. The first bottle company was set up on Charlotte Quay in 1787. They sold most of the bottles in France.

But a city which had many breweries, whiskey distilleries and soft drinks factories also needed lots of bottles so there were many different bottle factories in Ringsend over the years. Glass manufacturers needed lots of sand, of which Ringsend had plenty. They also needed lots of coal to melt the sand so it was handy to be near the port. Unfortunately, as a result, Ringsend became very polluted from all that smoke!

The Irish Glass Bottle Company started in Ringsend in 1871, making black bottles for porter with sand from Dublin Bay and lime and clay from Clontarf. These was mixed with salt rock and soda and melted in a huge tank furnace.

Making bottles was very hard work. People called blowers shaped the liquid red-hot glass that came out of the furnace into bottles. It was a bit like blowing bubbles with chewing gum. Then the bottles were left to cool for two nights and two days.

In 1880 the Irish Glass Bottle Company made 600 gross of bottles every week; a gross is an old measurement of 144, so they made 86,400 bottles per week!

Bottles were used and re-used many times, which was a good way to recycle. Milk bottles made fifty trips, and beer bottles made thirty! Children could get money from a grocery shop for returning empty lemonade bottles. It was a great way of getting a bit of pocket money and one could buy a wafer which was an ice cream slice between wafers.

The Irish Glass Bottle Company got bigger, moved factory twice, made bottles in different colours and shapes and in the 1980s was one of the most modern factories in Europe. It employed a great number of people. However, in 2002 it closed its doors forever and this marked the end of glass bottle making in Ringsend.



I was very interested in your web page and enjoyed reading about this Dublin institution. I was born in South Lotts Rd, Ringsend in 1943 and migrated to Australia with my family in 1951. As I was eight years old at that time I remember the Bottle works well as it was near the end of our street. My father believed that there were many families from Ringsend on the Titanic when it was lost including a group from the Bottle factory. Is this a myth or is there evidence that this was the case. He felt strongly about it and would not got to see the movie when it came out because he did not want to see what was a terrible tradgedy for working people[and others] glamourised by Hollywood. My young grandson has a great interest in the Titanic and its history so I would love to confirm, or discount this family story, for him. I will email your web site to him as it is excellent and very accessible for primary school children. Thanks once again for bringing back my childhood memories.

Warm Regards

Mary Fraser [O'Brien]

Hi I have just discovered your site and would like to know if it is possible to get any information on the staff that worked for the irish glass bottle company in the sixties.My granfather and most of his family worked there but i am not sre exactly which ones.
regards james.

Hi I worked in the bottle house ringsend from 1968-1973 my father worked from 1948 ? Till 1978 there are many men who are still available including some famous footballers Ronnie Nolan Jonny fulham, Mick mc Quillan
Ronnie Nolan is a member of Newlands Golf Club Dublin

Dear Mr. Kiernan,unfortunately we do not hold any archives or records for the Irish Glass Bottle Company in this library.

I have a glass bottle which was my grandfathers, he would alway say this glass bottle would be worth alot of money one day and to take good care of it. I dont think its worth much but I am interested to find out were to came from, maybe you can help, Molded in the glass on the outside of the bottle its says'"grattan & Co Ltd, EST D 1825, The original makers of ginger ale, belfast" any help would be good. kind regards Mrs Slater Perth Austrailia.

hello , I found a bottle with o" brienM written on the side with dublin near the bottom and also registered trade mark on the bottle . I was wondering if you could tell me what was in the bottle and the history of the bottle thanks

Hi Eoghan,
You may have one of the O Brien mineral waters company of Moore lane bottles there.

hi there
I set in waterford regional hospital a sculpture made with 441 jars drilled and screwd together, which had been given to me with a certain number of others (1500 in total) by Ian Black at Irish Glass in year 2000, when I first installed the work in Dublin Castles' gardens.
Now after 11 years of being there, just some jars cracked and now will see, tomorrow I will take the wall down and wil bring later in Dublin back for a new project in the art tunnel
I have some specifications and details of the glass and bottles and some old contacts for the Irish Glass...
Not sure this may be of interest but... the video however is not available

Hello, while visiting Ireland this past September we went to the family farm in Glenacunna. We found a green bottle near the old house. It had J L O Brien Kilworth & Mitchelstown on it. Also looks like an arm coming out of water holding a sword with trade mark written alongside. The Quinlan family left this home in the 1960's. Any idea on what was in this bottle? Looks lime the neck was broken off. Thank you for your help

Cork City Libraries has digitised street and trade directories available on their website. In Guy's City and County Directory and Almanac 1945, I found a listing under 'Kilworth' for a J.L. O'Brien, hotel proprietor, posting establishment, and mineral water factory and wholesale merchts. So it sounds like the bottle you found in Glenacunna may have originally held mineral water.

Hi, I'm a native of Dublin and have a passion for beach combing, which has yielded me many a great find of beautifully sea washed glass jewels in many colours. I have collected a lot of "black" sea glass pieces, mainly bottle ends and parts of, which are actually olive green or dark brown, which look like stones on the beach. Since I do so much beach combing I have developed an eye for recognising these pieces and so have gathered quite a collection of them. I was wondering if they were originally from Guinness bottles, or other bottles made at the Dublin Glass Works. Do you have any way of identifying these pieces?

I would really appreciate a reply to same and thank you in anticipation.

Yours sincerely,

Christine Moore,
Howth, Dublin

Hello - can you give me some ideas for beaches where I might find a piece or 2 to take home? I’m in Dublin for the weekend and would love to find some glass. Thank you!

Hi Heather,
I collected most of my sea glass in Skerries and Howth.
Happy sea glassing!

hi i have a milk bottle with M.B.L milk bottles limited can anyone tell me how old this is ..
regards brendan

Hi Brendan, I also have a bottle like that. Just wondering if you found out any more about it. Thanks.

The date should be stamped on the underside.

the photo of the men that worked in the irish glass bottle co does anyone have the names of these men please.

Ambrose says: "I took a video of this factory - the day before it closed - a very hot and dusty place - the link is:"

Many thanks Ambrose, what a valuable video record to have!

My great, great Grandfather worked in the the Irish Glass industry from the 1890s through to his retirement in the 1930s/40s. I was wondering where the records from the Irish Glass Bottle Company went, are they in an archive?

i went for interview in 1990 my dad insisted even though i had a job
the girl said during the interview you dont seem interested i said im going on my first holiday to spain in the morning she said come back in and see me when you return...

Found a clear glass bottle marked TRAYDERS on a farm in Donegal. Any info would be appreciated

Hi there!
Thanks for this post. I was wondering whether anyone knows if they kept an archive of numbers of bottles produced each year? It woukd really help me out on something I'm working on.
Best wishes,

I worked at IGB based in the offices at Charlotte Quay from July 1981 until August 1983: I was a wages and personnel clerk while the company and workers went through a difficult time of reorganisation and consequent industrial action. I still have some old correspondence including a written warning from the Company Secretary for refusing to do overtime! This was eventually withdrawn after the ITGWU had supported us at the Labour Court.

some of the hawthorn men worled in the bottle house ringsend dublin including my grandhather daniel hawthorn who came to work there from glasgow scotland in the 1890would be very greatful if someone had any photos health and happiness to all in ringsend bernie allen co antrim

Hello, my father who was hawthorne with e at the end worked in irsh gass bottle ringsend for about 30 years up until the 80s. He said there were scotish connections in the family

went for interview back in 1992 glad i dident get the job though as i was already working somewhere else!!!!!

Great to know about the history behind Irish Glass Bottle Company, Ringsend. It is unfortunate that it has downed its shutters forever, around 15 years back. They could have changed their product line to new glass products like mobile phone screens, tablet screens, etc.

Hi my Great grandfather William Henry Browne worked in the ringsend glass bottle factory up till 1922 when he lost his job due to the civil war. Is there anywhere to access personal files or the like from that time and if so where can they be found?

Does anyone know if there is any employee records for family tree purposes?

Hi Karen,

The public libraries don't hold any such records I am afraid, and we don't think there is anything available elsewhere.





My great great aunt, according to 1901 census, was a ray maker. is that something to do with the bottle company. Her sister was Teresa Byron.

I have already read, on here, that someone asked about names of staff, who worked at the factory and I read that you dont have those details. Could you tell me, please, who would have those records. Thank you very much

Unfortunately we don't know the answer to that, Iris, we don't hold those sorts of records in the archives, and would have no idea who would hold on to those records or if they still exist.  Best Wishes.

Thank you, for your reply, I appreciate your time

The very best of luck in your search, Iris. Have a safe and lovely day.

Hi, I have a three piece moulded bottle with an applied top. It has the shape of a guinness bottle from the 1940s and takes a cork for a stopper. It has a large embossed "MADE IN WATEFORD" with "MADE IN" on one shoulder and "WATERFORD" on the other. Its colour is a very dark green.
Can anyone tell me any information on who might have made this bottle and what was in it.
Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.

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