Watkins’ Brewery and Ardee Street

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Ardee StreetThis photograph from the collections of Dublin City Library and Archive shows the distinctive building and carriage arch of the former Watkins' Brewery on Ardee Street, facing up Cork Street Dublin.  This brewery dates from the early 18th century, and was producing beer long before their near neighbour in the same trade at St. James’s Gate.  There has, however,  been a brewery on this site since the time of the Abbey of St. Thomas the Martyr in nearby Thomas Court.  Subsequently the site came into the possession of the Earl of Meath’s, from whom Meath Street, Earl Street and even Brabazon Street (Brabazon is their surname) all take their name.  The Earls of Meath also held the title Baron Ardee, hence the name of the street.

Ardee St and Cork St junction, 1976, dcc photo collection

Photo: Ardee St and Cork St junction, 1976, Dublin City Council Photographic Collection (http://digital.libraries.dublincity.ie)

Due to intense competition in beer making in Dublin, particularly from A. Guinness and Son who were expanding their trade world-wide at the time, Watkins merged with Jameson Pim & Co. in 1904.  The site was briefly occupied by Con Colbert and his forces during the 1916 Rising, before the volunteers relocated to Marrowbone Lane Distillery nearby.  The company continued trading until 1937, when Mr. Alfred Darley, a direct descendant of the original Joseph Wakins, and who was director at the time, sadly declared that the company would go into voluntary liquidation.

Local placenames connected to the brewery that are still there today include the nearby Watkins' Buildings, a group of houses and cottages constructed for the brewery workers.  Another street in the area, Darley’s Terrace, off Donore Avenue, is also a connection to this company commemorating the last director.

Here are a few more recent photos of the site:

Catherine Scuffil, Historian in Residence, Dublin South Central.

Dublin City Council Historians in Residence are available to meet groups and schools, give talks, walks etc, run history book clubs and advise on historical research.

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