IRELAND’S oldest brewery will shut today bringing to an end four centuries of brewing on the historic site.

After several months of wind-down operations, and following the final tasting of Beamish pints yesterday, all production at Cork’s historic Beamish & Crawford plant – founded in 1792 – will cease this evening.

The gates of the brewing plant’s iconic South Main Street site will then be locked.

A total of 120 people have lost their jobs since the plant’s closure was announced by its owners, Heineken Ireland, last December.

“Today is in many ways a defining one, in that it is the end of an era, particularly for the many generations of Cork families that were part of Beamish & Crawford,” Heineken Ireland’s corporate affairs manager, Declan Farmer, said.

“I would like to recognise and compliment the significant part played by each and every employee in the life of Beamish & Crawford down through the years, some of whom have joined Heineken Ireland in recent times as part of the integration process.”

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

Cork City and County archivist Brian McGee described the documents as “a major resource for historians”.

Mr Farmer stressed his company has exciting plans for the Beamish stout brand, now being brewed at Heineken’s Lady’s Well brewery about a mile away.

The company will decommission the Beamish plant – a process which could take 18 months. Heavy lifting equipment will remove the brew house equipment and three large fermentation vessels, which will be relocated to Lady’s Well.

However, heritage campaigners have vowed to continue their fight for the development of a micro-brewery tourist attraction on the site.

The National Conservation and Heritage Group is due to meet diplomats at the Dutch embassy in Dublin on June 9 to discuss their campaign. A petition gathering exercise is also planned.

The future of the brewery was always in doubt after the Competition Authority gave unconditional approval to Heineken Ireland, on October 3 last, to complete the acquisition of the company as part of the €12 billion sell-off of Scottish and Newcastle’s global brewing interests.

Following a review of both brewing operations, Heineken Ireland said the future of the Beamish plant was “unsustainable” and a decision was taken to transfer production.

The landmark Beamish building has been professionally photographed and videoed, and Diarmúid O Drisceóil has been commissioned to write a book on the site’s history.


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