Local lament as time called on Beamish brewery

ONE of Cork city’s best known characters has lamented the closure of the Beamish & Crawford brewery, saying Cork will lose part of its soul.

Comedian Billa O’Connell, 79, a former Beamish sales rep, believes the firm’s figurehead, Richard Beamish, would be disgusted. “I knew Dickie Beamish well and he’d be turning in his grave. The company meant so much to him. A huge piece of Cork has gone,” said Billa.

Historians say beer has been brewed on the Beamish & Crawford site since the early 1600s, although the brand itself has only been around since the late 1700s.

Its age doesn’t really matter. Beamish stout is so much part of the fabric of Cork that the demise of the famous brewery, even for teetotallers and g&t merchants, is a matter for great lamenting.

The nation’s oldest brewery survived famine, world wars, depressions and recessions but has finally come unstuck at the boardroom of its new owners, the Heineken brewery in Holland.

Heineken is to close the & brewery next March, with the loss of 120 jobs.

Heineken boss Gerrit van Loo described the Beamish closure decision as the most difficult faced by the Dutch brewing giants since they first arrived on the Irish market in 1983.

Not as tough as what it means to those who have supported the brand for years.

In the Southside bar on Bandon Road, Denis O’Leary was drowning his sorrows. “I’m sad to see it move. It’s a traditional part of Cork, it’s part of the heritage. On top of that, the loss of jobs is terrible.”

In The Sportsman’s Arms, Paddy “Blue” Bruton recalled his first pint. “I remember my father took me up to the pub on his bicycle when I was seven years old and he gave me a glass of it and said ‘Drink that, it will do you good’.”

Local Fine Gael TD Deirdre Clune described the decision as “a body blow for Cork”. Most of the city’s imbibers will drink to that.

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