THE STORY & THE HISTORY
William Cairnes was an adventurous brewer, who in 1825 had established a family brewery in Drogheda. Having captured local markets in Drogheda, Navan, Dundalk and north county Dublin, William Cairnes in 1851 firmly set his sights on Ireland’s big apple – Dublin. The spacious warehousing and storage facilities of 52 Middle Abbey Street were the ideal location to launch his sales campaign on the Dublin beer market. Within weeks no. 52 had been modified to suit his needs and William Cairnes began transporting hogsheads and pipes (two hogsheads) of ale and beer to Abbey Street where it was bottled or sold directly in hogshead form to Dublin publicans.
Over the next 20 years the business of William Cairnes Brewery flourished in the Dublin market and the brewery nominated Thomas F. Dawson as their official agent of Dublin business. Middle Abbey Street was now truly prospering as many legal eagles and newspapers located their businesses here. The famous Nation newspaper, the voice of nationalist independent Ireland, was located at no. 90 and Peter O’Donoghue’s Shellfish Tavern had now become a lavish Victorian Gin Palace. In 1889 William Plunket Cairnes, grandson of the founder, took over the family business and merged with the Castlebellingham Brewery, whom the Cairnes family were related to by marriage.
The new company, the Castlebellingham & Drogheda Brewery, which had a share capital of £265,000, could now compete on a more competitive scale with the larger Dublin breweries. In the following decade no. 52 Middle Abbey Street became a hive of brewing activity as the company grew and grew.