The memorial window in Findlater’s church erected by the congregation in appreciation of their benefactor, Alexander Findlater. (Photo: Paul Oatway)

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4. Findlater’s Mountjoy Brewery

On 13 January 1852 six businessmen sat around the table and signed an indenture which brought an exciting new venture—Findlater’s Mountjoy Brewery—into being. They had agreed to establish the brewery on land between Russell Street and Portland Street, on the north side of the city of Dublin. In the grandiose style of legal documents of the day they were identified as:

Alexander Findlater of Sackville Street in the City of Dublin, Merchant;

Ivie Mackie, of the Town of Manchester in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland called England, Merchant;

Henry Walter Todd of Mary Street in the City of Dublin, Merchant;

Robert Gladstone of the Town of Liverpool of the said United Kingdom and called England, Merchant;

Adam Seaton Findlater [Senior] of Sackville Street in the said city, Merchant; and

John Brown Johnston of Balls Bridge in the County of Dublin, Merchant.

No accountants or lawyers!

Alexander and Adam must have been planning the building of a brewery for some time. They were well aware of the export potential of porter following their successes in the Americas in the 1830s. They may have had to bide their time until sufficient financial resources had been accumulated, and of course the late 1840s, the time of the Famine, was not a good time for such a venture. Alexander

The Mountjoy Brewery, Russell Street (across the road from Croke Park)

would have been conscious that various causes had driven down the national consumption of whiskey, with production halving from 11.9m gallons to 5.3m gallons between 1838 and 1843.1 Between 1850 and 1880 there was a further 30 per cent drop. The slack was taken up by beer drinking, which rose from 575,000 barrels in 1841 to 1,298,000 barrels in 1861. By 1890 annual production had risen to 2,490,000 barrels and in 1900 some three million barrels of beer were being brewed, a good deal of which was exported.*

This major shift in drinking habits meant that it was an opportune time to emulate Guinness’ success and establish a brewery—this is what Alexander and his partners did.

They were entering a competitive market; it is interesting to look back on the brewing industry over the previous century. In 1750 the city had 35 brewing alehouses, producing an estimated 4,400 barrels a week. (The Irish barrel then contained 42 gallons, equalling 32.96 imperial gallons.2 This difference of course complicated matters in the assessment of duties and statistics.) One of Dublin’s oldest brewing families then, the Leesons (after whom Leeson Street is named), gave up their mercantile pursuits in order to enter the nobility of the time. Dublin wit was quick to remark that they had ‘traded their beerage for a peerage’. The Leeson burial place is a feature of the small graveyard in Camden Row, off Camden Street.

The Sweetmans were another great brewing family of the mid-1700s, producing, between them, 800 barrels per week in five different breweries, one in St Stephen’s Green and another on Aston Quay. Two of the other brewing families, the Lawlesses and the Clinches, became associated with the Sweetmans through marriage. There was also a Sweetman connection with a brewer called Val Brown, who was brewing 260 barrels a week in 1756, but he had dropped out of the scene by the 1766 excise returns. Richard Phepoe was another large brewer who produced 360 barrels a week and the smallest was a Matthew Reilly, who brewed 40 barrels a week in Francis Court. The only female brewer then was a Mary Donovan, producing 100 barrels a week.

Alderman Taylor then ran the famous Ardee Street brewery, located on the monastic site of St Thomas in the Liberties, with an output of 300 barrels, slightly less than Richard Phepoe. Ale at that time cost 19s per barrel (less than 1d per pint) and had to be brewed from malt and hops imported from England, although they could be sourced cheaper elsewhere. Competition from imported beers grew from a mere 4,000 barrels in 1750 to 40,000 in 1768. Arthur Guinness, ale brewer, first appears in the excise list of 1768, amongst 42 other brewers. At that time Sir James Taylor’s brewery had become the largest in Dublin, paying £4,300 in excise. Guinness paid £1,500 which was about 2 per

* T. W. Grimshawe ‘Statistical Survey of Ireland 1841-1881’ Journal of the Social and Statistical Society of Ireland vol ix pp 322 ff and T. W. Grimshawe Facts about Ireland (1893). Dr Grimshawe was Registrar-General for Ireland and a regular contributor to the JSISSI, of which Billy Findlater became President in 1891.

Historical information from Tom Halpin, brewery industry historian, and from his article in Food Ireland July 1984.

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cent of the total returns of the Dublin brewers.

For other Dublin Brewers see "A Bottle of Guiness please" by David Hughes.

By 1820 the number of breweries was down to 22. The top five were exclusively porter breweries headed by Arthur Guinness at 600 barrels per week. Next came Michael Sweetman with an output of 450 barrels from his location on St Stephen’s Green. Then came the Ardee Street brewery, now owned by Watkins, with a production of 300 barrels per week. One of the smaller breweries was Darley and Guinness in Brewery Road, alongside the Lepers Stream, in Stillorgan. Peter Pearson’s Between the Mountains and the Sea shows it to have covered an extensive area either side of Brewery Road.

The establishment of the Findlater brewery was a sizeable investment. Alexander’s initial share in the investment was £13,000, for which he got one fifth of the profits. This suggests that the full cost of the brewery was £65,000 [€6.2m], although from Alexander’s ledgers we can see that it absorbed further capital in the ensuing years. Land was bought in Russell Street, between the Royal Canal and the North Circular Road—it was said that the brewery had far more picturesque surroundings than any other in the capital. A generation before a magnificent orchard had grown there, and the place had been a favourite summer resort for Dubliners. The Behans were later inhabitants of Russell Street, long after Findlaters had sold their interest in the brewery; Dominic Behan remembers ‘the native industries of Russell Street were drink and cleanliness, represented respectively by the Mounjoy Brewery and the Phoenix Laundry. The aroma from this mixture was, as you would expect, of alcohol brewed from carbolic.’3 The new brewery was named after nearby Mountjoy Square, then still quite a grand address, and not after the prison, as wags often suggested. The premises of the brewery covered an area of 3 acres, 1 rood and 7 perches statute, and had a frontage of 320 feet to Russell Street, and also to the North Circular Road, and Portland Street. At the Portland Street side a large plot of ground was available for further extension. The Royal Canal bounded the premises on the north side.

When completed the brewery buildings comprised a porter’s lodge, countinghouse, brew-house hop stores fitted up on best and most modern principles with elevators, etc., malt stores, vat houses, cooling houses, malt house and kiln, racking store, pump house, fining stores, large and spacious racking house, and large scalding shed with steam machinery for cleansing barrels. There was also a red brick chimney shaft, engine and boiler houses, branding house, stabling for 20 horses, stable man’s house, cooperage and two fitter’s shops, one furnished with forge and lathe. In total, 120 men were employed. There were two wells on the premises, and the brewery was, in addition, supplied with Vartry water, and from the Royal and Grand Canals. All the buildings were erected in a most substantial manner with limestone, ashlar and chiselled granite dressings. The brewer’s residence adjoined the brewery in Russell Street, with stables and coachhouse attached.

As would be expected of a venture of this size, the new brewery did not come into profits until 1857. It made comfortable profits for most of the 1860s, peak-

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A selection of the Mountjoy brewery labels

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More labels from the Mountjoy collection

For more on Blood Wolfe see "A Bottle of Guiness please" David Hughes pages 106-9 and 113-5
and a Findlater & Mackie, Manchester, Guinness Extra Stout label, page 106.
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ing at £13,785 in 1866 [more than €1m]. It excelled in export markets as is illustrated by the export statistics for 1865.

Table 4.1 : Porter exports in 1865 (hogsheads)
Guinness 99,239 Watkins 14,352
Findlaters 27,925 Phoenix 8,890
Manders 26,526 Sweetman 7,881
D’Arcy 23,806 Caffrey 1,761
Jameson, Pim 19,107 All others 3,187
Note: A hogshead contained 54 imperial gallons
See also "A Bottle of Guiness please" David Hughes page 25.

In 1866 Guinness’ exports rose to 107,000 hogsheads (an increase of 8 per cent), and Findlater’s to 35,000 hogsheads (a gain of 25 per cent). Findlater’s share of the export market rose from 3.2 per cent in 1854, just after the bewery was established, to 13.9 per cent in 1866. In the same period Guinness’ share fell from 49 per cent to 42 per cent. (Statistics do not seem to be available for subsequent years or for the domestic market.)

After the deaths of Alexander and Adam, their eldest nephew Billy became sole proprietor. His nephews and cousins Francis R. Wolfe, Frederick Blood, John Redmond Blood, Alexander Findlater Blood, Adam Lloyd Blood, and the accountant, John Jennings, all had an input into the running of the brewery. (See page 87 for the colourful history of their ancestor Colonel Blood, who attempted to steal the British Crown Jewels in the 17th century.)

In 1888, twelve years after Alexander’s death, the brewery was visited by an English journalist who left a detailed description of his outing.

Only stout and porter have ever been brewed at the Mountjoy Brewery, which is sold principally in Ireland and England. The firm, however, ships a considerable quantity to Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus, where they have a connection of many years standing. The stout is specially brewed for these hot climates, and to stand the long sea voyage. The brewery is of neat and lofty elevation, and is mainly constructed of granite. The buildings have a frontage to the highway of 240 feet, and the brewhouse is 65 feet high. The maltings, great vat-houses, cooperages, etc., are situated at the rear, the whole being enclosed by a lofty stone wall and numerous buildings. In a line with the front of the brewery there is a terrace of handsome houses, one of which belongs to and adjoins the brewery property. It is occupied by Mr J. R. Blood, the head brewer, and nephew of the original proprietor, who conducted us through the establishment.

We commenced our inspection at the maltings, a block of stone buildings adjacent to North Portland Street, and bounded on the right by the Royal Canal. They are four storeys high, and extend, with the yard, a distance of 130 feet. The top floor, which is devoted to the storage of barley, contains, at one end, a metal steep, or cistern, some 8 feet wide, which is capable of wetting at one time 100 barrels of grain. The other three storeys are devoted to the process of malting, the floors therein being laid with a concrete considered most suitable for germinating purposes.

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When the malts have been duly worked on these floors, they are removed to the kiln to be thoroughly dried. This building forms the north end of the structure, and is approached from the yard, but is loaded from the malting floor through iron doors. The kiln floor is laid with Irson’s perforated Worcester tiles, and heated underneath by open furnaces.

From the kilns the malt is delivered by shoots into small wagons, running on a miniature tramway through one of the long racking-stores to the malt bins, which occupy a large building to the north of the brewhouse. Of course, Messrs Findlater & Co. make but a small portion of the malt consumed in their brewery, and they therefore purchase considerable quantities from English and Irish maltsters. All the roasted malt used is manufactured by themselves, in a house built for the purpose, which we afterwards visited.

Crossing the large yard we entered the brewhouse by the south door, and found ourselves in an extensive lobby, running through the premises, from which springs a wide stone staircase reaching to the top of the building. The engine-house, which is near the centre of the edifice, is a handsome paved apartment, containing two powerful engines, one a beam, the other a horizontal one, each of thirty horsepower, also a battery of pumps for wort, liquor and porter, and each in duplicate.

Passing the Excise office, we made our way upstairs to the head brewer’s office, which faces the road and overlooks the pleasant fields which stretch to the plains of Clontarf. Here we were shown samples of barley and hops, also the various apparatus for testing the gravity and quality of the various stouts. From this place we made our way to the topmost storey of the brewery to reach the top of the malt bins. Before giving them our attention, we stepped out on the staging which crosses the great reservoir, from which position we obtained the finest view of Dublin we had yet witnessed, including Dublin bay and mountains, also Glasnevin and the Botanical Gardens. Near us on the left, is the great DWD, with its new windmill and towers rising among the trees. DWD stands for the Dublin Whiskey Distillery Company, where the native wine of the country is produced—a fit companion for the drink manufactured at Mountjoy, which has been described as the poor man’s meat and drink combined. Both of these celebrated and national drinks are made from the waters of the Dublin Canals, and Messrs Findlaters store it in this great tank after it has passed through two of Rawling’s patent filters, fixed outside the reservoirs. Besides this, the firm has three other supplies, all equally important in their way, viz., the Vartry, another canal, and a well, the latter 70 feet deep. The water is pumped from this last source, to a reservoir, by means of a powerful set of three-throw pumps, having rods over 20 feet long, and, at the bottom, in addition, a five-inch double rain pump. Our guide next conducted us, by a gangway off the copper-head, to the malt lofts, which form the upper portion of the great porter stores, hereafter mentioned. It contains ten spacious bins, each capable of holding 2,500 barrels. The malt is screened from dust and combings and then conveyed by elevators to the mill hoppers.

The special store for black or roasted malt is adjacent to this floor. At the bottom of each bin there is a trap slide, which, on being lifted, drops the malt on to an elevator, by which it is conveyed to the screening room, where it is screened and weighed. On

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An endorsement from Charles Cameron, the well-known Medical Officer of Health for Dublin

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Right: ‘Lily’, a grey mare, 1st Class Prizewinner at the RDS Spring Show 1894. Left: ‘Beaumont’, a brown gelding, 2nd Prizewinner also at the 1894 Spring Show

descending to the second landing of the staircase, we reached the mill room, containing a powerful set of mill-rolls, capable of grinding 100 barrels per hour. The grist falling therefrom is conveyed by a shoot into the two grist cases that supply the mash tuns. Our steps were next directed to the kieve stage, a large saloon running through the building, the floor of which is laid with grooved iron plates. Here are to be seen two cast-iron mash tuns each capable of mashing fifty quarters, and both containing revolving mashing gear and a set of automatic sparging apparatus. They are both commanded by Steel’s mashing machines, and possess wooden covers, raised or lowered by balance weights. It is in these vessels that the actual process of brewing commences, for here it is that the malt first comes into contact with the water. The mashing operation occupies about one hour, if the wort after the tap is set, comes down to the satisfaction of the brewer.

We were much struck with the underback, a handsome copper vessel, holding 100 barrels. It is fitted with a steam jacket to keep up the temperature of the wort. To reach the copper head, which is over the brewing room, we remounted the staircase to the top of the building, this time branching off to the left, where we found ourselves on a floor of great extent. Here there are four splendid coppers, two of them capable of boiling 300 barrels at one time. Two of them are used for liquor and two for wort. All of them possess the usual rousers, driven by steam power, for stirring up the hops from the bottom of the coppers. As soon as the brewer has got this wort into these vessels, he adds the hops, and then boils it sharply for a couple of hours. The all-pervading odour of the hop was supreme as we crossed the floor to take a peep at the operations.

The copper hearth is 60 feet long, and all the coppers are heated by ‘Allare’s’ patent furnaces. Contiguous, there is a fine large metal hop back, covering the entire floor of a large room, the interior of which is laid with slotted draining plates. It is into this vessel that the porter runs from the coppers to be separated from the hops, which remain behind as it is drawn off to the coolers. Before returning downstairs we inspected the hop loft, which occupies the top storey of the malt stores, and contained, at the time of our visit, some 2,000 pockets of English hops.

In a wing of the central block, built out into the courtyard, is the cooling house, a bright and handsome place. The wall on one side is louvered from floor to ceiling, and is ventilated in the roof. It measured 75 feet by 32 feet, and is covered by an open cool-

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er, constructed of Dantzig pine, bound with iron, holding 200 barrels. In the centre of it there is a large four-bladed fan, of the newest description, to hasten the cooling, by Grendon, of Drogheda. On a large space, at a slight elevation at the east end of this building, there are four of Morton’s horizontal refrigerators, capable of cooling forty barrels per hour. Messrs Findlater and Co. were the first brewers in Dublin to adopt the now famous Morton’s refrigerators.

Passing through the engine-room, we made our way to the fermenting-department, where we saw six fermenting tuns with an average capacity of 250 barrels each. Peeping into one of them, where fermentation was actively commencing, we observed that the surface of the dark liquid was covered with bubbles; as we watched, we noticed that these bubbles, by the power of attraction, were drawn to the sides of the vessels. At first they were small and few, but they soon increased in size and number till, at last, they spread over the whole surface.

From a gallery in this department, we watched the next interesting process, that of eliminating the yeast from the porter. It is carried on in seven large shallow metal vessels, placed on the floor below and extending into the next building. Following our guide we descended to the ground floor to see the slate reservoir referred to. Here, also, we saw the operation of barm-pressing being carried on by a number of men, by means of a Johnson and a Ritchie’s patent yeast-pressing machines.

The yeast is turned out of the machines in a semi-solid state, then packed in bags and sold to the distillers and barm merchants.* From the settling tanks the porter is pumped to the distant vat-houses, through an enormous main 200 feet long, whither we followed it. These houses, three in number, together with a large open building running parallel with them, comprise a second block between the maltings and brewery. Some idea of the enormous size of the vat-houses may be gathered from the fact that each house measures 100 feet in length with a breadth of sixty feet, and that they contain together twenty-seven vats, averaging 600 hogsheads each.

We commenced our inspection at the No. 1 house, a lofty and well-lighted building with an open roof. From the concrete floor rise an array of massive iron columns, which support fifteen ponderous vats, all constructed of English oak, beneath which we walked. The floor of this and the other houses is slightly graduated down to the centre where there is a channel laid, to convey the water away used in flushing the floors, which is done every hour in summer, it being absolutely necessary to keep the place sweet, cool and clean at this season of the year. In the second house, which is of enormous height, there are nine large vats, similarly arranged, with a space of 15 feet beneath them, used for storing stouts in barrels, if required. Following our guide, we reached the third house. Here are to be seen four vats holding 60,000 gallons of old stock stouts for the foreign market. Their top is reached by an iron ladder 40 feet long.

All these houses open into the great building referred to, where the racking operations are conducted. Along the centre is laid a double line of rails, one for conveying the malt-laden trunks from the malthouses to the bins, the other for rolling away the

* Quote from a former chairman of Powers distillery: ‘It was always considered important to have some yeast from Mountjoy Brewery in the fermentation of our whiskey, and this was done until the closure of that brewery.’

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filled casks into the extensive porter stores, to which place we next bent our steps. They spread out under the malt stores and brewery, and are capable of holding 70,000 casks. To keep a regular temperature in winter, these vast stores are heated by a system of steam pipes.

Returning to the larger yard, we crossed over to the cask-washing sheds, constructed principally of iron with tiled roofs. The first operation is to clean the outsides of the barrels, which is accomplished in the open. They are then rolled into these sheds, filled with hot water, and placed on Dawson’s patent cradles, worked by an engine, then placed over steam jets and dried by hot and cold air. Three thousand casks can be turned out of these sheds daily, and thirty men are employed at the work. Facing these sheds there is a space of ground, upwards of an acre in extent, which is covered with casks, and adjacent there is a blacksmiths’ forge, carpenters’, joiners’, engineers’, and painters’ shops. Opposite, in a detached building, is the No. 1 engine (horizontal) of thirty-horse power, for driving the cask-washing apparatus, the drying machinery, malt-roasting cylinders, chaff and fodder cutters, etc.

The cooperage next claimed our attention, where the casks are repaired before being sent to the washing sheds. It occupies the southern end of the yard, near the stables, and is well arranged for the conduct of this important department. After this, we made our way to the malt-roasting house, a brick building constructed for the purpose. Messrs Findlater & Co. were the first brewers to take advantage of the new Act in Ireland, which enabled the brewers to roast their own malt.

A short distance from this are the stables and dray sheds. The former, consisting of

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seventeen stalls, is a neat and well-ventilated building. Also two sick boxes and a large fodder and hay store. Then we made our way to the wheelwrights’ shop. This is an important place, as the firm manufacture all their floats, waggons, and carts, and paint them besides.

We then walked through that building, which contains a spacious counting house, where fourteen clerks are employed, private offices, waiting rooms, etc. This brewery can easily turn out 100,000 barrels per annum. There are five houses on the estate, occupied by the head brewer, assistant brewer, head maltster, head stableman, and gatekeeper. Over 120 men are employed on the premises. In conclusion, it may be added that the Mountjoy Brewery is now a Limited Company, of which William Findlater, Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Dublin, and senior nephew of Alexander Findlater, the founder, is the Sole Director.4

Although (as we have seen) Billy had numerous other interests, he kept a close eye on the brewery. Every week there was a minuted meeting between himself

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and the head brewer (who was also his nephew) John R. Blood, at which the number of barrels brewed was reported, as well as other key figures. At this time sales were steadily dropping to less than three hundred barrels a week, having been four hundred a week in the 1860s. In July 1889 he notes that he is going to be abroad for his health for six weeks, but that the minuted meetings should continue in his absence.

By 1889 Billy was disturbed by the drop in profits shown in accountants’ Craig Gardner’s annual audit results. The management committee minutes record:

Mr Findlater requested that a separate report by each of the managers as well as the Accountant Mr Jennings be prepared and submitted to him. Mr Findlater desired that Messrs Redmond, Hyland and Ewing, representatives of the company, should each send in a statement of their opinion as to the cause of the falling off in the trade of the Brewery from 1884 to 1888 inclusive, and submit their ideas of how the business could be increased.

One answer that came back was the difficulty of selling the firm’s beers and ales to tied houses (pubs owned by brewers), and it is possible that this influenced Billy in his later decision to sell his interest a year or so later to a man who had much better connections with the trade.

At the meeting of 12 June 1889 Billy reported that he had telephoned the brewery between two and three in the afternoon, and was unable to get an intelligible response from a workman who answered (telephones were then very new, of course, and this was perhaps the first time he had ever picked up the contraption). By bad luck all of the clerks were either at the bank, on holiday or out to lunch. Billy, who had not long since complained about loss of profitability, evidently blew his top, complaining that ‘such an easy-going system is unsuited to the exigencies of the present times’. Why couldn’t the clerks bring their lunch to work with them? He was very doubtful of the wisdom of allowing the clerks to have a heavy meal in the middle of the day. The hours were nine to five, and he could not see why they could not be covered. In their defence the Blood brothers explained to their uncle that firms such as Guinness and Findlaters provided hot dinners free to all their clerks between one and three every day, and noted that ‘the system is in full swing all over England and Scotland’. They maintained that the fact that by bad luck all the clerks were out had nothing to do with ‘the success or non-success of the Brewery’, and that anyway this was not an opportune moment to make changes, being ‘the busiest time of year’.

Even though profits were down, Billy got some side benefit from his interest in that the debt collecting business went to his law firm, W. Findlater & Co. In October 1889 the Blood brothers complained about the very high charges that Billy’s firm was deducting for this service, amounting, they claimed, to 20 per cent of the debt. Next week they were obliged to revise this to 9½ per cent, although this was still regarded as high. A year later, with sales continuing to decline Billy (being now in his mid-sixties), decided to sell his interest in the brewery. The land, buildings and machinery were valued at £60,000 [€5m] and

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the cash, stocks and debtors at a further £20,000 making a total of £80,000 [€6m]. There was no valuation placed on goodwill. The purchaser was Laurence Malone, a distiller. In the prospectus offering the trade an opportunity of taking an interest in the company Malone wrote: ‘The price must be admitted to be extremely modest, and my directors consider the bargain a most advantageous one.’

I suspect that Billy was more at home in his law practice, and lacked the commercial charisma of his Uncle Alexander. Moreover, the surviving minute book shows the Bloods as rather under the thumb of their Uncle Billy. Malone as good as alluded to these points when he wrote: ‘There is every reason to believe that with energetic management and the increased business which will be added through the connections and customers of Laurence Malone & Co., it will soon become as prosperous as ever.’ On quality, he added: ‘The first consideration of the directors will be the production of an article which will be second in quality to none in Dublin, and such as will on its merits alone deserve the support of the Trade.’ As the brewery traded for another sixty years, we must take it that his was a successful formula.

Malone was president of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce in 1907/8 and had good trade connections that enhanced the distribution of Mountjoy Stout and Joy Ale. Malone died around 1917. His widow remained the largest shareholder for many years. In the 1920s and 1930s the chairman was D. J. Healy of Drogheda who controlled the firm of W. and L. Ryan and Co., wine merchants on Ormond Quay. The head brewer at this time was Michael Read and the Malone shares eventually passed to the Read family. About 1935 Frederick Ryan joined the board and succeeded D. J. Healy as chairman, remaining there until his death in 1955. The company was liquidated a year or so later and there is now very little left of the magnificent buildings that once graced the site, diagonally across the road from Croke Park.

By 1900 only six breweries remained in Dublin, of which Guinness was by far the largest. A son of Daniel O’Connell had bought the Phoenix Brewery situated in what is now the Guinness powerhouse, in 1820. He was not a good businessman and the company went bankrupt. John Brennan, who had been the manager, came to the rescue and made a big feature of O’Connell’s Dublin Ale. This brewery advertised itself as ‘the largest brewery in Ireland—but one’! It closed in 1906. When the brewery closed the franchise for brewing the ale went to D’Arcy’s Anchor Brewery on Usher’s Island which John D’Arcy had purchased in 1818. It prospered on its stout brewing. It closed in 1926.

The brewing of O’Connell’s Ale was then handed over to Watkins, who, in addition to their brewery in Ardee Street, had acquired Roy’s Brewery in North Anne Street from whom Alexander bought Six Guinea Ale for export in the 1830s. In doing so they became Watkins, Jameson and Pim. They owned some Dublin pubs which they called ‘Taps’. They also had a good export trade and were undoubtedly one of Dublin’s finest brewers, outlasting their competitors. Sadly they closed in 1939.

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A Mountjoy advertisement—a play on the famous ‘His Master’s Voice’ gramophone slogan

The two hundred year shrinkage in the number of breweries continued. By the middle of the 20th century there remained but two breweries in Dublin, Guinness at St James’s Gate and the Mountjoy Brewery in Russell Street. Alas, the latter’s days were numbered. As an exporter of Irish stout it had enjoyed considerable success and, for many years was second only to Guinness through the port of Dublin. For a city once famous for the art of brewing, by the late 1950s Guinness was the lone Dublin brewery until the welcome arrival of the craft breweries in the last decade of the 20th century. [The Mountjoy closed in August 1956].

Colonel Blood–the Irishman who stole the British Crown Jewels An ancestor of the Bloods of Findlater’s Mountjoy Brewery

I loved this story as a child and, like distant cousin Brian Inglis, I used to boast about this relative when at school in England.

The first of these plots was to seize Dublin Castle, the seat of the

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Duke, by tricking the guards into scrambling for loaves of white bread while Blood’s men forced their way in. But the plot failed and Blood fled to Holland. The next attempt came seven years later when, after a fugitive life in England, Ireland and on the Continent, often in disguise and with a price on his head, Blood attacked the Duke in St James’s Street. With five cut-throats, he way-laid the Duke’s coach and the Duke was overpowered. Blood’s plan was to string his old enemy up on Tyburn gibbet, but the coachman raised the alarm and after a tremendous struggle the Duke escaped.

The Royal proclamation went out offering £1,000 for his capture, but this, far from daunting Colonel Blood, seems only to have encouraged his next and most daring adventure. Early in May 1671 Blood, dressed as a Doctor of Divinity in a false beard and accompanied by a woman whom he pretended was his wife, visited the Tower of London to see the jewels. The woman feigned a faint and the kindly old keeper of the jewels, Talbot Edwards, took her upstairs in his home, gave her a drink and allowed her to rest on a bed. Parson Blood was very grateful and three days later returned to the Tower with a present—four pairs of white gloves for Mrs Edwards.

The keeper and he became quite friendly and Blood let it be known that he had a handsome young nephew with a substantial income who would be a fitting match for Talbot Edwards’ pretty daughter. The details were arranged there and then and Blood agreed to bring the nephew early on the morning of 9 May. Miss Edwards was peeping out of the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of her possible husband-to-be when Blood with three other men called at the Jewel House. Two of the men went with Blood to call on Talbot Edwards, and the third, whom Miss Edwards assumed was the shy lover, remained some distance away. In fact, he, like the other two cut-throats, was one of Blood’s confederates. All had rapiers in their walking sticks, daggers in their belts and pistols in their pockets. Blood explained to Talbot Edwards that his wife had been slightly delayed and suggested that while waiting for her they fill in the time by having a look at the Crown Jewels.

Talbot Edwards took them upstairs and as he led the way into the room where the jewels were kept they attacked him, struck him with a mallet, threatened him that if he shouted they would kill him, and then began putting the Crown Jewels into the swag bag. The crown had to be bent almost flat to get it in and in doing so the Black Prince’s ruby fell from its setting. The sceptre was so long that they had to saw it in two.

What would have been the greatest robbery in history was all but

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complete when, by an amazing stroke of ill fortune for Blood and his men, Talbot Edwards’ son, who had been abroad, arrived home at that very moment. He raised the alarm. There was a chase, a running fight, and in the end Colonel Blood was captured. It seemed certain that he would be executed, but Blood’s behaviour was astonishing. He refused to say who was with him in the plot, and he presumptuously demanded a private audience with the King. Only to him, he said, would he tell all. And most surprisingly, the King agreed to see him. The door was shut behind them, the courtiers kept outside, and Blood and the King were left together. Shortly afterwards the King announced that he had pardoned Colonel Blood, had restored to him his lands in Ireland and had invited him to attend the Court.

One explanation is that Blood threatened the King, saying that the rest of the gang would murder him if Blood were executed. But the chances of the King being attacked were remote. Another theory is that hidden inside the sceptre was a copy of the secret treaty of Dover which Charles had made with Louis XIV and that the King knew that Colonel Blood must have seen it when it was sawn in half and that he saved Blood’s life in exchange for his silence. But the most likely theory of all is that King Charles was so short of money that he was in the plot to steal the crown jewels, was in fact the instigator of it. The timely arrival of young Edwards seems too much of a coincidence and old man Edwards and the son were afterwards given grants of £200 and £100. Was old Edwards, who was seventy-seven at the time, as badly injured by mallet blows on his head as he pretended? He lived on until he was eighty-one.

It seems possible that Charles II, Blood and the Edwards were all in the plot together, but that the young Edwards panicked for some reason and gave the alarm. His grant could have been in payment for his silence. Whatever the reason for the King’s strange clemency Blood became a very powerful member of the Court, and for a while seekers after favours made their applications through him. No one seems to have trusted him and even when he died rumour had it that he had staged a disappearance and that the corpse was not his. To prove it his body was dug up from its grave in Tothill fields and then identified at an inquest before being finally reburied.5

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William – eldest brother of Alexander, the founder (Chapter 2)

Billy, later Sir William (Chapter 3)

1 Mary Jane Wolfe,
daughter of John Wolfe,
(No issue)

2 Marion, daughter of
Archibald Park, son of Mungo
Park, the African explorer.
They had issue (Chapters 3 &
8); Victor, Percy, Muriel

Janet (Jessie)

Joseph Taylor
of Melbourne, Australia.
(No issue)


1 Henry Geoghegan, Solicitor
and had daughters Jessie and
Helena. (Helena married twice
a) to Max. J. d’Elsa
b) to Adam Lloyd Blood
who was the fourth son of
Sophia’s younger sister,
Margaret. (Col. 4)


John Lloyd Blood
who was previously married to
Margaret Wolfe, sister of
Mary Jane (Col. 1).
They had four sons
and two daughters,
Susanna and Lucy

2 Alexander Findlater Blood KC
who married Rachel Park,
younger sister of Marion (see
left hand column)

1 William Findlater Blood, artist

3 John Redmond Blood, head
brewer whose eldest daughter
Vera married
(Sir) Claud Inglis, parents of
Brian Inglis, author

4 Adam Lloyd Blood, solicitor,
who married Sophia’s daughter
Helena and parents of Ken
Lloyd Blood last partner of
William Findlater Solicitors

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Keep it in the family

In 1842 and 1855 the brothers John Lloyd Blood and Frederick Blood married the sisters Margaret Wolfe and Isabella Susannah Wolfe, both daughters of John Wolfe, solicitor. Margaret died in 1851 and John Lloyd Blood then married Margaret Findlater, third sister of Billy. They had four sons and two daughters. John became a brewer in Findlater’s Mountjoy Brewery of which Billy was proprietor. (JLB’s eldest brother Neptune was a partner in William Findlater, Solicitors.)

The eldest son, Alexander Findlater Blood KC (born 1853) married Rachel Park, daughter of Lt Col. Archibald Park of the 29th Bengal Army, a younger sister of Marion, second wife of Billy. Alexander was called to the Irish Bar in 1877. He practised in New Zealand between 1878 and 1883, was called to the Irish Inner Bar in 1899 and was a member of the Senate of Dublin University and a bencher of King’s Inns. (His son Dr Blood of Enniskerry (born 1885) was the author of the letter to me in the previous chapter about Billy in his old age.) The second son was (born 1854). He was a journalist, author and artist and had two marriages. The third son, John Redmond Blood (born 1858), was head brewer in Findlater’s Mountjoy Brewery until 1913 having started there in 1874 at the age of sixteen. He married Sophia, daughter of Andrew Armstrong JP of Malahide. Their eldest daughter Vera married Sir Claud Inglis FRCSI, son of Sir Malcolm John Inglis* and Carrie Johnston. She was sister of Jane Johnston, married to Adam Seaton Findlater and of Mary Johnston, married to his nephew, John Findlater, JP (see Chapter 5). Sir Claud and Vera’s son was Brian Inglis, journalist, broadcaster and author of a number of books including West Briton.

The fourth son was Adam Lloyd Blood, partner in William Findlater, solicitors. He married Billy’s niece Helena, daughter of his sister Sophia. (Helena had previously been married to Max J. d’Elsa.) Their son, Ken Lloyd Blood, who died in 1956, was the last family member in William Findlater, Solicitors. Sophia married three times: in 1852 to Henry Geoghegan, solicitor, with whom she had two daughters, Jessie and Helena; then to Henry Porson Morse of Otago, New Zealand—there were no children. Her third marriage in 1877 was to Francis Johnston, perhaps a member of the Johnston family mentioned above and in Chapter 5.

* Chairman of Heitons 1896-1902; of Scottish stock, being the second son of William Inglis of Falkirk.

Notes and references

  1. Andrew Bielenberg Locke’s Distillery, a History Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1993
  2. S. R. Dennison and Oliver MacDonagh Guinness 1886-1939, Cork: Cork University Press, 1998 pp 271-2
  3. Dominic Behan Teems of Times and Happy Returns London: Heinemann, 1961, p 55
  4. Condensed from The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland by Alfred Barnard London: Joseph Causton & Sons 1889
  5. For more on the Blood family see Burke’s Irish Family Records 1976 pp 142-52