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The Brewer’s House at No. 10 Ardee Street

 

 

The Brewer’s House at No. 10 Ardee Street

No. 10 Ardee Street, also known as “The Brewer’s House”, is a historically significant building in Dublin’s Liberties district. Built around 1820, this three-story over basement structure served as the residence and office for the Watkins’ Brewery, one of the prominent breweries of the time. The house is an excellent example of early 19th-century architecture, with its brown brick façade laid in Flemish bond, granite detailing, and notable interior features such as an elliptical staircase, plasterwork, and joinery from the 1820s and 1830s​.

The Brewer’s House was strategically located at one of the main entrances to the brewery complex, which spanned the area bounded by Ardee Street, Brabazon Row, Newmarket, and Cork Street. This positioning highlights its importance in the operational life of the brewery. The building retains many of its original architectural details, including the distinctive columnar door case with Ionic columns, sidelights, and a fanlight, which contribute to its aesthetic and historical value​. This architectural gem remains an integral part of the Liberties’ historical landscape, offering a window into the city’s industrial and cultural history.

The brewery was part of a larger complex known to have roots dating back to the 1760s, with connections to brewing in the medieval period. The site of the brewery was formerly the Brewhouse of the Monastery of St. Thomas, a fact highlighted by Alfred Barnard in his 1891 account “Noted Brewhouse’s of Great Britain & Ireland”. The monastery’s land, granted in 1215, was held until the dissolution of religious houses under Henry VIII. The properties were then granted to Sir William Brabazon and eventually passed to the Watkins family.

In 1788, the original brewery was destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt. Joseph Watkins acquired the brewery around this time, and it retained the Watkins name until its closure in 1937. The brewery complex covered five acres, featuring a mix of brick buildings around a central courtyard, with No. 10 Ardee Street serving as the Brewer’s House. By the late 19th century, Watkins’ Brewery had become the third largest in Dublin, trailing only Guinness and Sweetman Brewery. It expanded to include land on the north side of Cork Street and housed a community of workers in an area known as Watkins Buildings, which still exists today. The brewery’s competition with the ever-growing Guinness led to a merger in 1904 with Jameson & Pims Ltd, forming the Watkins, Jameson & Pims Brewery. Despite continued production, the brewery ceased operations in 1937 due to increasing competition.

The house also holds a place in Irish history, having been defended by Eamonn Ceannt unit during the Easter Rising of 1916, adding a layer of national significance to its already rich historical narrative After the brewery’s closure, the site gradually fell into disrepair. A significant fire in 1951 destroyed parts of the facility, though No. 10 Ardee Street survived. The 1980s saw further destruction when road widening for the Coombe Bypass now St. Luke’s Avenue led to the demolition of adjoining buildings, leaving No. 10 as a solitary remnant of the past​. In recent years, there have been efforts to preserve and repurpose the remaining elements of the brewery.

Dublin City Council granted permission to restore No. 10 Ardee Street and this work is now finally underway, converting it into offices and apartments, with plans to add a new contemporary building to address the damage from past road widening. Additionally, the site was partially sold to Summix Ltd, which plans unbelievably to develop even  more student accommodation on this sight at a time when the first rung of the property ladder has been removed for so many while we are deep in the midst of a property crisis with staggering homeless numbers the fact something that this could get planning is an absolute disgrace.Watkins’ Brewery remains a significant chapter in Dublin’s industrial history. Its story is a reminder of the city’s rich brewing tradition and the importance of preserving historical sites amidst modern development.

 

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