Fresh Chapter in the Irish Whiskey Renaissance Story

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Fresh Chapter in the Irish Whiskey Renaissance Story

Fresh Chapter in the Irish Whiskey Renaissance Story
March 17
09:13 2016

The historic St James’ Church in Dublin, which has been deconsecrated since 1964, is set to open in the spring of 2017 as the Pearse Lyons Distillery. The unique development is a fresh chapter in the Irish whiskey renaissance story. Deirdre Lyons, co-founder of Alltech and wife of Dr Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech, is rejuvenating the property back to its former glory to make it a thriving tourist destination. The Pearse Lyons Distillery is located on The “Dubline”, Dublin’s newest tourist trail developed by Failte Ireland, which runs from College Green to Kilmainham.

Purchased by the Lyons family in December 2013, a huge amount of time, energy and passion have been dedicated to renovating and rebuilding St James’ Church. Located in the heart of the Liberties, The Pearse Lyons Distillery will provide a fresh lease of life into what was once the heart of the Irish beverage industry.  The Liberties bustled with breweries, distilleries and cooperages during the 19th century. It is recorded that there were as many as 30 brewers operating in the area in 1804. Known as “The Golden Triangle”, the area was credited with making Irish whiskey one of the most popular spirits in the world, before a long period of decline during prohibition which forced many distilleries out of business.

“We are carefully restoring the property which will allow visitors experience a working boutique distillery, including a visitors centre that will showcase the rich traditions of distilling in this historical area of Dublin city,” says Mrs Lyons, who is also the director of corporate image and design at Alltech. “We have decided to name the property Pearse Lyons Distillery, as traditionally many distilleries are named after the person who established them.”

The property can be identified from various points in the city by a unique, innovative spire that beautifully enhances the Dublin city skyline. The magnificent structure is composed of eight stainless steel rafters converging at the top and is hand-welded at all intersections.  As part of the restoration process, the stone columns of the church have been carefully preserved, which originated from the city of Caen in Normandy, France, host city to the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The slate roof tiles have been meticulously replaced, with Lyons sourcing them from the original quarry in Wales.

The earliest documented history of St James Church was in 1268, when a gathering of pilgrims journeyed to the Church of St. James in Galicia, Spain. The existing church building dates from 1861. A walk through the church graveyard reveals the many people buried there as grocers, tanners, skinners, coopers, distillers and brewers, many of whom worked in one of the 30 breweries operating in the area. The Lyons family have strong connections to St James’ Church.  Pearse Lyons’s father, Thomas Lyons, was born near the church, on South Earl Street. In 1948, his grandfather, John Hubert Lyons, was one of the last people buried in the graveyard.

The Pearse Lyons Distillery plans to open its doors to worshippers of Irish whiskey in the spring of 2017. It is expected that the distillery could attract thousands to the area, as its sister distillery, Town Branch Distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tourism experience does already in Lexington, Kentucky. Demand for Irish whiskey has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, its global market share is expected to rise by 300 percent by 2030.


Deirdre Lyons, co-founder of Alltech, standing alongside the brushed steel ‘Witches Cap’ that will adorn the 10 tonne glass spire now set in place on the historic St. James’ Church in Dublin’s Liberties.

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