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Latest Dublin Distillery Set to Open

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Latest Dublin Distillery Set to Open

Latest Dublin Distillery Set to Open
July 26
10:56 2017

Pearse Lyons Distillery at St. James, Dublin’s new boutique Irish whiskey experience located in the heart of The Liberties area, is due to open its doors to the public in September. Acquired in 2013 by Pearse and Deirdre Lyons, the property had many previous incarnations, including a lighting shop. Pearse, Dublin born, has strong family connections to The Liberties and St. James Church, which compelled the Lyons family to purchase the site and transform it into Dublin’s newest visitor attraction.

Pearse Lyons holds a Ph.D. in yeast fermentation and was the first Irishman to receive a formal degree in brewing and distilling from the British School of Malting and Brewing. He worked for Irish Distillers as part of the design team that built the Midleton distillery in Cork. After immigrating to the US in 1977, an opportunity arose in 1999 for him to purchase the Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company in Kentucky. Pearse has now brought his passion for brewing and distilling back to The Liberties in Dublin.

“We wanted to do something in Dublin based on our knowledge of Kentucky, where we already have a distillery,” says Deirdre Lyons. “Becoming part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, I was able to witness how a cluster of distilleries could work together to attract more visitors. We would love to be part of a whiskey trail in Dublin.

She adds: “At one time in the history of The Liberties, this area was known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ due to its many distilleries,” she continued. There is so much happening right now with new distilleries — we could return to those times and the potential for job creation is huge.”

St. James traces its origins back to 1190. The first church was built on the site as part of St. Thomas’s Abbey, which was founded by King Henry II as his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, who was then the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the mid-1500s, the first church collapsed and remained in disrepair for 100 years. Around 1650, another church was built, but by 1859, the congregation had outgrown the space, and permission was sought to take it down and rebuild a bigger structure.

“Bringing the old church back to life has been a monumental job,” points out Deirdre Lyons. “Creating Pearse Lyons Distillery at St. James has required a lot of time and investment. We started this project in March 2014, but it changed a lot from the time we purchased the building.”

Restoration costs, additional facilities, distillery equipment, artworks and a new glass spire, which has been named The Liberties Lantern, has pushed the cost of the entire project to more than €20 million.

“It has been an arduous process, respecting the historic site while trying to build a working distillery and tourist attraction,” she remarks. “The nature of the layout of Pearse Lyons Distillery means we will always be a boutique visitor attraction. The tour guides will be called storytellers because the difference between our distillery and others is the fabulous history of the location and of the church itself. It all becomes a story — a story of whiskey, a story of The Liberties and the history of the graveyard.”

Pearse Lyons Distillery at St. James can be identified from various points in Dublin city by its striking spire. Over the next few years, it is hoped the distillery will attract up to 75,000 visitors annually. The team at Pearse Lyons Distillery will be led by Tracey Flinter, general manager, and Gearoid Cahill, head distiller.

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Pearse and Deirdre Lyons, founders of Pearse Lyons Distillery, Dublin’s new boutique Irish whiskey experience, located in the heart of The Liberties.

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