Powers and glory

Extended family of John Power & Son visit Jameson Distillery Midleton: Irish Distillers archivist, Carol Quinn welcomed members of the O’Reilly family, the children of the late Frank O’Reilly, and their families to the Irish Whiskey Archive in the Master Distiller’s Cottage at Midleton Distillery last week. Frank O’Reilly was a direct descendant of James Power, the man who founded John Power & Son. Although many people brought about the formation of Irish Distillers in 1966, Frank is long recognised as the man who spearheaded the merger of John Power & Son, John Jameson & Son and the Cork Distilleries Company. Read more about the visit on IrishDistillers.ie

The resurgence of Irish whiskey was hard fought. It’s easy to forget just how close we came to losing the entire category back in the 1960s. There are a few people who deserve thanks – the coopers, the operators, the staff who lost their jobs or worked a two-day week to keep the industry alive, and also the people who had to make the tough choices to cut Irish whiskey production back to the bone. Frank O’Reilly is one such person. He oversaw the merger that created IDL – effectively the gatekeepers for Irish whiskey. To mark Mr O’Reilly’s contribution to the history of Irish whiskey (as a member of the Powers family, he was one of the last descendant of the great whiskey dynasties to hold office in IDL), IDL archivist Carol Quinn welcomed members of the O’Reilly family to Midleton to see what their ancestor had helped create. You can read Carol’s blog post on it here, but my lame contribution to this is different. Back in the 1980s, a journalist named Ivor Kenny wrote a series of books on business leaders in Ireland. They are fantastic – he spoke to Richard Burrows, Frank O’Reilly and John Teeling, and captured a moment in history for Irish whiskey. Here is a series of rather poor photographs of the interview with Frank O’Reilly, which although physically hard to read, is well worth a read for anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of how a small few people created a vehicle to keep Irish whiskey alive.

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