Breweries & Distilleries

The brewery adjacent Ballyronan quay (western shore) was founded in 1828 by the Messrs Gaussen who operated the goods store situated on the quay which they built in 1788. They had also founded a distillery in nearby Ballinderry parish in 1824. On the southern shore a distillery was founded at Milltown near Maghery, owned by Henry Hart. The distillery used water from the local peat bog lakes and produced whiskey called ‘Bog Water Whiskey’.  Henry and his wife Mary later converted to Methodism and withdrew from the distillery business turning to the flour milling trade and converting the distillery into a corn mill. A distillery located in the north of Lurgan town was burnt on 13th October 1837 at a cost of £100,000. (Image: Hart’s distillery, Milltown.)

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Cider making was also popular on the southern shore during the 18th century being described as a prominent agricultural industry in Ireland. Here tenants were encouraged to plant fruit trees, many of which were apple. However the cider industry never became commercial success due to the high costs of manufacturing and declined in the 19th. A revival in 1906 by the Co. Armagh Cider Company again proved unsuccessful and the company folded in 1912.

Shebeens were numerous, being found in almost every parish, and a fondness for drink ensured that illegal stills were common amongst the poor and despaired of by the pious. On the Salter’s estate the crime of owning an illegal still was punishable by expulsion. The practice was so rife in the parish of Ardtrea that in 1809 the Church of Ireland employed two people to seek out the stills and report their whereabouts to the authorities. Despite the best efforts of the authorities to stamp them out, stills continued to exist.