An application for planning permission has been lodged for the refurbishment of the ArmaghDown Bar in Monaghan Street in Newry and the provision of a micro distillery, visitors centre, function room and restaurant.

The application under the name of Matthew D’Arcy & Company Limited, plans to tell the story of Newry Whiskey, bringing Newry back to it’s heyday when  distilleries were commonplace and whiskey with names like Hand in Hand, D'Arcy's, The Blackthorn and Killeavey Cream were drank throughout Ireland and further afield.

Michael McKeown shows members of Newry Chamber of Commerce around the site for the proposed Newry Whiskey Distillery at Monaghan Street in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Michael McKeown shows members of Newry Chamber of Commerce around the site for the proposed Newry Whiskey Distillery at Monaghan Street in Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The proposed project site is the former site of a 19th century distillery and it is planned to keep existing features from that time. The rear of the site runs along the side of Corry Square Car Park, Catherine Street.

As well as the micro distillery element, plans for the site include a victorian bar, wine tasting area, shop, multimedia visitors centre, function room/ theatre and bistro.

The man behind the project is local businessman and present President of Newry Chamber of Commerce, Michael McKeown. Michael also Chairman of the Old Newry Society is somewhat of an authority on local history having being involved in compiling The Book of Newry several years ago and more recently he has extensively researched the history of distilleries in Newry and the manufacture of Newry Whiskey locally. If anyone has any Newry Whiskey memorabilia Michael would love to hear from you.

The new initiative will tell the story of Newry Whiskey, once the third most popular Irish whiskey and quite possibly even a candidate for Ireland’s oldest whiskey with the posibility that the Cistercians were involved in distilling way back in the 12 century.

An artists impression of the new Newry Whiskey Distillery.
An artists impression of the new Newry Whiskey Distillery.

Bushmills Distillery legally registered in 1784 was liquidated in 1886 and the new company The Old Bushmills Distillery Co Ltd had Samuel Duncan as a director. The self same man of Duncan & Alderdice’s Bonded Store fame with it’s premises on Monaghan Street in Newry.

The fact that Samuel was also a former President of Newry Chamber of Commerce might suggest that history perhaps DOES repeat itself ...