Alltech, the Nicholasville-based animal nutrition and spirits company, will open the Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin in September. The boutique distillery is in the former St. James Church, a historic site that Lyons and his wife, Deirdre, have rebuilt into a tourist attraction in the heart of an area known as The Liberties.
The $23.3 million distillery, which will make Pearse Lyons Irish Whiskey, has been renovated from a former church with tremendous history. The original St. James church on the site was built in 1190 by King Henry II as penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, according to Alltech. Newly commissioned stained glass windows tell the story of St. James, including a depiction of Robert Dunne, Pearse Lyons’ uncle, who was one of the last coopers, or barrel makers, in Dublin.
The distillery will be visible from around the city because of a striking 10-metric-ton steel and glass spire called The Liberties Lantern.
Lyons’ grandfather, John Hubert Lyons, also was one of the last people buried in the St. James graveyard in 1948, giving him a strong connection to the area that drew him to acquire the site in 2013.
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“Pearse’s family lived, worked and did everything in the area,” said Deirdre Lyons, director of corporate image and design at Pearse Lyons Distillery, in a statement. “Five generations on his mother’s side, the Dunnes, traded as coopers — it was in the DNA, if you like.”
After establishing the Alltch brewery and distillery in Lexington, the Lyonses wanted to build one in Ireland, to join the booming Irish whiskey market.
“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,” Deirdre Lyons said. “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.”
The distillery, which will be run by general manager Tracey Flinter and head distiller Gearoid Cahill, hopes to attract up to 75,000 visitors annually.