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Monday 18 November 2019

Famous distillers donate historic family papers to the Wexford County Archive

At the Wexford County Archive in Ardcavan Business Park Irish Distillers hand over archives from Powers Distillery (from left): Grainne Doran (Archivist, Wexford County Council), John Ryan (Irish Distillers), Cllr Michael Sheehan (Chairman, Wexford County Council), Carol Quinn (Archivist, Irish Distillers), John Kearney (Director of Services, Wexford County Council) and Eileen Morrissey (County Librarian).
At the Wexford County Archive in Ardcavan Business Park Irish Distillers hand over archives from Powers Distillery (from left): Grainne Doran (Archivist, Wexford County Council), John Ryan (Irish Distillers), Cllr Michael Sheehan (Chairman, Wexford County Council), Carol Quinn (Archivist, Irish Distillers), John Kearney (Director of Services, Wexford County Council) and Eileen Morrissey (County Librarian).

Pádraig Byrne

Over the years, the Power name has become synonymous with whiskey. However, not quite so many people are aware of the strong Wexford connections that the family possess. This connection was well and truly commended to the record as the family donated records from the Power estate in Oylegate to the Wexford County Archive.

The family chose to settle in Oylegate back in 1838, building their family seat at Edermine House. Passionate about agriculture and dedicated to improving the lives of those who worked the land, they invested heavily in the community by building model houses in the village that are still inhabited to this day.

The family also sponsored educational trips to the RDS Winter Fair in 1896 so that people from the locality could learn the latest innovations in farming and apply them to their own holdings.

In the early years, generations of fishermen who worked the River Slaney were given employment at the family's John's Lane Distillery in Dublin to ease the harsh winters. Many Wexford men employed by Powers at the time went on to marry women from the Liberties area of Dublin, settling to raise families and adding a distinctive accent to the Dublin borough.

In 1966, the historic distillery of John Power & Son amalgamated with two others - John Jameson & Son and the Cork Distilleries Company - to form Irish Distillers which now operates as the world famous Midleton Distillery in Cork.

The Edermine Estate papers, comprised of rentals and land sales correspondence, were found among the records of whiskey production at John's Lane during the cataloguing of the Irish Distillers archives, now preserved at Midleton Distillery.

Archivist at Irish Distillers, Carol Quinn, explained:

'We realised that these records weren't telling the story of our whiskey but instead told a unique story about the lives of families, living and working in Wexford, for whom other records may not have survived,' explained Archivist at Irish Distillers, Carol Quinn.

'We felt strongly that they should be publicly accessible and open to family history researchers which led us to reach out to Wexford County Archivist, Grainne Doran, and offer the transfer of these archives into the Wexford County Council's care.'

'While the Power family no longer lives in Oylegate, we hope that by making this gift the family's memory, and the memory of the deep affection they had for this area, is preserved.'

Ms Doran said that the material would be a wonderful source of information for historians and researchers going forward.

'We are delighted that the Power's family records are coming home to Wexford,' she said.

'The papers include valuable information that details the history of the Power family's contribution to life in the county. We have no doubt this material will be a primary source for historians, local and family researchers, and students from primary to third level, for generations to come.'

For more information about Wexford County Archive please see: http://wexfordcountyarchive.com/

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