“AN IRISH WHITELEY”. – MESSRS. P. & H. EGAN, TULLAMORE, BREWERS,
MALSTERS, WINE AND SPIRIT BONDERS, AND GENERAL MERCHANTS.
Under the guidance of one of the managing directors, Mr. Wm. R. Power, we recently made a tour through the various departments of the business establishments owned by Messrs. P. H. Egan, Ltd., Bridge-street, Church-street, and Market-square, Tullamore. We confess that we were surprised at the extent and variety of the business, and at the very modern manner in which it was worked.
Retail Grocery, Ironmongery and Furniture.
Our first visit was to the retail grocery and ironmongery departments, which front Bridge-street, and which is called the “Bridge House.” At the left side as you enter is situated the grocery department, one of the best-stocked we ever saw, and equal to any of our large city houses. All goods displayed are of the very best brands procurable, and an efficient and courteous staff attend to the orders of the numerous customers. Directly opposite is the ironmongery department, stocked with every article likely to be required; and here some five or six energetic young men were busily employed. In spite of all these signs of a very large retail business, we were informed by Mr. Power that the firm does not devote their attention so much to their retail business, preferring to work wholesale. In the centre of the shop is situated a cash desk, which is connected by the Lanson system of wires with all the several departments of the house, for the immediate despatch of all cash receipts.
Leaving this shop we proceeded to the furniture store rooms. These are two very extensive warerooms, each of about 100 feet in length. They were filled to the utmost with furniture of every description, both useful and ornamental, and we succeeded in making our passage through only by proceeding very carefully. Here were mirrors (some very fine ones), chairs of every class; tables, massive and otherwise; sideboards, cabinets and beds. We next proceeded to the lofts in which were stored ranges, fire-irons; etc; pipes and farm implements, such as ploughs, harrows, grubbers, etc., and noted the system of pulleys by which all the goods for storage on these lofts are raised from the ground. These several lofts for furniture and ironmongery are built out over the extensive yard which runs at the back of the premises; the exigencies of Messrs. Egan’s business having compelled them to erect these lofts recently.
Sugar and Bacon
Descending from the lofts we passed by the Sugar Stores. These stores were filled to the utmost with that useful article, sugar, and two men were busily engaged filling and weighing that commodity.
We then enter the Yard, which is very extensive, and was filled with every article that would not suffer from the effects of the weather, as Messrs. Egan are utterly unable to find house-room for all their stock of goods. Passing down the yard, which is lined at both sides with store-houses, we first saw the American Bacon Store. This department is a very important one, and accounts for an amount, by no means small, in the yearly returns of the firm. The trade done in this bacon is entirely wholesale. Messrs. Egan buy the meat themselves in America, ship it over in very large quantities, and are thus enabled to offer it the retailer at prices as favourable as could be obtained from the largest merchants in Ireland or England. Their bill for bacon runs up to £15,000 per and is ever increasing.
The Saw Mills, Barley Grinding and Cake Crushing.
Proceeding down the yard we came to the Saw Mills. These mills are fitted with machinery of the most modern type for cutting wood into every requisite form. Piles of timber were lying around or being prepared to be cut. Connected with this saw mill, and worked by the mill engine, are the barley-grinding and oil-cake crushing machines. These machines are of the most approved pattern, and were working away on the day of our visit. Leaving this part of the premises we visited the timber lofts which stretch along the better part of one side of the yard and were filled to the utmost when we saw them. They are capable, we are sure, of holding over £2,000 worth of timber. Connected with these lofts is the Artifical Manure Store, which was filled with that useful, though somewhat strong-smelling, article. We noticed there a very large quantity of the substance called Basic Slag. This is a by-product of iron mines and is a great fertiliser, being specially recommended for marshy, cold land.
Flour and Meal Department, Bacon Smoking, Tea, Tobacco, &c.
We next proceeded to the Four and Meal Lofts, situated at some distance from the former department. Here were was piled up a large quantity of flour, meal, &c; and here two men were busily employed in making up the numerous orders. Our next visit was to the small bacon smoking loft, where Messrs. Egan smoke a quantity of Irish bacon; numerous sides of meat were, when we looked in there, obtaining that taste which renders them so palatable. We next passed through the department used for the storing of all articles of hardware. On all sides were piles of brushes of every description, ropes chains, etc., all of best manufacture.
We also visited the Tobacco Store, another very important division of the business of Messrs. P. and H. Egan. Here was a large stock of tobacco of every brand. The yearly bill for tobacco alone paid by Messrs. Egan amounts to over £10,000. Close by this department are stored all the miscellaneous articles required by grocers, such as starch, soap, candles, etc., etc., and off this place is situated the store in which the wholesale orders are made out, at which work a number of hands are constantly employed. We next saw the Tea Store, through which the very large quantity of tea sold by Messrs. P. H. Egan passes. It was well stocked with a choice selection of teas. This concluded our visit to the “Bridge House” portion of the business.
Church Street Premises, and History of the Firm.
Our readers will take an interest in hearing a few facts about the firm of Messrs. P. & H. Egan. This business, established in 1852, and carried on the Bridge House under the name of P. and H. Egan, was converted into a Limited Liability Company on 1st January. 1896, with a nominal capital of £80,000. They purchased the old established business of Stirling and Co., in March. 1896, and now trade under the title of Power and Co., in those premises. The capital of the new company was subscribed privately, and since that time the business has increased by leaps and bounds, additions having continually to be made to the premises and plant to cope with the extension of the trade. The requirements of their business compel the firm to keep between forty and fifty horses on the road constantly. These horses travel over a radius of thirty miles, taking frequently two-days’ journeys, and a staff of between 200 and 250 hands are constantly employed, this staff being considerably increased during the busy seasons of the year. In making our tour through the Church-street premises, we first entered the
Wine Bottling Store
On all sides were casks of wine of every description and age. Here were several men working busily at the various duties of a bottling department. Off this was the Bottled Wine Store, in which were wines of all ages, some of the port being fifteen years in bottle. The next place visited was the Mineral Water Manufactory, perfect in design and of the most modern form, in which are produced all the different minerals. The machines were worked by a gas engine, which also sets to work a corn-crusher, situated on one of the lofts over head. We next entered the
Beer Bottling Stores
In these stores are bottled ale, porter, lager beer, hops, etc. Here are bottled yearly over 600 hogsheads of Bass and an immense quantity of Guinness, lager beer, etc. Messrs. P. and H. Egan also bottle Bass’s light dinner ale, and they are, we bel
ieve, almost the only people in the province of Leinster that bottle that particular ale. The label is similar to the ordinary Bass label in outline, but differs by having a blue instead of a red diamond in the centre. Off these stores are situated the Bottled Drink Storerooms. These rooms are divided off into sections, each section being capable of holding a hogshead. These several sections were either filled or being filled on the day of our visit, the supply being constantly renewed. The bins are dated as they are filled, and thus the length any bin is filled can be seen at a glance. Next these rooms is the Mineral Water Store. Here is a large supply of minerals of every description, in syphons and every shaped bottle. The output of mineral waters amounts to almost ten thousand dozen a month. Our next visit was to
The Whiskey Store
This store was filled on all sides with casks of whiskey. Of these casks there were more than a dozen, of capacity varying from two hundred and fifty to one hundred and twenty gallons. Whiskey of every make and age was to be found in this store, for Messrs. P. & H. Egan bottle an immense quantity of the native spirit. The firm do a very large case-whiskey trade, both in Ireland and across the Channel, and customers of theirs are to be found in every city and town in Ireland, from Dublin to Galway and from Belfast to Cork. Several men were employed on the day of our visit bottling, capsuling and casing the whiskey in this store. A large quantity of wines, brandy, &c., is also bottled by this firm and exported under their name. We next visited the offices belonging to the Church-street premises, which are fully adequate for the carrying out of the large business, and manned with an efficient body of clerks. Leaving these premises, we crossed the market square (out of which Messrs. Egan collect a toll), and proceeded to the splendid newly-erected
Maltings, which are situated at that side of the square farthest from Church-street and close to the bank of the Grand Canal. These maltings, in point of size, excellence and convenience, equal any buildings of the kind we have ever seen. The growing demand for Egan’s malt, which is one of the best-finished malts to be found in the market, compelled the firm to build these new premises, and accordingly they were commenced some three or four years ago. First, one-half of the place was finished off to enable Messrs. Egan to work as soon as possible; the other half was then started and finished last year. These, now completed, form a very extensive range of building, measuring three hundred feet in length and about eighty in breadth. They are very solidly built of hammered limestone, and slated. On several parts of the walls are erected systems of pulleys, used for raising the corn to the lofts. Entering these premises. we first meet with a very extensive growing floor, occupying the whole length and breadth of the place, which was covered with barley to the depth of about eight inches, and must have contained about 500 barrels. Over this floor are two more floors of the same area, and used for the same purpose. The top floor, the fourth from the ground, is the one on which the barley is first stored, and is capable of holding 10,000 barrels. The corn, after being thoroughly cleaned and separated by machinery, is sent from this loft to the two immense cast iron tanks, which are situated at the farther end of the third floor, and there steeped. These tanks were erected by Ceres Iron Works, Kingston-on-Thames, and Messrs. Tonge and Taggart, Dublin, and are capable of holding 500 barrels of barley. When the barley is steeping for a sufficient length of time, it is taken from these tanks and put on to the germinating floor, where it is worked, and then put on the kilns by means of elevators, worked by the engines, until sufficiently dried, and then it passes to the cooling rooms, which are wainscotted to prevent the possibility of injury from moisture. It is then carefully screened by the most modern machinery, worked also by the engines. The rootlets, which are called combings, are sold to farmers in the neighbourhood for feeding purposes, thus forming a source of income to the firm. There are four very extensive kilns in the Market-square maltings. The amount of barley dealt with amounts in the year to between 20,000 and 25,000 barrels. Besides these extensive maltings the firm have some half-dozen smaller ones in connection with their brewery. We were informed that the malt turned out was purchased by the largest of our city brewers and distillers, among whom are the firms of Messrs. Guinness, Son & Co., Ltd., Messrs. John Power and Son, Mountjoy Brewery, etc; and we believe that it is equal to any produced in Ireland. We next noticed the extensive store-houses in which Messrs. P. & H. Egan stow away their heavy goods, such as artificial manners, timber, slate, etc., etc.,
We then crossed Market-square, proceeded along Church-street and High-street, until we came to
in which this famous and old-established firm brew their several makes of porter and ale. Here we were handed over by Mr. Power to Mr. Patrick J. Egan, son of Mr. H. Egan. Entering the brewery yard we noticed the row of stables which extends down along one side, and which provides stable-room for over twenty horses. There is also a large amount of stable-room in connection with the retail premises first described. Passing the stables, we entered the brewery, and proceeded through that establishment, following the articles that go to the manufacture of porter and ale through the various stages. On the top is situated the tank which contains the liquor which goes to the manufacture of the beer. This tank is filled with water from the town supply, which comes a distance of about nine miles, from a place called Clonaslee, and which is of the purest kind possible. Close at hand is situated the boiling tank in which is stored the boiling water used in the manufacture of the grist. We next saw the Mash Tun. In this immense tun are mixed the malt (which had previously been ground on the loft below and brought up by a system of Jacob’s ladders) and boiling water. Here this mixture is allowed to remain for some time, and then the wort is passed onto the Coppers. Leaving the liquor in the process of manufacture, we entered the office of Mr. Patrick J. Egan, the brewer and our guide. This office commands a full view of the yard beneath, so that everything enters and leaves the brewery under his personal supervision. Emerging from this office, we again took up the thread of our journey and proceeded to the copper room. In this room are situated the various coppers, in which the worts coming from the tun overhead are mixed with the hops and then boiled. These coppers are of a very large capacity, and are used – some for the brewing of ale, and others for the brewing of porter. The liquor, after being boiled in these coppers, is passed off into the hop back; here it is allowed to rest a short time, and is then sent on to the cooler, where it is allowed to stand for some time. It is then passed over refrigerators and into the fermenting tuns. There are five of these fermenting tuns in Egan’s brewery, each of them of very large capacity, and all contained liquor in various stages of manufacture on the day of our visit. All of these vessels are furnished with attemperating apparatuses and skimming parachutes. The liquor is allowed to ferment for four or five days. During that time it gives off the yeast. When the process of fermentation is over, the liquor is sent on to the racking squares, and from this filled into casks and made ready for use. Both porter and ale are brewed at this brewery; but we understand that Messrs. P. and H. Egan intend to devote their entire attention henceforth to the brewing of ale. With this end in view, and to place their ales in a proper manner before the public, they are increasing their facilities for the manufacture of ale, and are appointing agents in every district in Ireland. They have already appointed Messrs. Slattery and Wa
ters, 63 Middle Abbey-street, as their Dublin agent, and have also appointed a regular agent in the West of Ireland. We congratulate the firm upon their determination to secure for themselves a share of the ale trade for the city and provinces, and assure them that there is plenty of room for business with such a high-class article as theirs on the market. We saw samples of the several qualities of ale brewed by Messrs. Egan, and all were as sparkling in appearance and as palatable as any ale we have ever seen or tasted. The four qualities of ale, with their prices are strong-bitter ale, 48s. per barrel ; family bitter ale, 36s. per barrel ; strong mild xx ale, 48s.per barrel; single mild ale, 28s. per barrel, less usual trade discount. All these ales are the best of their several kinds, and equal any other make already on the market.
We visited next the Ale Store, where the barrelled porter and ale are stored preparatory to being sent out to the firm’s customers. Here was a good supply of each of the several brands, and here completed our survey of the brewery proper. We then saw the Hop Lofts, two extensive stores, well filled with the best Worchester and Kent hops, as the ingredients used by Messrs. Egan in the manufacture of their liquors are the best procurable.
Leaving the brewery and its store-rooms, we crossed the yard and entered the
which are worked in connection with the brewery. We first entered the Bottle-Washing Department. This consists of two rooms, in which the bottles are ranged on shelves, and a third room, in which stand the two machines by which the bottles are washed. These machines are of the best possible kind, and cleanse the bottles both inside and out in a manner that cannot be surpassed. Several men were working at the washing on the day of our visit; one man employed in bringing the bottles on a truck to be washed, and another carrying them away, when washed, on another truck. These rooms are capable of holding an immense quantity of vessels, and this capability is taxed to the utmost, as there is a constant draw on the store for all the departments of this large firm. We next visited the Ale and Porter Bottling Department, filled with hogsheads of bass, Guinness, lager beer, hop bitters, etc., all being filled from. The weekly bottling of porter here, amount to about twenty hogsheads per week, while the other liquors are bottled in proportionally large quantities. The liquors, when bottled, are sent from this place into the bottled ale stores, and there placed in bins (sections into which the store is divided) until ready to be taken to the retailer. Each of these bins are capable of holding a hogshead, so the department always contains on an average about forty hogshead, of bottled beers. Messrs. Egan also bottled their own ale here, and it commands a very large sale in the district and neighbouring counties. Twelve vans are continually kept on the road delivering these bottled stuffs to the trade in the surrounding districts.
We next proceeded the Wine and Whiskey Bottling Department. This department contained between twenty and twenty-five vats, from which the different brands of wines and whiskeys were being bottled under the name and label of the firm. Wines and whiskeys of every age were being filled here, both for export and home trade. We left this department, and, entering the yard, we saw the casks for the brewery being cleansed by hot water and steam after the most approved fashion; and also the large barley-lofts, which occupy one entire side of the yard, and which were filled to the utmost with corn.
Lastly, we saw the Offices attached to the brewery, a fine range of offices, two storeys high, and manned by a large number of clerks; and thus we concluded our visit to the premises of Messrs. P. and H. Egan, Tullamore.
Of all the firms described from time to time in this journal, we doubt if there was any description more interesting or instructive. This house shows conclusively that the business spirit still lives and thrives, not in one but in every branch of trade in Ireland; and in no part of the country does it flourish to a greater degree than in Tullamore, the centre of the Midlands. Our visit was totally unexpected by the firm.