Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny

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Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny
Smithwicks Experience Exterior 2.jpg
The Exterior of the Smithwick's Experience
EstablishedBrewery: 1706,[1] Current Brewery Tour: 2014[2]
Location44 Parliament St, Kilkenny, Ireland

Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny (formerly St. Francis Abbey Brewery and Kilkenny Brewery) is a brewery-turned-brewery-tour located on the Medieval Mile in Kilkenny, Ireland.[3]

The Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny is the site where Smithwick's was brewed from the 1700s until 2014. Previously, the site was owned by Franciscan friars who also brewed beer before they were dissolved during the Reformation in 1537.[4][5] The site is now a brewery tour that includes the location's history, the brand evolution, a bar and tastings, visual effects including holograms, and a gift shop.[3] The brewery tour is laid out over two floors and sits on the original abbey foundations.

Site History[edit]

Recognised as one of Ireland’s oldest breweries, the site originated as a notable Franciscan monastery called St. Francis Abbey.[5] In fact, during the expansion of Smithwicks Brewery in 1854, the nave and chancel of the abbey were discovered within the grounds of the brewery. The sacristy has been restored as an oratory at the brewery. The well was dedicated to St Francis and long held in great veneration, is located about 45 metres to the northeast of the friary and is now underneath one of the brewery buildings.[6] The Abbey and brewery closed after 300 years due to the Reformation in Ireland in 1537. Many years later in 1705, the land was leased to John Smithwick and Richard Cole, who started a brewing business. The land at that time was owned by the Duke of Ormond. In 1710, John Smithwick became the owner, but this was not publicly known because according to the penal laws, as a Catholic, Smithwick was not allowed to own property. Penal laws were revoked in 1782, allowing the Smithwick family to publicly claim ownership.[7]

Many years later, John Smithwick's grandson Edmond Smithwick picked up the business. The brewery stayed entirely in the Smithwicks family until 1964, when Guinness and Company (Diageo) bought a controlling share of the brewery.[8]

The site operated as a brewery until December 2013, when all brewing was moved to St James's Gate in Dublin to centralise Diageo's brewing efforts.[9] The site reopened as an attraction in late July 2014.[10]

Brewery tour[edit]

After Diageo moved brewing operations out of Kilkenny, the site was re-opened in 2014 as a visitor center that focuses on the history of the brewery and the brewing process.[11][12][13]


  1. ^ "St.Francis's Abbey". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Smithwick's Experience Opening in Summer 2014". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  3. ^ a b Keane, Sean. "Hogwarts and Holograms at Smithwick's Kilkenny Experience". Kilkenny People. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  4. ^ "The Smithwick's Story" (PDF). Smithwick's Official Site. Smithwick's. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b The Journal of the Kilkenny and South-east of Ireland Archaeological Society. 6, 9. The Society. 1871.
  6. ^ "St.Francis's Abbey - Kilkenny City and County Portal". Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  7. ^ de Beaumont, Gustave. "IRELAND". Google Books. Harvard University Press. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  8. ^ Cleere, Ray. "300 years of brewing is no small beer for historic ale". Irish Independent. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  9. ^ Reilly, Gavan. "100 jobs to go as Diageo centralises brewing in Dublin". The Journal. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny is officially open!". Easy Food, Zahra Media Group. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  11. ^ Steves, Rick; O'Connor, Pat (13 November 2018). Rick Steves Ireland 2019. Avalon Publishing. pp. 165–. ISBN 978-1-64171-021-3.
  12. ^ "Smithwick's Experience Kilkenny | Attractions | Museums and Attractions | All Ireland | Republic of Ireland | Kilkenny | Kilkenny City | Discover Ireland". Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Kilkenny brewery set to be distilled into €3m visitor centre". 11 June 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2019.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°39′14″N 7°15′15″W / 52.6539°N 7.2542°W / 52.6539; -7.2542