Historic Jameson Distillery Bow Street Records Now Searchable Online

By Gary Carter / July 16, 2021

Irish Distillers, producer of beloved Irish whiskeys, and Ancestry, a global leader in family history discovery, recently announced they are working together to share a hundred years of Jameson employee records online.

The historic Jameson Distillery Bow Street records, part of the Irish Distillers archive, contain detailed weekly wages books and include the employee names, as well as occupation, hours worked, and wages paid, spanning more than a hundred years from 1862 to 1969 (with records holding personal information available to view up to 1937).

The collection, which contains more than a million indexed records, is now available to search on Ancestry and will be free of charge to access for the month of July. The records belong to Irish Distillers and the digitization project with Ancestry will make them accessible to the public for the first time.

Irish Distillers Records

Some of the Jameson records held by Irish Distillers (image via Irish Distillers)

Every bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey features an emblem known as the “Barrelman,” which was first produced nearly a hundred years ago and is meant to symbolize the passion and team effort that goes into making every bottle of whiskey.

The Jameson Distillery at Bow Street closed as an operational distillery in Dublin in the 1970s and production moved to Midleton. Yet today, the lives of its “barrelmen” can be explored through these digitized wage books – a vast resource of information for those researching their Irish family history.

The records also offer a snapshot into life in Ireland during those hundred years.

For instance, during the Easter Rising in 1916, the distillery on Bow Street was taken over by rebels, which meant no staff could get to work. By law, that meant the employer did not have to pay them. However, there is a note in the wage book that states, “Rebellion in Dublin, all employees paid full week.”

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Carol Quinn, archivist at Irish Distillers, said in a prepared statement, “We are incredibly proud to partner with Ancestry and bring these archives to a global public audience for the first time. These records are important for many reasons, but mainly because for many listed in the earlier volumes, there is no other surviving administrative record of their lives. Civil registration of births only began in 1864, so many may not have had birth certificates, and later records were destroyed in the bombing of the Four Courts in 1922.”

“Quinn said that while the archive is an internal resource for Irish Distillers and not open to the public, she’s always tried to answer any genealogical query that she receives.

“However, physically looking through the volumes – some of which are half a meter in size – isn’t good for the longevity of the records and leads to damage. Thanks to Ancestry and the team who came to Midleton to digitize the volumes, all of the records are available online and people can look up the records themselves and find out if their relatives worked at Jameson Distillery Bow Street and what their working life was like.”

Rhona Murray is senior content acquisition manager for Ancestry. She said that occupation records can be a key resource for those researching their family history, as they often provide more detail and context on how their ancestors lived day-to-day.

“The Jameson Distillery Staff Wage and Employment Books are particularly important as they bring to life a time when the Jameson distillery played a vital role providing employment for the local community – and potentially your ancestors – in Dublin City,” Murray said. “We are delighted to be working with Irish Distillers to preserve and provide online public access to this valuable collection, for people in Ireland and those with Irish heritage all around the world.”

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Records in the collection span from 1862-1969, but in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), records that hold personal details are only available to view up to 1937, to protect the privacy of any living people.

If you’re interested in accessing the records, you can go here.