Adam Millar established a distillery at 10 – 13 Thomas Street in the 1840s – one of the plethora of distilleries and brewhouses which operated in The Liberties in the 19th century, the heyday of the industry.
Quite how Mr Millar held his nerve against the giant Roe Distillery across the street can only be imagined, but Adam Millar & Co prospered sufficiently to build a handsome distillery building in the late 1890s.
Built between 1894 and 1900, the granite and brick building with a distinctive parade of arched windows to Thomas Street is indicative of the commercial success of Dublin’s whiskey barons at the time. Through the archway from the street, some of the fine decorative features of the building are still there to be admired, including the very handsome glazed tiles and a decorative doorway.
Millars eventually closed and the label disappeared for many years until it was revived in the 1980s. It is now distilled at Cooley Distillery in Louth. The Dublin Civic Trust Thomas Street Study (2001) says that wine was produced in the old stills on the site from imported grape pulp right up until the 1980s! The study also highlighted the ship’s bell, which was used to signal lunchtime for employees of the distillery, which was still affixed to one of the outhouse buildings (and remains there to this day). The bell possibly didn’t have to come too far. Next door at No. 14 is the remains of John Murphy’s famous bell foundry. Murphy was noted for restoring the joy-bells of St Patrick’s Cathedral – and perhaps gained the work from his neighbour Benjamin Lee Guinness, who paid for the cathedral’s 19th century restoration.
In 2003, Nos 10 – 13 Thomas Street was incorporated into new Digital Hub – a new media and enterprise hub that was tasked with transforming vacant land either side of Thomas Street. After a thankfully failed attempt to redevelop the south side of Thomas Street with a monstrously overblown scheme in 2007, No 10 – 13 was refurbished in the later 2000s for use as offices with over 20 companies located in the building. The property is now part of a portfiolio of sites either side of Thomas Street that are being transfered from the Digital Hub Development Agency (which is to be dissolved in 2022) to the new Land Development Agency for an as yet undetermined future.