I have a soft spot for the brewery; my mother worked there for a while, as did my father plus I am partial to the local brew: a pint of Smithwicks. A man who is even more partial to Smithwick’s brewery is local musician and songwriter Pat Wall.
Pat gave 30 years of his life working in the brewery which, after 303 years (and we have all the three’s there), will close its doors this coming December. Pat worked in the lab – as a beer-tester. And got paid for it! I wouldn’t have minded a job like that except I’d probably have done more tasting than testing.
I bumped into Pat at the Monday night trad-session in Cleere’s Bar. Pat sang a song that he recently composed and which he will record and launch next month.
The song is called: ‘Changes Are A-Brewing’ and is about the place that Pat gave thirty years of his life to: ‘The Brewery’. I was very taken with the song and the sentiments expressed in it, for all the reasons mentioned above, but also because it captures the passing of an institution that was ‘part of who we are’, to quote Pat, and which literally put Kilkenny on the international map, not least with its ruby, red brew ‘Kilkenny’. Pat has very kindly given me the words of his ballad which he will be performing live in his various haunts over the next few weeks.
The clanging of the bottles and kegs
Will ne’er be heard no more
The clip-clop of the Clydesdales
Is now cast into folklore
The hooter blast
That called to work
Is now silent in the factory yard
Technology, for what it’s worth,
Has played its fateful card
For three hundred and three long years
She served us very well
Through struggle and strife
She stood the test
And the truth to you I’ll tell
Many people, they have worked there
When malt and hops did fill the air
But progress brewed up that final storm
And laid the factory bare
To you and me
That was the brewery
Her passing has left a scar
It must not become a memory
It’s part of who we are
The monks who prayed within her walls
Are now lost in the mists of time
The coopers and the draymen
The ale and the barley wine
Came too late to carry on
That noblest of traditions
Soon to be long gone
But we won’t forget, in years to come
The legacy she has made
And at each social gathering
A parting glass we’ll raise
To say farewell to an era
The likes we’ll never see again
When work was more than just a job
Done with loyalty to the end
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