THE FRANCISCAN WELL HISTORY
Cork’s Franciscan Well Brewery and Brew Pub is one of Ireland’s longest established and best respected craft breweries. The “Wnational fame for its popular beers along with international recognition for its numerous craft beer awards from across Europe along with their successful collaboration with Jameson Whiskey.
Powered by a dedicated team of expert brewers, the Well is a creative power house when it comes to quality Irish craft beer.
Founded by Shane Long in 1998, it is now Ireland’s No.1 Craft Brewery*. The brewery was founded on the North Mall in Cork City and is built on the site of an old Franciscan monastery and well dating back to the year 1219. Legend has it that water from the well had miraculous and curative properties, and people would come from afar to drink from it. When you first walk through the modest entrance of the Franciscan Well Brewery and Brew Pub you are struck by the passion of its brewers. This love for the well and its beer is infectious and emanates from all the staff. You quickly discover that the diverse and interesting clientele are also devotees in the strongest sense.
The Brewery has combined modern technology with age old tradition, brewing classic beer styles including lager, ale, stout, and wheat beer. Putting innovation at the forefront of the brewing process. Seasonal and special brews that pass the brewer’s standards are served up at the Brew Pub. The most popular ones are then sent further afield.
In 2017, we opened a new Brewery Facility on the other side of the River Lee. This was to meet the growing demand of Franciscan Well products, while allowing the brewers to maintain the creative micro-brewery to create new ideas and products – continuing to allow the patrons of the Brew Pub to give them their initial feedback and input to the creative process.
Franciscan Well Brewery place huge emphasis on the importance of collaborations. The brewery has collaborated with fellow Cork drinks brand, the iconic Jameson Whiskey, to create the International Beer Challenge gold medal winner Jameson-Aged Stout, and Jameson-Aged Pale Ale. They have both received recognition with numerous award wins, most recently winning Gold in the World Beer Awards 2015 and the International Beer Challenge Awards.
Franciscan Well has won numerous awards over the years and gaining recognition across Europe and beyond. Their most recent wins were in the World Beer Awards and International Beer Challenge Awards 2015. This brings to a total of 30 awards won by the brewery since 2013. The most recent award win saw Franciscan Well winning Best Seasonal Pale Ale at the World Beer Awards with its seasonal Summer Saison brew. The award, which equates to the Summer Saison being considered by judges as the top seasonal Pale Ale in the world, is the brewery’s highest achievement to date.
The Franciscan Well team were delighted to have received the praise and recognition for their innovative brew at the most prestigious international beer awards.
Commenting, Shane Long, Founder of Franciscan Well “Winning this award following our recent success in other categories at the World Beer Awards really validates the hard work of the guys behind the scenes at the brewery. While a lot of people will know us for the likes of Rebel Red and Chieftain IPA, experimentation with limited editions and collaborations is a massive part of what we do. We’re extremely proud to be on the same stage as international brewing legends and we’ll do our best to be back next year.”
- International Beer Challenge Gold for Jameson stout, and Bronze for IPA, Coffee Porter and Rosemary and Clementine.
- World Beer Awards Gold for Rebel Red (European section), and Bronze for Coffee Porter.
- Dublin Craft Beer Cup Silver for Jameson Stout and IPA.
- World Beer Awards Gold for Spring Ale, and Bronze for Rebel Red.
- Beoir Beer of the Year for Century Stout.
- Gold at World Beer Awards for Shandon Export.
- Independent Beer and Whiskey Festival Silver for Purgatory Pale Ale.
- Independent Brewery Awards Gold for Rebel Red awarded by Michael Jackson.
History of the Friary
The Franciscan Well Brewery and Brew Pub is located in the centre of what was the Shandon Friary, dating back to 1214. Originally founded by Diarmuid McCarthy Mor, King of South Munster (Desmond), it was completed by his son Fineen Dermot. Fineen an Irish chieftain, was married to a Norman wife (Petronella Bloet) and this lead to a duality of cultures that was reflected in the make-up of the Friars – both Anglo Norman and native Irish. The brewers today use ingredients and techniques from across Europe and further afield to add to the uniqueness of the Well’s current output.
History recalls that the existing well in the Brewery, which was located in the centre of the courtyard leading into the friary church was regarded as having curative powers, especially for those with defective eyesight and the multitudes would flock there to be cured.
In 1627 the Earl of Cork purchased the lands from Skiddy and subsequently bequeathed it to his son Rodger upon his death. It appears that the Catholic religious observances on the site survived the suppression of Henry VIII and history records a chapel being built by the friars in the late 17th century on the east side of the Abbey lands. History also records that James II assisted at Mass in this chapel when he stayed in the Abbey having landed in Ireland (Cork) on his ill fated journey to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Local legend has it that a subterranean passage leading from Garrane-na-Brathair (the Brothers Grove) to the crypt beside the well in the brewery was used during penal times by Catholics to sustain their religious observances in the Friary.
In 1804, when the houses on the North Mall were being built, many relics of the friary were uncovered, including graves and gravestones. In fact the Brew Pub itself is believed to be built on the burial grounds which accounts for the ghost that haunts the pub. The current staff have also experienced the ghost on several occasions even though the Franciscan Prior from Broad Lane blessed the premises, on opening, in 1998.
During the 1940s the Franciscan Well acted as the centre of Guinness bottling for the people of Cork.
The Earl of Cork’s involvement with the property finally ended when the current owner purchased the freehold in 1998.