Monday, September 10, 2007

Winds of change

On the site of the Guinness Brewery, there's an odd tower capped by a verdigris onion-shaped dome. When I was researching Dublin last year, I learned it was a remnant from an earlier alcohol-business: Roe's Distillery. In the nineteenth century, George Roe's Old Malt Whiskey was famous, and its premises boasted the largest pot-still in the world. This odd tower was the distillery's windmill.

It was builts in 1805 to grind corn. As windmills go, it's supposed to be one of the tallest in Europe. It was a smock windmill - the copper dome had big sails attached, and both dome and sails rotated in the wind. It kept its sails until the 1860s, when steam took over.

At the end of the century Dublin Distillers' Company took it premises, and then Guinness in the 1950s. It's called St Patrick's Tower these days. Driving through Dublin this summer, I kept a look-out for it among the cityscape, and sure enough - there was the windmill! It was like a tale coming to life.

Nowadays it's in the heart of the Digital Hub, which has a lovely symmetry - the windmill is still at the centre of the city's lifeblood. Thanks to Sean for the photo.

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