A Nip against the Cold exhibition runs from 1st September until 1st October 2017 at the North Mayo Heritage Centre. Proudly organised in collaboration with Nephin Distillery and Reel Deel Brewery, local producers in the Crossmolina area, it celebrates the traditional crafts of distilling and brewing in Ireland.
As regards this long history, we have only to think of private poitin distilling in country areas and breweries in Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin that have produced renowned beers for over two centuries.
At the turning of the seasons, then, let us take the opportunity in A Nip against the Cold exhibition to look back at the tradition and crafts of distilling and brewing in local places. The harvest is approaching, the evenings might be cooler and we look further ahead to winter. In days gone by, country people who were out visiting a neighbour’s house of an evening might have wanted to take a nip against the cold before leaving the visiting house and going home.
Distilling has always been considered a birthright by the Irish. When a tax was introduced on the Poitin (illegal Whiskey) in the 17th century a conflict followed that lasted for centuries between the “Moonshiners” (illicit Distillers) and the Excisemen who enforced the tax collection.
In 1781, private distillation was banned by the UK government, and excisemen were allowed to seize the Poitin, poitin-making equipment, and even horses and vehicles used for its transportation.
Poitin may not be made in the same quantities of old but the history and tradition of brewing and distilling created global brands. Traditional Irish beers enjoying an international reputation include Guinness (Dublin), Smithwicks (Kilkenny), and Beamish (Cork). Irish whiskeys include Jameson, Paddy Power, Bushmills, to only name a few.
Nephin Distillery is located between Lough Conn and Nephin Mountain in the small village of Lahardaun, Co. Mayo. They create peated, single malt whiskey “from the local landscape” and they take great care to do this “the way it used to be”.
Their peated single malts are made using locally grown barley and locally cut turf. The single malt whiskey is then triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills, and matured in casks handcrafted in Nephin Cooperage.
The traditional craft of cooperage is the art of handcrafted barrel or cask making. The distillers tell us that very much of the whiskey flavour comes from the casks. Nephin is the only Irish distillery to craft its own.
Situated in Crossmolina, Co Mayo, Reel Deel is a micro brewery that produces beautiful, full flavoured craft beer. It takes its name from Crossmolina’s river, the Deel.
They proudly sell craft beers with appellations such as Jack the Lad (Irish Pale Ale), Irish Blonde (a fruity amber ale) and the award-winning, Say Nowt Stout. Each one has developed slowly and the brewers have taken the time to find the right flavour and taste.
The brewery has been a family undertaking from the beginning, and it is now in its first decade.
A Nip against the Cold is a unique exhibition, which delights in celebrating the traditional and the local, while remembering affectionately ways of life of people in times gone by. The local craftspeople who take part in A Nip against the Cold are enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable, and for them, their distilling and brewing are labours of love as well as a craft. We can wonder if the landscape and weather in Crossmolina in autumn will recall country evenings gone by when a ingesting a nip would insulate a country person against the cold.
One of the most special things to do in Crossmolina, the North Mayo Heritage Centre aims to preserve and promote the precious heritage of the North Mayo region. It is located on the grounds of Enniscoe House and gardens, close to Crossmolina, and a short distance from beautiful Nephin Mountain.
The Heritage Centre is home to a museum and a Family History Centre (it provides genealogical research for parishes in the northern part of Mayo). There are three charming gardens and a looped walk. The Organic Garden is a jewel of the Centre.
There is a rich catalogue of exhibitions for 2017, which are unmissable cultural experiences. They provide an opportunity to understand our heritage and ourselves, local and visitor alike, in a greater roundness.