Visitors to popular pub and live music venue The Dirty Onion, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, may not be aware that the relatively new pub (which opened last November) stands on the site of an original 1800s warehouse with a unique place in the history of Irish whiskey, and Jameson whiskey in particular. That historic relationship has now been marked by the commissioning of a very distinctive bright red sculpture, the Jameson Barrel-Man, in the heart of The Dirty Onion’s front yard.
By the early 1920s the original warehouse on the site, known as ‘Stack N’, was operated by Edward Dillon Bonders – a name that continues today as Dillon Bass, the company that distributes Jameson in Northern Ireland and who commissioned the sculpture this year. Interestingly, ‘Stack N’ was the home of all Jameson in Northern Ireland at one time, so over the years, thousands of barrels’ worth of John Jameson’s finest passed through its doors, most of which were probably carried on the back of barrel-men.
To celebrate this history and heritage, the team at Dillon Bass worked with design and marketing consultancy Drinksology to provide a lasting testament to a mostly unsung figure, while also creating something modern and quirky that wouldn’t look out of place in The Dirty Onion’s yard.
Jameson Brand Manager Karen Anderson said: “John Jameson himself would have approved. He respected the physical labour involved in the journey from grain to glass, which is why he put two barrel-men on the label of every single bottle of the world’s most famous Irish whiskey.
“The figure of a barrel-man was a clear and fitting choice for the space. After that, it was a matter of commissioning and designing the piece to reflect the venue and then managing the installation. Dillon Bass have a good relationship with Beannchor and it’s wonderful being able to create something unique in such a fabulous location.
“Already we’ve had great feedback so far and he seems to have been made very welcome by Cathedral Quarter visitors, so we hope he continues to settle in well at his new home.”
Commenting on the unique partnership, Sorcha Wolsey, operations director, Beannchor said: “Our vision for The Dirty Onion was to create a unique new hospitality experience within one of Belfast’s oldest buildings. In the planning and development of the new venue, we made great efforts to ensure we honoured its history and heritage; our partnership with Jameson has brought a further dimension to our efforts to pay homage to the past. We hope the barrel-man statue will become an iconic installation, which will help visitors to The Dirty Onion understand the rich history of this unique architectural treasure.”