Donegal Brewing Company
Brendan & Sinead O’Reilly
Brendan O’Reilly is one of the most dynamic figures in the world of Irish pubs, off licences and craft brewing. Not content to simply run a truly fine pub in Ballyshannon, he has taken the wine shop at Dicey Reilly’s from its opening status of offering “Liebfraumilch, Blue Nun and Black Tower” to the position of being a multi-award winning wine shop and off licence, with more than 800 wines and 400 craft beers on offer.
Sensing that the time was right, Mr O’Reilly started brewing his own beer, creating the Donegal Brewing Company in 2011, though his interest in craft beer dates back to 1997.
His wife, Sinead, learnt the wine business when Brendan set about learning about brewing beer through courses in the BrewLab in the University of Sunderland as well as in the Porterhouse in Dublin. Debuting with the excellent Donegal Blonde, since then the brewery has been stretched keeping up with demand for the delicious liquid. .
The company has quickly fashioned no fewer than five siblings for the Blonde, and the brews run the gamut of beerology from pale ale to porter, all of them crisp, well-defined and superbly refreshing.
Brendan’s momentum, thereby, moves forward on three fronts: the lovely traditional bar, the excellent Donegal Brewing Co. beers, and one of the best wine and beer shops in the country. Put them together and you not only have a dynamic business, you have a template for how every pub in Ireland could be thriving instead of merely surviving.
The O’ Reillys are the kind of people who will keep country towns alive over the next few years. They take an active role in promoting Donegal, coach tours visit the brewery for organised workshops and tastings, and sample the town’s other offerings.
They adapt to the times, they take risks, they create products.