Is Ireland’s oldest business in Cork?

24 November 2015
By Bryan T. Smyth


While the business community has recently been buzzing with lots of startup activity, is calling on counties in the Republic of Ireland to help it with its list of Ireland’s longest-established businesses. provides Irish business owners and managers with information and resources on a range of business topics and is powered by Bank of Ireland.

26 businesses, one from each county, have been identified through the campaign so far, with the oldest dating back to Kilkenny in 1324. While public houses, hotels and newspapers make up the majority of the list; candle-makers, jewellers, and food manufacturers also feature prominently.

The Old Thatch, which was founded in 1667, has been listed as Cork’s oldest business and the fourth oldest business in Ireland. Located in Killeagh in East Cork, The Old Thatch is one of the oldest licensed premises in Ireland.

The campaign has identified Kyteler’s Inn, in the medieval city of Kilkenny, as Ireland’s oldest business so far. Still located on St Kieran’s Street, it was founded in 1324 and the first owner is said to have been Dame Alice Kyteler, who was accused of witchcraft in the early 14th century. Also amongst the oldest is Dublin-based Rathborne Candles which was founded and has been in business since 1488. Now located in Blanchardstown, the Rathborne family originally arrived in Ireland from Chester in the early 1480s. Rathborne candles were used to light the Dublin’s streets in the 1700s. The company is now one of the main suppliers of candles to churches throughout the land.

Some well-known Irish businesses are also included in the list, such as Avoca, founded in 1723 in Wicklow; Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold from Galway dating back to 1750 and Waterford-based Flahavan’s Oats, established in 1785.

Speaking about the campaign, editor Stephen Conmy said, “The idea behind the campaign is to discover Ireland’s oldest businesses and find out what makes them so sustainable. Finding businesses around Ireland that have stood the test of time has been a very interesting exercise. We’re fairly sure we have found some of the oldest businesses from each county, but we are happy to stand corrected. If anyone knows of any older businesses in Galway, we’d love to hear from them. The only rule is that the firm should be continuous and still be in the same business as when it was founded.”

The 26 oldest Irish Businesses (so far) are;
1. Kilkenny – Kyteler’s Inn – founded in 1324

2. Dublin – Rathborne Candles – founded in 1488

3. Roscommon – Morahan’s Bar – founded in 1641

4. Cork – The Old Thatch – founded in 1667

5. Wicklow – Avoca – founded in 1723

6. Limerick – The Locke Bar – founded in 1724

7. Galway – Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold – founded in 1750

8. Laois – Morrissey’s Bar – founded in 1755

9. Cavan – Carton Bros – founded in 1755

10. Carlow – Reddy’s – founded in 1768

11. Waterford – Flahavan’s Oats – founded in 1785

12. Leitrim – The Bush Hotel – founded in 1793

13. Mayo – Mellet’s Emporium – founded in 1797

14. Wexford – GH Letts – founded in 1810

15. Westmeath – Canton Casey’s – founded in 1825

16. Louth – The Argus – founded in 1835

17. Sligo – The Sligo Champion – founded in 1836

18. Tipperary – Nenagh Guardian – founded in 1838

19. Monaghan – Northern Standard – founded in 1839

20. Meath – O’Connell’s Pub – founded in 1845

21. Kerry – Ashes Pub – founded in 1849

22. Kildare – Malone Newsagent – founded in 1864

23. Offaly – Thrace Synthetic Packaging – founded in 1865

24. Donegal – McCullagh Jewellers – founded in 1869

25. Longford – Quinn’s Supply Store – founded in 1875

26. Clare – Ennis Cash Company – founded in 1880

Anyone who knows of a business that is older than the one listed above can email and will be happy to include, once verified.


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