Ringsend was a good location for making glass. Glass manufacturers needed a lot of sand, of which Ringsend had plenty. They also needed lots of coal to melt the sand so it was handy to be near the port. The Irish Glass Bottle Company started in Ringsend in 1871.
This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.
The Irish Glass Bottle Company, Ringsend
Not so long ago, at the beginning of the 1990s, milk in glass bottles was still being brought to your hall door by the milk man in some parts of Dublin. These bottles were made by the Irish Glass Bottle Company on South Bank Road in Ringsend.
Bottles have been made in Ringsend for over 200 years. The first bottle company was set up on Charlotte Quay in 1787. They sold most of the bottles in France.
But a city which had many breweries, whiskey distilleries and soft drinks factories also needed lots of bottles so there were many different bottle factories in Ringsend over the years. Glass manufacturers needed lots of sand, of which Ringsend had plenty. They also needed lots of coal to melt the sand so it was handy to be near the port. Unfortunately, as a result, Ringsend became very polluted from all that smoke!
The Irish Glass Bottle Company started in Ringsend in 1871, making black bottles for porter with sand from Dublin Bay and lime and clay from Clontarf. These was mixed with salt rock and soda and melted in a huge tank furnace.
Making bottles was very hard work. People called blowers shaped the liquid red-hot glass that came out of the furnace into bottles. It was a bit like blowing bubbles with chewing gum. Then the bottles were left to cool for two nights and two days.
In 1880 the Irish Glass Bottle Company made 600 gross of bottles every week; a gross is an old measurement of 144, so they made 86,400 bottles per week!
Bottles were used and re-used many times, which was a good way to recycle. Milk bottles made fifty trips, and beer bottles made thirty! Children could get money from a grocery shop for returning empty lemonade bottles. It was a great way of getting a bit of pocket money and one could buy a wafer which was an ice cream slice between wafers.
The Irish Glass Bottle Company got bigger, moved factory twice, made bottles in different colours and shapes and in the 1980s was one of the most modern factories in Europe. It employed a great number of people. However, in 2002 it closed its doors forever and this marked the end of glass bottle making in Ringsend.