Circa 1845

James Donohoe, son of a Kilmuckridge farmer, is born.


In his early twenties he emigrated to Australia and in the following six years developed a spirit which made him rebel against convention and a keen businessman.

Having acquired some capital, much experience and a young Australian wife, formally Miss Kathleen Elizabeth Poynting, James Donohoe made a decision in 1876 which later affected the lives of hundreds of people in Co. Wexford. He decided to return to Ireland. James Donohoe settled in Enniscorthy.


Having taken charge of a business in Templeshannon following the sudden death of his brother, Myles Donohoe who ran a wholesale grocery and spirit stores, the firm of J. Donohoe was founded and a Mineral Water Factory was set up on a plot of wasteland rented for £14.00 a year.

The Slaney side location remains the site of the J. Donohoe Beverages Group head offices and state-of-the-art beverages manufacturing and distribution facilities.


The business prospered and the celebrated ‘Star’ Mineral Water became well known in Wexford and the
surrounding counties.


The encouraging results of his efforts prompted James Donohoe to extend his activities. He entered the Wholesale Ale and Porter trade and established Wine, Spirit and Grocery Departments.

At that time ales and familiar porters such as Guinness were bottled on site. Deliveries were effected by the old Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway system and a fleet of twenty seven horses


By 1896, Donohoe’s was the largest general merchant in Enniscorthy. The firm had interests in the coal, corn, manure and seed trades, a saddlery and blacksmiths shop in addition to the bottling business.

Such was its success that the business was incorporated as a Limited Company in that year.


The jennet had been replaced by a gas engine with considerable reserves of power and the familiar phut, phut, phut of its exhaust was a feature of the district in the early part of the century.

A sawmill and joinery works was established, and in the same year the hardware trade was tapped.


In December 1916 James Donohoe died aged 71. By that time his shrewdness, integrity and untiring industry had earned for him the title of the “Prince of Merchants”. How well he merited that title is evidenced by the extensive and flourishing concern with which his name is associated.

Patrick J. Kickham succeeding James Donohoe as Managing Director continued to develop the business. P. J. Kickham, an accountant from Tipperary, had joined the company five years before.

The Kickham family play a major role in the destiny of the firm to the present day.


A powerful dynamo was installed (almost ten years before the inauguration of the Shannon Scheme and the E.S.B.) supplanting the old gas light and providing electric lighting throughout the entire premises. With the advent of electricity, the introduction of more sophisticated bottling equipment was possible.


After World War II the Mineral Water and Wholesale Bottling plant was completely modernised with the installation of fully automatic lines for both soft drinks, carbonated and still beers. Mr. J Kickham (standing on crate) is pictured with staff.


Following his death in April 1950, Patrick J. Kickham was succeeded by John L. Kickham.


An integral part of the local community. Celebrations take place in the Market Square after Wexford winning the Leinster Senior Hurling title with Nicky Rackard standing on a Donohoe’s lorry.


In 1957 the company moved in to Waterford and Kilkenny with the purchase of Keily’s of St. Stephen’s Brewery, Waterford. This allowed for the extension of the Groups activities through the wholly owned subsidiary Patrick Keily & Sons (1957) Limited.

Big Brother brand launched.


Disaster strikes in 1959 as crowds gather to fight the flames during a major site fire.


The production lines were replaced with units of greater capacity and a number of international franchises were added to the soft drinks portfolio. Pictured is Mr. John Horgan of Donohoe Drinks signing for a delivery of Guinness.


The worst flood in Enniscorthy’s history occurred in 1965, water entered the site from the River Slaney rising to above knee level.


Donohoes trucks drive through flood waters to make deliveries. The water level was so high that water entered the cab, submerging the pedals.


Bubble-Up manufacturing and distribution franchise procured. Pictured is a J. Donohoe Ltd stand at the 1969 Strawberry Fair.


The company embraced computerisation with accounts and information systems being put in place.


Modernisation and extension of bottling facilities.


Further modernization of bottling facilities in Enniscorthy.

Appointed as manufacturer of West Coast Cooler for the whole of Ireland by Irish Distillers Group


Further extension of the distribution section of the business was assured in west Waterford and Tipperary with the acquisition of two old and highly respected Dungarvan companies Thomas Power & Company in 1988 and M. J. Keane & Company in 1990.



Expanded into the Spirit, Wine & Cream Liqueur blending and bottling business through the acquisition of the assets of Waterford Liqueurs from Irish Distillers Ltd.

The House of Donohoe Limited ISO 9002 accredited plant was established in Waterford to provide contract manufacturing and bottling services to Irish and export markets.


The Enniscorthy plant was awarded ISO 9002 certification and certification under HACCAP regulations.


De-merge and re-organisation of J. Donohoe Limited Group. The Drinks, Motor and IT businesses separated from each other, providing a key enabler for further growth in each business.

The J. Donohoe Beverages Group is formed


Expansion of tank and process areas in Enniscorthy, new QC laboratories opened.


Extensive expansion of warehousing and bottling capacity in The House of Donohoe in Waterford.


Heineken keg distribution agreement signed – the company now distributes kegs on behalf of Heineken Ireland across the South-East.

Patrick Keily & Sons (1957) Ltd. and Keane-Power & Co. move its operations to a modern purpose build wholesale distribution warehouse and offices at Lacken Road Business Park, Kilbarry, Waterford.


A sister company, Future Nutrition is founded. Future Nutrition is a functional beverage private label development and manufacturing partner. New state of the art drinks and powder factories are built on the same original Enniscorthy site. Future Nutrition has since grown from a fast-paced start-up to a global functional beverage manufacturer, working with some of the largest consumer functional beverage brands across the globe.

Present Day

Donohoe Drinks is still a family owned and operated business; the 21st century sees the company in its fourth generation. We are Irelands oldest independent manufacturer of alcoholic beverages. The Enniscorthy site is now the proud home of Future Nutrition while the Waterford site manufactures, blends and bottles some of the worlds finest spirits and cream liqueurs.

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