Patrick Williams has had a career working in publishing for The Economist in London and then in New York for a total of 14 years. Patrick helped launch the Condé Nast Portfolio and then moved to re-launch Worth Magazine as the Publisher in 2008 which has been a tremendous success. He currently lives with his wife and family in New York City. Born and raised near Tullamore, County Offaly in the heart of Ireland, Patrick is the direct descendant of Daniel Edmond Williams, who back in 1887 was appointed general manager of the Tullamore distillery and shortly thereafter became the D.E.W. of Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey.
When I got speed coming down the hill from Durrow, I could free wheel most of the way along the flat piece of road that went past the Smollen's house. I'd take a turn toward the river for the final assent then jet quickly across the little bridge and up the last hill.
This last hill, although the steepest on the way from my parents' home in Durrow back to you, my home town, and County Offaly, was always the most fun as there was a huge outdoor poster welcoming all travelers to the heart of Ireland and, "The Home of Tullamore D.E.W." On our bicycles as children, we had a fierce loyalty to that sign as we knew well that the D.E.W. stood for Daniel Edmund Williams, our Great Grandfather and the founder of the Irish whiskey that had built the town. On we would climb, enthused by the logo, filled with pride.
Growing up, I had five brothers and sisters and there always seemed to be several friends staying with us so there was never a small group of kids on each bike adventure. The trek from Durrow to you was about four miles but I never felt that I had arrived until I reached your canal bridge. To the right of that canal was a warehouse my father's family used for whiskey production and just last year was restored as the Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre.
Past the canal, on the left was one of my mother's favorite shops, a new creation for Tullamore called a "Fashion Boutique." Naturally to us it was just a girly clothes shop that was torture to have to wait in while seemingly endless discussions would happen. The only fate worse than this was to be amongst the team selected to wait outside the hairdressers. But with the freedom of our bikes, the first stop on Columcille Street was Gory's Newspaper Shop for some sweets. I had once asked Mr. Gory for a small statue of a Gallic Football Player in the Offaly Colors and imagine my surprise when six months later he actually produced one. With a few sweets on board, further up the town we would go.
Turning to the right to Patrick Street with The Five Star Super Market and D.E. Williams's Headquarters, my father's office. Around the back was the bottling plant and the opportunity to maybe get some stickers they used on the bottles, much to any grown up's irritation, we would always be able to get our hands on a few dozen of these to help us decorate our bikes or the back of the car.
Back on the bikes and further up the town past the Bridge House Hotel on Bridge Street would be a stop for a chocolate éclair in the bakers on the right just below the chemist. You were a small town of about 10,000 people so everyone knew everyone; on your bikes you were safe and people looked out for you. At your peak was a small roundabout from the late seventies that no one paid any attention to. My mother certainly led the charge in this particular offense, reinforcing the classic Irish trait of a lack of respect for authority, possibly bought about by generations of oppression. After the roundabout, we would turn left and stay with the bendy road and in a few hundred yards we would be at my Uncle Edmunds house Auburn, or straight on to the original family house simply called DEW Park. If it was the spring then we would have set up shop outside The Five Star Supermarket and sold daffodils in bunches of ten where you could make more than five pounds back in an afternoon's selling. A small fortune at age eleven.
You are still beautiful, a small Irish town that is being given back its heritage as Willam Grant & Sons, now owners of Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey bring the distillery back to its roots and keep the spirit of Daniel Edmund Williams alive and well.