Brehon Brewhouse is located in a parish where the Anglo-Norman Pale ended and Gaelic Ireland began. It not only straddles two counties and two provinces, but historically it straddled two cultures. It is steeped in ancient Irish history. It is the heartland of the MacMahons. On a hill overlooking the brewery sits Dun Eilite, one of the ancient MacMahon fortresses. This was MacMahon country, the place where they held their small or intermediate lordships and from where they raided into the Pale.
Killanny was the gateway to Ulster. It was here that Essex met Hugh O’Neill during the Nine Years’ War. When this war ended badly for the Gaelic Irish, the great earls fled from Ireland into exile on the continent of Europe. The Flight of the Earls had an added significance in that it removed the Brehons’ remaining source of patronage. It signalled the end of Brehon law.
Poets were accorded a special status under Brehon law. One of Ireland’s greatest modern poets, Patrick Kavanagh, was born and reared on the same road that Brehon Brewing is now located. Kavanagh wrote in The Green Fool (London, 1938, p. 8):
‘From the tops of the little hills there spread a view right back to the days of St Patrick and the Druids. Slieve Gullion to the north fifteen miles distant, to the west the bewitched hills and forts of Donaghmoyne, eastward one could see the distillery chimney of Dundalk, sending up its prosperous smoke, or, on a very bright day, one could see the sun dazzled tide coming in at Annagasson.’