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Monday, October 1, 1866   Fitzgerald Bros. Brewery

Brothers Michael, John, and Edmund Fitzgerald purchased Messrs. Dunn & Kennedy's North River Brewery in Troy New York.  The brothers renamed the brewery the Garryowen after an old Irish drinking song of the same name.  

Fifteen years earlier, in 1851, Ireland was in the last years of the Potato Famine.  Approximately one million people had died, and desperation had driven many of the farmers in the country to sell their land to the English for pennies on the pound.   William and Mary Fitzgerald had suffered through all of it and were now in their 50s with young children still at home.   Nonetheless they decided to follow their sons James (born circa 1822?) and Michael (born ca. 1827) to America.  Perhaps it was cultural, perhaps it was due to their poverty, but nobody in the family had recorded birth dates.

William and Mary Fitzgerald settled in North Adams, Massachusetts in 1851.  Their young sons Edmund (born November, 1847) and his older brother John (born ca. 1838) were able to finish their studies in the public schools there, after which Edmund attended the Drury Academy.

William was a common laborer so the costs for Edmund's secondary education may have been paid for by his older brother Michael, who owned a grocery store/saloon some 40 miles to the west in Troy, New York.  Another brother James lived a few houses down from Michael on Fourth Street. 

Their father, William, died in around 1858 and around this time Mary and John left Massachusetts and joined the brothers in Troy.  John, now about 20 years of age, established himself as a cooper.  When Edmund graduated in 1861 he moved to Troy as well.  By 1865 Mary was 70 years old and living on North Second Street in Troy, surrounded by her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

On October 1st, 1866 Michael, John and Edmund Fitzgerald purchased John Dunn and William Kennedy's Ale and Porter brewery on River Street and renamed it the Garryowen.  Michael retired from the firm in 1870 and went back to the saloon business.  John and Edmund continued the brewery as partners for the next 15 years.  In 1885 John died and from then on Edmund managed the firm as a sole proprietor.  At this point most of the Fitzgerald family of Troy was involved in the brewery.  The familiarity bred loyalty, which translated into success.  By 1895 the brewery was producing 90,000 barrels of ale and lager beer and ale every year, and they shipped their products as far away as Cuba.

After a three-years-long illness Edmund Fitzgerald died on the 20th of April, 1911.  He was 63 years old.  The brewery he stewarded into the 20th century continued to thrive by the management of the descendants of the founders.  The brewery passed 13 years of Prohibition by making near beer and other soft drinks.  Upon repeal in 1933 brewing resumed and continued for another three decades, until it was closed in 1963.  The firm afterward became a bottling plant and then a distributor.  It lives to this day as Fitzgerald Bros. Beverages, Inc., Glens Falls Bottler and Beverage Distributor.

Learn more at the links below

Associated Breweries

Fitzgerald Bros. Brewing Company of Troy, New York, USA

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