Arise you Freeman of Sweny’s

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Readers might recall a recent Blog in which I waxed both lyrically and literally about a lovely initiative from Walsh Whiskey in Ireland, producer of one of my favourite whiskies, Writer’s Tears.

They called it the Writers’ Tears ‘COVID-buster’ routine, which involved in no particular order James Joyce; the author’s definitive work Ulysses; a famed Dublin chemist shop called Sweny’s Pharmacy; a dram (or two in my case) of Writer’s Tears; and a bar of soap.

I explained that combination in the short video below (no you don’t put the soap into the whiskey, unless of course you want to end up in a pharmacy). It was a rough and ready film featuring a very rough and ready narrator (my mother broke my heart and ruined my career aspirations at an early age when she told me, “Son, with a face like your’s, it has to be radio”). But it struck a note with Bernard Walsh, who founded Walsh Whiskey back in 1999, alongside his wife Rosemary. Since then the company and its brands have played a key role in the Irish whiskey renaissance through its super-premium, triple-distilled, craft Irish whiskeys.

[Click on the icon to see me enjoy a dram of Writers’ Tears and a drop of James Joyce]

Bernard not only makes whiskey a whole lot better than me but he writes more eloquently too, so I’ll let him take up the story.

Dearest Martin,

You certainly brought a tear to my eye [Mum used to say that too Bernard, hence the radio suggestion -Ed], that video, your voice, the reading… who needs a professional cameraman?

While it may be some time before we can wind each other up on the rugby field, I would like to invite you to Dublin as a Freeman of Sweny’s for a day.

We would take a stroll through Trinity on a sunny summer’s afternoon (COVID & god willing), and enter the hallowed number No. 1 Lincoln place, Sweny’s.

Sweny, the chemist and druggist, known popularly as Sweny’s, gleaned worldwide fame through James Joyce’s Ulysses. These days you can pop into the pharmacy to hear a daily reading from the novel. Picture: Tourism Ireland

Among a small audience (a handful of few good men & women), I invite you to read from Ulysses in Sweny’s. This is a daily ritual (365 days a year) where the infamous PJ (from the Sweny’s video below) reads from Ulysses but on this special day we would be honoured if you, Martin, would read. The sipping glass ritual will be observed religiously. We will break from Sweny’s for light relief as we cross to the Palace Bar for an aperitif before dinner.

Martin, until we meet, I raise a glass to you and yours.

Sláinte (Good Health)


So there it is. Not only will I enjoy a great dram of whiskey with a fine man of business and Ireland, but I get to read the words of one of the greatest writers to inhabit this planet. And become a Freeman of Sweny’s. I can tell you that when I read Bernard’s note, with just a subtle shift of apostrophe, it produced a different blend of Writer’s Tears.

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