ManufacturerP. J. Carroll & Company, Ltd.

P. J. Carroll & Company, Ltd.

Ireland’s oldest tobacco company was founded in 1824 by Patrick James Carroll. Carroll, who had just completed an apprenticeship as a tobacco manufacturer, opened a tobacconists and manufacturing facility at 38 Church Street, Dundalk, co. Louth. The successful company expanded to Liverpool, England in the 1850s, and Carroll’s son, Vincent Stannus, joined the family firm in 1864; Vincent would guide the company through good times and bad, and helped it to grow during the latter half of the 19th century, as well as establishing export markets.

A fire destroyed the original factory in Dundalk on 16 December, 1909; Carroll used this as an opportunity to modernize and rebuild. As well, in 1923, a new factory was opened in Liverpool, along with a distribution centre in Cork. Vincent’s son James Marmion (1884-1962) became the chairman of the family firm in 1929, who took the company public in 1934.

Carroll’s began branching into cigarette manufacturing around the time of the First World War; its oldest surviving brand, Sweet Afton, was introduced in 1919. The brand’s name was taken from Scotsman Robert Burns’ poem ‘Afton Waters’; Burns’ sister Agnes, along with her husband, were buried in St. Nicholas’ Cemetary, located across the road from Carroll’s original factory on Church Street in Dundalk. Part of the first verse of ‘Afton Waters’, inspired by his love for Mary Campbell, appeared on the front of Sweet Afton packets from their introduction until 2009, when the introduction of larger, European Union-mandated health warnings necessitated its removal:

Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise.

Other brands made by Carroll’s include Major, Afton Major, Grand Parade, the eponymous Carrolls, and Carrolls Number 1, which was the company’s first filtered cigarette brand, introduced in 1958. In 1970, Carrolls opened a new, modern factory outside of Dundalk, and in 1991, they were bought by Rothmans International, becoming their Irish subsidiary. Rothmans International, in turn, was bought by British American Tobacco in 1999, who own Carrolls today.

Besides their above-mention domestic brands, Carrolls also manufactures and sells Consulate, Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Rothmans, and Vogue in the Irish market. The company’s share of the Irish market fell from 50% in 1984 to 19% in 2003; this has been attributed to Carrolls’ slow adaption in updated products (such as the introduction of king-sized cigarettes) as well as concentration on interests outside of tobacco.

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