From 1488 to today: Rathbornes’ candle history


We meet one of Mrs Tea's exceptional suppliers and hear the brand's captivating story.



26th July 2019

Ashford Castle

Just like Ashford Castle, Rathbornes has a richly storied past. Known for its luxurious scented candles, the Irish company was established in 1488, while Ashford Castle’s foundations reach back a further two millennia. To celebrate such a tenacious and lasting heritage, the Irish candlemaker has developed a signature scent that’s uniquely inspired by the castle. Here, Business Development Director at Rathbornes, Siobhan Keogh shares compelling details about the history of its candles and the brand’s stylish new direction.

Candle History

Tell us about your incredible history in candles…

“Rathbornes was established in 1488 in Dublin, making us the world’s oldest candlemakers. We were contracted to light the streets of Dublin and the lighthouses of Ireland. Back then, candles were a necessity, but also a luxury good. People had to save their candles.

Candle History

We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles, including the Great Famine and World War II, where it was impossible to get wax into the country. The invention of electricity presented a further challenge, taking away the need for candles. As a result, one of our main markets became the church. We now make 30,000 little church candles every hour in our factory in Dublin.” 

How has Rathbornes reinvented itself over the years?

“With our candles’ history, we were very much an Irish brand. The government gifted every home a Rathbornes candle in 2000 to celebrate the millennium. Everybody in Ireland knows Rathbornes—it’s a household name—but we wanted to transform into a global brand.

Candle History

After four years developing a sophisticated new concept, Rathbornes launched the Beyond The Pale collection in 2015. The range today consists of eight different fragrances. Each represents something about Ireland’s heritage and natural landscape–but is infused with exotic perfumes to elevate it for the modern arena. For instance, one of our most popular scented candles, Dublin Tea Rose uses a base of oud and patchouli.

Candle History

In just four years, we have hit the global market. Rathbornes’ products can now be found in London and stores across the UK. We are also in Tokyo, stocked exclusively in the city’s top department stores.” 

How are the candles made?

“We use traditional methods with our special blend of beeswax and essential oils. Each fragranced candle takes two days to make, with the hot wax hand-poured into its glass.”

Candle History

What else has Rathbornes been working on?

“Rathbornes added our luxurious reed diffusers in 2016, in addition to bath and body products, to improve the collection. This Christmas, we will release Dublin Dawn, a new luxury fragrance, to complement our greatly popular Dublin Dusk.

Candle History

We have also developed a beautiful bespoke scent in partnership with Ashford Castle. This really captures the essence of the historic building and comes in our signature glass with a special box. We were delighted to work with Ashford Castle on this project. The castle exudes high-end luxury and has a similar heritage to Rathbornes.”

Candle History

Find Rathbornes’ luxurious Ashford Castle Scented Candle in Mrs Tea’s Boutique at Red Carnation Hotels’ Ashford Castle.

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