Archive for September 24th, 2009

Uncle Arthur

24 September 2009

Contributed by David Dickson

Arthur_GuinnessIn honour of Arthur’s Day, Prof Dickson dispells a few myths and sheds some light on the origins of the global brand that is Guinness.

The first Arthur Guinness (1725-1803) was born into a Protestant Kildare family — on the way up.  His father was steward for an Anglican bishop Arthur Price, who in turn was connected with the powerful Conollys of Castletown House.  The family tradition is that Arthur was named after Dr Price; certainly both he and his father received handsome inheritances in 1752. The young Arthur used his legacy to set up as a small-town brewer in Leixlip c.1755, and four years later graduated to greater things when he acquired the disused James’ Gate brewery, strategically located beside the Dublin city reservoir.   Brewing was still a back-yard affair, but this was no insignificant investment.  He may have been encouraged by the fact that two of his brothers had already gone into business in the city – one as a wholesale merchant, the other a goldsmith.

Arthur soon married into money.  His poor wife suffered at least twenty-one pregnancies; perhaps more remarkably for the era, twelve of the children survived to adulthood. Their main place of residence was in Thomas Street beside the brewery, but early in the marriage Arthur acquired a small suburban property on which the villa of Beaumont was built. So began the long Guinness association with north Dublin.

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