I think that Guinness drinkers the world over would agree that 1759, the year in which Arthur Guinness signed the hugely optimistic 9,000 year lease on the St. James’s Gate Brewery, was, by their reckoning, a very good year. Apparently 1969 wasn’t a bad year either, at least as far as one particular Guinness drinker was concerned. As this photograph will attest, my Dad got a large bottle of Guinness for his birthday that year from his clearly very clued-in children (whose ranks, at that stage, I was yet to join).
Now that Guinness is turning 250, the question is, what will Guinness be giving us for its birthday? Slightly more than a few large bottles of the black stuff, as it turns out, though I can tell you now that my Dad would be happiest celebrating Arthur’s big birthday by downing a pint of porter in the local pub. I guess Guinness are hoping that he, along with millions of others, will do exactly that. They have nominated September 24th as the day and 17:59 as the hour at which to raise a global toast to Arthur and his legacy. But that is just the beginning.
The rest of September 24th will be filled with lots of musical happenings around Dublin, much of it in pubs which will play host, in some cases, to some big name acts (Darragh has a full rundown over on culch.ie). The main thing that you need to know is that the tickets go on sale via ticketmaster on July 23rd, and, at €9 for pub venues and €17.59 for the larger studio venues, they are, by Dublin standards, as cheap as chips. Plus all proceeds go to a newly established and, by all accounts, very charitable Arthur Guinness fund.
Nice one, Arthur, but what of the Spud?
Though it’s a while since my student days – of which Guinness drinking and the acquisition of Guinness paraphernalia while under the influence of Guinness were a feature – I will, no doubt, mark the occasion, though not in an eyeing-up-the-Guinness-glasses-and-thinking-how-good-they-would-look-in-my-house kind of way. We are at that stage in our relationship, Guinness and I, where they will ply me with oysters while simultaneously filling my ears with the low-down on Arthur’s Day. In fact, I think they would have given me a few pint glasses if I’d asked.
So, for my own I’m-not-a-student-anymore Arthur’s Day, I reckon that some of my Guinness Gratin will be in order, perhaps followed by some of Murphy’s brown bread & Guinness ice cream, topped off with a generous slather of Jenni’s stout toffee sauce. There might even be room for some of Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake later and then maybe, just maybe, I will have to do the right thing and honour, in equal measure, both Arthur and my father with a pint of plain, yer only man.