Synonymous is defined as ‘having or expressing the same idea’ and Guinness has most certainly been that with Dublin for over 250 years.
On the 31st December 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease, at £45 per year, for the 4-acre Rainsford brewery at St James’s Gate that had been on the market for almost ten years. The brewery now covers an area in excess of 60 acres, and having bought the original property the long-term lease is now redundant. A copy of the lease can be seen under glass on the floor of the atrium of the Guinness Storehouse.
Guinness is one of the most successful brands in the world, and is brewed in 60 countries and available in more than 120. Recent figures show annual sales of 850 million litres (1.5 billion pints!) and that is a long way from 1769 when Arthur first export of six-and-a-half barrels to Britain. Soon afterwards, in 1778, he started selling his dark beer. The most famous, porter or single stout (sometimes called ‘plain’), is remembered in Flann O’Brien’s The Workman’s Friend as ‘A pint of plain is your only man.’
Famous for its advertising campaigns that gave us ‘My Goodness, My Guinness’, and ‘Guinness is Good For You’ the opening of the Guinness Storehouse in December 2000 offers a unique experience that has made it Ireland’s top visitor attraction. Housed in the former fermentation plant the seven-storey building was the first multi-storey steel-framed construction in Ireland when it was completed in 1902. It surrounds a glass atrium that is shaped like a giant pint of Guinness. And on each floor visitors can learn about the history of Guinness; details of Arthur’s life; brewing; transport and, of course, advertising. There are numerous interactive exhibitions that really bring the ‘story of Guinness’ to life. You can even learn how to ‘pull the perfect pint’.
On the top floor, or ‘Seventh Heaven,’ is the famous Gravity Bar with its 360 degrees view over Dublin. It’s a wonderful way to end a visit, and by the noise and chatter I heard while sipping a pint it was easy to understand its popularity. Same again!