You probably wouldn’t count Dublin in your top ten cities in Europe. It has some lovely old architecture, particularly around 16th century Trinity College with its beautiful Long Room library. But it has made an international name for itself largely due to the efforts of Arthur Guinness and his large extended family. So on this, my third visit to Dublin, I finally visited the Guinness Storehouse in St. James Gate along with hundreds of other tourists.
The complex is huge, covering several city blocks. It began as a fermentation plant but over the years has been converted and extended to house visitors. There are now seven floors surrounding a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness. Touring the building includes the history and production of beer, the marketing of Guinness and of course various opportunities for drinking it while overlooking the city.
Whether you’re a beer drinker or not – and I’m not – you have to be impressed with the business savvy of this family. Guinness is not only THE beer in Ireland but known and heralded all over the world. The family interests encompass banking, real estate, and politics. It was one of the Guinness researchers who had the idea for the now famous Guinness Book of World Records. And for Vancouverites, it is interesting to note that the Lion’s Gate Bridge, known originally as the First Narrows bridge, was financed by the Guinness family after they purchased almost five thousand acres of land in West Vancouver. To recoup the cost, the bridge had a toll for the twenty years before the family sold it to the province. Not a bad investment!
It is difficult to say whether Guinness beer is responsible for the proliferation of Irish pubs or it was the pubs themselves that inspired Arthur, but either way the country is awash in charming old establishments, many with comfort foods like Irish stew and fish and chips, together with lots of friendly good cheer. We haven’t heard any music yet but I’m looking forward to that lively aspect of Irish pub culture.