To Martha!

We neglected to join in yesterday’s “worldwide celebration” of 250 years of Guinness Diageo’s promotional campaign. But today’s Irish Times has an article by Cormac Ó Gráda on the history of the black stuff. Of course, it’s orginally Welsh..

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  • Couldn’t comment – shouldn’t

    One interesting fact – ignored by the marketeers, in 1798/99 dear old Arthur renamed the black stuff – protestant porter to show his disgust at the rebellion of 1798!

    Thus all the green tinge to the porter of today may have old Arthur ina bit of a spin! G-d Bless him

  • mnob

    But to counter that story – stout was popular ‘across these islands’ prior to the first world war. Stout uses more energy to brew than other ales so was banned from production across the UK during that war. However the ban was never applied in Ireland because of the whiff of rebellion which allowed Guiness complete market domination.

  • susan

    I was delighted Guinness re-released my fav. Guinness ad of all time, in honour of the 250th:

  • borderline

    I prefer Michael to Arthur….

    Madam, – So we’re to celebrate Arthur’s day today (Weekend Review, September 19th). Celebrate, is it, the dozens and dozens of breweries that were taken over and closed down by Guinness over a couple of hundred years, destroying Dublin’s great brewing heritage and creating the farcical situation where virtually every pub in Ireland has the same half-dozen bland, mass-marketed beers?

    I prefer to celebrate with a real drink – and there are several brewpubs in Dublin which have just that. That’s what we should be celebrating – a far superior alternative to a monopoly that has been forcing its over-rated product down our throats for far too long. – Yours, etc,


    Terenure Park, Dublin 6W.

  • susan

    Great letter. It’s a bit of a hard sell, though, to say it has been “forced” down our throats. Unless of course by forced he means gulped, guzzled, or savoured slowly and with visible relish.

  • borderline

    Yeah, I thought it was only the Irish language that was forced down peoples throats.

    I like a pint of Guinness, when it’s fresh. But it would be great to see some local competition, even though Irish palates have been numbed by freezing factory pints for so long, real beer might upset them.

  • Eleanor Bull

    “today’s Irish Times has an article by Cormac Ó Gráda on the history of the black stuff. Of course, it’s orginally Welsh.. ”

    So is the island’s patron saint.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Oh, so the drink and the saint are “British” then.

  • The Darley family were and are good Anglo-Irish stock [“Anglo-Irish” = “a Prod on a horse” © Irish Times correspondence column some time back].

    The family made two glaring mistakes, else they would undoubtedly have achieved greater prominence and wealth.

    The first was putting loyalty before denomination and joining the Jacobite side at the Boyne.

    The other was evicting the upstart from the County Down who had rented the stables and was making noxious odours. The evictee was Arthur Guinness.

    Eventually, the Darley family estate, on the outskirts of south-east Dublin, was sold to the other University [shudder]. It was, and is called Belfield.

    In a parallel universe, back in September 2007, Anne Treneman was doing the Labour Conference sketch for the Times, reporting here one of those pseudo-interviews, this one between Mariella Frostrup and Gordon Brown:

    Mariella wondered what he had done when he [Gordon Brown] was young.
    “I played sports,” he announced (he didn’t say during which meal). He had gone to University at 16 but, in the first week, hurt his eye playing rugby.
    “I spent several years in and out of hospital. Some of you may not know this but this was the Sixties and Seventies. At my hospital at 9 o’clock in the evening—this was the NHS, free at the point of need!—and I was only 17 and 18, they would serve all the patients with drinks!’
    The audience barked, possibly with shock.
    “Yeah! You could have Guinness. You could have beer! Free beer for all the workers!”

    Oh god, where does one start?

    Look, Anne dear; that is true. Arthur Guinness and Co believed that their product was healthy and good. They provided, free of charge, one third of a pint bottles for patients in hospital. Malcolm knows that, for sure, because, at the age of barely 16 he broke an arm in a rugby game, and was in the Meath Hospital, Dublin. There he was provided with, and — yes — joyfully imbibed the stuff (and looked for seconds).

    So what?

    Well, Brown’s punchline: Treneman simply didn’t get it, did she?

    Anne dear, there’s this song, you see. It used to be very popular among the Lefties. Particularly on pay-day.

    Some say it came from the Wobblies (and they’re still out there, you know!)

    Everyone can make up verses to infinity. Basically, it goes like this:

    [Invent your own iambic dodecasyllabic line, as offensive as possible, or]
    We’ll hang [any four-syllable name] from a sour apple tree
    When the red revolution comes.

    Then the only other rule is that every verse, however inane or inflammatory, has a rousing chorus:

    Solidarity forever! Solidarity forever!
    When the red revolution comes!

    After a requisite intake of stout, mild, or bitter and comradeship, everybody staggers home, carolling an obligatory final chorus:

    Free beer for all the workers! Free beer for all the workers!
    When the red revolution comes!

    Gordon knew that. The Labour membership knew that. The Times readership, alas, remained no better informed from Ms Treneman’s efforts.

    Yes, I blogged that two years back. It only needed a little buffing up.

    Even so, raising a glass at the Irish Club in Tudor Street, off Fleet Street, EC4 (the old Institute of Journalists building) cost £3 a pint. No free beer or stout for the workers there.

  • Lizard

    Is there anything you don’t know Malcolm? You scare me.