I love Irish sayings and proverbs — and not the cheesy St. Patrick’s Day focused ones you find on the internet; but rather, the odd sayings that show the Irish sense of humour. For example: He’s got a head on him like a cooked chicken, and sit still while I go wet the tea, and may the cat eat you and the devil eat the cat, and jaysis, you put the heart crossway in me.
Along this line, Guinness has it’s own set of common names like a pint of Gat, the black stuff, a pint of plain, and the workman’s friend. These show just how far Guinness is integrated into Irish culture.
It all started with Arthur Guinness in 1759 when he signed a 9,000-year lease for a 4-acre abandoned brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin for an annual rent of £45. I’m not sure if this is the amount still paid, but the storehouse is now much bigger than 4-acres and the annual revenues far surpass those of the 1760s. Many of these revenues are funnelled back into employee welfare and health (throughout history). During the Great Depression, Guinness was one of the only companies that thrived and employees were well taken care of.
A tour of the Guinness Storehouse was a highly anticipated activity for everyone in our group; and, I’d endeavour to say that the tour was both a curse and a blessing.
The blessing was that it was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. The tour is educational, interesting, and the views from atop the storehouse are brilliant. The afternoon helped us forget about our jetlag. I personally enjoyed watching videos of the men making air/liquid-tight barrels… with only a few hand tools.
The curse came in two parts:
1. I can’t drink beer because it has gluten so I wasn’t able to sample a Guinness — and simply breathing in the barley dust made me sick. Regardless, I still enjoyed the tour and history.
2. Everyone else said that the Guinness from the factory was so good that every other pint from this point on paled in comparison. So, the plan of sampling Guinness in every pub in Ireland became a continual letdown and the Guinness tour of Ireland quickly became a Heineken tour of Ireland.
My advice: do the tour at the end of your stay in Ireland.