If you’ve been to Dublin lately, you must have wondered, WHO is Arthur?
Throughout the city, ‘Arthur Day’ advertisements prompted excitement for September 24 with red electronic signs counting down the minutes. And the image of the island of Ireland was made out of (squinting at the sign while passing..) pints of Guinness!
2009 is the 250th anniversary of Guinness. The dark stout has been made at the St James Gate Brewery for 250 years, since 1759. As I realized at a recent visit to the Guinness Storehouse, that’s older than America itself.
The day of celebration was chosen to be Thursday, September 24th. The Irish love any excuse to extend a weekend, and the 250th anniversary seemed good enough reason as any. Tickets were sold for entry into the classic city center pubs, where ‘mystery’ bands would perform and the big moment would come at 17:59.
That’s 5:59pm to us Americans, and the moment where every person holding a fresh pint of Guinness in Dublin, cheered, ‘To Arthur!’ to commemorate the founder of the famous Irish brew, Arthur Guinness.
The commercials on TV increased the anticipation for the day. (Watch the commercial here) People were enjoying their pints outside of picturesque pubs in the sunlight. When the day came, it was actually a bit cold, but people came in droves to the pubs anyway. I chose a pub a bit out of the center of town, but I didn’t miss any of the atmosphere. Almost every single person was holding a pint of Guinness: what a successful marketing tactic.
The city got into the spirit of the ‘holiday’ and even a police car driving by the pub announced over its loudspeaker, ‘To Arthur!’ Like all great Irish traditions, the new holiday was a great excuse for a gathering of close friends. Some of the more astute announced that the holiday was almost precisely 6 months after St Patrick’s Day, as if the Irish need a reason to go to the pub.
If you’re planning a trip to Dublin, don’t miss out on the tour of St James Gate and your free pint at the Gravity Bar. Yes, it’s a popular tourist attraction, but in this case, it’s popular for a reason. Here’s a tip: Buy your tickets online before you depart for Dublin. You can pay with a credit card, and you even receive 2 euro off admission. There’s no specific day you need to go- any time in the year after purchase you can arrive and cut the entire line.
One of the best views of Dublin is from the Gravity Bar, located at the top of the Guinness Storehouse. Offering 360 degree views around the city, it has the lively atmosphere of Ireland. I visited on a Friday afternoon, and the fever of Happy Hour was taking over.
Throughout the weekend, we continued raising our glasses ‘To Arthur!’ who magically combined just 4 ingredients 250 years ago to make the unchanged recipe of Guinness.