Rosemary Mac Cabe

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My first . . . Guinness

Life’s great memories are often deeply rooted in firsts – a first kiss, the first day of school, our first day on a new job – and sometimes we’re lucky enough to have our firsts in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time

Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 11:30


The first pint of Guinness I ever drank was in the Guinness Storehouse, on St Patrick’s Day in 2009. A friend had been invited to spend that most alcoholic of days in the home of Guinness – something that rings a little false to me, hailing from, as I do, Oughterard in Co Kildare, 19th-century seat of the Guinnesses and site of Arthur Guinness’s burial tomb – and she extended the invitation to me and 12 of her closest friends and social media “influencers”. (It being 2009, of course, we were just called “tweeters”; the high-tech speak came later.)

It was a day of firsts – my first Guinness, and the first encounter with a man who would go on to become a man I would date, in fits and starts, for a few weeks, and then a man I would love, consistently, as one of my favourite people – although not, sadly, romantically.

I drank my Guinness out of a tall, cold glass and, though I expected it to taste of Bovril and Marmite, thick and malty, it was, instead, cool and refreshing – more cola than gravy. The thick head, which looked to me like the cream at the top of the old milk bottles and would surely be hard to stomach, was frothy and light.

I haven’t had a Guinness since that evening. I’m afraid that it won’t live up to the memory that may – imagine! – be a romanticised falsity, dreamed up by a mind full of patriotism and the joy of first encounters.