Guinness was good for you, says family as Arthur statue unveiled
Descendants voice support after criticism surrounding Arthur’s Day
Patrick Guinness and Garech Browne at the unveiling of the statue of entrepreneur and philanthropist Arthur Guinness in his home town of Celbridge, Co Kildare, which has been erected by Celbridge Tidy Towns, with the support of Diageo. Photograph: Naoise Culhane Photography
He came in for some flak last week but yesterday was the real Arthur’s Day, when a statue of Arthur Guinness was unveiled on Celbridge’s main street in Co Kildare.
The statue was erected by Celbridge Tidy Towns, with funds from Diageo Ireland, to mark where the brewer was born in 1725 and where he lived for 30 years before starting his career as a master brewer in Leixlip and St James’s Gate. He is buried nearby in Oughterard cemetery, Ardclough.
The bronze statue, by local sculptor Jarlath Daly, is close to the entrance to Castletown House, which was rescued by Desmond Guinness, Arthur’s great-great-great-great grandson, after it fell into disrepair.
Mr Guinness said he was delighted with the sculpture. “I think it’s brilliant. It’s much more beautiful than I expected. You just don’t see these things any more. I think it’s a triumph.”
His daughter Marina Guinness agreed and said it good to see the brewer being honoured after getting such a difficult time about Arthur’s Day.
The day, organised by Diageo to commemorate the signing of the lease on the Guinness brewery, came in for strong criticism last week from people concerned about alcohol abuse.
“He got a terrible slating last week because of Arthur’s Day,” Ms Guinness added, “but people forget that when they introduced Guinness there was penny gin all over Dublin and everyone was dying of an excess of penny gin. Guinness was considered almost a healthy alternative.”
She said people had since replaced penny gin with other spirits but Guinness was being blamed for everything.
“I don’t know why he gets all the bad press. I think it’s wonderful that Celbridge didn’t abandon him after this terrible week of bad publicity.”
Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan said he had no problem unveiling the statue and said the contribution of Arthur Guinness and the Guinness family should be recognised.
“This is about art and it’s a beautiful piece of sculpture by one of our top sculptors in the country. The Guinness family have such a major association with Celbridge and the development of Celbridge.”
Mr Deenihan also said Diageo had made a major contribution to the arts.