Wednesday, 13 March 2013 17:21

Arthur Guinness (Kildare): Irish Business Hall Of Fame Inductee

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Arthur Guinness Arthur Guinness

Famous Son Of Ireland: Entrepreneur & Founder Category:


Arthur Guinness: 

Famous Irish Entrepreneur & Founder Of Guinness Brewery

Guinness Stout is world renowned and Arthur Guinness, the original founder, is a famous Son of The Emerald Isle. He was born in Leixlip, Co. Kildare in 1725 and his rise to fame started when his godfather left him a legacy of £100 in 1742 when Arthur was aged just seventeen.

His first business venture began in 1756 when he was thirty one years old. He opened a small brewery at Leixlip, Co. Kildare, and began brewing stout from a small country outhouse.


In 1759 he began to realise, that the large neighbouring and bustling city of Dublin, was the ideal location for greater

expansion. Access to the free flowing river Liffey would also be greatly beneficial to his plans.

He finally presented his three year old Leixlip brewery to a younger brother and then headed out for Dublin in search of greater pastures. St. James Gate brewery was then closed and in a total state of disrepair, but he also knew the district had a renowned brewing tradition. He bought the old brewery site and paid £100 deposit on 31st December 1759. He then secured a 900 year lease and four acres of prime land, close to the river Liffey, all for £45 annually.


The selected site was the ancient entrance to old Dublin from the south west regions. Arthur Guinness planned to revitalise the once thriving local economy and this was greeted with much anticipation by the authorities and also by the local community.

The new venture, despite some early problems, soon began to expand employing a large labour force from the local areas.



Recruitment of staff incorporated workers from vast areas of the capital city. The future for thousands of Dublin families, now lay in the hands of Arthur Guinness. The expansions of populations throughout the British Isles and especially the war with France, contributed greatly to major trade booms at St. James Gate.

By 1798 the brewery was now one of the major employers in Dublin, with an annual production of 12,000 barrels of beer, mainly for the Dublin market.

Prior to his death in 1803 Arthur Guinness had built and consolidated his brewery business all over Ireland, and Guinness stout was sold in every town and village in the land.


In the 18 th century the company began to blossom further and in 1920, Arthur Guinness became the world’s largest brewery. Guinness Stout was now recognised worldwide as an Irish product and also as a symbol of the Emerald Isle. Guinness is now also an integral part of Ireland’s heritage for over two centuries.


Widely regarded as a generous man, Arthur was a Protestant who campaigned for equal rights for Irish catholics, but like all successful businessmen, he also had many nationalist critics. Many nationalists had misgivings about his political allegiance to the crown and he was many times scorned by Ireland’s freedom fighters who had their own concerns about Arthur Guinness.

When the brewery was making substantial progress, Arthur got involved in political and civic life. He became administrator and later Governor of Meath Hospital, and was also closely associated with St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to which he always donated.


In 1789 and 1790 he built flour mills to foster greater employment and his deep sense of public duty was widely recognised.

Arthur Guinness died aged seventy eight years.


Last modified on Wednesday, 23 September 2020 12:45