Ireland is a small country. It has a lot of history. The Irish diaspora is far reaching. There is an Irish pub in every major city around the world. Everybody knows Ireland. For such a small country its cultural impact around the globe is enormous. Leprechauns aside, the most well known thing about Ireland and the thing that most people associate with Ireland is Guinness beer.
Love Guinness or hate it, you know what it is and you know where it's from. You've seen the ads and slogans over the years and you've seen the commercials all over the world. Half the pubs on Earth have a Guinness sign outside them.
If you've ever been to Ireland then you know this is even more so in Ireland. In fact, the Guinness storehouse and factory is the single largest tourist draw in Ireland getting well over a million visitors a year. Ask a tourist, what's the first thing they're going to do in Ireland and they'll likely say, "Go to a pub for a pint of Guinness."
I am no different. I have been to Ireland several times and each time I find myself indulging in several pints per night. I don't drink Guinness anywhere else because it's not the same. It's just what you do in Ireland. It's part of the experience. Good or bad, the Irish are famous for drinking and they drink Guinness.
I was just in Dublin for Arthur's Day. If you've not heard of this day, it is the alleged day in 1759 that Arthur Guinness, who has essentially and posthumously become the patron saint of Ireland, started the brewery in Dublin. Today, Guinness is amongst the most popular beers in the world, and Arthurs Day was first hatched back in 2009 for the 250th anniversary of that occasion.
That first Arthur's Day was a huge success. After that momentous anniversary, Arthur's Day, has continued and has become nearly as popular as Saint Patrick's Day in Dublin and many parts of Ireland.
Many argue that Arthur's Day is the brainchild of the big corporation now behind Guinness-Diageo. Some say that they have created this day to make their dizzying profits go even higher. That is true. But it was and still is a brilliant idea.
That said, I am not a capitalist. I don't defend multi-billion dollar corporations. However, sometimes you just have to give them their due. With Guinness, it is an especially interesting case.
This is so because the beer is so engrained in the fabric of the people and the identity of the country. People like me flew all the way to Dublin to celebrate Arthur's Day and to experience first hand the excitement of this unofficial national holiday. It was quite an experience.
The streets of Temple Bar in Dublin were packed with people. Arthur's Day celebrations also go on all around the world. Some of the largest celebrations are in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Lagos, Nigeria.
As someone who hates Hallmark holidays such as Valentine's Day and marketing ploys created to capitalize on peoples stupidity, I am all for Arthur's Day. It was a great time. There were top bands playing in small pubs around Dublin. I saw Mumford and Sons and several other good acts. It was just fun.
Who cares if the day was invented a few years ago? So what if Diageo makes a little more profit. So do local merchants like pub owners, restaurants, hotels, apparel shops, etc. The Guinness brand is a brand of the people of Ireland. It is a source of national pride and international recognition. It bears the national symbol of Ireland, the harp, which Guinness actually owns the trademark on, not the Irish government. It is the most unique brand in the world because no other brand is associated with a country and a people like Guinness is for Ireland.
To sum up Arthur's Day, I quote a well-respected Irishman, whom I met on Arthur's Day (perhaps a little intoxicated), who said, "Guinness is more important to Irish people than the government." In a time in Ireland with a real estate crisis and massive inflation, give the real people of Ireland what they love. Arthur's Day is here to stay. Take it for what it is, enjoy it. To Arthur!