seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Guinness Leases St. James Gate

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On December 31, 1759, after leaving his younger brother in charge of a Leixlip brewery in County Kildare that he had leased in 1755, Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000-year lease for a brewery at St. James Gate at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness. It becomes the largest brewery in Ireland in 1838 and the largest in the world by 1886. Although no longer the largest brewery in the world, it is still the largest brewer of stout on the planet.

After ceasing to brew ale, on May 19, 1769 Guinness exported his beer for the first time, shipping six and one half barrels to England. Arthur Guinness started selling dark beer porter in 1778.

Arthur Guinness died in 1803 at the age of 78 and it was at this time that his son, Arthur Guinness II, took over the company. Arthur Guinness II passed away on June 9, 1855, and his third son, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, succeeded him. The trademark Guinness label was created and introduced in 1862. In 1868, Edward Cecil took over after his father’s death and under his leadership Guinness doubled in size.

Guinness trademarked their iconic harp in 1876. In 1923, the Irish government wanted to use a harp as their official logo and asked Guinness for permission. He denied their request so the harp of Ireland must always face in the opposite direction.

In October 1886, Guinness became the first brewery to be publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange and was averaging sales of 1,138,000 barrels a year.

In 1929, the first ever advertisement for Guinness was published in the British national press. By this year, Guinness was selling about 2 million pints per day, a large number considering the United States was in the throes of Prohibition.

Today, the Guinness family no longer owns or runs the company, but they remain a shareholder. The legacy and traditions of Arthur Guinness remain present in the company, married with modern technologies to account for the massive growth the company has seen over the past 250 years.

Guinness has expanded well beyond the original 4-acre lot and has consequently bought out the property, rendering the 9,000-year lease from 1759 redundant.


Author: Jim Doyle

As a descendant of Joshua Doyle (b. 1775, Dublin, Ireland), I have a strong interest in Irish culture and history, which will be the primary focus of this site. I am a Network Engineer at The Computer Hut, LLC, which is my salaried job. I also serve on the City of Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission (Chairman 2017-2018), Walnut Valley Property Owners Association board (Secretary 2018-Present) and the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (President 2011-2017).

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