Category Archives: Brewery history

Arthur Guinness’s true genetic roots

Rarely (but thrillingly) a book comes along that makes everything else ever written on the same subject instantly redundant.

There must have been more books written about Guinness, the brand and its brewers, than any other in the world. I’ve got 14, now, four of them written by people called Guinness. But the latest to be published, Arthur’s Round, by Patrick Guinness, is the first to concentrate on the patriarch himself, the founder of the concern at St James’s Gate in Dublin, and it uses everything from proper, evidence-based historical research to genetic analysis to debunk more myths about Arthur Guinness and the early years of his brewing concern than you could shake a shillelagh at.

The biggest myth Patrick Guinness destroys, using modern genetic techniques, is the claim that Arthur Guinness and his father Richard were descended from the Magennis chieftains of Iveagh, in County Down, Ulster, in Irish Mac Aonghusa. The last-but-one Viscount Iveagh, Bryan Magennis had fled abroad after James II’s defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, about the time Arthur Guinness’s father was born, and the Magennis lands in Ulster were confiscated in 1693.

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What art appreciation owns a brewer’s daughter

An absolutely have-to-see exhibition has just opened at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly, London featuring the very best – Constable, Turner, Reynolds, Stubbs, Gainsborough and the like – from the finest collection of British art outside Europe, a collection that owes its foundation to the unhappy marriage made by the granddaughter of the man that founded one of Britain’s last surviving family breweries.

The collection is the work of the late Paul Mellon, whose father was the unimaginably wealthy Pittsburgh steel, oil and banking magnate Andrew Mellon, and whose mother was Nora McMullen, brewer’s daughter from Hertford, a little county town only 25 or so miles from London.

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Celebrity Big Brewer

What do the following people have in common: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, celebrity chef and TV presenter; Helena Bonham Carter, Oscar-nominated film actress; Lord Brocket, failed insurance fraudster and I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here contestant; and Kirstie Allsopp, presenter of the television programme Location, Location, Location?

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