Today is ‘Arthur’s day’, celebrating 250 years of manufacturing the black stuff at St James’ Gate in Dublin.
250 years … a long time.
As well as being a big employer in Dublin, from all accounts Guinness seem to have been a good employer, at a time when employment in Dublin was scarce and poverty was rampant.
In fact philanthropy and the Guinness family go hand in hand.
For example, a wikipedia entry on the fourth Arthur, the great-grandson of the original Arthur Guinness states:
‘He was, like many in the Guinness family, a generous philanthropist, devoting himself to a number of public causes, including the restoration of Marsh’s Library in Dublin and the extension of the city’s Coombe Women’s Hospital. In buying and keeping intact the estate around Muckross House in 1899, he assisted the movement to preserve the lake and mountain landscape around Killarney, now a major tourist destination. From 1875 he was a sponsor of the “Dublin Artizan’s Dwellings Company”, which built cottages for poor Dubliners at reasonable rents; the forerunner of the Iveagh Trust which was set up by his brother Edward. He also bought, landscaped and gave to the capital the central public park of St Stephen’s Green, his best-known achievement, where his statue can be seen opposite the Royal College of Surgeons.’
Indeed, I studied Microbiology in the Moyne Institute in TCD, a building presented to the College in 1953 by Grania Guinness (now the dowager Marchioness of Normanby) in memory of her father, the first Baron Moyne.
Today’s celebrations include setting up ‘The Arthur Guinness Fund’ to support social entrepreneurship. It is hoped to raise up to €2.5m over the next few months.
We could still learn lots of lessons from this company, established 250 years ago today.