We settled in to our sardine-sized seats and promptly ordered a celebratory birthday wine in flight with our Euro left over from a previous trip. We toasted Mom for her birthday and to the beginning of “Perche’ No? 2009” — finally en route to Ireland!
Reading the in-flight magazine, I discovered that we had picked a good month to visit Dublin. Guinness was celebrating its 250th anniversary “with events in Dublin and around the world.” I remembered the sign at the Irish pub in Sacramento the night before our trip advertising the big 250th birthday celebration to be held there: September 24th. We wouldn’t still be in Ireland, but we’d be in Europe.
The Guinness brewery began in 1752 when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease for an annual rent of 45 pounds. What a deal! It’s ironic that today’s cost of admission to the Guinness Storehouse for four adults is roughly the same as the rent negotiated by Arthur Guinness 250 years ago!
It was amazing to learn that Guinness has been around for the French Revolution, the Great Potato Famine, the Easter Rising, the rise and fall of Communism, two world wars, 18 World Cups, and the same number of popes! (It was even more amazing to watch how many pints of Guinness my husband knocked back while in Ireland. His part-Irish heritage certainly came bubbling up!)
More than a million pints are sold in Ireland every day (to this number I admit we greatly contributed). When the barley is being roasted, the whole city smells of burnt toast or coffee or yeast (and yes, we smelled it!) I also read that the quality of a bar’s Guinness, according to local lore, is dependent on several factors: the temperature and shape of the glass, the distance of the keg from the tap, the number of pints already poured that day, the number of years’ apprenticeship served by the pourer…such an art! On the plane while reading such detail, I scoffed, but after drinking at the source, I’ve become a convert.