Celbridge & Arthur Guinness

Arthus Guinness, most famous grave in Oughterard

Arthur Guinness, most famous grave in Oughterard

The absence of documentary sources makes it difficult to ascertain details of the early life of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803), whose brewing industry would later become one of the world’s leading brands. There are numerous associations with Celbridge:

  • Arthur Guinness’s gravestone in Oughterard states that he was 78 years old when he died on 23rd January 1803, indicating that he was born in 1724 or early 1725, probably in the locality.
  • His mother Elizabeth Read (1698–1742) was from Oughterard. His father, Richard, may have had business associations with her father William Read, whose (undocumented) tradition holds that he sold home-brewed ale from a stall on the Old Naas Road which passed over Oughterard hill. Richard was appointed brewer to the Ponsonby family of nearby Bishopscourt,
  • Arthur’s godfather Arthur Price (1678–1752) serial bishop of four different Church of Ireland dioceses until appointed Archbishop of Cashel, was resident in Celbridge. Price was private chaplain to William Conolly and prospered as Conolly rose to become Ireland’s most influential native politician and administrator.
  • Richard Guinness came to live in Celbridge and was agent of Arthur Price at the time of Arthur’s birth. A local publican has erected a plaque asserting Arthur was born in the first Guinness homestead in 1725. Guinness historian, Patrick Guinness states the first smell the young Arthur would have got “would have been malt” from the adjoining malting house.
  • After Catherine died in August 1742, Richard remarried Elizabeth Clere (may have been Elizabeth Clear who was baptized in Leixlip in 1715) whose family ran an inn in Celbridge called “The Bear & Ragged Staff”, nowadays part of a Spar shop on the Main Street.
  • Richard Guinness lived in what is now known as the Finey House on main Street and was associated with a brewery on the grounds of the current Holy Faith convent in Celbridge beside the Catholic church
  • Arthur Guinness’ own brewing career was launched with a bequest of £100 from his godfather, Arthur Price after which he established breweries in Leixlip (1755) and, famously, the disused former Espinasse brewery in St James’s Gate (1779).
  • After the success of his milling and brewing interests in Dublin. Arthur’s body was returned to be buried in his mother’s family plot in Oughterard in January 1803.

While his birthplace has never been established, it is likely Arthur Guinness was born either in Celbridge (where his father resided) or some five kilometers away his maternal home in Oughterard.

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