From Malt to Vault exhibition at Arthur’s Grave Centre opened at Ardclough

Commissioner Phil Hogan performed the official opening of the ‘Malt to Vault ‘ Arthur’s Grave interpretative centre  at Ardclough in north Kildare today ( December 6)  2019.

From Malt to Vault celebrates the amazing life and times of Arthur Guinness, founder of the world famous brewery in 1759, who was born in the locality and returned to be buried in the historic cemetery with a view on nearby Oughterard Hill.

Commissioner Phil Hogan said: “it is fantastic to see Ireland’s most iconic brand brought home to the rural community where the Guinness story began. This exhibition highlights the ambition and many achievements of Arthur Guinness as a trader, entrepreneur and employer.

“It is a source of great pride that the Guinness brand was built with the malting barley from the rich alluvial plains of the Liffey basin. And of course the connection with the farmers of Kildare is as strong today as it was in the 1750s.

“The Arthur’s Grave Centre is a tremendous tourist experience, a hidden treasure located just a few kilometres off the N7. I would encourage anyone to pay a visit, and I wish success to all involved in this great venture.”

John Griffin, chair of Ardclough Village Centre committee said “Ardclough, a vibrant and active community, is very proud of its history and its connections with perhaps the most famous Irishman of all. The graveyard of Oughterard is lovingly tended by local volunteers and we are delighted to welcome visitors from near and far to share our story. With this new centre we can now looking forward to sharing our story more proactively. The centre was made possible by the generous grant aid we received through  Kildare County council under the Department of Community and Rural Development ‘s Town and Village renewal scheme and the hard work of the Ardclough community. This is a great day, the fruits of a strong volunteer spirit and complex support network from local and national bodies, experiential and community based tourism at its best.”

Portrait of a Brewer as a young man.

Arthur’s grandfather William Read sold beer from a roadside stall on Oughterard hill in the 1690s, before the main road to Naas and the south and west was moved downhill to the route of the current N7.

Richard Guinness came to Celbridge to sell milk from a similar stall. The friendship between the men was confirmed with the marriage of William’s daughter Catherine to Richard Guinness. Their first born son was Arthur. Two local aristocratic families, the Ponsonby’s of Bishopscourt and the Conolly’s of Castletown were to assist the younger Guinness’s rise to become Ireland’s premier brewer.

Oughterard: Cemetery with a View.

When Arthur Guinness died in 1803 his remains were returned to his maternal burial site at Oughterard, a royal monastic site associated with the kings of Leinster which has one of Ireland’s 65 surviving round towers and a unique vaulted church dating to the 1300s, with additions from the 1600s. Ten kings of Leinster ruled from the adjoining hill of Lyons between 700 and the Battle of Clontarf. The site is a kilometre from the centre.

Brewing in Irish life (and how Arthur changed the game).

Malt barley has been grown in this neighbourhood since time immemorial, feeding local breweries in the local monasteries of Castledillon, Whitechurch and St Wolstan’s. Women did the brewing in medieval Ireland, and Arthur’s maternal ancestors brewed beer since at least the 1690s for passing trade and the farm workers at Bishopscourt, where the young Arthur had his first employment. During his lifetime the use of imported hops transformed the weak ale of the Irish countryside and when he identified the growing demand for black imported porter in the middle of the 18th century and made the business decision to concentrate on black beer, it was to change Irish brewing history. To the end of his life he continued to trade in grain with Kildare farmers.

The centre

Arthur’s Grave Centre is located in a building which served as the primary school for Ardclough between 1949 and 2013. A separate exhibition celebrates the history of the locality, community activities, champion horses and hurlers, artists such as writer Emily Lawless and sculptress Mary Redmond, and statesmen such as Valentine Lawless, Jack Ponsonby, John Devoy and Daniel O’Connell who fought a duel nearby in 1815.

The plan.

From Malt to Vault will be open at weekends and by appointment with the village centre management. The centre is a convenient stop for sightseers following Arthur’s Way, which passes along the tow path of the nearby Grand Canal to and from Oughterard.

The speeches.

Commissioner Phil Hogan and chair of the Ardclough Village Centre committee John Griffin spoke at the event.

The blessing was performed by Bishop Denis Nulty, Revd Stephen Neill and Fr Willie Byrne.

Videos at centre:

Oughterard cemetery

Arthur Guinness Story (English language version)

Arthur Guinness Story (Irish language version)


Ardclough 8th in Kildare in 2019 Tidy Towns Competition

Ardclough score was a record 323 points (maximum points 450) in the Tidy Towns competition to finish joint winners in their category and joint seventh in Kildare, and maintained a record of having increased their score every year since first entering in 1998.

Ardclough’s record in previous Tidy Towns competitions

1998: 50pc (150/300). 1999: 51.3pc (154/300), 2000: 54.7pc (164/300), 2001: 58.3pc (175/300), 2002: 60.3pc (181/300), 2003: 61pc (183/300), 2004: 61.7pc (185/300), 2005: 62.7pc (188/300), 2007: 54.8pc (219/400), 2008: 59.5pc (238/400), 2009: 62pc (248/400), 2010: 63pc (252/400), 2011: 64.8pc (259/400), 2012: 67.8pc  (271/400), 2013: 70.5pc (282/400), 2014: 64.7pc (291/450). 2015: 66.7pc (300/450), 2016: 67.8pc (305/450) 2017: 68.9pc (310/450) 2018: 70.1pc (319/450), 2019: 68.7pc (323/470)