Arthur Guinness, the man who gave the world Guinness, has his own international holiday since 2009, thanks to Diageo.
The last Thursday of September is now “Arthur Day.” Why Thursday? Because it is, and always has been, students’ night out.
No matter how you feel about Arthur, or Guinness, the fact is the man was not Irish. He was born in Ireland. But Arthur was, “directly opposed to any movement toward Irish independence” and wanted, “Ireland to remain under English control,” according to Sean Dunne of Z Magazine. Arthur Guinness was an Irish Unionist. He was loyal to the crown.
There are two points of view toward Arthur’s Day according to Irish online news media The Daily Edge. “Either (a) it’s a genuine national celebration – and in these times, Lord knows we need every one we can get. Or (b) in possibly the best marketing stroke ever pulled by the men in grey suits at Diageo, a nation voluntarily painted itself black and white for the privilege of paying to get drunk.”
Both points of view are about drinking, but at least view (a) acknowledges the recession.
According to some celebrants, their local pubs served only Diageo products. Hey, that marketing ploy has worked for Disney and Microsoft for years! Diageo is smart to jump on the bandwagon.
The thinking Irish have a more cynical view of Diageo’s Day, sorry I meant Arthur’s Day.
Dan Griffin of the The Irish Times has described Arthur’s Day as “a masterclass in how to fabricate a national holiday” with its “à la carte attitude to traditional holidays.” Many Irish don’t celebrate it.
Comments to the Daily Edge article 19 photos that show how Irish people celebrated Arthur’s Day range from, “Why oh why are we celebrating this guy? Diageo have printed Guinness logos on Irish flags yet the truth is he championed Unionism and his family called for the executions of the leaders of 1916 Rising. We might as well go out and celebrate Ian Paisley. To Ian!,” to, “We had a camera crew in the pub yesterday from Saudi Arabia and we had great day. All the customers got well full.” For those who are puzzled by “well full,” it means to have many, many pints of Guinness.
Surprisingly the comments that received the majority of thumbs up denounced the day and Arthur himself.
There’s hope then. The Irish haven’t lost their minds completely. We haven’t bought into this fabricated holiday that propagates the Irish as pub dwelling drunkards. There are many who can look at this and see it for what it is, not a holiday that celebrates what it means to be Irish, but a day of making “the men in grey suits at Diageo” richer.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we decided to propagate the idea of Ireland as a nation of writers, actors, musicians, playwrights, singers, and dancers. We already do all of those things. But instead we choose to push the image of Ireland being about pubs and pints of Guinness.