Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas


Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

by Martin Wallace
Famous Irish Names

Guinness MagAonghusa

	In 1894  sixteen different versions were recorded of 
the ancient Ulster surname, MagAonghusa.  It means'son of 
Aonghus! (one choice,).  Their ancestry goes back to a 
5th - century chief of the Dal Araidhe.  By thr 12th 
century they had become lords of Iveagh in County Down, 
where they had their fortress at Rathfriland.

	Although they played along with the Elizabethans, they 
were with Hugh O'Neill at the victorious Battle of the 
Yellow Ford in 1598.

	They survived disastrous defeat at Kinsale and had their 
22,000 acres restored.   Magennis of Iveagh was created 
Viscount.  They had distinguished bishops in the family, both 
Catholic and Protestant.  A Viscount Iveagh sat in the 
'Patriot Parliament' in 1689, the last such until 1922.  
Shortly after the Battle of the Boyne the Magennis's joined 
the exodus to serve in the armies of Austria, France, Spain 
and later America.

	The Guinness name has been stamped on the Irish 
consciousness since 1759, when Arthur Guinness set up his 
enormously successful brewery by the River Liffey in Dublin.
The Guinness family endeared themselves by their generous 
contributions in charitable institutions.  The company, 
affectionately known as 'Unncle Arthur,' was one of the corner 
stones of the Irish economy

Arthur Guinness: Brewer
Guinness was bom in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, in 1725.  When 
his father's employer, the  Archbishop of Cashel died, he 
left 100 pounds (cash) to Guinness, who had been land steward 
to the archbishop.  Guinness's brother, also employed on the 
archbishop's estate, where beer was brewed for the workers, 
received the same amount of money.  Three years later,  the 
senior Guinness left this breway in charge of his brother and 
took over one at St. James's Gate in Dublin.

	He began by brewing beer or ale  and within eight 
years was master of the Dublin Corporation of Brewers.  In 
1761 he married Olivia Whitmore, a relative of Henry Grattan, 
and ten of their twenty-one children lived to establish a
dynasty which has spread into many activities and countries.   
The family's long association with St. Patrick's Cathedral 
began with a gift of 250 guineas (one old Irish pound & 1 
shilling) for the chapel schools, and Dublin  enjoyed other 

There was, however, one dispute with Dublin Corporation, 
whose investigators concluded that Guinness was drawing more 
free water than his lease permitted.  In 1775, the brewer 
seized a pickaxe to defend his supplies from the sherriff, 
and eventually reached a solution after protracted litigation.  
Duties on beer proved another problem and in 1795 Guinness 
enlisted Grattan's oratory powers to persuade the government 
to remove the burden. (In Ireland it seems  it's who you know 
that counts! )

	In 1778, Guinness began to brew porter - the dark beer 
containing roasted barley and first drunk by London porters 
- and exploited Ireland's new canals to extend his market.  
In 1799, he brewed ale for the last time.  Sales of porter 
increased threefold during the Napoleonic Wars, and in time 
St James's Gate became the largest porter and stout brewery 
in the world, its extra-stout porter becoming know simply 
as stout.

	Guinness gradually handed over control to his three 
sons, and spent his last years at Beaumont, his country home 
in Drumcondra, now a Dublin suburb.  He died on 23 January, 
1803. ("Famous Irish Lives by Martin Wallace) Try a tour of 
the Guinness Brewery and taste a sample of real Guinness