IT may be a marketing gimmick but Arthur’s Day came at a time yesterday when the country really needed a pint.
Depressing news went out the window for a while when people gathered in pubs, to celebrate this new annual event organised by Guinness.
Suits and students packed into the Old Oak pub in Cork at lunchtime to see the singer of the moment, Imelda May belt out songs for 30 minutes, just the amount of time it takes to down a pint.
The event may be run by Guinness to increase sales but people have been converted if it means they can escape the office for a while to enjoy a pint and some live music then so be it.
“I never drink Guinness and I never drink at lunch time but it’s Arthur’s Day, you feel you have to,” said one Cork worker.
Last year saw the first Arthur’s Day, which celebrated 250 years since Arthur Guinness signed the 9,000-year lease at St James’ Gate. The event was so successful, Guinness quickly realised they were on to a winner and declared every year would have an Arthur’s Day.
The day just seems to work. People have a reason to drink on a Thursday and not feel guilty. And as they drink, sales of the black stuff soar.
Celebrations officially kicked off at 17.49 yesterday (the year that the lease on the premises was signed) with Paolo Nutini taking to the stage at the Savoy in Cork. In Dublin at the same time Snow Patrol played at the Guinness Storehouse. They were followed by the Manic Street Preachers, Biffy Clyro and Westlife. Also in Dublin was Killers’ singer Brandon Flowers and Oscar-winning actor Tim Robbins.
In Cork The View, Fortune, O Emperor and Sharon Corr played at the Savoy while in Galway David Gray and guitarist Newton Faulkner took to the stage.
Imelda May left Cork at 2pm yesterday and travelled to Galway for a second gig before finishing up in Dublin last night.
In total there were 1,000 events planned around the country with all money raised from the concerts going to a social entrepreneur fund set up by Guinness.
Like a modern day St Patrick’s Day the celebrations didn’t stop in Ireland. In the US 10,000 people in Chicago attended the Oysterfest while celebrations also took place in Kuala Lumpur and the Caribbean.
And what a difference a year makes. Last year, on Arthur’s Day even Taoiseach Brian Cowen was seen enjoying the black stuff.
“I can’t stay for as long as I’d like, unfortunately. I don’t have the time. I’m working too hard,” he said at the time. It’s doubtful similar words were echoed this year by him.
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