History Of Guinness in Leixlip and the Court Yard Hotel
When Archbishop Price died in 1752 he left £100, quite a sum then, to his servant, Richard Guinness and a similar amount to Richard’s son, Arthur, who was then aged 27.
Richard appears to be the oldest known Guinness having being born around 1690 and was living in Leixlip in 1766. He had arrived in Celbridge in 1722 and was employed by Archbishop Price as a land steward. One of his duties was to supervise the brewing of beer for workers on the Price estate.
In the same year, the Archbishop took over James Carberry’s brewery near the bridge in Celbridge, apparently inspired by the ability of Richard “to make a brew of a very palatable nature”, which he was brewing in his brewery in Leixlip, where the Court Yard Hotel now stands. Could this “palatable” brew be either the black stuff or closely related to it?
Arthur was born in Celbridge in 1725, he was 31 when jointly with his brother he established a brewery on Main St. Leixlip - the lease for the property dates from 13th September 1756 and the original lease for the site is displayed beside the main reception in the hotel with Arthur’s signature on it.
Three years later, Arthur then aged 34 left his younger brother, Richard, in charge of that enterprise and moved on and bought an existing, but run down brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin. It was there he established the world famous company.
The start of the Guinness business is always taken as being 1759, the date of this move. He lived on the Gate premises for a while and brewed all types of beer including dark beer known as porters ale or porter. The colour was obtained by including in the mash, with the ordinary pale malt, a proportion of malt that was roasted until virtually black.
There was a problem with the process - brewing was more an art than a science then - but Arthur was among the first Irishmen to become really good at producing black porter. His Guinness porter gained a foothold in the English market despite a tax on Irish beer and when it was removed in 1795 the Guinness brewery gave up ale to concentrated on brewing porter, much of it for the export trade.
In Leixlip, the Guinness family owned the property on which the house owned by Dr. Mary Boyd is built. While Arthur set up the Gate brewery, his brother, Richard, ran the Leixlip brewery from 1759 to 1803 on his own. Wealth flowed for the family. By the end of the 1700s, they owned the coaching yard, on the site of the Court Yard Hotel, Dr. Boyd’s house and twelve smaller houses or shops along the main street which still stand today.
When Arthur died in 1803, aged 78, he was buried at Oughterard Cemetery near Kill, a mere 20 minute drive from the hotel, which is also the resting place of his wife, Olivia, who bore him 21 children following their marriage in 1761.
If some Guinness’s took to drink, Arthur Guinness’s eldest son, the Rev. Hosea Guinness (1765-1841) took to religion and was rector of St. Werburg’s church in Dublin.
The family link with Leixlip was re-ignited in 1958, when Hon. Desmond Guinness, then aged 27, the same age as Arthur when he got his inheritance, bought Leixlip Castle, where he still resides today with his wife Penny. The Castle can be seen from the bedrooms in the hotel.
The site saw many changes of ownership over the years, everything from an arbitress to a nun’s resident and some views of the changes on the site throughout the years can be seen in the Piano Bar of the hotel. Through the 1970’s – 1980’s the site ran into ruin and disarray but yet through it all the original walls of the brewery still stood. In the 1990’s the site was finally bought over by its current owner, Mr. Luke Moriarty, who had a vision of a hotel on the site incorporating the original features, such as the stone walls of the brewery and incorporating them into a contemporary, modern hotel. With patience and care, the original walls of the brewery were restored to their former glory. Mr. Moriarty ensured that every door and window was reset to the way they were when Arthur and Richard owned the site.
With the approval of Hon. Desmond Guinness, the hotel opened its doors in June 2005 and once again Guinness was back where it all began with a very modern version of Arthur’s porter now begin sold in Arthur’s Bar.
At the Official Launch of the hotel on the 8th November 2005, the Hon Desmond Guinness unveiled a plaque that states the hotel is on the original site of Guinness. This plaque is displayed proudly over the fireplace in the main reception of the hotel.
Pictured below Mr. Luke Moriarty (Owner) & the Hon. Desmond Guinness.