Negotiating Texts and Contexts in Contemporary Irish Studies
Chapter Ten ‘Tá Siad ag Teacht’: Guinness as a Signifier of Irish Cultural Transformation 171
Chapter Ten ‘Tá Siad ag Teacht’: Guinness as a Signifier of Irish Cultural Transformation That Guinness is a synecdoche of Ireland is almost, at this stage, a cultural given. This commodity has taken on a fetishistic association with Ireland, an association that is enunciated by the desire of tourists to have a pint of Guinness as a testament to having arrived in Ireland. In all tourist shops, practically every item of consumption can be found with a Guinness brand on it, from drinking glasses and alcohol-related products to all forms of clothing – including underwear. Indeed, Guinness has operated as a syn- ecdoche in a further dimension as in most pubs in Ireland, if one asks the barperson for ‘a pint’, the default beverage will be a Guinness. However, this chapter will look at a more macrocosmic index of Guin- ness, as by tracing a number of advertisements, I hope to demonstrate that Guinness as a commodity has followed, paralleled and at times anticipated, socio-cultural trends in contemporary Irish society. This may seem a large claim to make for what is, after all, a brand of beer, but a brief discussion of how cultural codes develop and change will provide the theoretical framework for an exploration of Guinness advertisements as published by the company themselves, in a special celebration of seventy-five years of advertising, published in 2004 (Guinness Calendar). This adequation between the product and a sense of Irishness is not accidental, as an example from the Guinness will demonstrate. The...
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