SIR ARTHUR EDWARD GUINNESS
The statue in my photographs, located near the tram stop, was unveiled in June 1892. The Irish Times reported that the large presence of “the trades and of the working people” showed the gratitude of ordinary Dubliners to Ardilaun. The fine granite statue was sculptured by Thomas Farrell who was also the sculptor responsible for the statues of William Smith O’Brien and Sir John Gray, both of which can be seen on O’Connell Street today.
Arthur Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun, 2nd Baronet (1 November 1840 – 20 January 1915), known as Sir Arthur Guinness, Bt, between 1868 and 1880, was an Irish businessman, politician, and philanthropist, best known for giving St Stephen’s Green to the Dublin Corporation for public use.
Ulysses by James Joyce includes several references to Ardilaun, as Joyce considered him to be a prime Irish example of Victorian conventional respectability. The porter brewed by the “cunning brothers” – he and his brother Lord Iveagh – was: “a crystal cup full of the foamy ebon ale which the noble twin brothers Bungiveagh and Bungardilaun brew ever in their divine alevats, cunning as the sons of deathless Leda. For they garner the succulent berries of the hop and mass and sift and bruise and brew them and they mix therewith sour juices and bring the must to the sacred fire and cease not night or day from their toil, those cunning brothers, lords of the vat.” “Bung” referred to the stopper in a wooden barrel of beer. In the “Nighttown” section, the breasts of a girl who is undressing are “Two ardilauns”, meaning “two high islands”, a play on the Gaelic meaning of the word.
In 1902-03 Joyce also wrote literary reviews in the Irish Daily Express which was owned by Ardilaun.
In 1871 Lord Ardilaun married Lady Olivia Hedges-White, daughter of The 3rd Earl of Bantry, whose family home is Bantry House in County Cork; this was a happy but childless marriage.
He died on 20 January 1915 at his home at St Anne’s, Raheny, and was buried at All Saints Church, Raheny, whose construction he had sponsored. Those present at the funeral included representatives of the Royal Dublin Society, of which Lord Ardilaun was president for many years, the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland, the Irish Unionist Alliance, and the Primrose League. His barony became extinct at his death, but the baronetcy devolved upon his nephew Algernon.
On his widow’s death Saint Anne’s Park passed to Algernon’s cousin Rev. Benjamin Plunket former Bishop of Meath, who sold most of the estate to Dublin Corporation in 1937, keeping Sybil Hill as his residence. The corporation has preserved much of the estate as one of Dublin’s most important public parks, though the house itself burnt down in 1943, with the remaining lands used for housing. The outcome of Ardilaun’s extensive tree plantings came into focus a century after his death, when in 2019 the park was given Green Flag status, and was listed as one of the world’s top five urban public parks.