Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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From 'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyageby Turtle Bunbury (MPG, 2008).

The first record of Guinness being exported out of Ireland dates back to 1769, when 6 ½ barrels of porter were shipped to England. The brewery expanded its links to the Isle of Man in 1810, Lisbon in 1811, Bristol in 1819 and the Channel Islands in 1822. By 1840, you could drink the famous black stout in Trinidad, Sierra Leone, Barbados and New York. In 1873, the company built Victoria Quay alongside the brewery and so began the legendary run of the Guinness steam barges until the advent of transportable tanks in the 1950s. Up until 1913, all Guinness was exported by regular shipping companies. In December 1913, the company purchased its first vessel, the ss W.M. Barkley, a collier belonging to Belfast ship-owners John Kelly & Sons. For the next eighty years, the Guinness ships were to be a familiar sight to all who worked in the Dublin Docklands. The ss. W. M. Barkey was torpedoed and sunk near the Kish Lighthouse in 1917.

By 1930, the export trade to London was such that a new ship, the ss Guinness was built, tailormade to carry 3,000 hogsheads. Between 1952 and 1962, three new Guinness motorships were launched, each one named for members of the Guinness family – The Lady Grania, The Lady Gwendolen and The Lady Patricia. The latter was converted into the world’s first beer tanker, capable of carrying 1.64 million pints. In 1976, The Lady Patricia was joined by Miranda Guinness, the first purpose-built beer tanker, constructed in Bristol and named for the Countess of Iveagh. The beer came direct from the Brewery to City Quay on stainless steel ‘Silver Bullet’ road tankers. Each road tanker carried 130 barrels which were then discharged into one of the ships tanks - Miranda Guinness had 15 such tanks. The two ships sailed from City Quay across the Irish Sea to Runcorn and Garston, where the beer was discharged into road tankers. It was then dispatched to pubs across England, although some went to Liverpool to be bottled for export and some was kegged in Runcorn.

In 1987 management of the Guinness fleet passed to the Irish Marine Services Ltd. However, as Guinness opened breweries all over the world, so the relevance of the ships declined and, in 1993, the company discontinued its tanker operation. Stout was henceforth pumped into tanker containers and carried on ordinary ships. The Miranda Guinness was renamed Maigue and demolished at Bramley Moore Dock, Liverpool, in 1993. The Lady Patricia was renamed Maine and broken up in a Manchester dry dock the following year.



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