A Barrelful of Brilliance

Guinness is good! If not the drink, then at least the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness takes pride in their Irish roots while tending to their profit mission. The symbol of Guinness is that of the nation itself – the majestic golden harp. An electronic version of the instrument, with lasers for strings, was one of many memorable sights at the museum at St. James’s Gate. Guinness directed itself towards the agrarian, working class of the country with such memorable campaigns as “Guinness Builds Strength!” Farmers will understand instantly the rejuvenating effects of the beverage after seeing a horse relaxing in a car pulled by a well-liquired man. It is not so surprising that wonderful images like the fellow  casually carrying a steel beam or the tipsy ostrich are plastered not only on museum surfaces but also in the windows and walls of pubs throughout the nation. 

Perhaps the University of Pittsburgh Global Studies Center may have been confused, but no more concise a distillation of the themes of the Plus3 Ireland trip could be found then at Guinness World. What an entrepreneur – Arthur Guinness exhibited true businessperson confidence in signing a 9000 year lease with the city of Dublin for the three core buildings of the complex after just a few years in the alcohol business. The addition of nitrogen to Guiness came in the 1950s, about two centuries into the beverages lifespan, but that old dog was still willing to learn new technological tricks. The miniscule bubbles produced a smooth beverage and a true evolution for a stalwart brand. As for sustainability, the emergency reserves of barley and the close relationship formed with growers across the nation ensure a steady supply of Guinness for decades to come, come revolution, colonization, or environmental catastrophe. Furthermore, the myriad of cute animal advertisements promote both drinking and the planet we live in. 

Not all communication is as easy as a flying toucan balancing a pint on its beak, however. Communication between a high context country like Ireland and a low context country like the United States can sometimes be a challenge. For a logistical example, neither me nor some of the Irish that we have encountered at local businesses know how to make a phone call across country lines. The implicit part of this situation is the first n digits (country code, area code, local telephone exchange) of the number that might not need to be dialed. E-mail, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Visa close this gap, however, as we found out at Boston Pizza late last night. I have mostly been speaking to other Plus3 folks on this trip, so it seems unfair to generalize the communication styles of a people based on their service workers. Nonetheless, encounters with them have been subtly eye opening. It is impossible to say how the Irish will respond to recommendations for drinks: Will they act burdened by the demanding American tourists? Do they even drink? Have they kudos for a hip, young variant of dry stout that they happen to produce advertisements for? My goodness… my Guinness. 

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