This book is something like a jig-saw puzzle. There are many parts, some of which fit together easily, and others that look at first glance as if they don't quite belong but they eventually contribute to the whole. Some pieces - stories - are clearly part of the main Australia - New Zealand story; others provide background.

The book began with research into my wife's Guinness connection, when my focus was Sarah Anne Guinness, her great-grandmother. Raised in a comfortable Irish vicarage, Sarah travelled with her family to Melbourne and later married Thomas Minchin, exchanging affluence and comfort for the privations of life as a colonial wife and mother, in New Zealand and Fiji.

Her descendants have marvelled at the course her life took and admired the courage and fortitude with which she met the challenges confronting her. Her strength drained, she died aged forty-three and lies today in a solitary grave at Te Kao in the far north of the North Island.

Sarah’s reflections and letters to her father in the book are my own creation, at best semi-fiction (most of the major events are factual). There may be an argument that they have no place in a non-fiction history work, but that seems somewhat arbitrary, and the themes of “her” writings are timeless and universal.

As part of my research into Sarah I learned there were four grandsons of Arthur Guinness, founder of the famous Dublin brewery, who emigrated, separately, to Australia and New Zealand − Sarah’s father William Guinness, and his cousins Frank Guinness, Michael Burke, and Arthur Burke. Although they each had the opportunity to enter the family firm and enjoy the comfort and wealth it would provide, they took different pathways. They had different experiences of Ireland and of their chosen new land, and their connections to the family in Ireland evolved quite differently. Arthur Burke was the first international Guinness brewer, but quite without endorsement from his family back in Dublin.

It seemed important to describe something of the brewing family origins and context and so the book begins with the story of Arthur Guinness and his descendants in the brewing line. Their part in the business spans seven generations from the earliest days in the mid-1700s until 1997, when family control of the brewery ended.

A major aspect of the basic theme – Guinness Down Under – is the story of the famous stout coming to Australia and New Zealand. Fundamental to that development is the distinction between brewing and bottling. They were two separate businesses and one of the companies bottling Guinness was run by family members, Edward and John Burke. They developed a bottling business which grew into a worldwide enterprise, reaching Australia and New Zealand in the 1860s. The history of the Burke brothers and their families, much of it now published for the first time, is an important part of the Guinness story.

The separate bottling and export trade, however, was just the first step. In time it became apparent that there were considerable advantages to brewers taking over the bottling process, controlling exporting, and eventually moving to brewing in-country. Research into Guinness brewing on both sides of the Tasman has provided yet another part of the story, and much of this, too, is now published for the first time.    -  Rod Smith, Tauranga, December 2017

© 2021 Eyeglass Press Ltd - All Rights Reserved.