BY JOE JENKINS ST Pa-metes DAY 17 March will never be the same. This is the conclusion of the brewers of Ireland's leading stouts, Guinness and its less famous rival Murphy's, who have clashed, head to head, on the claim made by Murphy's to be
"Official Sponsors of the St Patrick's Day Celebrations".
Murphy's is spending £7.5 million on advertising and organising parties in 20,000 pubs worldwide in its bid to outmanoeuvre Guinness as Ireland's national drink.
A spokeswoman for Murphy's said: "Guinness try to own every thing Irish. We want people to know there are other brands out there."
Now that Murphy's "own" St Patrick's Day they hope that drinkers thirsty for stout will be thirsty for Murphy's. Sales of 1.4 million pints a week in Britain are dwarfed by Guinness's 7 million. According to Guinness, a question mark hangs over the "right" of their rivals to promote their product this way.
Spokesman Jeremy Probert said: "I'd dearly love to know who gave them the right to say this. Maybe it was the saint himself, who is 1,500 years old, so he's obviously holding up well."
While the initiative of Murphy's has brought them a higher profile, Guinness are unlikely to wish them the luck of the Irish.