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How A Woman Won An Irish Pub With A 50-Word Essay

Erika Lee Bigelow was out for St. Patrick’s Day in Portland when she saw a card advertising a contest hosted by the beer company Guinness.  You had to write a 50-word essay finishing the sentence ‘The perfect pint of Guinness ...” The grand prize was a pub in Ireland. That’s right, you could win your own pub. So she wrote her essay:

“The perfect pint of Guinness is simple: dark, rich, cool. A shamrock imbedded atop a creamy white pool. Guinness glides gracefully into glass, time woes, worries temporarily pass. ‘Finish the Guinness!’ shout friends at the door. I turn and ignore them, for I’m having one more.”

Her essay was selected, and she became a finalist. She was flown off to Ireland for the final competition, which included beer pouring, dart throwing, and finally, another essay:

“I set a publican’s portrait before you.

Ears listening to tales always new.

Eyes and smiles all about.

Feet step, fetching stout round Lee’s bar all the regulars’ queue. Hands draw Guinness, pluck harp.

Pour promises past dark.

Slowly savoring a sip or two.

At J O’Sullivan’s, my wish come true.”


And she won. She headed back home to get her affairs in order, and just a few short weeks later she was back in Ireland, running her own pub.

Irish personalities, customs, and the way you do business were all changes of scenery for Bigelow, and the five years she spent owning the pub was an experience she will never forget. 

Originally aired September 17, 2016

Kevin Kniestedt is a journalist, host and producer who began his career at KNKX in 2003. Over his 17 years with the station, he worked as a full time jazz host, a news host and produced the weekly show Sound Effect. Kevin has conducted or produced hundreds of interviews, has won local and national awards for newscasts and commentary.