Paul Carty, who has led the development of the Guinness Storehouse from its 2002 to become Ireland’s top tourist attraction, is stepping down after 18 years.
Replacing him in April as Storehouse managing director will be Catherine Toolan, a global events organiser who most recently has overseen the growth of Belfast’s premier convention centre, the former Waterfront Hall.
Guinness parent Diageo paid tribute to Mr Carty today, crediting him with growing the Storehouse from an attraction with 300,000 visitors in 2002 to almost 1.8 million in 2019 – far ahead of other top attractions Dublin Zoo and the Cliffs of Moher.
Diageo said Mr Carty had shaped “one of the most successful brand experiences in the world” and built a wider network of drink-themed visitor attractions. These include the Smithwick Experience in Kilkenny that opened in 2014, the Guinness Open Gate Brewery on James’s Street that opened in 2015, and the Roe & Co whiskey visitor centre that opened last year.
The Gravity Bar atop the Storehouse is currently being expanded as part of more than €50m in investment at the site since 2002.
“We have all loved working with Paul whose passion, commitment, kindness and energy are inspiring to everyone,” said Mark Sandys, Diageo’s global head of beer, Baileys and Smirnoff. “We are sad to see Paul move on after his incredibly successful tenure, but happy that he will have a well-earned retirement and, no doubt, still engage with enthusiasm in the tourism sector and continue to share his wisdom.”
Ms Toolan, a native of Coolaney, Co Sligo, has extensive experience organising conferences, events and hospitality. She worked in Paris, London and Dublin with the Forte Hotel Group, then pursued postgraduate studies at a Beijing university as part of her business master’s degree at UCD.
She spent a decade as managing director of global sports and events with Aramark, where she oversaw the design and delivery of food and retail services in the athletes villages for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
Since 2016 she has been chief executive of Belfast’s Waterfront Hall as well as the 19th-century Ulster Hall. The Waterfront has been formally renamed the International Conference Centre as part of her strategy to attract European and global events to the venue.
“She brings a wealth of experience in event and visitor experience management as we move into a new era for the Guinness Storehouse and our other brand homes,” Mr Sandys said. “I am looking forward to seeing Catherine’s energy, drive and vision leading this great business forward to even greater heights.”