Tag Archives: Dublin

Ireland and N. Ireland: Quick Photo Tour

Long Library, Trinity College, Dublin
Long Library, Trinity College, Dublin
Newgrange
Newgrange
Donkey Sanctuary, near Cork
Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park
Along the Ring of Kerry
Rooks at the Cliffs of Moher (at the car park)
Cliffs of Moher
The Burren
The Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Dark Hedges
Spotted near the Icon Walk, Dublin
River Liffey, Dublin

A Pint of Plain

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse

“When health is bad and your heart feels strange, And your face is pale and wan, When doctors say you need a change, A pint of plain is your only man.” – Flann O’Brien, “The Workman’s Friend”

I once knew an Irish girl who absolutely refused to drink Guinness this side of the pond.
“It doesn’t taste right here,” she said. “It tastes kind of funny. Sort of flat.”
Home of Arthur Guinness
Home of Arthur Guinness
Having never been to Ireland at that point in life, I could not mount a well-rounded defense of the black stuff’s American cousin. But it hardly mattered, as said lass regularly forsook her native brew in favor of the dollar draft du jour. To me, no perceived inferiority could be so great as to justify drinking Coors Light, the skim milk of beer, thusly self-negating her own testimony.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
I’ve never been a beer man, per se, preferring rambunctious, high-octane spirits like whiskey, Scotch, and rum. But I’ve always had a fondness for the vaguely sweet, burnt-but-never-bitter flavor of the Emerald Isle’s most well-known export.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Diageo, the multinational corporate juggernaut that today owns, brews, and markets Guinness, says it annually sells more than 1.8 billion pints of it worldwide. Today, the stout is brewed in nearly 60 countries (including Ireland), and sold in twice that many, but it all began in 1759, at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse leaves no stone in the company’s 256-year history unturned, starting with the four ingredients that comprise its famous stout – barley, hops, yeast, and water (sourced from nearby mountains and not the River Liffey, as urban legend holds). And that’s only the first floor; the six more that ascend tell nearly every angle of the Guinness story, from the brewers to the coopers to the suits upstairs in marketing.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Those of drinking age (18!) can enjoy a pint (included in the admission price) on the top-floor Gravity Bar, a glass-walled cylinder that affords visitors a 360-degree view of Dublin. Another bar on the floor below teaches visitors the protocol behind a perfect pour. (TIP: Every admission stub is good for a pint, including the one your non-drinking companion is holding.)
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
WPT at Guinness Storehouse
Proof that WPT crafted the perfect pint (and then drank it)
Also of note, the Guinness Storehouse is kid-friendly.
View from the top of the Guinness Storehouse
View from the top of the Guinness Storehouse
I spent an obscene amount of time and money in the gift shop (some on actual gifts), which features every manner of Guinness-branded clothing and paraphernalia. The whole deal is not inexpensive; tickets are 18 euros, or 16.20 if purchased online in advance. But for the Guinness-drinker it’s nirvana – the nexus of product and branding that defines the whole Guinness experience for people around the world.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Diageo insists that all Guinness is brewed to the same specifications, no matter where its made. But who knows? Maybe Ireland’s Guinness really is just a little more fresh, traveling through cleaner, better maintained lines to a tap that plays like a perfectly tuned instrument in the hands of a skilled barman. Or, just perhaps, a pint means that much more when enjoyed upon its native shore.
Or maybe not.
Either way, it sure as hell beats Coors Light.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse

Among The Little People Now

National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin
National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin

Between the holdover time in Boston, the duration of the flight, and the five-hour time difference, we were thoroughly exhausted by the time we reached Clontarf Castle. Nevertheless, figuring our best bet for acclimating to local time was to forge on until bedtime, we checked in, threw down our bags, and after a short rest were off for Dublin Town.

Traveling with a 9-year-old (who’d held up amazingly well thus far) meant that our first stop should be of correlative interest. And so it was that we found ourselves at the door of the National Leprechaun Museum. Despite the hokey implications of its name, the Museum could be as easily marketed as a crash course in Irish mythology – Aos Sí 101 – which manifests throughout Irish culture to this day.

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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin

As our seanchai led us through a series of exhibits depicting leprechauns of lore as well as their modern convention (rooted in the 1959 Disney film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People), elaborating upon the púca and bean sídhe, Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Fenian Cycle, I recalled, of all things, one Friday night in high school, when a friend and I drove a half-hour to see Schindler’s List. However, we faltered at the ticket window. Were we, a pair of strapping lads perched at the precipice of the weekend, really up to facing three-hours of celluloid-induced depression?

Indeed, common sense prevailed, and we blew off the Oscar-winning Holocaust epic in favor of seeing Leprechaun 2 (which happens to contain one of the most hilariously inconsistent nude body-doubles ever committed to film, but that’s another story). I related this tale to Warwick Davis (who plays the namesake leprechaun) a decade later at a horror-con in Baltimore. His reaction belied an unparalleled sense of diplomacy.

William P. Tandy regaling Warwick Davis with his cinematic preferences
William P. Tandy regaling Warwick Davis with his cinematic preferences

But back to the matter at hand. A noteworthy gift shop awaits visitors at the end of this rainbow. However, a word of note: although the National Leprechaun Museum is indoors, there seemed to be no source of heating, so should you go there in January, dress accordingly.

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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin
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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin