Drinking Our Way through Dublin (18-19 Aug 2016)

In order to maximize our time in Dublin, we found the hop-on hop-off bus stop nearest to the car rental return to start our sight seeing. This just so happened to be across from the Teeling Whiskey Distillery. And, I mean, since we were already there . . . It turned out to be one of the best distillery tours we have been on. The Teeling family has been making whiskey since the 1700s, but they just opened the distillery in Dublin in 2015, the first distillery to open in Dublin in 125 years and the only one currently operating in Dublin. Since the distillery just opened, the tastings were from the original family distillery that used to be down in Cork.

The copper pot stills are named after one of the owners three daughters

The copper pot stills are named after one of the owners three daughters

We then skipped the bus to walk over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, on that site since the 1100s, with the current structure built in the 1200s. Jonathan Swift, the author and cleric (I had no idea) was buried there. We walked all around the church and then sat down for a few minutes to listen to a choir that was practicing.

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Again skipping the bus (glad we invested in that pass), we walked over to and around St. Stephen’s Green, a big public park in the middle of the city. The weather was a little overcast and drizzly, making the park a bit drab, but I could see how it would be beautiful in good weather. It was around lunchtime, and there were a lot of people in their work attire taking post lunch walks around the park. We did find it odd that a lot of the grass area was surrounded by low dividers, making us wonder if people sat or played out on the grass in nice weather. The walk through St. Stephen’s brought us to the restaurant and pub area of Grafton Street for lunch and then it was off to the Guinness Brewery.

St. Stephen's Green

St. Stephen’s Green

And I thought Smithwicks was gimicky! The Guinness Storehouse (it’s not actual a functioning brewery any longer) is a bit like Epcot Center. There was an entire floor dedicated to the history of Guinness advertising. Note the text in the bottom right of the fish ad.  We did a rather quick self-guided tour, finishing at the Gravity Bar at the top, promising views of Dublin. Well, yes, there were views of Dublin. Not sure if it was the weather, or if Dublin just doesn’t have a great skyline or things to see, or what, but I was definitely underwhelmed.

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We finally hopped on the bus to get us to Kilmainham Gaol for our reserved tour. This place is very popular, and we needed to schedule our tour a few days ahead of time. Glad we did, though, because we both really enjoyed the tour. The jail was a revolutionary design when built in the late 1700s, being the first to have individual cells to separate prisoners, which only last until the jail became overcrowded. While the jail functioned for almost 170 years, the the tour mostly focused on the famous Irish held and executed there during the Easter Rising against the British in 1916.

Tiny cells

Tiny cells

Let me out!  Oh wait, the door's open

Let me out! Oh wait, the door’s open

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Since it was late in the day, the hop-on hop-off bus was completing its service before our hotel stop, so we got off at the closest possible location and did some more walking. The evening consisted of a Celtic Nights dinner and show performance. I’m sure it was mostly for tourists, but we really enjoyed it. The musicians and dancers were very entertaining and the food was good.

My type of establishment

My type of establishment

River Liffey from O'Connell Bridge

River Liffey from O’Connell Bridge

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All told for the day, Ryan drank 2 whiskey tastings, 1.5 whiskey cocktails, a pint of Guinness and 2 pints of Smithwicks. A few more drinks and he could practically be a local!

On an unrelated noted, we have decided that cars make us fat. Not only do we not walk/bike as much, as of course everyone knows, but we also tend to snack more when we are driving than walking.

By our last day in Dublin, we were definitely feeling the effects of a whirlwind trip, and of Ryan’s cold, and decided to take it a little slower. We had heard the Trinity College tour and Book of Kells was a must do, so we booked a tour time online and walked over from our hotel. The Book of Kells is a Gospel book dating back to the 800s. It was very interesting to learn about how the book was made, though we weren’t wowed by the book itself. We both enjoyed the Long Library and college tour, given by an actual college student, more.

Rainy start to the day

Rainy start to the day

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Sphere Within Sphere sculpture; One of a dozen or so that can be found throughout the world, including in N.Y. and D.C.

Sphere Within Sphere sculpture; One of a dozen or so that can be found throughout the world, including in N.Y. and D.C.

Since we had not had enough to drink the previous day, we walked over to the Jameson Distillery. The Jameson Distillery is also no longer a working distillery, but the tour was good and we enjoyed the tasting. The tour guide sat with us during the tasting, and actually had us taste 3 different whiskeys, an American Whiskey (Jack Daniels), a Scotch Whisky (Johnnie Walker), and the Jameson Original. I like the taste of the Scotch better, a bit smokier, but the Jameson definitely went down the smoothest.

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We finally made good use of the hop-on hop-off bus, staying on and taking a sight-seeing ride around the city, before getting off near our hotel. We did some last minute shopping for gifts (I’m tired and need to use the bathroom :-) ), packed up most of belongings, reserved a shuttle ride to the airport, and attempted to figure out the VAT refund.

I insisted that the last dinner of the trip be fish and chips. A staff member at the hotel gave us a recommendation and we were not disappointed! And Ryan drank his last beer of the trip, a local craft amber called Brew-22.

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