Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dublin, Ireland

Jeff and I finally made it to Dublin, Ireland Columbus Day weekend. Because we still have all of Jeff’s airline travel privileges we were able to fly standby out of Frankfurt on Lufthansa right into Dublin. Other than a two-hour departure delay, due to high winds and a minor maintenance issue, everything went great getting to Ireland. Then we hopped on the Airlink bus that took us into the city where we got off just a block from our hotel. Because of the delay it was 8PM by the time we got checked in to the hotel so we needed some food and a wee bit of the amber nectar.

Here’s our first stop in Dublin, the Porterhouse. It’s in the Temple Bar area of the city, a short walk from our hotel. Jeff had read that the Porterhouse has the best Irish stew in Dublin.

Here’s the Porterhouse Irish stew. They make it a little different, lamb meat still on the bone. Kind of a sheep hax’n. Very good!!

One more stop that night at the Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland.

Inside the Brazen Head, like many Irish pubs, some local musicians.

Close up of the Brazen Head sign. Established in 1198.

Next morning, across the street from the Jury’s Inn, our hotel, is Christ Church. Interestingly, officially it's the seat of both the Church of Ireland, Protestant, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. It was founded in 1080, even older than the more famous St. Patrick's Cathedral of Dublin. We got on the Hop-On-Hop-Off city bus tour here.

St. Patricks Cathedral. Originally founded in 1191, just seven years before the Brazen Head, oldest pub in Dublin. Most of what you see now of the cathedral is the result of a major refurbishment that occurred 1860-1865 and paid for by Benjamin Guinness. Yes, the very same Guinness family.

Next stop on the Hop-On-Hop-Off was our real destination for the day, and a definite Hop-Off point, the Guinness brewery tour at the Guinness Storehouse.

First stop inside is a view of the original lease signed by Arthur Guinness. Arthur signed a lease for five acres for 9000 years at 49 pounds annually. Pretty good deal. Today, that 5 acres has expanded to 65 acres. The Guinness brewery is the largest in Europe and is a prominent image on the Dublin skyline.

Every tour of a beer brewery begins with the four main ingredients of any beer; water, hops, yeast and malt (in the Guinness case, barley malt). So, here’s some barley.

Guinness has this really cool water wall to highlight that particular ingredient. The main river that flows through Dublin is the River Liffey. Guinness does not use water from the river. No, they use water from deep springs below the city.

OK, you know the four main ingrediants of beer. Guinness preaches a fifth; legacy. They certainly have that and really promote it.

One of the old copper brewing tanks. Now used in the Guinness Storehouse museum to highlight the size of their operations.

Years ago Guinness employed hundreds of coopers, barrel makers.  The Storehouse has a wonderful display complete with old video of how barrels were made. At one time Guinness created a barrel pyramid with 250,000 barrels that could be seen from across the city.

Guinness is sold around the world.  Aren't we lucky!

The Guinness Storehouse was built within the brewery's old fermenting building. Here you can see that the tour and the Storehouse were built in the shape of a large Guinness pint glass. If the glass was filled with Guinness it would require 14 million pints. At the very top is the Gravity Bar; destination for a free pint of Guinness.

We made it! Here are Jeff and I in the Gravity Bar. Free pint of Guinness after the tour. The Gravity Bar is a glass-walled room with a magnificent 360° panoramic view of Dublin and the surrounding countryside. Oh yeah, and the Guinness was great!!

Here’s Guinness poured at the source.

The proof is in the tasting.

OK, we did the Hop-On and we’re back on the city tour. We had a very funny bus driver too. When we passed the city zoo he told us this joke. “What do you call a zoo without any animals? A shit zoo.” HaHaHa!!

At the bottom of O’Connell Street, one of the main shopping areas of Dublin, is this statue of Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell is a much loved Irish politician who, during the first half of the 19th century, fought for Catholic rights within Ireland, the rights of Catholics to become members of the British Parliament and against the countries forced union with Great Britain.

Half way up O’Connell Street is the Dublin Spire. It’s a pin like structure, completed in 2003, that reaches almost 400’ and is meant to symbolize the city’s march forward into the future. The Spire stands on the site where Nelson’s Pillar once stood until it was destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1966. The Dublin Spire cost 5 million Euros and one of its selling points was that it would never require cleaning. Last year the city spent 100,000 Euros to have it cleaned.

At the top of O’Connell Street is this statue of Charles Stewart Parnell. Parnell was another much revered Irish politician during the last half of the 19th century. He led the Irish contingency in the British House of Commons. Although he lost significant support when his involvement with a married woman was revealed he remained one of the country’s greatest political figures.

City tour complete. Time for lunch and a beer. Next on our list, The Stag’s Head.

Inside The Stag’s Head, very dark wood and quite comfortable.

Perfect lunch, Guinness and Beef pie.

Last highlight of the day was The Long Hall. A very nice, pretty pub.

In 2009 Guinness celebrated its 250 year anniversary. The Long Hall was used in the worldwide advertising campaign, that celebrated that anniversary, with the central theme of “To Arthur.” The official celebration happened on the 250th anniversary of the signing of the 9000 year lease which occured on 22 September 1759.  So the celebration kicked off on that date in 2009 at precisely 1759, 5:59PM.

Here’s the inside of The Long Hall. A very typical, quirky tendency of Irish and English pubs, six different styles of ceiling lights/chandeliers. Lots of mirrors and cut glass room dividers.

Jeff and I standing in front of this very nice wood and glass divider archway in The Long Hall. If you look in the picture above and here below you can see the clock at the top of the archway. The clock doesn't work anymore but it's frozen in place on a very significant time.  If you look at the picture above and below maybe you can guess what the frozen time on this clock might be.* 

Here’s one of the taps in The Long Hall. Look close and you’ll see one for Coors Light. Most pubs had Coors Light, along with Budweiser (American) and Miller Genuine Draft; damn imports.

This photo was used in that advertising campaign in 2009 along with a video taken inside The Long Hall. TO ARTHUR!!

Day three. We started our walk about and came upon this building.  Sick & Indigent Roomkeepers Society.  Now, was this a buidling to house the sick and indigent or a club for roomkeepers who were sick and indigent?

The Dublin Castle. The round castle keep is all that remains from the original 1228 structure. Most of the rest of the castle dates back to the 1800’s. It had been the seat of British power in Ireland until 1922 but is now used by the Irish government. The Dublin Castle was closed the day we were there. Oh well, their loss, we have nothing more to say about it.

One of the most famous songs about Dublin is Molly Malone. Now one of the favorite tourist stop-off points is the Molly Malone statue. According to the legand, Molly was a young fish monger by day and a part-time prostitute by night. Our tour bus driver said that Molly was actually celibate, “ She’d sell a bit here and sell a bit there.”

This guy next to Jeff is one of the best stationary street performers we’ve ever seen. You know, one of those folks who just stand in place and hope that you'll be impressed and give them some money.  This guy was all made up to look like a harried business man fighting against the wind to get to work; hair and tie frozen in place. Very well done and quite funny.

Time to stop off for a bit of the amber nectar, this time at O’Neill’s.

Interesting table at O’Neil’s. Your own tap right at the table; registers how many pours you’ve done and that’s your bill.

Down on the River Liffey which runs through Dublin. This is the Ha’ Penny Bridge. At one time it cost Dubliners a half penny to cross which is how the name came about.

From Ha’ Penny Bridge looking to the west, much of the skyline is the Guinness brewery in the distance. Just left of the big green dome you can see the Gravity Bar, free Guinness, at the top of that building.

According to Trip Advisor, the #1 recommended tourist site in all of Dublin is the Glasnevin Cemetery. (Have these people not heard of the Guinness Brewery?) So with that recommendation we caught a bus to northern Dublin. The Glasnevin Cemetery contains an estimated 1.3 million graves. Since there are only 200,000 gravestones, most are buried in unmarked or mass graves.

Much of the hour and half tour around he cemetery was about Irish heroes in the country's fight for independence from Great Britian.  That fight was long and complex and often involved conflicts that resulted in brother against brother, father against son and more. It all culminated in the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921 that almost immediately resulted in the Irish Civil War of 1922-1923.

Daniel O’Connell (see statue above) was instrumental in establishing the non-denominational cemetery at Glasnevin because up to 1832, when it opened, it was outrageously expensive to perform a Catholic funeral, which priests were not allowed to reside over, in a Protestant cemetery. The most prominent feature at the Glasnevin Cemetery is this tower that was built above and to honor the grave of Daniel O’Connell.

Within the O’Connell crypt you can see the marble vault that encases his coffin. There are openings in the vault to allow people to touch Daniel O’Connell’s coffin. Interestingly, in a small room, at the back of this crypt, are the coffins of Daniel O’Connell’s family stacked one on top of the other. Just wooden coffins piled up in the corner.

This is the relatively simple grave of Éamon de Valera, one of the most prominent Irish politicians of the 20th century. He was a ardent fighter for Irish independence from Great Britian and, although he was on the losing side of the Irish civil war (1922-1923) and an opponent of the much loved Michael Collins during that time, de Valera would go on to be the leader of the Irish government on three different occasions and the country’s president from 1959-1973.

The grave of Michael Collins. Collins was an Irish freedom fighter who rose rapidly up the ranks to become the Director of Intelligence of the IRA during the Irish War of Independence when Great Britain offered a £10,000 reward for his capture or death. He was an Irish Member of Parliament to the British House of Commons, a negotiator for the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-In-Chief of the Irish Army and eventually the technical President of the Irish Republic. He was the leader of the winning side of the Irish Civil War but was killed in 1922 during the conflict. Collins was 31 at the time of his death. 

Nine men are buried here in the most prominent and one of the most honored spots in the whole Glasnevin Cemetery. They were executed following the Easter Rising of 1916. On Easter Monday 1916 an uprising against British rule was instigated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The week long insurrection was squelched by British forces and Irish police. Fourteen of the rebellion leaders were executed and buried in a prison yard. Until ten years ago, any family or friends that wished to visit the gravesite of these men required a written request and approval to do so. Ten years ago approval to move the bodies was granted and these nine men were placed here at Glasnvin Cemetery.

Although Charles Stewart Parnell (see statue above) was highly respected and honored when he died in 1891, because of his involvement with a married women there was also a great deal of animosity towards him. Because of that it was feared that his grave may be dug up or desecrated in some way. To hopefully prevent such an occurrence, Parnell was buried on top a mass grave of 12,000 cholera victims. Apparently it worked because he’s still here.

Well, sightseeing is done, might as well visit one last pub. The Duke.


*1759 (5:59 PM)

1 comment:

  1. The Porterhouse Irish stew looks yummy! The Brazen head looks awesome! I love how the pubs look...very English.

    Interesting that Benjamin Guinness contributed a lot to the refurbishment of St. Patricks Cathedral.

    I love the Guinness brewery pictures. Dad told me that he is now a Guinness man! Crazy that is now 65 acres...that's amazing. The gravity bar looks awesome and i liked the video of them pouring the Guinness. Reminds me of the Bitburger pouring in Germany. Also, I like how it changes colors to the dark black. I love mom's Guinness moustache haha! WWAT. What would Aurthur think?

    The pie at the Stag's head looks delicious! So funny with the beer taps and coors light!

    The Dublin castle looks beautiful! .

    WOW!!! The hurried businessman in the street is AWESOME!!! Daddy looks really good too. That is a great picture! I love the tap at the individual table. Such a smart idea. I would think expensive though!

    The info and pictures of the cemetary are interesting. The story about Parnell being buried on 12,000 cholera victims is disgusting lol!

    Great blog about Dublin! Hope to make it there one day!