Did somebody say Guinness?

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Flag of Ireland  ,
Monday, March 7, 2005

Hi everybody!
After escaping the Amsterdam snow, we went to Dublin for a 4 day weekend. It was a great deal - Aerlingus was running a sale: 6 euro each way (+ tax) to fly from Amsterdam to Dublin. Since we had never been, it seemed like a fun way to go. In general we found Dublin to be very fun. It is not as picturesque like some other European towns, but the people are very friendly, exceedingly helpful, and seem to have the gift of gab. There is a generally upbeat atmosphere to the town, with music spilling out from the pubs and people scurrying about. It's center is relatively small so after the first day we were able to walk everywhere. We stayed in a charming, well run guest house near the center: Baggot Court

While in Dublin we toured the Guiness Brewery (of course!) where Melanie had the first pint of Guiness that she actually enjoyed. It's very creamy and smooth here and not nearly as bitter as other samples have been. Although the brewery tour is nothing too exciting, the rooftop bar where the samples are provided has a stunning view over all of Dublin. It was a good way to start to our visit.

However, we quickly discovered that there are alternatives to Guiness. In the trendy Temple Bar area we found a brewpub, The Porterhouse, that had 4 of its own porters on tap, in addition to 3 lagers, 3 ales and a weiss of it's own making. It also had a great selection of beers from around the world including many of the great Belgian beers and Chicago's very own Goose Island (Honkers and IPA!). The food at the Porterhouse is good as well. Nice burgers and fries and comforting Irish Stew.

Speaking of food, the portions in Dublin are not what we are used to in Amsterdam! Our B&B included a traditional Irish breakfast: 2 slabs of bacon (more like ham), sausages, white and black pudding, a fried egg, a broiled tomato and toast. And if that's not enough, there was also cereal, yogurt, fruit, juice, brown bread, coffee and tea available. The portions in the restaurants were equally large and filling. On most days we had only breakfast + one additional meal or split meals between us. One day we had afternoon tea at The Shelbourne, a beautiful old Georgian mansion that has been turned into a lovely hotel.

In addition to food and beer, Dublin has a great literary tradition. At Dublin Castle, where we toured the state rooms and saw the remains of a Viking wall, there is also a museum with a tremendous collection of very old books and religious writings. The Chester Beatty Library includes the oldest known writings of Homer on Greek papyrus (3000 years old!), the oldest known writings from the book of Matthew, again on Greek papyrus, beautiful books of all religious traditions - the Islamic Qur'an, Buddist writings, Christian bibles, and much more. If you click through on the link, above, be sure to go to the Image Gallery to see pictures of the treasures. The Gallery is divided into 3 sections, so look at all three.

Although the Chester Beatty Library has the oldest manuscripts, Trinity College is home to the oldest known book in the world: The Book of Kells from 800A.D. The book is beautifully illustrated and is actually 4 very large volumes, 2 of which are normally on display at any point in time.

Chris was also interested in a collection of scientific instruments at the National Museum of Ireland. The museum is divided across 3 buildings in Dublin (plus one building in another town). The first building, the Natural History Museum, is a huge collection of animals. The 1st floor was all stuffed animals and skeletons from Ireland. The upper floors were animals of the world. It was the biggest collection of animals we had ever seen in one place! Really cool, but a little creepy too -- especially some of the squids, bugs, and other creepy animals. Kids really seemed to enjoy this museum.

The 2nd building included exhibits on Medieval Ireland, Vikings in Ireland, Irish Gold (huge collection of 3000+ year old gold jewelry) and the Road to Independence, but no scientific instruments. The third building is about 40 minutes from the other 2 and is situated in an old army barracks. Here we saw the scientific instruments (including two chronometers), a collection of Irish furniture, clothing, and other decorative arts.

In addition to the museums, there are several famous churches in Ireland. St. Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral both have long choral traditions. In fact, their choirs combined for the first performance of Handel's Messiah. Jonathan Swift is buried at St. Patrick's and Strongbow at Christ Church. Also at Christ Church there is a mummified cat and rat that were found in the pipes of the old organ. Apparently the cat was chasing the rat and the rat ran into the organ, the cat followed, and their they stayed to their dying days and beyond!

One final note on the pubs. . . Dublin is all about pub life. Practically every pub has live music of some sort. We heard blues, 60s rock, and traditional Irish. We were happy to learn that it is entirely possible to spend time in the pubs without drinking too much. In fact, we wandered into one pub because we heard the music, stood in the back until the band took a break, and never ordered a thing -- and nobody bothered us. Although there were lots of people who seemed to have had a fair share of Guiness, there were also plenty of people drinking soda or nothing at all. With all of the activity and music in the pubs it's easy to see how the Irish that come to other countries really do miss their Irish pubs.

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John Stephen Dwyer on

Nice article. I like the title. I love the mummified cat and its prey.


chronometers on

Thanks John.

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