This adventure Rick and I took with my parents, who are awesome. I highly recommend traveling with them if given the opportunity.
Their majesties, Bev and Al
We met at Dublin Airport, where not only were we landing but the Pope was as well. Il Papa was the first pope to visit in 40 years, which was good, but it also led to closing down half the city for parades and a festival, which was bad.
But we made it to the Maldron Hotel, a new and hip hotel well located near St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We walked around the corner to Bull and Castle for dinner and had, of all things, oysters and charcuterie and martinis. They were lovely but not what the Good Lord intended when he sent us to Ireland, so we walked a little farther and ended up at Darkey Kelly’s. This place was everything we wanted. Warm and crowded, full of kids and live music and, of course, fish and chips and beer and Irish coffee.
Yes, we know Irish coffee was invented in San Francisco, but you can’t argue with this face.
It was the perfect welcome to Dublin. (Plus, we found out later, Darkey Kelly was a brothel owner and serial killer who was burned at the stake. Intriguing!) We strolled home singing about whiskey in the jar, did not get murdered or burned at the stake, and went to bed.
Darkey Kelly’s. Probably not the brothel.
The next day was meant for exploring. Unfortunately, the Pope had other ides. Much of the north side of the city was shut down because of his event. Roads were closed and public transport was extremely limited. But several of the big-ticket items—St Patrick’s, Temple Bar, Guinness and Jameson—were open, so off we went. St. Patrick’s was lovely. Huge, high ceilings and ornate artwork helped elevate the spirit, while custodians mopping up leaks from the rain reminded you that this was an old building more than anything else. Churches with gift shops bother me but there was a choir from Munich practicing and I soon forgot to be bitchy. You can spend a lot of time touring here—there’s good signage and the ever-present ability to rent headsets—and we strolled for an hour before being ready to leave.
I am not super into taking pictures inside religious houses, so you get the exterior.
We then hoofed it over to the Temple Bar area. I wanted to show my parents the neighborhood in that very small window between clean and trashed, and with the morning’s rain, it was the best possible time.
Temple Bar area
Having seen the sights, we tramped upstairs to eat at Quay’s. It was steamy from all the rainy bodies and we ate Irish soda bread and had stew. Thus fortified, we were off to The Thing That Everybody Does: the Guinness factory tour. Essentially, Disneyland for those of drinking age. Or a fun museum where you drink. Or a really long way to go to get a “free” beer.
This place is several floors of info on how beer is made, how beer is transported, and, my favorite, how beer is advertised. Guinness has had some of the most iconic advertising programs in the world, and there’s an entire floor dedicated to them.
After that, you train to pour a perfect pint of Guinness (two pours! Let it settle!). Then you take your beer and your certificate and head up to the rooftop bar, to see the sights and fight with strangers over table space.
Honestly, it was fine. It won’t change your life, you won’t get drunk, but like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it’s a nice way to spend a rainy day in Dublin. (I won’t admit to which church I’ve tithed the most, but I bet you can figure it out)
This was our last day in Dublin and Rick really wanted to do an Irish whiskey tasting. Even though the Pope’s visit had closed all the more intimate distilleries (Teeling, you broke our heart), Jameson was open.
We were nervous about another funtertainment tour but despite having to choose your “experience,” this was a much better way to learn. A tour guide took a small group through the history of the distillery, the ingredients and chemical reactions, and then brought us to a room to do a comparative whiskey tasting.
That was it. No rides like at Heineken, no Instagram backgrounds like Guinness, just a little knowledge and a little whiskey. Amen.
We maaaaay have ended up at Darkey Kelly’s again that night. I blame the Pope.