I was in Dublin for 1 specific reason, to meet my mom! She had wanted to see Ireland forever, but our family couldn’t ever settle on taking a family trip there.
Once I began my dream trip, we corresponded. She mentioned maybe meeting in Ireland and I agreed. I hadn’t planned on seeing the country but then again, I hadn’t planned on seeing most of the places I went.
Take a moment, pause, call your mom, tell her you love her. If you cannot do that think about your happiest moment with your mom. Mom’s do so much for you and we, well I, probably don’t tell them how much I care, how often I think about them.
In my life I’d gone from not being able to sleep at a friend’s house across the street to flying to Europe and visiting places that made communication difficult, far far away from my mom.
I was fairly excited by the prospect of helping my mom fulfill a life goal. Our deal was she had a list of several places, cities she wanted to see. My job was to figure out how to get to these places via bus, rail or other means of transportation.
What was the most surprising was my mom adapted to my minimal travel, arriving with only a backpack, just like me. It was a lot bigger backpack but still, having seen many ladies on my trip with comedic quantities of luggage as well as the 1 piece of rolling luggage that was 2-3x as big as the lady carrying it, this was quite minimal.
It is a lot harder being a lady, all the clothes, garments, shoes and things that men, society expect women to have is astounding. I didn’t ever feel under dressed despite having basically parachute pants that zipped off at the knees illustrated the level of expectations between men and women’s fashion.
We met at the Spire and hugged! She did it, she had made it! Now what to do?!
Always good idea to lighten your load and drop luggage off where you’re staying.
To my shock our place was on top of a pub, the Black Sheep. I’d passed by it and made a note to check it out. Now I had my evenings planned, just go downstairs!
My mom was quite accommodating as she doesn’t drink alcohol but was ok with me taking her to the most special of breweries, Guinness!
This was one of the better brewery tours I’ve been on I have to say. In many ways, Guinness and Dublin are one in the same, at least that is what the tour infers.
I love the idea that at one time beer, wine, most liquids were shipped and stored in wooden barrels.
For sure the Guinness Brewery is one of the tallest buildings in Dublin affording one a stunning 360° view of the city, provided it isn’t an overcast day. Like the day we were there.
At the end of the tour is a bar with free Guinness.
There is a process to pour a Guinness as it is very thick and can easily get heady. Begin pouring with the glass at an angle until it is a bit past half full, let rest for at least a minute. No matter how long the line is, you do not pour faster, they’d just line up pints on the bar to settle.
Once a pint was ready, then it would get filled up and have about a priest’s collar thickness of white head. A keen system that always worked, I don’t think I ever saw a pint poured straight through.
I also didn’t hear anyone complain about how long it was taking for a pint. You waited for that pint.
It is also so far the only place I’ve seen their Dublin Porter on draught. The Guinness you think of is a stout.
The difference between a stout and a porter boils down, literally, to malts. They are both thicker beers than most people are used to in the US. Both styles, to me, are only drinkable when it is cool or cold out.
I don’t know too many people who would reach for a creamy stout in 100° Texas heat. But in the cool, Irish environment, nothing’s better.
We wandered all over the River area near the brewery until it was clear we weren’t going to stumble upon anything cool.
Heading back into town, we stop into a pub to eat and discuss our strategy for the trip. It was a very nice spot, The Quays, though we were in search of a music pub.
There did seem to be much more of a focus on live music in Dublin than in previous places I’d been. Not so much for the digital playlists here.
Consulting a map, she listed the must visit cities and sights. Using my apps, I located the National Bus of Ireland, Bus Eireann.
The crazy fact is that you could bus from Dublin to the Cliffs of Mohr and back same day as it is only a 2 hour trip 1 way, coast to coast!
There was a place south, Wexford, that made crystal glassware she wanted to see. Cork was on the list, a whale watch to the south, Cliffs of Mohr, were all on the list.
I was excited to just be here! I hadn’t planned on visiting the island so I didn’t get to do much research on what to do, see. It was all new to me anyway. Plus it is cool to hang out with your parents.
Our destination discussion continued as we walked through the city back to our place where we connected to WiFi and did some real planning for the next few days.
I like to look at a map and decide on a location, then see if anything is along the way there, try to break up the trips into 2-3 hour bus rides if possible. I just couldn’t see it being fun hoping a bus around 7am, drive to the west coast and then back around 7pm.
Our plan was set to check out Dublin College and Book of Kels tomorrow as well as Dublin Castle. I’d never heard of this book before so I was in for some learning.
We are all into different things, so I think it is very cool to check out what others are into, especially your parents. Hey they put up with you when you were a screaming kid, so walk with them, go on an adventure.
Around 10pm I headed downstairs to have a pint at The Black Sheep.
So far this is the only place I can think of that didn’t have a Guinness on tap in Dublin.
As I was the only one at the bar I was able to talk to them about some beers they liked and so they suggested another stout they felt was better than Guinness.
‘Quite literally you can get Guinness everywhere in this town and it is a great beer. We are just a place for people who may want to drink something else occasionally.’ the bartender explained.
He gave me a Galway Bay Brewery stout that was similar to Guinness. It was good and besides, I’d already had my daily Guinness. Time to try something new!
It wasn’t very busy at the bar so I was able to talk to a couple of bartenders about the Irish independent brewery scene. Sadly, it was about the same story as in the US.
Beer and liquor distributors controlled everything in Europe too. Another trend were pubs that looked old and authentic but were actually chains that were buying up historic pubs across the country.
It was similar to the Wal Mart effect whereby the pub chain would come in, charge lower prices as well as carrying a couple good beers. Once the family pub closed, up went the prices, out went the independent beers.
Pretty much things had come full circle in that if you were a brewery that wanted to sell beers, you also had to open and run your own pub to sell your beer. This was why BrewDog had so many pubs across Europe, it was the best way to guarantee freshness.
You see whoever controls the distribution and/or warehouses controlled the industry. You piss off one of these entities, well maybe your beer doesn’t get refrigerated or maybe it doesn’t get delivered regularly, but hey, we have this fine similar beer made by huge beer company and we are never out.
The free market is hardly free don’t you see. Most things are manipulated in a couple of companies favor.
All night, we talked beer and they would slide a sample my way. I got quite an education on the emerging brew scene on the islands.
Song: Rollerskate Skinney Speed to my Side
Beer: Buried at Sea