Day 15: Homeward Bound

We’d had typical weather for Ireland this time of year: partly cloudy, cloudy, mostly cloudy, and rainy. Temperature ranged from only forty to fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, I laughed when I saw the “Spring Arrivals” at Ashford Castle when we were there.Spring Arrivals at Kylemore

Yet for the past seven straight days the sun had shined brilliantly. We knew it had to end. Sure enough, snow began to fall from a slate gray sky as we taxied down the runway at Dublin Airport. That was fine. Nothing could detract from the vivid images fixed in my mind.

Sheep on the Meadow

Colorful SheepFleecy white sheep on verdant Connemara hillsides, many ewes bearing colors. Why? Rams are sometimes put into a harness at mating time. The harnesses have a colored, waxy block in them, which leave a mark on the ewe when mounted, so owners know which ewes have been mated with and which have not. After three weeks the color of the crayon is changed. Any ewe that is re-mated gets the second color on her. This one’s been busy.

And then the babies come.

Baby Lambs Closeup

Gorse

 

 

 

 

Dazzling color came in the ubiquitous Western Gorse, an evergreen shrub prevalent in countries of Western Europe.

These vibrant hues of green, pink, blue, yellow all combined to lighten the gray days. The glorious red-orange of a Renvyle sunset completed the color spectrum.

Stay lovely, Ireland. Then again, I know you cannot help yourself.

Renvyle Sunset

 

Day 11: The Guinness Experience

I’m not much of a beer drinker. Maybe a cold Heineken on a hot July afternoon, but frankly I prefer chilled Chardonnay. Our visit to St. James Gate in Dublin threatened to change all that.

At 18 Euros a head (forgive the pun) the price might seem a bit steep, but when you consider a ticket to Disneyland runs about four times that amount–and you don’t get a free pint of Guinness–it’s a good deal. In fact, as Dublin’s most popular tourist attraction, it’s a bargain. Because the Guinness Experience is just that: an experience.

It’s recommended to allow one and a half hours for the self-guided tour. We spent almost four, even accompanied by three children (whose admission was free) under the age of nine. The Guinness folks have succeeded in figuring out how to funnel thousands of visitors through seven floors of the building where until 1988 yeast was added to their beer for fermentation.

Guinness Crowd

Guinness Copper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We passed placards explaining the history of Arthur Guinness’s brewing enterprise which began in 1759. There were interactive exhibits; tasting rooms; three bars, including a rooftop location with a 360 degree view of Dublin; two restaurants; and retail shops. Visitors can view the rushing waters, piped in from the Wicklow Mountains, used in the brewing process.

Guinness Water

Guinness Fish

 

 

 

 

One marketing exhibit includes famous Guinness commercials, including “A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle.” Hmm.

You can take a class (and receive a certificate) in how to pour the perfect glass of Guinness, which, by the way, should be served at 6-7 degrees Centigrade, roughly 43-44 Fahrenheit.

Guinness Glasses

My preference during a tasting was for the rich roasted barley and dark cherry flavors of Foreign Extra Stout, the direct descendant of Guinness West India Porter. The latter was formulated in 1801 for Irish immigrant workers in the Caribbean. To withstand the long journey overseas by ship, it was brewed with extra hops and a higher alcohol content which served as natural preservatives.

Guinness Beer That Traveled

The beef and Guinness stew we’d snacked on at St. James Gate was delicious, but we were hungry for dinner after all that walking and sipping and shopping. We headed to the Temple Bar District, a cultural quarter on the south bank of the River Liffey famous for its pubs and nightlife.

Temple Bar District

Even with its three floors of seating space, there was a wait at The Porterhouse Temple Bar, but once we had a table, food and micro brews quickly materialized. Conversation included the results of a recent study showing daily consumption by women of a small amount of hops over a three month period resulted in noticeable weight loss, despite the 198 calorie cost per glass.

I’ll let you know the result of my own research when it’s complete.

Guiness Group Shot