Bruce the Wandering Whale in Dublin

Arrived in Dublin fairly late at night, and the first thing that struck me on the taxi ride in from the airport (although it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise) was the sheer number of pubs!!

Up bright and early the next morning for a short walk from the apartment we had booked to the Guinness Storehouse (sorry, Sally! 🙂 ). I had promised Bruce a visit here after he discovered Guinness at the pub in Waiuku a few weeks ago.

Dublin: PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

Dublin: PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

It’s definitely a must visit! Even if you’re not a big Guinness fan (although why else would you be visiting Dublin, really!?!?) – there’s a merchandise store on the first floor (but leave that until last) and that’s where the self-guided tour starts. You meander past exhibits portraying the process of the brewing, equipment used in the process and the history of Guinness.

Some interesting tidbits:

Ireland grows around 150,000 tonnes of barley each year. 100,000 tonnes is bought – under strict quality control – and used by the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.

The brewery in Dublin now sits on 56 acres of land.

Arthur Guinness originally negotiated a 9000 year lease for the original site (because, back then, it was next to impossible to buy land), but now Guinness own the land outright.

The biggest consumer of Guinness in the world is … Nigeria, which is also where the biggest Guinness brewery in the world is also found…

I had booked “The Connoisseur Experience” which is a special group tasting session limited to about a dozen people at a time. We were taught how to taste (deep breath, hold, a good sip, swirled around and then swallowed and the exhale through the nose – much as you would do for a wine) and had a crack comparing the Draught, with the bottled Extra Stout and the FES (Foreign Extra Stout) – they were all quite different, with the Draught being the smoothest. Although I wouldn’t turn down any, if offered…

A nice drop of Guinness for Bruce PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

A nice drop of Guinness for Bruce
PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

We all had a turn at pouring our own Draught Guinness (the pour is a two-part process and the barman is doing it wrong if he doesn’t do this) – it was a bit old-hand for an ex-barman such as myself, but it’s not hard once the method is explained and demonstrated. As you can see, even Bruce got a certificate!!

Another souvenir for Bruce's suitcase PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

Another souvenir for Bruce’s suitcase
PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

We then made our way up to the Gravity Bar which is one at the top of the building with 360 degree views of Dublin. Unfortunately, it’s very popular and the crowds and the weather precluded getting many good photos…

Picked up a few souvenirs on the way out…

That evening we went to The Brazen Head??(just around the corner from where we were staying) which claims to be – and is backed up by the Guinness Book of Records – the oldest pub in Ireland. It dates back to the twelfth century. Again very busy, but we managed to score a table and had a very nice dinner.

Our time in Ireland was far too short and one day was only just enough to “do” the Guinness Storehouse – I suspect, to do Dublin justice, a minimum of a week would be required.

Dublin to Culdaff via The Giant’s Causeway:

We hired a car from Europcar in Dublin City – had originally booked an IX35 or similar, since I drive an SUV in NZ. We ended up getting a smaller vehicle, a Renault Karja (like a mini 2WD diesel SUV, I think they are advertised as a “Captur” in NZ). It was a manual – as most rental cars seem to be over here, so that was a re-learning curve. And six-speed, which made the whole trip ‘interesting’ trying to work out what gear I was in….

We set the GPS to what we thought was the Bushmills Distillery (in a town very close to the causeway) and when we arrived, realised that there was obviously a Bushmills Distillery in Comber (south-east of Belfast) at some point, as that was where we ended up. Rookie mistake.

Another hour’s drive or so and we arrived at the intended destination, paid our money and went for a walk. It was blowing (westerly) quite hard and there were passing showers, most of which we managed to miss. The Giants Causeway is pretty impressive (for old rocks).


PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil


Some of the Finn McCool?legends narrated over the audio guide were pretty funny

Like where Finn, a Giant, (and supposedly the builder of the causeway) wanted to fight a Scottish giant. When he caught a glimpse of him, he ran home to his wife and said that the Scottish giant was GIANT and he needed to hide. His wife told him to get into the baby’s crib and pretend to be a baby. When the Scottish giant turned up asking for Finn (very polite these Scots!), Finn’s wife told the Scottish giant that Finn had stepped out to get something for the baby, pointing to the crib. The Scottish giant took one look at the crib and Finn posing as a baby and said: “If that’s how big his baby is, how big is Finn?” and turned tail and ran….

After we had had our daily dose of exercise, we headed back to Bushmills to see whether the tours were still open (it was 4:30pm by this time). We had a quick look around and decided it wasn’t worth the effort and drove on to our hotel for the night.

The hotel (McGrory’s Hotel) is in a little place, off the beaten track, in a place called Culdaff. I thought we’d do something a little different and get a car ferry from Magilligans Point (just past H.M. Prison Magilligan) across the estuary to Greencastle (???). We drove to the ferry, waited a while then thought to check their Facebook page – due to the wind, ferry sailings had been discontinued. So we had to drive the long way through Derry…

The hotel/pub is awesome – lovely room, great food in the restaurant and live traditional music in the bar later in the night. Most enjoyable!

To be continued….