Posted by: mdmusingsie | August 7, 2012

Turasóir arís, cuid a haon

A friend is visiting from the US, so I’m busy seeing the sights in and around Dublin and Galway.  Some are old favorites and others are new, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride along.

To beat jet lag, experts suggest that you stay awake upon arrival until local night time.  With my friend’s early morning arrival, that was our plan.  After dropping the luggage off at the hotel in Dublin, we hit the pavement, heading up through St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street, and over to Christchurch Cathedral.  If I’ve been in Christchurch before, it’s been too many years to remember.  The crypts are probably the highlight, though ringing the bells might be as well, though we didn’t go on that particular excursion.  There are nice displays down in the crypts including a mummified rat and cat found inside the organ.  There is also a café in the crypt, which, for me was a bit too eccentric.  We did not partake.

After an energizing lunch in an Italian restaurant (very un-Irish for her day 1 but it was close by and jet lag was starting to take its toll).  Sufficiently re-charged, we headed across the river to the old Jameson Whiskey distillery.   Although production has been shifted to the plant at Middleton near Cork, they have a nice tour that explains the history and the triple distillation process.

Although it’s rare that I have alcohol of any kind, I decided to be a volunteer taste tester to see if I could tell the difference between several varieties of whiskey (the tour is a bit on the dear/expensive side, so I decided to get my money’s worth).  The small group of volunteers was given a popular Scotch Whiskey, American Jack Daniels, and Jameson to sample and compare.  Let me state that I am by far no expert, but the Jameson was hands-down the smoothest, slipping easily down the throat without the burn normally associate with straight alcohol.  Each of us received a certificate declaring that we are now a “Qualified Irish Whiskey Taster.”

Maybe it’s the triple distillation or maybe it’s the blend of whiskey aged in bourbon, sherry, and port casks, but it certainly is distinguishable from the competition.  They also have samples available for all tour participants which can be tried straight or with assorted mixers. Not to worry about this experience turning me into a regular drinker – alcohol primarily only makes me tired, not to mention being an expensive habit that’s not in my budget.

Running out of steam and time, we ducked into the National Museum of Archaeology on Kildare Street with only 20 minutes until closing, but I was able to show off one of my favorite pieces – the Ardagh Chalice – an amazing display of craftsmanship from the 8th century.   We also had enough time to view the ornate penannular brooches along with other beautiful gold torcs.

Dinner was simple pub fare at Smyths in Ranelagh – the day couldn’t close without an Irish meal.

Much more to come…

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