Time is running out. For three straight days we had mostly drunk through Dublin: averaging more three pubs a day. But only three days remain.
Light rain turns into a torrent. So we devote most of our time running between museums and churches.
How could one forget the exciting Tax Museum? Its poo-sorting machine and the exhibit on illegal distilling catches our eyes:
I bet that totally safe barrel is still out there. The trashcan that hides a still looks wonderfully sneaky as well.
Afterwards, the downpour drives us to Christ’s Church. But six euros per head stall us outside. Then, luck smiles, and we mesh with a loud Italian school group and enter for free.
The interior gleams gray and white. Downstairs we find a cat and mouse once mummified in the organ pipes and glorified in James Joyce’s Ulysses. After an easy chat with the gift-store manager, we leave.
THE BULL & CASTLE
As chance has it, the Bull & Castle pub, that we visited day one, still sits across the street.
Upstairs we find them prepped for Oktoberfest.
This home to Ireland’s widest selection of craft beer, has daily cask ale.
We here at Wayward Wine love cask ale. Instead of CO2 injection, its fizz comes from secondary fermentation in barrel. This means smaller fizz, extra flavor complexity, and softened tannins.
From Cork, Franciscan Well Co.’s Purgatory Pale Ale comes warm from them cask. Bits of sediment rise and fall against a hazy Los Angeles sunset.
My nose catches medium intense apple pie with drizzled honey, warmed by an oaky vanilla.
The structures stay hidden behind a round, creamy texture. Then it turns a touch ironic and bitter on the finish: like a first date who clearly is over you by the end.
Friendly flavors of easy honey and malted flour show up, smirking with hops through the medium plus length.
Franciscan Well’s “Purgatory” is hardly hell: it is beguiling, a bit sarcastic, and very good (4 of 5). I suppose we should stop by Cork after all.
The next day, we remind ourselves that we are tourists and book a bus guide (we also can’t afford a car).
First stop: the Hill of Tara:
We make sure to get our hands all over the not-at-all-phalic Stone of Destiny.
Completely drenched…by destiny, we then bus over to Trim Castle. You know, that Irish Castle used the movie Braveheart… a movie about Scotland.
Last but not least: Newgrange.
The tomb predates the Pyramids, hell, even the earliest known hieroglyphics, or Stonehenge, or gold-working, or your mom. It dates back to 3200 BCE.
Although meticulously and heavily reconstructed (those polkadot stones were remounted exactly), the mentality behind this site feels alien. It even looks like a spaceship. Sure we bury our dead. Mausoleums happen. But no anachronistic pretense can normalize or modernize this site. I can’t pretend “they’re like us”.
After a lecture in the drizzle, we funnel inside. No pictures. Once in the burial chamber, they kill the lights. People panic.
Then a light beam grows along the floor, mimicking the winter solstice alignment. Spirals, carved five millennia ago, emerge on the ceiling and walls. We squeeze back out breathless.
Our last day near Dublin, we realize that we had used our Blackrock homestay as a means of getting to the Capital. With the sun smiling, we hike in the opposite direction: to the sea.
We follow the beach and find a model shoot, quaint shops, pastel row homes, and something we saw in Halifax two months ago, at the start of our EU Austerity Drinking Adventure: Martello Towers:
Every few miles, these stout outposts of former British control pop up. Soon we smell the sea (and our sweat), so we turn back.
In sum, we loved Dublin. Our mad rush of pubs, museums, distilleries, churches, bars, historic sites, breweries, historic homes, historic breweries, pubs, beer cities, et cetera burnt us out (and our livers).
Everyone we met could chat for hours. Kindness, help, and advice came from every corner. But Dublin’s economy hurts. There is tension with every comment. A wrong word could break thin skins.
Drinks-wise, Guinness rules supreme. Tourists and even locals fuel it’s hegemony. Decent wine at decent prices makes it into grocery stores: mostly from France and other British interests (Australia, South Africa, New Zealand). The Celtic Whiskey shop is a must. The micro-brew scene struggles to expand palates. However, breweries like the Porterhouse or pubs like the Bull & Castle show the way.
Six days did not suffice.
For now, the frightening fruit-snack monster bids us an awkwardly firm farewell.
NEXT WEEK: Kilkenny.