Absorbing history at a brewery, prison and a very old pub

The next day began with a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, which was the first of several businesses we’d visit. I grabbed a taxi with one student and talking with the driver, we learned something of technology’s part in helping the famous brewer to continue successfully for so many years.

On the way, centuries old structures caught my attention, such as an old church with a castle-like stone tower. Although we wouldn’t be able to find out more about it or other sites in the short ride, it was a few extra moments of sightseeing before reaching our destination.

Old Church

We met more our of global studies group at the entrance and moved inside, where the tour guide greeted us. Headphones were given out, set to a channel on which we could hear him as he led the way through Guinness. Displays with info about the ingredients decorated the walls, a waterfall poured into a coin-filled pool. That was definitely a highlight, seeing the water from multiple angles as we walked around behind it, then climbing up a staircase nearby, taking in an elevated view. The phrase in the photo was on a wall in the same area.

Brewers Phrase

Another favorite moment was when we approached an computerized wall display showing a man who seemed to be addressing everyone. He would usher us in to the next room, which had a portrait of Arthur Guinness and several other animated displays of men in long coats and top hats.

Still more memorable parts of the tour came along as we gathered into a room with a small bar set up, “Guinness Taste Experience” on the wall behind it. A young woman gave us a demonstration of the brew’s color when held against lighting, as well as little samples to sip.

Guinness Sample

Next up, the opportunity to pour our own pints in the Guinness Academy room. Inside, some of the seating resembled the beverage. At the bar here, we each typed our names into a computer for our certificates to come later. Two at a time, we took turns behind the bar, held glasses up to the taps and poured. Then, we waited several moments before topping it off with the foam; I thought it would surely go right over the brim and took a few sips before carrying my pint to a table.  Once printed, our certificates were handed out, stating that each of us had “crafted the perfect pint.”

We also had a complimentary drink of our choice awaiting us up at the Gravity Bar, where we found panoramic views of Dublin. The windows displayed info about the particular sites beyond and I especially loved seeing the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.

Wicklow Mtns

Soon after taking in such great views, we began to make our way out of the brewery for more sightseeing. I decided to join others who wanted to visit the somber old prison, Kilmainham Gaol. This site, by the way, was an item on a scavenger hunt activity we had, which was helpful in seeing Dublin and learning about its culture and history. Just to give an idea of the scavenger hunt, it included:

  • taking selfies at several sites
  • finding out literary facts
  • answering history questions
  • riding the DART
  • naming some Ireland industries / products

I’ve heard about doing this as a way to tour other cities, including those in the U.S., and wanted to try it sometime in Philly. So, for me, the scavenger hunt was a way of completing a goal I had on my travel to-do list. Of course, I would still love to do this elsewhere.

It was a long walk to the prison and eventually, one student joined me in a taxi ride the rest of way. As we approached our drop-off point, my love of castles stirred when an enormous castle-like gate came into view. This was the entrance to the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Art Museum Gate

Up at the prison, we bought tickets for a tour that would start in a little while, leaving time for a quick bite to eat first. Nearby was the Patriots Inn, where the sound of cool pop music filled our ears. Flower baskets hung from sunlights at different points throughout the dining area and a stage was just to the right of our group of tables. Besides the delicious food, I was also glad for stopping at the inn to charge my phone again.

Patriots Inn

Before long, our tour time was minutes away and we had to quickly return to Kilmainham Gaol. We joined a number of other visitors in walking along worn, cell-filled halls as the tour guide talked about the prison’s dark past. As we went down a stairway, the wear and tear could be felt along the middle edge of each step. The photo I took of the stairs leading down into a darkened area shows how they were worn down. A chain blocked people off from walking down those steps.

Old Jail Hallway

Steps To Dark Area

While still in this part of the prison, our tour guide said that it has been featured in a few movies and a U2 video. I hadn’t seen any of the movies he named, so it was a surprise to learn that the history also included film locations.

Oval Jail Area

Once the tour was over, most of us bought tickets for a red hop-on / hop-off City Sightseeing Dublin bus. One person set out on foot to Brazen Head, where we’d be meeting. A mural on an exterior wall revealed the old pub’s age, “ESTD. 1198.” That and a list of culturally significant patrons over the years made it a must-see item on our scavenger hunt.

Brazen Head Pub

Walking under a stone archway, we entered an outdoor dining area to the left before going inside and being led into a charming room. An antique cash register sat among candles, teacups and saucers. Hardcover books lined a shelf on the opposite side and a poster celebrating James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Bloomsday hung on a green section of one wall. Someone’s drawing of the pub was also on display for others to admire.

During our stop at Brazen Head, we all tried some dessert; the slice of chocolate cake I had was so rich and delicious! I also had a beverage called Bulmer’s Cider, which tasted very good. There were souvenirs for sale at the pub, so I bought a t-shirt on the way out.

Outside, our group broke apart as a few hopped back on the bus at its stop just across the River Liffey. Two others wanted to keep going on foot back to campus and at first, I thought I would do so as well. After all the walking, though, I decided to catch a ride back. The bus had left by then, so I just waited at the stop for it to come around again. One bus couldn’t stop at the time, then a taxi showed up. I already had a ticket paid for to use the red bus, good for one more day’s worth of sightseeing and passed on the taxi. Before long, I was on another bus and heading back to Trinity College.

As this day came to an end, we were at the midway point of our stay in Dublin. Two days of leisure time were ahead for seeing other parts of Ireland as well.

About caroldwyer

A freelance photographer and blogger, I'm also a non-traditional graduate of Cabrini College with a B.A. in communication, minor in English and concentration in film studies. As a student, I was a staff writer, photographer and copy editor for the Loquitur. In my final semester, I assisted in promoting campus literary events for Woodcrest Literary Magazine. I love travel, historic places, nature, wildlife and the arts. I hope to be involved in some way with one of those areas throughout my media career. Currently, I'm pursuing my M.F.A. in creative writing and publishing. Read my film blog at http://cdwyerfilminspired.wordpress.com - and my literary blog at http://cdwyerbookishgrad.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Dublin, Global Studies, International, Ireland, Study Abroad, Tours, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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