“The building is designed in the shape of a giant pint glass of Guinness, that, if full, would hold 14.3 million pints.”
And if we wanted to drink that many, we’ve come to the right place. We’re at the Guinness Storehouse, a DisneyWorld of the black stuff, located on the vast and porridgey-smelling Guinness land of Dublin. The visitor experience based in an old fermentation plant is spread over 7 levels, taking you up the pint glass, through the brand’s history, the production process, onto a tasting room and into an academy that teaches you how to pull the perfect pint. Once we’ve mastered the patient 6 steps we take our perfect pints to level 7 where the Gravity Bar awards us 360-degree views of the city. There’s only one type of beverage sold at this packed bar, and it’s a dark ruby red (not black) pint of Guinness.
We’d been to this part of the town earlier, on bikes which prevented us from stopping, with Julian from See Dublin by Bike. Curly-haired Julian, with a head full of Irish poetry quotes, had led us on a tour which did exactly what it said on the high-vis jackets we wore – we saw Dublin by bike. In just over 2 hours we covered all corners of the city – the James Joyce Centre in the North, the docks in the East, Guinness Storehouse in the West and St Patrick’s Cathedral in the centre. Dublin is a literary city and for every famous writer born or based here Julian had a quote and a location to remember them by. Overlooking the canal, a statue of a grumpy-looking old man was bought to life by Julian reciting us this:
Every old man I see
Reminds me of my father
When he had fallen in love with death
One time when sheaves were gathered.
That man I saw in Gardner Street
Stumbled on the kerb was one,
He stared at me half-eyed,
I might have been his son.
And I remember the musician
Faltering over his fiddle
In Bayswater, London,
He too set me the riddle.
Every old man I see
In October-coloured weather
Seems to say to me:
“I was once your father.”
I hadn’t heard of Patrick Kavanagh before this tour. I couldn’t forget him now.
A hop back on the bikes and we soon meet a cocky-looking Wilde facing his childhood home. As we whiz past St Patrick’s (the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland close to the well where St Patrick was said to Baptise the converts of Dublin) we learn of its famous Dean – Mr Jonathan Swift – who is buried there.
Back at the Guinness factory our tour guide is apologising for the flaws of the seriously impressive tourist attraction (the number 1 tourist attraction in Ireland.)
“We are working on getting more languages for the audio guides. We don’t cover Brazilian Portuguese yet and we are seeing more and more visitors from there.”
Indeed, in the exhibition English is the least spoken language I overhear – I pick up on Spanish and Chinese voices instead, people who have come from far and wide for the Guinness Experience.
“For many, Guinness is Ireland,” the guide continues. “Although many people come here expecting to visit the actual brewery and we can’t do for health and safety reasons. But there are plans for a micro-brewery on site for tourists in the future.”
I’m quite happy with just drinking though. That’s what we’d done the night we arrived. Straight from work on Friday we caught the last flight to Dublin from London and checked into our hotel in Temple Bar (The Morgan) before the clock struck twelve. With revellers all around, including in our hotel lobby and the adjoining popular bar, we thought it would be rude not to join them. After a ride in the hotels ‘disco lift’ as I named it (it pumped out dance music at all hours of the day) we stepped outside onto Fleet Street and found ourselves in the heart of the nightlife action. A folky-Irish singing voice drew us into The Temple Bar of Temple Bar and several hours later the threat of soon having to rise for the bike tour dragged us home (after several crowd choruses of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” were complete!)
After the Guinness Experience on Saturday afternoon we stuck with the beer-swilling theme but crawled our way out of Temple Bar to some of the alehouses beyond. Chris from the Aussie Nomad, who has been living in Dublin, led us into low-key McDaids (where drinks were half the price of Temple Bar) and after reading good reviews I led us to the Market Bar for food. The good feedback was spot-on, in the airy market hall tasty tapas is served up alongside sangria in a venue that is clearly popular with the local crowd.
So that brings us to Sunday and after the bike tour and bar crawl of Saturday there was only time for one important thing before we left – I needed to take a bath. The centrepiece of our corner room at The Morgan Hotel was a statement red bath that just called out to be tested. So whilst the boy took a power shower (where he said some towel hooks wouldn’t have gone amiss) I soaked in the ruby red tub and wondered how I was possibly going to do it all again (the sightseeing and singing/drinking combo) tomorrow, in Belfast.
To be continued…
Save 10% on entry tickets to the Guinness Storehouse by purchasing them on their website. Tickets cost €14.85 and include a free pint!
The See Dublin by bike tour runs 7 days a week, lasts 2 hours and costs €20. Call 087 695 5976 to book.
For more information on things to see and do in Dublin visit www.visitdublin.com.
Thanks to the The Morgan for hosting our stay.