Posted by: lucylastic | September 7, 2007

In Dublin’s Fair City………….

It’s Friday again already – and this time last week I was in Dublin – enjoying a ‘surprise’ weekend away with my lovely husband.  Well, not a surprise for me, as I was the one who planned and booked it all.  And the one who managed to get his staff’s co-operation to cover for him without his knowledge – probably the hardest part – he’s his own boss and as such tends to have a finger in every pie – but between us we managed to keep the secret safe until revealed late last Thursday evening at the end of a stressful day.  Revealing a surprise to someone is always nice – especially if they are pleased with it – which lovely husband was – thankfully.  The holiday mood set in right away and we decided to stay up for a nightcap, or two.  Jamesons Irish whisky for him, a little sparkly for me, (not really a nightcap, but I am not a great lover of spirits). 

Living in Swindon means it’s less than hour to Bristol Airport – with much cheaper parking and easier and quicker security clearance than at Heathrow – and Dublin is only a 40 minute flight – so just enough time for a quick trolley dash by the hostesses and we’re there!  So what is there to do in Dublin’s fair city where the girls are so pretty?  Those of you that recognise the opening lines of ‘Sweet Molly Malone’ will surely be pleased to hear she has been immortalised as a statue at the corner of Grafton Street – one of Dublin’s ‘poshest’ shopping thoroughfares.  There is some considerable debate as to whether Molly was ever a ‘real’ person or not – but it is surely the case that many girls like her were forced out onto the streets at a young age to either support the family business, (in this case, selling Cockles and Mussels) or find other ways of earning a few shillings.  Allegedly, Molly was no stranger to the streets at night and her legendary prettiness ensured her a constant trade.  Whatever the truth of the matter, every night, in every pub in Dublin there will be some sort of rendition of the song that is known as Dublin’s unofficial anthem.    If you’re interested in the lyrics, click here

 Very first stop in Dublin is a bar to sample a drop of the ‘black stuff’.  I don’t mind the occasional pint of Guinness, but more than two are just too filling for me.  Still, just to be sociable, I made a good effort.  Second stop was Guinness’s very own factory and showcase –  The family owned brewers have been on site since 1859 and are still pumping out lovely black stout at a prodigious rate – did you know that over 40,000,000 glasses are consumed daily around the world?  Neither did I, and in fact, it may be 400,000,000, I can’t remember now.  I was surprised to learn that there is more than one sort of Guinness – in fact there are 5 variants – including a Guinness Arctic Chilled, (not to be confused with the ‘extra cold’) which is only available in Ireland – slightly lighter in body and not quite as thick as it’s ‘original’ counterpart, it is very pleasant on a warm afternoon!  Also on site are a collection of the iconographic Guinness advertising materials and a collection of bottles dating back to the launch of the beer – some still with beer in them – though now rather thick and viscous looking.  As with most things alcoholic, the tour ends in a panoramic 360 degree bar, where you can claim your ‘free’ pint, (having paid 14 Euros for the tour).  Nice views though!!!!! 

Even better, (in my eyes) was the Old Jameson Distillery Tour –  As I mentioned earlier, it’s my lovely husband’s very favourite tipple and they were very generous with their sampling measures.  I even found one that I liked.  I learnt a lot on this tour – for example, I had always thought that Scotch Whiskies tasted peaty because the water that went into them flowed through peat bogs, (seems reasonable to me|).  But, it’s got nothing to do with it – rather the grains (malt) are dried over fires made from peat – and the smoky aroma released by the fire is what actually flavours the end drink!!!!  Talk about live and learn, (or maybe I’m just a bit dim).  The Distillery Tour was led by Radim – who was Czech, but he had learnt his stuff well and had a pleasant manner about him, even cracking jokes as we went around – a testament to his skill at English – my own joke cracking ability in Czech is a little rusty.  I take my hat off to him.  I have no idea how many Eastern European emigrants there are in Ireland as a whole or in Dublin particularly, but we encountered a lot of them behind bars, serving in restaurants and in shops and giving all sorts of tours.   

As the surprise was linked to a birthday celebration, I made a reservation at a restaurant called ‘One Pico’ that I found on restaurant booking site,  It turned out to be an excellent choice, offering ‘modern Irish and European fusion cuisine’ which covered everything from local seafood to Irish lamb and beef.  I noticed a great deal of pride surrounding ‘local Irish produce’ and applaud it wholeheartedly – why look further afield when there is excellent stuff on your doorstep?  The meal was superb – I had Carpaccio of Beef as a starter and Irish loin of lamb as a main course, the tasty organic beetroot, potatoes and carrots that accompanied it were also some of the freshest I had come across in ages.  Lovely husband celebrated with a salmon risotto to start, (ooh la, la) followed by Irish beef fillet on a bed of herb mash and with caramelised onions – divine.  We shared a cheese platter and then got presented with a generous selection of home made Petit Fours.  Rounded off with Brandy and Coffee – very nice too!!!  Oh and a bottle of champers and a very nice bottle of Argentinean Red.   Mn, mn!!!!   On that note, I will wrap up for now. 

But just in case you think it was all fun, we did go to church at the wonderful Norse created Christ Church Cathedral – an amazing building – with an 18 degree list in one of it’s walls that rivals the leaning tower of Pisa!  And a wonderful crypt full of treasures dating back over 300 years and including some fabulous gold and silver plate left by William and Mary during the (first or second) war of Independence.  Happy Weekend.  🙂


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