Daily Archives: September 12, 2010

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 2

Following a great show of interest last week for  A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 1, hopefully I can continue over the weeks to take you round the country both North and South giving you a taste of what is in store in the land of Guinness and leprechauns.  Now in all my years living here I have seen and indeed tasted Guinness but never once did I catch a glimpse of a leprechaun – not even after the Guinness! 😉

Where better to start than in Dublin’s fair City, the Capital, and place of my birth.

As I said last week, Dublin has a large variety of International restaurants offering food from all corners of the globe. There is something to suit all pockets, very often there are special offers of the day displayed on chalk boards inside and quite a few offer Early Bird selections very suitable if you wish to eat before heading to the theatre for the evening.

Tipping is usual in restaurants expect to allow15% in Dublin and 10% outside of the major cities.  Don’t tip if the food or service is not up to scratch!  If paying by Credit card, check in case this is already included.  I prefer to pay the tip separately and that way you are sure it goes to the staff and not used as part of their wages.

Getting about in Dublin

Car Hire:  Best to do that in advance, when you are booking your Air tickets.

Taxis are available from many ranks scattered about the streets or can be hailed as they drive through the streets if they are empty.  The link gives a list of companies with contact phone numbers.  I would ask the price to reach the destination and check that the Driver displays his Taxi licence on the dashboard.  They usually display a photo and relevant  details.

Bus: Besides the normal commuter service Dublin Bus operates tours daily from 9.30am and can be joined at any of 23 stops.  All tours offer live commentary by experienced tour guides.

Luas: Dublin’s Light Rail Tram System has two lines but alas in true Irish style the two lines do not connect.

Dart: The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) is the rail line running along the coast of Dublin, from Malahide and Howth southwards as far as Greystones, Co Wicklow.  It is well worth the journey to see and hear all the shades of Dublin life.

Dublin City Bikes You might remember I mentioned these before.

Bicycle Taxi: Free Taxi Service. This video should bring a smile to Ramana’s face!  Give the driver a good tip, that is how he earns his money!

Shanks’ mare. With a good pair of stout walking shoes this to me is the best way to see Dublin.  You get to rub shoulders and meet the people.  Mind you at times you might even meet your own next door neighbour, their cousin, sister or aunt! 😉

*A good link to keep handy

Now that you have the transport sorted where should you start?

If time is short and it is a first visit I suggest the Red Dublin Bus tour highlighted above, where you can get on or off at any of the stops along the way.  It gives a taste of what is in store and a good way to list the places you might like to return to and give more time.

The Spire of Dublin is a large, stainless steel, pin-like monument 121.2 metres (398 ft) in height, located on O’Connell Street and visible for miles about.

The Book of Kells has been on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin from the mid 19th century, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. Since 1953 it has been bound in four volumes. Two volumes are on public view, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script.

The volumes are changed at regular intervals.The manuscript contains the four Gospels in Latin based on a Vulgate text, written on vellum (prepared calfskin), in a bold and expert version of the script known as “insular majuscule”.

Grafton Street is one of the two principal shopping streets in the city centre, It runs from Trinity College University to St Stephens Green.  Since the 1980s, the street has been mostly pedestrianised with musicians, poets and and mime artists performing for the shopping crowds. It is home to the the late twentieth century statue of Molly Malone, which has become a popular Dublin meeting place.

How about: Dublin’s oldest church to see to see the famous Mummies of St Michan’s – ancient cadavers that have dried out rather than rotted.  The tallest one – his legs broken, and folded-up beneath him so as to fit in the coffin, was known as “The Crusader”. If you touched his finger, great fortune was set to envelope you.  The air in the vaults is extremely dry – something to do with the consistency of the soil, and the non-fluctuating temperature.  Because of the arid climate, nothing rots. Instead, over time, it just dries out. The coffins collapse into a powder of sawdust, and the desiccated ‘mummies’ fall out.  The skin of the mummies has turned leathery, and their features can still be distinguished. They have nails on their fingers, and in some cases, even internal organs can be seen through rips in the skin.

The Dublinia exhibition covers the formative period of Dublin’s history from the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in 1170 to the closure of the monasteries in the 1540s. There are many exhibits which include videos, models and reconstructions. The ground floor houses a large-scale model of Dublin around 1500, a display of artifacts from Wood Quay, and reconstructions.

Viking Splash tours are fun and completely unique tour of Dublin by land and water in reconditioned World War II vintage amphibious military vehicles called “Ducks”. Costumed and colourful Viking Tour Captains tell you all about the most exciting sights in Dublin: how the Vikings first settled the City over 1000 years ago and how Dublin has become a thriving, cosmopolitan European city. Finally, you’ll experience a real thrill as our Tour Captain drives the Duck into the waters of the historic Grand Canal Basin for the water portion of the tour. You may even be asked to give a Viking Splash Tours roar at passers by!

Are you thirsty?  For the final part of this episode I have chosen:

Guinness Storehouse, the “Home of Guinness”, is a converted brewing factory, where they used to add the yeast to the beer for fermentation.  It is now a Guinness museum, incorporating elements from the old brewing factory to explain the history of its production. Some of the old brewing equipment is on show, as well as stout ingredients, brewing techniques, advertising methods and storage devices.  Visitors do not get to see the beer being brewed in front of them. But from various vantage points in the building you may see parts of the brewhouse, vats, grain silos and the keg yard.

The exhibition takes place over 7 floors, in the shape of a 14 million pint glass of Guinness. The final floor is the Gravity Bar, which has an almost 360° panorama over the city, where visitors can claim a free pint of “the black stuff”.

St. James’s Gate Brewery was founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness.   Leased for 9,000 years in 1759 at £45 per year, St. James’s Gate has been the home of Guinness ever since.  The company is now a part of Diageo, a company formed via the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan in 1997.

Next week I hope to continue the journey around Dublin with History, The Arts and Sport.