Tuesday, 19 March 2013

“Whats the Craic" in Ireland

Spending time in the UK would not be complete without taking a short trip to Ireland. We could not think of a better time to visit the 'Celtic' country, than St Patricks Day. But in Ireland, it's not just one day, Its a week long St Patricks festival. We decided to catch the ferry across to Dublin, leaving from the Welsh coast line town of Holyhead. Once in Dublin, we took a train to the south of Ireland to spend the famous Irish holiday in Cork. We would later finish out the festival in Dublin, but for now it was on to Cork.

March 17th every year is the day that the Irish honour there most well known patron saint, St Patrick. Before the day became more about singing, dancing and drinking Guinness, the day was a religious holiday to celebrate St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland. The culture of eating and drinking to excess on St Pats day all stemmed from the church lifting lent restrictions and allowing people to consume as much as they wanted on this one day. In Ireland, many parades and church services take place to honour St. Patrick. Countries all over the world now celebrate the holiday, but I doubt many people celebrated it for the same religious reasons. Cara and I soaked up the atmosphere in Cork. Everyone was in high spirits and excited to get the party underway. We explored the city and waited for the parade to start. After the local parade, which included schools, sporting clubs and other community groups, we set off to check out some of the local pubs and celebrate with a Guinness or two and have a sing along with the Irish. All the pubs and the streets were packed. It was a sight that we’d never seem before, and probably will never see again.  

After a crazy St Patricks Day in Cork, We decided to venture back to Dublin, where we would visit the famous Guinness Brewery, to learn more about the most popular beverage over the St Pats festival, not to mention, It's also the most popular stout in the world to date.  The St. James Gate Brewery in Dublin is the birth place of Guinness. It was founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759. Over the next 10 years Arthur Guinness brewed his secret recipe of Irish Stout and sold it to the locals in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Ten years after first founding his brewery, Arthur began exporting his brew. He sent his very first shipment,  of 6 and a half barrels, to England.  It was an instant hit with the British. The beer continued to expand and grow and Arthur Guinness passed on his secret recipe on the his grandson, Benjamin who has continued to pass it on, keeping the secret within the family even today. 100 years after Arthur founded his brewery in 1859, the value of the company was estimated to be worth over 1 million pounds, which made Guinness the largest brewing company in the World. Although today, Guinness is no longer the largest brewing company in the world, it is still by far, the most popular and biggest selling stout in the world.  So after a quick history lesson and a tour through the brewery, It was time for Cara and I to go up to the famous "Skybar" where everyone receives 2 free pints of guinness to enjoy whilst gazing over the Dublin city skyline. People have told us that the further this beer travels away from the brewery in Dublin, the worse it tastes. I can confirm this, as i've never been a guinness drinker in Australia, as I've found the quality to be quite poor. But certainly in the UK, I've had the odd pint or 2 of guinness and the taste has improved considerably. I can safely say that drinking this beer at the brewery itself, the flavour improved even more. It's creamy texture and rich flavour, makes it by far the best pint of guinness i've ever had. Even for Cara, who is not a massive beer drinker, could appreciate this stout. It was truly delicious. 

After our tour of the Guinness brewery, we continued to explore Dublin. Many of the pubs and bars had live Irish folk music and Irish dancing. There was something special about being in Ireland for the St Patricks Day Festival. The people love to celebrate their national holiday and they're all very welcoming to the many tourists, like ourselves, who make the trip, especially at this time of year.  We returned to London the next day with fond memories of an unforgettable trip to Ireland.

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