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Published: July 19th 2010
Oldest bar in Ireland
Thursday, March 25th brought a nice change of pace. With an uncharacteristically late program start time of 9:00AM, coupled with the convenience of having the presentation held in the hotel we were staying in, DrakeSMART travelers had an easy morning. After a quick stop by the breakfast buffet we assembled in the upstairs dining area of the hotel bar, finding the chairs and tables rearranged into a more suitable layout for an interactive presentation. The program was put on by two representatives from Trinity College - Dublin. The presentation was informative, even surprising some travelers. We were interested to learn that the Catholic Church provided all social services for children. We also learned that a full quarter of the population is under eighteen years of age.
After the program’s conclusion we had a few minutes to grab jackets and cameras as we were set to embark on a guided bus tour of Dublin at 10:30AM. The city tours had proven to be of great benefit, providing an overview of the major tourist sites and attractions while familiarizing us with the city’s layout. As the tour progressed we were treated to a drive-by viewing of such sites as Aras an Uachtarain
Oldest bar in Ireland
(The Presidential mansion), Brazen Head (oldest bar in Ireland), and the Clarence Hotel (owned by Bono and Edge of the band U2).
The bus stopped at Phoenix Park, allowing passengers to stretch their legs and wander about. Travelers were treated to a unique sight as they stepped off the bus; an enormous cross towering overhead. Our tour guide explained that the cross in front of us was the “Pope’s Cross,” erected in 1979 to honor visiting Pope John Paul II as he led mass for the one million Catholics in attendance. Some of us made our way towards the Cross as our tour guide chatted on, others towards another unique sight. In an adjacent field stood an unimaginable number of free-grazing deer. It was later explained that Phoenix Park is a safe haven for deer, home to herds numbering in the hundreds.
After the short excursion we re-boarded the bus and made our way into the inner city. Continuing the tour we passed by the statue of Molly Malone, our tour guide singing us her rendition of the popular anthem. She explained that Dubliners took a great deal of pleasure in coming up with descriptive nicknames for the
Hotel owned by Bono and Edge of the band U2
statue of Molly, "The Tart with the Cart” and "The Dish with the Fish” to name a few.
As our city tour drew to a close we thanked our wonderful guide and parted ways. From 11:30AM on we were free to explore our individual interests. After short deliberation many of the group members opted to go shopping while the majority headed for the Guinness Brewery. For many of us the Guinness Brewery tour was at the top of our Dublin to-do list. After a brief detour and some typically crafty maneuvering by our skilled bus driver we arrived at St. James’ Gate, greeted by the famous jet-black gates bearing the trademark Brian Boru harp.
Once inside some of us headed to the gift shop to lighten our wallets while others found their way to the self-guided tour. The tour was informative and interesting, culminating in a visit to the summit of the brewery known as the Gravity Bar. We graciously accepted our complimentary pint of Guinness as we conversed, enjoying the beautiful 360 degree view of Dublin from over 120 feet up. After our pint some headed to the fifth floor for a tutorial on the proper way to
pour a pint of Guinness. Others ended the visit with a great meal at the brewery restaurant. Once done with the Guinness Brewery experience the travel group divided yet again. Some headed to join the shoppers, others made the commute to the Old Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery. The Jameson tour was employee-guided, making it more interactive. The tour group ended the experience by watching a whisky tasting, several of the DrakeSMART members sitting on the tasting panel.
After a long day of touring and shopping a few of us went out for a meal then back to the Temple Bar district. Good times had by all, and once again I conveniently forget the details... And even if I remembered, I'm sure they wouldn't be appropriate for mass consumption 😊 By Friday evening we would be in London, England.
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