My friend Marti arrived from Paris and we went into fun Tourist mode. She has always wanted to do an Irish Whiskey Tasting, so we went to the Irish Whiskey Museum on Grafton Street (the main tourist drag, south of the river).
Our guide, Andrew, conducted us and a dozen others through the four floors of the townhouse and gave us a great education in whiskey making. Also, at the end, in whiskey tasting, with the four samples shown above. Marti and I both liked the “pot still” varieties best. It was surprising how much of a buzz you can get from a few small tastes. I think the tasting should have been organized from the top floor down rather than the reverse – it was interesting negotiating our way down four flights of steep stairs after the top-floor tasting, at the end of the event.
We managed to get out of the gift shop with a sack full of miniatures and gifts Marti wanted to take back to Paris. Overall, the tasting was a nice experience and, because it was not at a specific distillery, we got to hear about and taste a range of whiskies. Not bad for €13.50 each (we got a double discount for being seniors and for booking online). If you’re in Dublin, I recommend this.
During the week we met up with Marti’s friends Kevin and Marie, from Belfast, and enjoyed several meals and a tour of the excellent museum in the basement of the General Post Office (GPO). This visit provided the seeds of our understanding of recent Irish history and intersected again and again with exhibits and landmarks we were to see in the coming week. The museum exhibition covered the Easter Rising (1916), the War of Independence (1919), the Irish Civil War (1922), “The Troubles” violence (1969), and the Good Friday Agreement (power-sharing for Northern Ireland – 1998). To review again: the Republic of Ireland (the southern part) is a member of the E.U., while Northern Ireland is a part of the U.K. You may remember that Northern Ireland endured religious strife, IRA terrorist bombings, and British repression. I also recommend this excellent exhibit.
Why is the museum in the GPO, you may ask? During the Easter Rising, the post office was a strategic rebel target (in order to cut off communications with Britain) and the rebel HQ. The original bullet-riddle portico remains today but the rest of it was destroyed by British shelling, and was rebuilt.
Next: Temple Bar in all its glory.