We recently had the pleasure of spending ten unexpectedly sunny days in Ireland. We stayed in Adare (just south of Limerick) and Dublin, visited numerous castles around the country, the Cliffs of Moher, and a few Irish pubs.
Full disclosure: we mean many Irish pubs.
Kind readers of this blog will know we often remark on the likelihood, wherever we are in the world, of finding an Irish pub. Some make very interesting claims, such as being the southern-most Irish pub in the world (Ushuaia, Argentina), or the highest Irish pub in the world (Cusco, Peru). Most, however, simply claim they offer a “traditional Irish pub experience,” despite locations ranging from the small town of Granada, Nicaragua to the hyper-tourist-world of Phuket, Thailand.
Clearly it was time to visit the source of all this exported Irish pride.
Our research mission began by heading straight from the Dublin airport to the Guinness Storehouse for a tour and tasting. Built in 1904, the Storehouse is a relatively new building, considering Guinness started brewing on this 50-acre site way back in 1759. The operation still produces 3 million pints a day of “the black stuff.”
After reading about founder Arthur Guinness and learning more about the beer-making process, we were treated to a lesson on drinking beer. Who knew that would be needed, but it helped us taste the roasted barley and appreciate the art of pouring the perfect pint of Guinness. Of course the main event is to hang out at the seventh floor Gravity Bar with a fresh pint and a great view of the city. Guinness never tasted so good, what a fabulous start to our research!
We headed for Adare, about 2-1/2 hours southwest of Dublin, our base of operations for exploring the countryside. Adare itself is a favourite day or overnight destination for Dubliners, known for its quaint countryside setting and thatched roof cottages. It also features five pubs within a few metres of each other.
We started with Aunty Lena’s, clearly a favourite with locals, and quickly our favourite too. The servers were friendly and helpful, the food was good, and we appreciated the live music. We also quickly learned that, unlike elsewhere in the world, Guinness in Ireland is usually the least expensive beer on the menu, often selling for 4 euros and change.
Over the next several days we continued our pub research up and down this short main street, visiting Sean Collins and Sons, Pat Collins, and Bill Chawkes, and returning to Aunty Lena’s. All make varying claims about offering the best traditional food and the best Guinness pour in town, and all did offer friendly service and a pleasant atmosphere, but we wondered if there was more to an Irish pub than the “prettiest town in Ireland” was offering. We needed to get off the beaten track; watch for “sunny days and perfect pints, part II” coming to a blog near you!