May 102011

Day 16 (May 6, 2011)

Itinerary: Shopping, Kilmainham Gaol, Guinness Storehouse tour, pub crawl

There was no alarm clock going off this morning since we were out pub crawling until 1am last night. I spent the morning catching up on this journal. I’m almost 4 days behind now, but I am starting to catch up. When I get far behind like this, I remember how important it is to keep a journal at all. I would never be able to remember a 3-week vacation when I went home otherwise. =)

The bus into the city center from our hotel is very easy and soon we were roaming around looking for lunch. The Bagel Bar provided us with very tasty bagel sandwiches and then ShakeAway provided us with milkshakes. ShakeAway advertises 150+ flavors off milkshakes and they weren’t kidding. It took several minutes just to read through all the options and then several more minutes to even decide. They had things like muffin milkshakes, cucumber milkshakes, and of course more common flavors like a variety of candy bars, cookies, and cakes.

The bus out to Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced jail) was easy to catch as well and soon we were on the doorstep of the jail opened from the mid/late-1700s to about 1921 when it finally closed. Our tour guide started us off in a chapel that looked more like a lecture hall. She delivered all the information off the tour without ever taking a breath and I felt as if we needed to memorize it all for a quiz later. Unfortunately her delivery method meant that it was too easy to forget just about everything that was said. She encouraged us to take lots of photos throughout the tour as we passed through first the old wing and then the new wing. The jail was built to hold about 150 prisoners each in a cell by themselves, but ended up holding even up to 800 at a time. When the jail was open during the potato famine, some people would commit crimes just to get thrown in jail where they would get 3 meals a day. The conditions were just awful with all the overcrowding, no glass in the windows, only a candle for heat (the candle had to last you 2 weeks!), and cold limestone walls. Disease ran rampant here. Before about the mid-1800s or so, several hundred hangings took place for public entertainment outside the jail. Eventually public executions were banned and took place quietly behind the walls. In the late 1800s and early 1900s the prison held a number of well-known political prisoners. Some of the well-off prisoners would pay off the guards to have almost similar accommodations to their home life with a large room, their own furniture and clothes, visitors, and of course good meals. The new wing was modeled off of a Victorian prison. The room allowed the guards to see all the cell doors and acoustics were such that a whisper could be heard across the room. Amazingly, this meant that recently the venue has held public events like an opera, music videos, and other entertainment.

We were impressed with the wealth of information in the museum attached to the jail as well. Mark, unfortunately did not realize there were 4 floors and I was sitting on the top floor watching a video of the restoration of the jail from the 1960s. After a while, I realized I hadn’t seen Mark in a while and started wandering around looking for him. Meanwhile, Mark couldn’t find me on the first floor and had walked outside to wander around looking for me. It took a while, but eventually we found each other.

Our next stop and main reason for coming to Dublin was the Guinness Storehouse. The storehouse was home to the main Guiness brewery until it was deemed too small and had to be moved to a different location. The tour was well laid out and filled with information on 7 different floors. We followed the arrows on the ground to learn about the ingredients, the methods of brewing, the transportation, the advertising, and much more. We even learned the multi-step process of pouring a Guinness. It takes 119.5 seconds to pour. Mark took a turn pouring his own pint from a tap. The top of the storehouse featured a bar with free Guinness (with ticket) and a 360-degree view of Dublin. Overall, the tour was a bit gimmicky, but fun.

It is hard to believe that today is our last day in Ireland. Tomorrow we fly back to London for almost a week before going our separate ways. We’ve really enjoyed the country. This Irish really are friendly folk. It does help that we speak the same language as them. We don’t have much conversation with the locals in other countries mostly because we can’t understand them. I could easily spend more time here, but it’s time to do the final souvenir shopping before heading out.

Tonight is Friday, so I’m looking forward to a plethora of music options in the pubs of Temple Bar area in Dublin. First we ate dinner at Gourmet Burger which actually cooks the burgers to order. This is the first place we’ve been able to get anything other than beef well-done. With some fantastic onion rings and burgers almost too tall for my mouth, we were very satisfied with our dinner choice. There will be a few more necessary types of meals before Mark heads back to camp, but we hope to find them in London.

At 9:30 we started our pub crawl. Tonight is the first night in Dublin that it isn’t raining so the tourists are flooding the streets. Unfortunately we could not seem to find any traditional Irish music at the first 4 pubs or so. Finally we found the same guitar player we watched last night at a different pub. After a while though, we decided that we were pretty tired today and we had too go home and pack. Our flight isn’t until 11:30am, so we’ll have time for breakfast at the B&B before we take off. Farewell Ireland, we will be back.

Probably only my family will get the significance of the Button Factory. “I work all day in a button factory.”

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