Our last full day of the cruise was actually a port day back in Dublin. We could go ashore and enjoy a tour of Dublin and then head back to the ship to enjoy dinner, an Irish folk music and dancing show, and then spend the night on the ship before disembarking the next day. Our tour of Dublin included two of the most famous beverage producers in Ireland – Guinness and Jameson.
The visit to the Guinness Storehouse was a fantastic journey through the history and brewing process of Guinness. The exhibit starts on the ground floor with the original 9000 year lease. Then visitors walk through a display of the ingredients including spring water from the Wicklow Mountains. Then the exhibit winds its way up the floors of the building where guests can learn about Arthur Guinness, the tastes and flavors of the stout, and enjoy a meal in the restaurant including Irish Guinness stew. At the top floor, the Gravity Bar offers some of the best views of Dublin, from which we could see our ship. We could also enjoy a pint of Guinness or another type of brewed beverage like blonde beer. Another interesting bit we learned on our tour is how coveted the jobs working for Guinness are for the Irish people. They not only pay well but have excellent benefits and the folks at Guinness value their employees.
After a wonderful time at Guinness, we headed over to the Jameson Tasting experience. This experience is set up in what was a Jameson factory years ago, but is now converted to a museum and tasting experiences. Our group had to be split up into two groups, one that was most of the group and one that was just two of us. Since I was the group leader I volunteered to be part of the group of two, and asked one other lady, Kathleen, from our group to join me. We did the tour and tasting – about 30 minutes, with others who were not in our group, while the rest of the group went with Karyl, who was a our wine maker host for the ship board wine tasting four our group during the cruise. Kathleen and I really enjoyed the comparisons to other styles of whisky and asked a few questions. We were done in under 30 mintues. The other group had the benefit of having Karyl, a UC Davis certified Wine Maker, with them. On their tour, Karyl was able to tie in the wine tasting experience that we had on board the ship to whisky tasting, comparing and contrasting the spirits brewing process with the wine fermentation process. Kathleen and I were enjoying our post tour drinks for quite a while before that other group finished their tasting and tour experience.
Following our wonderful tours in Dublin, we headed back to the ship where we enjoyed a farewell meal on the ship and the local troupe of Irish singers and dancers who came aboard and performed in the theater.
The best part is that in disembarking the ship was that we weren’t done with our time in Ireland. My husband and I had another two nights in the Clontarf Castle Hotel. This was an old Knights Templar castle/fortress that had been converted to a hotel with an add on glass atrium and modern hotel addition to the back. Staying here provided us with another perspective of Dublin as it was located in the residential neighborhood of Clontarf. The castle itself, a mix of old and new, is often used as a wedding venue, and we had at least one going on during our stay.
My friend Lisa and I enjoyed walking around the neighborhood and seeing all the townhomes located there. There is a long park that overlooks the bay where we could see the main port of Dublin, as well as jetties and beaches. The highlight of our walk was when we were passing by the Anglican Church of St. John the Baptist and the grounds keeper struck up a conversation with us. Learning we were American tourists, he showed us true Irish hospitality and invited us in to see the church with a private tour. We learned about so much of the history of the Clontarf area that is marked in the displays of the church with different installations and memorials.
Our final interesting place we explored was the Old St. John the Baptist church and cemetery. The old church was in ruins and some of the old graves were in disrepair. Lisa leaned in to get a better look at a sarcophagus and gasped as she saw a visible human bone. That grave might have been several hundred years old. There were newer graves that were still cared for, but some of these old ones were cracked and falling apart.
We finished our stay in Dublin with a nice night on the town in Clontarf dining at a place that was a strange hybrid of Irish Seafood and Chinese, and then crashed for the night before our long flight to through London to LAX .