Ireland through a Guinness Lens

It’s not every day that I get the opportunity to work with a brand I love to explore a new country, but that’s exactly what happened earlier this year when I partnered with Guinness on a five-day adventure in Ireland. Though it wasn’t my first time in Ireland (I had been in 2007 and again in 2008), this trip was all about experiencing the Irish culture through a Guinness lens. I had of course tried Guinness Draught before this trip and have always enjoyed the thick, creamy brew. However, this trip gave me a whole new respect for Guinness, not just as a world famous beer, but as an intricate part of Irish culture. Here’s how it all started…

After spending 12 days in Finland and Latvia on a work trip, off I went to Ireland. My first evening in Dublin was spent dining on fish and chips at The Old Storehouse Bar & Restaurant in the Temple Bar area with Domhnall, a Guinness Ambassador. He told me all about the history of Guinness, all the different types of beers they produce, and how to properly pair Guinness beers with certain food (yes, just like you do with wines)! Dessert was paired with Hop House 13 Lager, in case you were curious.

After dinner, we headed to a traditional Irish bar – no music, no sports blaring on widescreen TVs – just real people enjoying each other’s company over pints of Guinness. It was so refreshingly different, and a very warm welcome to Ireland. I somehow already knew the rest of the trip was going to be great.

The next day started off with a traditional Irish breakfast with a gourmet twist at The Woolin Mills Eating House. Is it heavy? Yes. Is it delicious? Of course! After fueling up, it was off to the Guinness Storehouse to meet up with Domhnall for a tour of the entire brewery. If you plan on going, I suggest dedicating a minimum of 2-3 hours to get the full experience since there are seven floors.

Ground floor: Has a huge retail store and the Guinness story.

First floor: The history of Arthur Guinness and how Guinness has been traveling around the world since 1769.

Second floor: The tasting. Here you get a chance to smell the malt through vapor machines then you finally get to taste the iconic Guinness Draught.

Third floor: Evolution of the advertisements of Guinness.

Fourth floor: Has two sections – the Connoisseur Experience, which is a luxurious private connoisseur tasting bar, and the Guinness Academy, where they teach you how to pour the Perfect Pint of Guinness. In case you’re interested, the Perfect Pint should be poured in a glass tilted 45 degrees until it is three-quarters full. Allow the surge to settle before filling the glass completely to the top.

Fifth floor: The dining hall where we ate at 1837 Bar and Brasserie. Since 1837 is the year that the now-famous pairing of Guinness with oysters first hit the headlines, I ordered a dozen oysters with a pint of Guinness, plus we got some extra dishes to try.

Seventh floor: By far the best part of the entire tour, where you can enjoy a pint of Guinness Draught with a 360-degree view of Dublin’s beautiful skyline. A beautiful observation deck and the perfect way to end the tour of the Guinness Storehouse.

My tour of the Guinness Storehouse was epic to say the least. It really gave me a deeper understanding of how ingrained Guinness is in the Irish culture, not just as a beer but also as a household name that’s been part of everyday life for the Irish people for more than 250 years.

Next up on my Guinness adventure was the Open Gate Brewery, which is an experimental pilot brewery at St. James’s Gate that is now officially open to the public after years of being shrouded in complete secrecy. Here, brewers get creative and let visitors try limited-batch beers that will most of the time never hit shelves. Six euro will get you admission and a flight of beers. Keep in mind that the Open Gate Brewery is currently only open on Thursdays and Fridays from 5:30pm – 10:30pm. You can book an entry online here.

Later on that evening, I went for another fish and chips dinner. This time I headed to Leo Burdocks, a place I’ve dined at on previous trips. There are seven locations throughout Dublin, and they are known for their super tasty cod and chips.

My third day in Dublin was dedicated to sightseeing. After a solid Irish breakfast at O’Neill’s Pub & Kitchen it was time to see the Spire of Dublin, a 120-meter-tall stainless steel monument in the center of O’Connell Street.

Next up, I took a walk down lively Grafton Street for a bit of shopping. This is arguably the most famous shopping street in the country, and the perfect place to walk off some calories from my hearty meals. All the activity had me itching for a pint, so I headed to one of the oldest pubs in the city, Toners Pub on Baggot Street (est. 1818).

After Toners, I went for a quick walk through St. Stephen’s Green to get to the Rustic Stone. This is considered to be one of the top restaurants in Dublin, known for its healthy seasonal ingredients, raw dishes, and for giving guests the opportunity to cook their meals to desired perfection on hot volcanic stones. I had the sticky soya and crushed roasted sesame seeds chicken wings accompanied by a cold pint of Guinness Draught. And because I couldn’t resist, I had ice cream and chocolate to top it all off.

After lunch, it was straight to Dublin Castle, only a few blocks from Temple Bar. The castle dates back over 900 years. Nowadays, it’s a museum worth a visit.

After so much activity, it was time for a rest back at the hotel to continue my wanderings into the evening. One thing to remember is that Dublin is very walkable! Dublin is also full of amazing dining options, ranging from old school traditional to innovative. That evening, I went for a sampling of both…

Fade Street Social is a Gastrobar serving up sharable tapas. Since I was dining solo, I had my tapas all to myself, which included bacon wrapped dates and braised lamb with truffle cream and coco beans. And yes it was as delicious as it sounds!

Part of what I love about traveling is connecting with other travel bloggers and filmmakers. After a wonderful dinner, I met up with Tara of “Where is Tara.” A native New Zealander, Tara was raised in Ireland and knows her way around the city’s nightlife scene. We met up at Grogan’s Castle Lounge, a pub made famous when Irish writers started to meet here in the early 1970s.

Next up, we headed to The Bank Bar and Restaurant, a 19th century bank located in the oldest part of Dublin, occupied since Viking times. The interior reveals an old world splendor like no other. Having a pint of Guinness Draught in this grand Victorian-era bank was a very unexpected and fun experience.

Tara then took me to The Brazen Head, officially named Ireland’s oldest pub dating back to 1198. It’s unclear how much of the original 11th century coach house still exists, but the place feels authentic and steeped in history.

I couldn’t visit Ireland and not check out some of its famous landscapes, so I was off the next morning on a two-day trip to Galway. After arriving in Galway and checking into my hotel, I walked straight to Shop Street, the main pedestrian street. It has dozens of old brick buildings, bright storefronts, and dozens of pubs and restaurants.

After exploring some of the shops, I headed for lunch at McDonagh’s. This restaurant has been dubbed as the best fish and chips in Galway for four generations. I’m no expert, but the meal I had there confirmed their reputation.

Next up, I met up with the owner of Galway Bay Boat Tours for a tour of the Galway Harbor.

Afterward we took a drive to Salthill, a resort town right down the road from Galway. It features a two-kilometer promenade known simply as the Prom.

Dinner was spent feasting on some of the best seafood in Ireland at Kirwans Lane. It’s located within the medieval walls of Galway just one block from Shop Street. Since Galway is known for its oysters, I ordered a dozen Galway Rock Oysters and a pint of Guinness. The pairing of the salty oysters with the refreshing beer was perfection. For my main dish, I got a seafood platter of smoked salmon, fresh prawns, smoked mackerel and a few more rock oysters.

After that , it was off to O’Connor’s Famous Pub in Salthill. This pub was established by Thomas O’Connor in 1942 and is currently run by his grandchildren. It has tons of memorabilia and antiques throughout. Tom O’Connor showed me around and showed me his technique of pouring the Perfect Pint of Guinness. At 10 pm, the band arrived and the whole scene changed from relaxed to loud and lively.

The next morning, I headed out to see the stunning Cliffs of Moher that I had seen so many times in different movies. It takes around 90 minutes non-stop to reach the cliffs, but on the way there are many attractions to stop and check out. The first place I stopped at was Dunguaire Castle, a 16th century tower house located near the town of Kinvara.

While I was passing the town of Bealaclugga, I saw a beautiful old cemetery, which deserved a few photos. After 15 minutes getting tons of photos, I continued the drive toward Black Head. From Black Head, there are incredible views of Galway, its bay, and the Aran Islands. The area also has many hiking trails for those who want to explore the Gleninagh Mountains.

Before arriving at the Cliffs of Moher, I had to stop to eat in Doolin. Doolin’s Café was literally the only place open for lunch. From all their daily lunch specials, I chose a homemade seafood chowder and seafood pie

I finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher! These magnificent cliffs stretch for eight kilometers along the western Irish coast and stand an impressive 214 meters (702 feet) tall. Their vertical drops are staggeringly dramatic, which is probably why the cliffs have been the subject of myths, legends, historical accounts, and even featured in Hollywood movies.

There were lots of rain showers when I visited. I recommend wearing boots and a jacket because the weather here can turn rainy and windy very quickly. I explored the cliffs for two hours before heading back out to Dublin.

The next morning, I was back on a plane to Finland to begin my journey back home. Experiencing Ireland with Guinness was something I will never forget – the sites, people, food, and of course all the memorable moments spent over a pint of Guinness. It was a truly life-changing trip and one that I hope to expand upon very soon.

Have you been to Ireland before? Leave us a question or comment below!

4 Responses to “Ireland through a Guinness Lens”

  1. Tara

    Ah this is amazing. Such a great post about Dublin and Galway and Guinness. I loved showing you around! So glad you had a great time. It was so much fun playing tourist in my own city. You’ve made me want to go to Galway.

    Reply
    • David

      thank you for being awesome! Loved all these pubs you took me too.. Galway is amazing, only a short two hour drive from you 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kirsten

    Supposed to be headed to Ireland with Guinness next month and since they have been my favorite beer since I could drink, I CANNOT WAIT!!! This post got me extra excited for the trip.

    Reply
    • David

      Amazing Kirsten! I LOVEEEEE Guinness!! It’s my all time favorite beer. Cant wait to see your trip through the Guinness lens 😉

      Reply

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