Well…another day, another adventure. After breakfast we headed off to Mass. Our destination was Saint Nicholas Parish which is pretty near where Saint Patricks cathedral is; so we hopped on the on/off bus and then off at 11. After a brief episode of going the wrong way down a dead end alley we arrive at the church about 0900 for the 1000 Mass…and discovered that despite their website showing an 0830 mass as well there was nobody there and the doors were locked up tight. Before we could start looking the parish secretary drove in and told us they haven’t had anything but an 1130 mass for almost two years. She was kind enough to point us in the direction of the nearest church that did have an earlier mass; Saint Catherine on Meath Street was maybe a half mile away so we hiked on over. There was nobody inside yet…but at least the doors were open so we took that as a good sign…Neil grew up going to Saint Catherine back in Mobile many eons ago. We grabbed a couple of snapshots from inside…again, we really wish we could have heard the organ play as it was pretty impressive looking.
After Mass we walked another 1/3 of a mile or so to the Guinness brewery to catch the on/off bus again after grabbing what we thought was a scone but turned out to be a sweet currant biscuit (and it was still pretty good…we had it for afternoon snack). We stayed on the bus for 20 minutes or so until getting around to stop 21A for the Old Jameson Distiller. Jameson is just one of many Irish whiskeys…what makes them different from Scotch is that they’re triple distilled instead of double distilled and the malted portion of the barley is roasted using coal or natural gas instead of the peat which the Scots use and which gives their whiskey the smokey characteristic flavor. What makes Irish different from bourbon is that it’s barley instead of corn and it is aged in used barrels that were previously used to age bourbon, port wine, or sherry wine. The resulting aged whiskey is mixed 500 barrels of each type after it’s aged and then let to sit for a few days to blend before bottling.
We signed up for tour G…which was starting in 23 minutes…and wandered around the gift shop for awhile. When the tour started first up was a movie, but before that our tour guide needed 8 volunteers to serve as whiskey taste testers in addition to the Complimentary Ounce of Jameson Whiskey at the end of the tour (enough with this complimentary drink drivel…the tour is 14 Euros which is about 26 bucks so it really ain’t complementary at all. Amazingly enough…she had exactly 8 volunteers out of maybe 70 people on this tour…Neil couldn’t believe the others turned down extra free booze…but anyway Neil had his hand up in a nanosecond and was selected for the taste test.
What we learned on the tour was the Jameson whiskey is made essentially the same as Guinness beer…the only difference is that beer is casked for sale and whereas whiskey gets distilled and condensed to concentrate the alcohol and remove impurities. The output goes into another still and then another one…hence the triple distilling. AllIrish whiskey is triple distilled today but the triple process was pioneered by John Jameson after he founded the distillery in 1780…just a few years and maybe a half mile from the Guinness brewery so I’m guessing they were sharing secrets since they were not in direct competition.
Jameson comes in 4 varieties varying only in the amount of aging. The normal stuff goes out after 5 years but they age additional batches for 8, 12, and 18…and the price goes up commensurate with the age as by the time a barrel is 18 years old they’ve lost over a third of the volume that the barrel started with.
We did see the original cat which killed an average of 25 mice a day to prevent them from eating the barley back in the 1780s…when he died the brewery workers stuffed him and put him on display…proving that there is a decent use for a dead cat. Here is a shot of it as well as a couple other brewery shots.
Then we got into the tasting room…the distillery itself has been moved down to southern Ireland near Cork where we’ll be later in the week and the original distillery turned into a warehouse and showroom with a reconstruction of the distillery using some original components…but nothing is actually distilled here. In the tasting room everybody got a glass of Jameson to sample and the 8 volunteer testers each got a sample of Scotch, Bourbon, and Jameson to compare. I can’t say that they stacked the deck as they had Johnny Walker Black scotch and Jack Daniels bourbon but they tested away and unanimously voted the Jameson the best…although actually they were all good, just different. Jameson is the smoothest of the bunch but didn’t have the smokey taste of the scotch or the caramel and vanilla taste of the bourbon. All were good. In recognition of their accomplishment; each tester was given a certificate declaring them to be an official approved Jameson taste tester…with a certificate and everything.
After that we had some lunch…pulled pork and tuna melt sandwiches before hopping on the bus and heading over to the Viking/Medieval section of town (this was where the original settlement was). On our arrival there we were originally going to go into the Viking exhibit named Dublina (although it should have been Dyblinn since that was the real original name)…but we got distracted by a couple of really old churches and figured that Dublina was a tourist trap anyway so we skipped it.
The first church was Saint Audoen Catholic which was founded by Polish missionaries and is a still a Polish church…it was built in the early 1840s and was pretty cool. Here are a couple of shots including one of the patron saint it’s named for…he was Polish and died in 400something. Again, what a nice organ and we wished we could have heard it.
We then walked next door to what we thought was the original church before it was replaced by the larger stone one…and found out it was also Saint Audoen…only this one was Anglican and has been around since the 1100s with several expansions. The walls are almost touching and they look like they’re associated but are completely separate.You can just see the tower and about half of the church in this photo. Once we went inside we saw another really great organ…and our estimation is that this would be the best one to have heard of any we’ve seen this weekend…although it’s not as large as some of the others it is relatively much larger in proportion to the space it needs to fill and would be really awesome to hear…you can see there are only 15 or 16 rows of pews and it’s maybe 30 feet wide. There was also this really cool looking eagle book holder as well.
After that we stopped and had our scone/biscuit thing for snack and decided we were tired so we hopped the bus again…but had to ride almost the entire way around the loop (got on at stop 11 and rode to the start/end at 23 then back to 7 to get to the hotel). We listened to the remainder of the guided tour spiel that we hadn’t gotten yet then stopped at a pub for a Guinness (hey, Bryan said he was buying since it was Father’s Day) and had a basket of Home Fries for dinner…then headed back to the hotel with a stop at another pub for another half pint of Smithwicks for Connie (Neil was full already). As soon as I post this we’re headed down to the lobby since Remy offered us an Irish Coffee and that seemed like too good of an idea to pass up.
Tomorrow we pickup the car and head south via the Wicklow Mountains National Park, some other stops probably and then stay near Killarney for 2 nights.