Visiting Killarney

Irish Hills
Irish Hills

This is day two on our honeymoon in Ireland.

The next morning, my new bride and I woke up, had our breakfast, and continued to the next stop on our Irish journey: Killarney.  Along the way, we took the ferry across the Shannon river, which was neat, and saved us a couple hours driving time.

As soon as we got to Killarney, we checked into our second bed and breakfast, then decided to take a short tour of the town.  Along the way, we took a horse-and-buggy ride of Killarney and Killarney National Park.  Killarney National Park is one of the largest parks in Ireland, and is home to the famous Irish red deer.  We also visited Ross Castle.  We had a nice time, and our guide continually got out of the carriage and took our picture in several scenic locations.

After our ride, we decided to attempt traveling the Ring of Kerry, a large scenic route around the Kerry peninsula.  Along the way, we stopped and took a tour of the Muckross House.  The history of the house was fascinating, but the most interesting part was the original owners, Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, spent large amounts of money to prepare for a visit from Queen Victoria in 1861.  A good visit from the queen would allow them Lord and Lady status, giving them a higher social stature and the privilege to land ownership.  After the queen’s visit, however, her husband, Prince Albert died, and the status never was granted.  Because of these events, the family had to sell the house because they had become bankrupt.

Along the way to the Ring of Kerry, we took several nice scenic photos, such as the one shown as “Irish Hills”.  Because we had not gotten used to the driving, we decided that the 5-hour trip along the narrow road opposing buses would be too much for us to handle, so we only traveled part of the ring.

Closing Down a Pub in Killarney
Closing Down a Pub in Killarney

After the car trip, which was still about 3 hours, we decided to rest a bit before going out in the evening.  Once we were up, we toured around looking for a place to eat.  The restaurants in town had the menus shown in front, so, while we decided where we wanted to go, the clock turned 9, and most places didn’t serve food anymore.  Because the U.S. has places to eat at almost any time, we weren’t quite prepared for this.

We finally found a take-and-eat (a.k.a. fast food) place that had freshly battered fish and chips.  Right up the street, many of the pubs started to play music, so after our meal, we went into one of the local pubs.

After a few pints of Guinness (and one Beamish stout) while listening to music, the pub closed down.  As we looked around, we could only see a few other folks in the pub, and we started chatting with the bartender.

He told us that he used to be a firefighter in New York City.  One day, there was a call at Derek Jeter’s residence, and he was one of the firefighters to respond.  Although it turned out to be a false alarm, Derek Jeter was thankful, and signed a card that said, “Take care of this guy. -Derek Jeter”.

The next time he went to a Yankees game, he and his two young sons were brought to box seats, and were even invited to the post-game party, but he said he had to bring his sons home.  After that, for seven years, he bought Yankees season tickets, including the post-season, in the box seats for only $5,000.  It was a great story, and we were glad to have met him.  After that, we were even able to snap a quick photo with him for posterity.

That night was when I decided to start my Guinness mission, and that day brought my Irish Guinness total to 5.  Stay tuned for the remaining 27!

Our Wedding And The Trip To Ireland

In the multi-part series, we continue with our wedding day and the trip to Ireland.

My New Bride and I
My New Bride and I

The day of our wedding arrived, and the weather was perfect.  We had our wedding outside at the location we had the reception.  At the reception, we had an open bar (of course), with Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Blue Moon as the beers available.  At one point during the reception, I cracked open a bottle of “Morning Wood“, and enjoyed that with my new bride and friends.

We shut down the reception, and at one point the reception hall flickered the lights in an effort to get us to move along.

We went back to the hotel and danced the night away at the hotel bar.  By the way, they also had Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and the had the special glasses to make it taste even better.

Saving the Ales, One At A Time
Saving the Ales, One At A Time

The day after the wedding, we woke up, brought some of our friends to the airport, and said our goodbyes.  We were able to hang around with family for a bit before we started our journey to Ireland.

We left several hours early to go to JFK Airport, and from western New Jersey, because of the traffic (even on a Saturday night), it took us almost 2.5 hours to get to the airport.

As we were standing in line at the airport, one of the airline representatives asked for those going to Shannon, Ireland because the flight needed to board within 30 minutes.

When we boarded the plane, we had seats on the opposite side of the plane.  Because we were on our honeymoon,we requested to be seated together, and the airline put us in the back of the plane sitting together.  Also, because we were on an international red-eye flight, we were able to get free beer.  The best quality beer available was Corona (in cans), so we were able to have a couple, and then we slept.

After the overnight flight,  we were still tired, but were able to drive up to our first bed and breakfast, near Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

We checked in and went to the Cliffs of Moher.  It was an amazing sight. One of the most interesting pieces of information is that the Atlantic Puffins nest in the side of the cliffs.  If you aren’t familiar, the puffin is the bird in several of the Guinness advertisements.

On our way back to our bed and breakfast, we also toured around The Burren and saw the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb.

For dinner, we stopped in Lisdoonvarna, where, for 150 years, the Matchmaking Festival happens each fall.

At dinner, I had a couple of Irish firsts: I had my first order of fish and chips and my first Irish Guinness.  As we were eating, in the courtyard a musician was playing several familiar American songs, and one of the locals walked over and asked for one of my chips.  He said (in his accent) “I didn’t even want any chips until you put on the vinegar and dipped it in ketchup.”  Of course, I gave him one.

After dinner, we drove back to our bed and breakfast, and our jet-lag made us take a “quick” nap that lasted from 9 PM until 7 AM the next morning.

So, if you’re keeping track, that’s only 1 Irish Guinness.  Stay tuned for the rest!

Good, Better, and Best Beer to Enjoy on St. Patty’s Day

Lovely Day for a Guinness!
Lovely Day for a Guinness!

It’s that time of year again, when you get out your green, and celebrate your Irish-ness, even if you aren’t Irish.  Now, there is a hierarchy to quality of beer on St. Patrick’s day, and I’m going to break it down for you.

Here’s the category breakdown:

Good: Green beer.  This is what most folks think of when they think of St. Patrick’s day.  This is usually no more than your regular run-of-the-mill light beer with green dye in it.  It’s pretty boring and not very exciting, except it’s green.

Better: Killian’s Irish Red, Michelob Irish Red.  These are a couple of brews that don’t fall into your green-beer category, but are still owned by the big guys.  They are close to your craft-brewed products, but they are not as good.  One advantage to these is that they are usually available.

Best: Boulevard Irish Ale, Samuel Adams Irish Red, Guinness, Harp, Kilkenny, Smithwick’s, Raccoon River Stonecutter Stout, Gray Brewing Co. Busted Knuckle Irish Style Ale, etc.  Many of these beers are either made in Ireland, or are craft brews that are made by some excellent craft brewers who strive to create an authentic Irish-style stout, Irish Style Red Ale, or other Irish beer.  If you can get your hands on these, this is the best choice.  You’ll thank me later!

So, when you decide what to have to celebrate today, just go for one of the “Best” beers, because that’s what St. Patty’s is all about!  Enjoy the best!

Raccoon River Stonecutter Stout

Stone Cutter Stout
Stonecutter Stout

The other day, I had the chance to try the Stonecutter Stout from Raccoon River Brewing, based in Des Moines, Iowa.  According to their website, it is named for “the stone masons who worked on the State Capitol, the Hotel Fort Des Moines, and many of the other historic buildings in Des Moines”.

The stout is a dry Irish stout, very similar to Guinness.  It has a slight sour taste, and finished clean.  It was very drinkable and  left a nice chocolate aftertaste.  Needless to say, it went down very smoothly.  It’s a great one to have on St. Patrick’s Day!

Have you tried the Stonecutter Stout from Raccoon River?