Hi, my name's Chris, I'm a craic addict.
Have been all my adult life. And a bit before, truth be told. There, I admit it.
To be cordially invited then to Craic Central was a fix no lust for lifer could refuse. And this top trip duly delivered, proving heady cocktail of culture and ceilidh.
In with the Dublin crowd, we warmed amid summer sunshine to this fair city, where the girls are indeed so pretty and, moreover, gulls are pretty raucous.
Where better to start 48-hour whet your whistle-stop tour than Liffey liquid shrine that is Guinness Storehouse (www.guinness-storehouse.com).
Plant tours include such eye-opening delights as wonderwall fall of water, among key ingredients in time-honoured traditional brewing process, success secret of pint, each of which contains mind-blowing 30 million bubbles (among 30 fun facts featured below).
Our VIP visit didn't disappoint on any level - magnificent seven of them, topped by sky-scraping Gravity Bar, affording unparalleled panoramic views offering 360 degrees of intoxicating vistas.
St James's Gate girls and boys from the black stuff serve perfect pots of free finest product, perfectly poured at optimum 45 degree angle for all who make it to such heady heights.
Lunch at 1837 Bar & Brasserie sees each course carefully crafted with distinctive brews. Another floor confirms stag and hen party planners can indeed organise a party – other familiar phrases are available – in a brewery, oft enlivened by shamrock ‘n' roll strains that also soundtrack regular weddings.
Guides, educational and entertaining in equal measure, steered us safely through new Brewing Floor, Holy Grail of ale awash with experimental potions aplenty, afore travelling back 250-plus years to view iconic marketing - Guinness book of records, if you will - that made it field leader, advertising agencies conceiving slogans from "How grand to be a toucan, just think what toucan do" to "'Good things come to those who wait" that have through time become lexicon staples.
I could trademark harp on about this stout institution's merits ad infinitum. Suffice to say, that this is a must-see visitor attraction, is as black and white as the heady burnt barley brew itself.
How to go: Aer Lingus operates twice daily flights from Leeds Bradford to Dublin with fares from £29.99 one-way including taxes and charges. Shy of an hour from take-off to touch-down, the swift flight is shorter than many work commutes. For more information or to book visit aerlingus.com site.
Where to stay: Brooks Hotel (www.brookshotel.ie) offers prime position for pleasure seekers to spend well-earned time and hard-earned cash around creative quarter that is Grafton Street. The four star boutique bolthole, whose uniquely designed bedrooms boast retro radios and mannequins, offers "haven of peace" complete with Francesca’s restaurant cuisine - Head Chef Pat McLarnon's creations complemented by urban herb garden harvest - Café Lounge and Jasmine Bar hospitality as well as fitness centre with sauna and even on-site cinema space. Publicity claims accommodation "caters to guests who value difference and for whom ambience, décor and quality of service are important" - a mission statement as "Irish True" as leading whiskey purveyor Tullamore Dew's campaign. Rates start from €180 B&B per room per night.
Where to dine: Dub grub doesn't get any more fine dining than Fade Street Social (www.fadestreetsocial.com). The gastro bar's mantra echoes local wit Oscar Wilde's assertion "to get into the best society nowadays, one has either to amuse people, shock people or feed people - that is all”. So was born a sharing concept showcasing simple and seasonal innovation in tapas style servings, all under expert stewardship of chef Dylan McGrath, lauded with Michelin stars. So fulsome was the fare, some of us left looking like Michelin Man!
Avoca's Suffolk Street café (www.avoca.com), among a local company's dozen such sites "since 1723 weaving with passion & personality," spins its own special magic in a mini-department store, Aladdin’s Cave hailed by Vogue UK as among top 100 outlets outside London. The award-winning eatery's recipe for success centres on sourcing excellent Irish ingredients and great baking to bring out fresh flavours.
What else to see: Passport to pleasure, exploring the city at your own pace, is Dublin Pass (www/dublinpass.com) easily opening doors to attractions that are literally EPIC in shape of Irish Emigration Museum and offer oasis of verdant tranquility as with St Stephen’s Green and Phoenix Park.
Hop on, hop off buses are true transport of delight, Trip Advisor's top tour DoDublin (dodublin.ie) capital idea to explore beating heart of Leinster's east coast province, traversing famed arterial river across O'Connell Bridge, Europe's only such structure whose width equals its length, to best enjoy sights and sounds of Ireland's biggest city.
Cultural diversions - easily and expertly signposted by “Jump into Ireland” portal www.ireland.com - include Trinity College’s latest world-first tourist space age attraction (www.sciencegallery.com). Europe’s best museum, according to Lonely Planet experts, lies in shadow of Dublin Castle at Chester Beatty Library (www.cbl.ie). National Museum (www.museum.ie) offers all manner of attractions from arts to archaeology to animals.
National Gallery of Ireland (www.ngi.ie) is home to thousands of masterpieces and The Little Dublin Museum (www.littlemuseum.ie) promises big day out with 5,000-plus artifacts. St Patrick’s Cathedral (www.stpatrickscathedral.ie) was home to Deans including Gulliver’s Travels scribe Jonathan Swift, hosting Handel’s Messiah debut performance. Or step back in time a thousand years to Dublinia and Christchurch Cathedral (www.dublinia.ie).
Go directly to jail, with or without collecting 200 Euros, at Kilmainham Gaol (www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/kilmainhamgaol) tour of Europe’s largest unoccupied prison, laced with heroism and tragedy. Outskirts offer GAA Museum at Croke Park Stadium (www.skylinecrokepark.ie) as goal for all sports fans, who can enjoy 44-metre high overview of nation’s beloved hurling and Gaelic football shrine from spell-binding stadium rooftop walk.
Try a shot at tasting uisce beatha at Old Jameson Distillery (www.jamesonwhiskey.com), Teeling Whiskey Museum (www.teelingwhiskey.com) and The Irish Whiskey Museum (www. irishwhiskeymuseum.ie). Also well worth a visit are historic inns, thirst choice for such literary giants as Joyce and Becket, while Nobel Prize winning poet Yeats is celebrated in suitable style at The National Library (www.nli.ie).
Revelers can raise a glass to Ireland's oldest pub The Brazen Head (www.brazenhead.com) where pumps have been manned since 1198. The Cobblestone (cobblestonepub.ie) sees – and hears – troubadours' traditional music off the Temple Bar (www.templebar.ie) beaten track, far from madding crowd in authentic alternative to commercial city centre sites.
Short haul return seamlessly followed final pint at Long Hall, licensing cathedral whose eclectic clientele during 250-odd years of beers has proved wider than Liffey mouth, peopled by "politicians, playwrights & potwallopers". The tavern's throng couldn't be more baile átha Cliath were famous favourite sons Bono, Geldof, indeed folk balladeers The Dubliners themselves, propping up the bar alongside locals as regular as a bodhran's beat, whose number have included local luminaries from Behan to Ace With The Bass Lynott as well as recent Stateside supporter Boss Springsteen.
There's truly something for everyone in this Emerald gem of a city, refreshing and satisfying as its specialty stout, set to remain toast of town for foreseeable future. So craic on!
Stout stats: 30 facts
1. In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease for a four-acre brewery site. Today, the brewery has expanded to cover over 50 acres. The 1759 lease is no longer valid as the company purchased the land outright many years ago.
2. The Guinness served today is essentially the same as in Arthur’s day. Modern brewing methods have helped to preserve the Guinness legacy, enabling the brewers to create products of the highest quality.
3. The key ingredients in Guinness are roasted, malted barley, hops, yeast and water.
4. The perfect pint of Guinness should be served at 6-7 degrees centigrade.
5. There are approximately 198 calories in each pint of the Black Stuff.
6. There are 30 million bubbles in a pint of Guinness.
7. Contrary to popular opinion, Guinness beer is actually a dark ruby red colour. Some malted barley is roasted in a similar way to coffee beans, giving Guinness its distinctive colour.
8. Twenty per cent of visitors taste their first pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse.
9. The creamy white head on a pint of Guinness is created from the ‘initiation’ and ‘surging’ of bubbles of nitrogen and carbon dioxide when the beer is poured.
10. Guinness Draught should be served using the famous ‘two-part’ pour. Pour the Guinness Draught into a glass tilted at 45 degrees, until it is three-quarters full. Once settled, fill the glass completely to the top.
11. The harp symbol on Guinness glasses was first used to represent Guinness stout in 1862 when the first buff oval bottle was introduced. An ancient Irish symbol, the harp is now recognised the world over as a sign of unparalleled Guinness quality.
12. In addition to being a symbol for Guinness, the harp is also the official national emblem of the Republic of Ireland. The distinguishing feature of the two harps is that the Guinness harp always appears with its straight edge to the left, and the government harp is always shown with its straight edge to the right.
13. Guinness beer is available in well over 100 countries worldwide and is brewed in almost 50.
14. Since first opening to members of the public in 2000, the Guinness Storehouse has received almost 18 million visitors.
15. People of 163 different nationalities have visited the Guinness Storehouse.
16. Surpassing all previous records, more than 1.7 million guests passed through the famous Guinness Storehouse doors in 2017.
17. Half of all holiday-makers who visit Dublin, visit the Guinness Storehouse.
18. The most popular gift at the Guinness Storehouse is the two-pack of pint glasses, and many people get these personalised.
19. Each year, 700 million litres of beer are brewed at the Guinness Storehouse.
20. In 2017, approximately 1.4 million pints of Draught Guinness were served at the Guinness Storehouse.
21. Each year, 450,000 meals are served at the Guinness Storehouse. Around 80,000 of these are portions of the famous Beef and Guinness stew.
22. The Storehouse experience unfolds its tale across seven floors shaped around a giant pint glass, which, if filled would contain 14.3 million pints of Guinness.
23. The Guinness Storehouse building dates back to 1904 and is built in the Chicago School of Architecture style.
24. The Guinness Storehouse was the first skyscraper building in the British Isles.
25. The Gravity Bar is the highest bar in Dublin city located 44 metres off the ground.
26. The toucan (which actually started out as a pelican) was the first of the ‘Guinness Menagerie’ to appear in poster form.
27. The first Guinness Book of Records was published in 1955.
28. Guinness became the first major brewery to be incorporated as a public company on the London Stock Exchange in 1886. It was the largest brewery in the world with an annual production of 1.2 million barrels.
29. The Guinness global flagship store at the Guinness Storehouse has the largest display of exclusive Guinness merchandise.
30. Over 40,000 people from all over the world entered Ireland’s first ever Airbnb ‘Night At’ experience at the Home of Guinness.