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Just One of Ireland’s Finest Brews

From your dedicated Authentic Ireland writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” — Oscar Wilde

Irish Breweries – from Guinness to Beamish & Beyond

Irish brews consist of more than Guinness, and there are enough flavors to please any fan of breweries and beers.  For you who brew their beer at home, you might even get a few tips and other ideas about ingredients. Below are a few of our favorites.  And of course, Guinness may be at the bottom of this list, but it is close to the top of our personal list!

If you decide to visit a brewery, make sure you call ahead.  Hours change, depending upon season and brew capacity.

  • Acton’s Country Pub and Microbrewery The Brooklodge Hotel, Macreddin, County Wicklow Tel: 0402-36444 www.brooklodge.com
  • Beamish & Crawford Brewery Founded in 1792, Beamish and Crawford produces 574,000 hl of beer per year.  South Main Street, the city of Cork Tel:  021-4911100 www.beamish.ieBeamish Irish Stout  4.1% alc.    Stout, but paler than Guinness or Murphy’s.  Close to a porter. 4.2% alc.  Irish ale, Beamish Red Irish  Ale  4.2% alc.    Pale lager, Miller Genuine Draft.  In his book,  Noted Breweries of Great Britain & Ireland published in 1889, Alfred Barnard Wrote:

“The business of Beamish & Crawford in Cork is a very old one dating as far back as the        seventeenth century and it is said to be the most  ancient porter brewery in Ireland.”

The home of the brewery at South Main Street, lies in the heart of what was the medieval city. Originally one of the old city gates nearby  as did the Cork jail. Indeed a stone from the jail, upon which the severed heads of the executed used to be displayed, now stands outside the counting house door at the brewery. The huge lock on the door also came from the jail.

The business partnership prospered and within fifteen years output at Beamish & Crawford had grown from 12,000 barrels per year to a phenomenal 100,000 barrels in 1805, making it the largest brewery in the country and the third largest in Britain and Ireland.”

Today, Beamish & Crawford is owned by Scottish & Newcastle.  (By the way, the stone of severed heads is long gone.  Sorry.)

  • Biddy Early Brewery Founded in 1995 with an annual production of 850 hl. Biddy Early Brewery is a brewpub, and County Clare is thought by many of us at Authentic Ireland to be the best area in Ireland.  (Of course, we are raised here and our offices are here, but we are not one bit prejudiced in passing along the praises of County Clare.)  Iangh, County Clare 353-65-683-6742    http://www.beb.ie/

Brews you’ll find at Biddy Early: Black Biddy: 4.2% Stout.  Brewed from British hops, pale ale malt, Roasted barley and crystal malt.  It is  fined with carrageen moss. Blonde Biddy: 4.2%  A pale lager.  Brewed from lager malt and German Hallertu hops.  Bottom fermented Red Biddy: 4.9% Red Irish ale.  Brewed from pale ale, chocolate & Crystal malts, and bog myrtle. Real Biddy 4.9% Red Irish ale, this is a cask-conditioned version Of Red Biddy.

  • The Carlow Brewing Company Founded in 1998, this is a microbrewery next to the railway station in Carlow town.
  • The Goods Store,” Station Road, Carlow County Carlow Tel:  353-503-34356 www.carlowbrewingcompany.com  Brews your’ll find at Carlow Brewing: O’hara’s Celtic Stout  4.3% Stout Curum Gold Celtic Wheat Beer   4.3% Wheat beer. Cascade, Challenger, and Mount Hood hops, with the ingredients of pale malt, torrified wheat & caramalt. Molings Traditional   4.3% Irish ale; brewed from pale malt, crystal Red Ale malt and roasted barley. Beerkeeper Gold  4.3% Wheat beer, brewed for the Beerkeeper in Dundalk.
  • The Celtic Brewing Co. This is a microbrewery.  After you’ve taken in the intense scenery and the haunting scent of early Irish history in County Meath, this may be just the stop for you. Enfield Industrial Estate, Enfield, County Meath Tel:  (0405) 41558 Founded in 1997 , Types of Brews Available: Finnians Red  4.3% Irish ale Finnians Organic Lager  4.3% Pale lager Finnians Stout  4.3% Stout Shiva Premiuim Lager    5% Pale lager
  • The Franciscan Well Brewery: If you’ve settled into Cork after an adventure at the Blarney Stone, just the smell of a Franciscan Well can take bring you back to reality.  Music on Monday nights, plenty of activities, festivities and festivals.  A nice place after you’ve spent the day wandering the gardens of Blarney.  Founded in 1998, their annual production is 2,500 hl.  All around a good place to visit and relax for an evening in Cork with excellent brews.  14 North Mall Cork, County Cork Tel:  (021) 210130.

Types of Brews Available: Shandon Stout  4.2% Stout Blarney Blonde  4.2% Blonde ale Rebel Lager  4.3% Pale lager Rebel Red Ale 4.3% Irish ale Purgatory 4.5%  Pale ale, American style, hopped with Cascades Friar Weisse 4.7% Unfiltered pale wheat beer.  Bellringer Winter Warmer 6.0% Strong ale that’s malty and hoppy.

  • Galway Hooker Founded in 2006, this is a microbrewery that sells their beer in ten pubs in Galway.   The beer is worth a trip in itself, and finding something from the brewery to take home as a souvenir is a double bonus. You can hardly beat the name of this ale, and who back home will know a Galway Hooker is a ship?  Galway, County Galway www.nameyourbeer.net
  • Great Northern Brewery The Great Northern Brewery was founded in 1897, and produces 1,000,000 hl of beer annually.  It is now owned by Guinness, who bought them in 1959 to brew their lager.  Carrick Road Dundalk, County Louth Tel:  042-34793

Type of Brews Available: Harp lager  3.6% Pale lager Harp Export 4.5% Pale Lager And, last but not least, the brew that keeps putting  Ireland on the map, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day!

  • Arthur Guinness Son & Co. The most well-know brew in Ireland, Guinness was founded in 1749.  In the year 2003, their production was 4,000,000 hl per year.   After moving all brewing facilities to Dublin from London, it is expected that their production will be 6,000,000 hl per year.
  • Guinness Ale Saint James’s Gate, Dublin 8 www.guinness.com

Types of Brews Available: Draught Guinness 4.1% A stout, served by mixed-gas pressure. Filtered, pasteurized and served cold. A bitter    finish with licorice, toffee and cream aromas.  Guinness Original 4.2%  Stout.  Bottled Guinness—not as good as the draught beer, but what beer is? Same flavors without as much zest. Guinness Extra Stout 4.3%  Stout. Bottle-conditioned. Still available in Ireland. A classic — worth going to Ireland to drink!  It has an intense burnt bitterness, balanced with a sour cream undertone. A truly wonderful beer.

If you’re on a self-drive tour of Ireland, please be sure not to drink and drive.  It’s not tolerated in Ireland any more than it is in the States or the UK.  (Plus, some of our roads could make a tipsy drive particularly difficult.)  Either end your day near a brew pub so you can walk back to one of the lovely places on your itinerary, or use a chauffeured tour for part of your travels if you expect to indulge heartily in some of Ireland’s finest!

Enjoy to the fullest, and be safe while you’re at it.

Happiest of New Year’s to You —  The Crew at Authentic Ireland

The Busy, Bustling Streets of Lively Galway City, Ireland

Authentic Ireland’s dedicated writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

In a nationwide survey, the people of Galway were found to be Ireland’s happiest residents. When you visit Galway City, it’s easy to understand why.  (Click the link http://www.authenticireland.com/galway?utm_source=authentic&utm_medium=email for a look around.)

Galway is a lively university enclave of narrow streets, quaint shop fronts, bustling pubs and stunning scenery. Galway has always attracted a bohemian mix of musicians, artists and intellectuals.  That sense of freedom and creativity is palpable as you walk the streets.

Galway has been an important commercial center since the 11th century when it traded heavily with Spain and Portugal.   In 1477, Christopher Columbus was one of Galway’s renowned visitors.  (It’s amazing he didn’t stay!)  At that time Galway was known as “The City of the Tribes” because it was ruled by 14 wealthy merchant families.

Today it is a vibrant, popular hub buzzing with festivals, parades, street musicians, and racing boats.  The annual Arts Festival attracts thousands, especially for its outrageous, glorious street parade.

Start the new year off with a dream.  Plan a perfect, custom time in Galway City!

Best, The Crew at Authentic Ireland Travel

The Wren Boys in Dingle, Ireland, Celebrating St. Stephen’s Day

From Your Dedicated Authentic Ireland Writers, Meredith and Win Blevins:

In Ireland, St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, is one of nine official public holidays.

In Irish, it is called Lá Fhéile Stiofán or Lá an Dreoilín, meaning the Day of the Wren or Wren’s Day. When used in this context, “wren” is often pronounced “ran”.

This name alludes to several Irish legends, some linking episodes in the life of Jesus to the wren. Although not practiced often anymore,  in certain parts of Ireland people carry either an effigy of a wren or an actual caged wren through the streets.  They travel from house to house playing music, singing and dancing.

Depending on which region of the country, they are called wrenboys and mummers. A Mummer’s Festival is held at this time every year in the village of New Inn, County Galway and Dingle in County Kerry. St. Stephen’s Day is also a popular day for visiting family members.  (Good-bye Christmas dinner leftovers!)

A popular rhyme is known to many Irish children and sung at each house visited by the mummers.  Here’s a very nice version of the song for you to enjoy, complete with chords and words!:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZI_PzRIqU0

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds…

Happy December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, from the Crew at Authentic Ireland Travel

Leave a Guinness out for Santa this Christmas.  It’s Tradition!

From your Dedicated Authentic Ireland Writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

True:  In Ireland, it is tradition to leave mince pies and a bottle of Guinness out as a snack for Santa.  After all, Santa has a long journey, not much time, and so fortification seems like an excellent idea.

And, children often put out Christmas sacks instead of stockings, in the less Americanized parts of Ireland.

Christmas in Ireland lasts from Christmas Eve to the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, which is referred to as Little Christmas. Ireland’s Christmas is more religious than a time of fun.  Lighted candles are placed in windows on Christmas Eve, as a guide that Joseph and Mary might be looking for shelter. The candles are usually red in color, and decorated with sprigs of holly.

Irish women bake a seed cake for each person in the house. They also make three puddings, one for each day of the Epiphany such as Christmas, New Year’s Day and the Twelfth Night.

After the Christmas evening meal, bread and milk are left out and the door unlatched as a symbol of hospitality.

St Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, is almost as important, with football matches and meetings going on. For children, the Wren Boys Procession is their big event. Boys go from door to door with a fake wren on a stick, singing, with violins, accordions, harmonicas and horns to accompany them. The reason for the ceremony is to ask for money ‘for the starving wren’, that is, for their own pockets.

This year, join the tradition, and leave a bit of Guinness out for Santa.  We are quite sure he’ll appreciate it.

Best!  Your Crew at Authentic Ireland Travel

Listen to the Sounds of Christmas in Ireland!

From Your Dedicated Authentic Ireland Writers,  Meredith and Win Blevins:

You’ve decided to spend Christmas in Ireland? Brilliant idea.  Dublin buzzes, the countryside whispers so take your choice. 

Get into the spirit of Christmas and say hello to folks left and right.  The greeting for “Merry Christmas” in Irish is Nollaig Shona Duit (Irish pronunciation: [nʊll-ɡ honˠaː dɪt]) (singular) or Nollaig Shona Daoibh (Irish pronunciation: [nʊll-ɡ honˠaː yiɛɛw]) (plural), the literal translation of this is “Happy Christmas to you”.  If “Nollaig, Shona, Duit/Daoibh” was literally translated, word for word, into English, it would be “Christmas, happy, for you”.

Can’t make it?  Well, you can still use the Irish greetings at parties.  And, you can pick up some Irish radio stations on the net.  Some are an annual tradition.  They’re listed below:

Radio:

1)  Joe Duffy’s walk around Grafton Street, Dublin, is an annual tradition broadcast by RTÉ Radio 1 on Christmas Eve.

2)  RTÉ 2fm disc jockey Dave Fanning counts down his “Fanning’s Fab 50″ listeners music poll on air each year before Christmas, with U2 proving most popular on a regular basis.

3)  From 2008, Christmas FM broadcast Christmas songs non-stop until 26 December.

4)  On FM104, Santa visits the FM104 PhoneShow on their last broadcast before they go on their holidays (usually the 23rd or 22nd).

Have a happy, and enjoy some of the Christmas traditions in Ireland, whether in person or on the net!

Enjoy! Your  Authentic Ireland Crew

Kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland for Luck and the Gift of Gab

There are two versions of how Ireland’s Blarney Stone came to have its power, and two versions of its true location.

Now, here we are, at the present:  Sir Charles Colthurst, current owner of the County Cork Blarney Castle, says the oft-smooched rock is in the exact place it has always been, and that it is the real-deal.  To the archaeologists who say it is in a different part of County Cork, he says, “That’s plain Blarney!”  We believe him.

There are also two legends about the Blarney Stone’s gift of power.  The first pertains to Cormac McCarthy, the castle’s owner during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.  He never gave her what she requested, and all her requests from him were met with long-winded distractions and terrific (elusive) oratory.  One day, in a fine dither over him, the Queen said, “This is all Blarney! (referring to the castle.)  He never says what he means!”

The second version is more spooky.  Some believe that a magic stone was built into the castle in the 1400s, but no one knew its exact spot.  Then, the castle owner found a witch drowning in the river and saved her.  She told him where the magic stone was, and that anyone who kissed it would be given great powers of persuasion.

In fact, both stories could be true. McCarthy did persuade the queen, although it was in utter frustration, to expect nothing from him and nothing was what she got!

Your Dedicated Authentic Ireland writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

Dun Bleisce Towns Gets Back Her Illustrious Name

Years of efforts by Doon, Limerick, Ireland residents to bring back the name of their town, taken away from them in 2003, have paid off. The people have spoken and are triumphant!

Their town has been called Dun Bleisce since at least 774 AD, which is as far back as anyone can remember.  The problem?  The town’s name translates to “Fort of the Harlot.”  This was not cool with the Irish Placenames Commission.  This grand body decided that nice, little towns should not be named after harlots, and they renamed the town An Dun.  That seemed safe since it really has no meaning. Or at least not much.

On came the heated debate.  Residents and irate Irish around County Limerick said that the original name actually translated to, “The stronghold of immoral women.”  Others claimed it meant, “Stronghold of Strong Women,”  because only strong women would have a fort.  Still others claimed the original meaning of the word “harlot” is “powerful women.”  (This is the kind of jam you get into when you mess with history.)

800+ locals signed a petition that was presented to the Great and Illustrious Commission.  They decided it wasn’t worth the trouble, and an order was handed down from on high to rename the town Dun Bleisce.

When in the west of Ireland, stop by.  It truly is a nice town with a juicy name that has withstood history!

Your Dedicated Authentic Ireland writers:  Meredith and Win Blevins

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