Tag: irish whiskey

Waterford (Factory), Ireland

When we arrived in Ireland and met up with our friend, Brandie, we puttered around a little in Dublin, which you can read about by clicking here. Then we rented a car and ventured a little south of Dublin where we saw the amazing gardens and waterfall of Powerscourt. We stopped of at the ancient, mysterious ruins of the Glendalough Monastic City. You can review that story by clicking here.

We stayed that night in Kilkenny, then did a day trip out to the Waterford crystal factory, which oddly enough, is near the town of Waterford.

I always knew that certain select pieces of crystal were labor intensive, but we learned during our tour that almost all of the Waterford crystal pieces are hand cut and crafted.

Is that the award for BEST WIFE EVER? Well it should be. 🙂 Actually it’s the very prestigious Solheim Cup (women’s golf championship). Made by Waterford right there in that factory.

They also do a lot of other famous sporting event trophies and high profile political and acting awards. But get this, when they do a high profile award or trophy, they always have to do TWO of them in case one gets broken.

If you saw what went to making just one of these amazing pieces, you would understand why that’s such a big deal. Note that none of this is on public display. You have to get the behind-the-scenes factory tour to see it all. Definitely worth it. Oh yeah, and the Man with Golden Gun has nothing on the Cat with the Crystal Revolver!

After touring the factory, we visited the showroom, where we spent our life savings on beautiful crystal glasses, vases, and decanters that will find a nice, lonely home on the top shelf of our glasses cabinet…. never to be seen again.

Ugh, it’s just so pretty I want to eat it! On the return trip to Kilkenny, we swung by the Walsh distillery. It’s one of the newer Irish whiskies on the market.

We did the tour and the tasting. Their specialty is The Irishman, which they have been making since 2006.

The property is absolutely beautiful. More along the lines of what I would have expected at a wine vineyard.

They also make a whiskey called Writers Tears. They were both exceptional, and some variations of them are only available in Ireland. But they do have a large distribution for their most popular products, which are available where we live, in Stockholm.

A note on the whiskey tastings on this trip. Our friend Brandie is a “whiskey collector”. And while she will give a humble smile and deny that she is an expert on whiskey, she actually is. This made the trip in Ireland all the more enjoyable. We drank only the best on this trip, and we actually knew what we were drinking! Needless to say, it was very fun and educational.

Kilkenny, Ireland

I know what you’re thinking. “OMG, they killed Kenny!” Haha, I thought the same thing but there is no correlation of the name of this town to South Park. It didn’t stop me from suddenly shouting it out on several occasions, though…

The morning of our second day, we had a nice breakfast at the hotel in Dublin, then took a taxi over to the car rental agency. Brandie and I approached the desk while Jana stood watch over our luggage. When the guy tells us our car is a VW Golf, I look over at our mountain of luggage, then at Brandie, who then looks at our luggage and back at me. We both look at the clerk with raised eyebrows. The clerk looks at us looking at the luggage, then he looks at me with a look that says ‘seriously dude?’ Jana looks over at us and wonders why everyone is looking at her. Needless to say, we upgraded to a compact SUV, which is actually a big car by European standards. When we see how all the luggage barely fits into the SUV, we knew we made a good choice over the tiny car.

They drive on the left side of the road over here, like in the U.K. Being a democracy and all, we voted that Brandie would be our driver since she had the most experience driving on the left side of the road. Eager to begin the “Great Irish Road Trip”, we pile into the car and hit the road! Note that our course for the day would take us south of Dublin, then break inland to the west in route route to Kilkenny.

Powerscourt Gardens And Waterfall

Our first stop is the Powerscourt Gardens, which is only about a thirty minute ride south of Dublin. It’s a 47 acre 150 year old garden situated at the foot of the great Sugarloaf mountain. In addition to the amazing gardens, it has a resort hotel, spa, and golf course.

These pictures are better appreciated when viewed on a pad or PC.

The grounds here are meticulously crafted and maintained. You can see faint traces of the drought that has plagued Europe this year. I am so thankful that it ended for Ireland a couple of weeks before we came out. Note Sugarloaf mountain there in the background.

The mansion was originally a 13th century castle. It was gutted by a devastating fire in 1974. It sat abandoned and empty for over twenty years until it was renovated in 1996.

Here are some more pictures of this amazing park:

If you read the article on Dublin, you know what a great town that is and what a good time we had. But I must admit that Dublin is not the showcase of the legendary beauty of the Irish landscape that I had heard so much about. But during our trip out to these magnificent gardens, the beauty of Ireland really started to show itself and I began to understand what all the fuss was about:

Who would have thought ten years ago that you would be able to take photos like that with your cell phone?

There is also a Powerscourt waterfall, but it requires a small drive and charges an additional fee:

It wasn’t the most spectacular waterfall I ever saw, but it was a short drive and it is actually the tallest waterfall in the country. It is also where King Arthur fought Sir Lancelot in the 1981 movie Excalibur.

Glendalough Monastic City

This ancient settlement was founded in the 6th century. Some of the building here date back to the 10th and 11th centuries.

Although the cemetery is the most dominating aspect now, back in the day, this monastery included workshops, areas for manuscript writing and copying, guest houses, an infirmary, farm buildings and dwellings for both the monks and general population.

The large, round towers were popular during this time. They were primarily used as bell towers to call meetings, bring in the monks, or warn of viking attacks. One thing I have noticed about Ireland is they present many of their ancient ruins essentially “as-is”. Even though it is rougher around the edges than a place that has been commercialized and enhanced, the as-is approach maintains the ancient aura of the area.

Once we finished up there, we continued through the beautiful countryside in route to Kilkenny.

Kilkenny is a great little town with some very dramatic beauty. It is very laid back and is definitely off the beaten path. Kind of a relief after the crowds of Dublin.

As evening sets in an we are once again at that magical time where we get to seek out a great Irish pub for dinner and drinks. Grabbed this shot, above, as we crossed the bridge and headed to Matt the Millers.

We sampled some legendary Irish whiskies while reflecting on our day and sharing pictures with a live Irish band playing in the background. A great ending to our first day out in the wilds of Ireland!