Tag Archives: ireland

Trad {An Ireland Post}

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One of the reasons we traveled across the pond to the Emerald Isle this past fall with Rob’s parents was to listen to some Traditional Irish Music in the motherland.

Rob’s dad is a huge fan of Irish Folk music and has been for decades. Some of his favorites include The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Rob grew up listening to this music and has developed a love as well.

When I met Rob, I quickly learned that he was King of the Mixed Tape. I still have his first CD he compiled for me: Carrie Ann Myx – 10/03. That’s the month and year we first started dating!

In December 2003, I started doing Wine Tastings. When business picked up and I started doing two or more tastings a week, he began making me a CD each month to listen in my car to and from tastings. Some of the songs were those that reminded him of me or us, some included new music he just wanted to introduce me to, some were comedy tracks; but there were also Traditional Irish Folk tunes. Over the years, I’ve heard several versions in both classic, modern and punk rock styles!

So, naturally, I’ve come to learn and love many of these songs, too.

You may even know a few of them yourself! Here is one of my favorites, played by some street musicians in Galway. {I apologize in advance for the video and the small screen. It’s the first time I’ve used You Tube.} I think their version of The Irish Rover is superb!

Some other songs you may know include:

  • Rocky Road to Dublin
  • Finnegan’s Wake
  • Danny Boy
  • Black Velvet Band
  • The Real Old Mountain Dew

Okay, I could go on for ages, but those are just a few you may recognize. But it’s not just the songs that make the music special; it’s the instruments used, too. The bodhrán, a traditional Irish drum, is one of my favorites!

In Ireland, Traditional Irish Music played in pubs is known as Trad. And we were lucky to sit in a few pubs to listen to some locals play while emptying a few pints of Guinness.

Rob and I found that everyone we spoke with was proud of their Irish Trad and would share their favorite singers and groups. Our first night in Dublin, after stopping at a pub recommend by the Irish bartender we met in Chicago, a couple sitting next to us initiated a conversation which eventually turned into a discussion about Trad and the most popular and well-respected artists who sing such songs. They insisted that we go check out O’Donoghues for some live music because it has such a huge historical connection with Trad and celebrates this music seven nights a week.

We did make our way over there later that evening. But the place was packed! There were no seats to be had, nor really any room to stand comfortably. Instead, we came back the following day with Rob’s parents just to check out the place and the photos on the wall of all the musicians who played there over the years.

Our first real Trad night took place in Donegal at the Reel Inn. We arrived nice and early to be sure to get a seat. There was a gentleman named Terry, who was brought in via wheelchair by his son and friends to celebrate his 90th birthday that evening. I remember when they wheeled him in, the guy pushing kept bumping into table legs and chairs. “You shouldn’t be driving!” Terry yelled. It made me laugh.

He also came over to chat with us before the music began. Do you know how much I adore the stories of people who have led such long and full lives, in a world that I could only imagine?! One of my favorite stories of Terry, who is from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland {part of the UK today}, was when he was back in Germany many years ago. He was out one night when someone had learned he was Carrickfergus started singing the the town’s song to him “I wish I was in Carrickfergus! It was at that time that he realized he only knew the first few lines of the song! Everyone else had to sing the rest to him. He kept chuckling over this. Too cute!

The band played and it was a fine night. We enjoyed some good craic and plenty of cider.

Live Trad at the Reel Inn, Donegal, Ireland

Live Trad at the Reel Inn, Donegal, Ireland

And eventually, they gave Terry the mic, to sing a tune of his own:

Happy 90th, Terry!

Happy 90th, Terry!

Side note: Terry always had a pint of Guinness and glass of whiskey in front of him the entire night!

In Galway, in addition to seeing those fine lads in the YouTube video above play on the streets, {and buying there CD for future enjoyment} we spent an evening at Taaffes Pub listening to more great music:

Live Trad at Taaffes, Galway, Ireland

Live Trad at Taaffes, Galway, Ireland

We heard some of our favorites, learned some new local tunes and enjoyed the evening sipping pints of Guinness and Murphy’s. Those are times that I’ll remember for years to come. If you are traveling to Ireland, don’t miss out on the nightlife of listening to Trad with the locals!

Want to learn more about our trip to Ireland this past fall? Check out these links:

Wine in Wine Countries, Guinness in Guinness Country

Ireland – Weather & What to Wear

The Beauty that is the Emerald Isle

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Whiskey Wednesday – An Ireland Post

Irish Sport – Hurling

Celebrating Gaelic Football

Irish Food

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And I haven’t forgotten… Here are Monday’s eats:

Breakfast

San Franola Granola {a favorite of mine that I first sampled from a Love with Food box!} plus enough 1% milk just to cover the granola. I forgot to snap a shot, but today I did of the nutrition facts. I also had 2 cups of black coffee at work.

San Franola Granola Ingredients & Nutrition Facts

San Franola Granola – look at the protein & fiber content!

Lunch

Lunch included a big salad with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, chopped carrot & celery, green onion, sunflower seeds, blue cheese crumbles, rotisserie chicken (1.5 oz) & lite blue cheese dressing:

Salad with

Afternoon Snacks

Not pictured: Banana & Fiber One Brownie

Dinner

Monday is Salad Night in our house. Having already had a big salad for lunch, I decided to opt for a side salad with different ingredients, a little leftover pulled pork (about 1.5 ounces) and a piece of ciabatta garlic bread (140 calories).

His & Hers Salads

His: Salad with mixed greens with, chopped carrot & celery, green onion, garlic croutons, bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles & lite blue cheese dressing (with garlic ciabatta bread)

Hers: Side salad with spinach, grape tomatoes, chopped carrot and celery, green onion, chopped almonds, double cream brie and raspberry açaí vinaigrette dressing (with pulled pork and garlic ciabatta bread)

Snack

Not pictured: apple slices with Biscoff Spread {a Goodie Box favorite!}

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If you know Irish Folk Tunes, what is/are your favorite(s)?

If not, what type of music do you listen to that is not mainstream?

Sláinte~
Carrie

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Irish Food

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Nobody goes to Ireland for the food. That’s what Italy’s for, right?

People go to Ireland to see the beautiful countryside, to look up their Irish roots or to listen to traditional Irish music in the pubs while rubbing elbows with the locals {more coming on those things in future posts!}.

But just like anywhere else, there are establishments in Ireland that offer high-end, unique and satisfying cuisine. We just didn’t make an attempt to find them.

I remember when my friend Jen and I backpacked Europe in 2000, that our culinary experience in Ireland consisted mostly of fish and chips, Irish breakfasts {for dinner} and Beef/Guinness/Irish stew. I also remember that after spending time in England and Scotland, by the time we got to Ireland, all we wanted were some vegetables. An immense craving for a salad consumed both of us. To our surprise, we found “salad” listed as a side on a lunch menu one day. We were so grateful that we had finally found something! When it was delivered to our table, we were completely dismayed to find that this “salad” was coleslaw.

Before this trip, I told Rob that while I’d probably be trying a lot of fish and chips, he’d probably be safe with the Beef/Guinness/Irish stew. Furthermore, I warned him that the “chips” were thick cut, not the skinny fries he so adores.

Upon arrival, our very first lunch was at the hotel. I enjoyed my sandwich, just fine.

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Look! Coleslaw and a salad!

However, the rest of the crew didn’t like theirs as much.

Rob said the beef on this sandwich was tough and, of course, the chips just weren't his style.

Rob said the beef on this sandwich was tough and, of course, the chips just weren’t his style.

My Best Meal

The best meal that I had in Ireland this trip, was at Kennedy’s in Dublin. I believe it was even our very first night. I ordered a special on the menu that was some sort of chicken dish with tomato, avocado and a balsamic drizzle. Flippin’ out of this world. It was juicy and flavorful. In fact, it was the best chicken dish I had had in a long time anywhere.

I really wish I would have taken a picture. But I started to annoy Rob when I began snapping photos of our beverages that night. I think he wanted me to just relax and enjoy our trip. Understandably so, but taking pictures is soooo not stressful for me! I love capturing memories. And what’s the difference if my vacation photos are of food or the countryside? {As long as I have a little bit of both.} Still, after that, I stopped taking pictures for a while. But  if there is one meal that I should have photographed, this would have been it. Not only did it have fantastic flavors, it was beautifully presented. I nearly licked the plate clean.

Rob ordered the beef stew while his parents ordered burgers. My father-in-law had no problem with the burger there and happily finished it. However, Rob was grossed out by the meat in his stew. He said it was way too fatty. His mom wasn’t fond of her burger either. When Rob decided that he would finish her burger instead, he stopped after just one bite, describing the meat as “funky”.

Chicken

I quickly learned the food that was “safest” for me to order in Ireland chicken. I actually enjoyed nearly every chicken dish I ordered! On one occasion, nothing really sounded good to me on the menu, so I ordered a Caesar Salad. I wasn’t really in the mood for a Caesar Salad either, but everything else just seemed too filling and unappetizing. When it arrived, it was really nothing at all like a Caesar Salad as we know it. But I loved it anyway! The chicken was juicy, there were tomatoes and a creamy dressing. It was actually better than what I had been hoping for.

Tea

Did you know that more tea is consumed by the Irish than the British? That’s a little bit of trivia we learned on our trip. Every hotel and B & B where we stayed had teapots in the room along with an assortment of teas.

Breakfast

Included in our hotel stays was the morning buffet breakfast with toasts, jams, scones, juices, eggs, bacon, sausages, cereals, yogurts… You name it. I love breakfast, so this was great for me. And I quickly found out what I liked and didn’t like. {I was surprised that I didn’t like the sausage!}

My favorite breakfast was at the Radisson Blu in Galway. There were so many different cheeses and pastries and the quality was just much better there. Rob is not a big get-up-and-eat breakfast kind of guy, so he humored me with the whole ordeal of getting down to eat before departing. However, we came to learn that these breakfasts were not included in everyone’s stays. If the breakfast had not been part of our trip cost, it would have been 17 Euro at the Radisson. That’s about $23. I think that’s hefty if they aren’t serving Mimosas! 😉 Plus, Rob only nibbled a bit.

Soup of the Day

The Soup of the Day was always vegetable. It became a joke between my mother-in-law and me. After enjoying a filling breakfast that wasn’t too early in the am, we often didn’t eat lunch until 2pm. A little soup was just fine to tide us over until dinner. When inquiring about the “Soup of the Day”, we always got the response:

Vegetable

I’m not sure if it was just the time of the year or if it’s just the easiest, most economical thing to do with leftovers that made the vegetable the soup of the day nearly everywhere we went. But no matter what, I almost always loved the soup. However, my father-in-law didn’t like the fact that they “pulverized the heck out of it”. He wanted chunks of vegetables in his soup, damn it! 😉

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Vegetable Soup with Brown Bread

And, oh, how delicious was that brown bread with butter! Actually, I feel like I need to try making some soon. It’s winter and a little vegetable soup and brown bread sounds like a nice, comforting meal right now.

Portion Sizes

For lunch, Rob would often try something more familiar on the menu, but the portion sizes were much more manageable than they’d be in the U.S.:

nachos with a side salad

Nachos with – you guessed it – a side salad.

Portion sizes really did vary from place to place.  Here are some examples:

I have no ida

I have no idea what Rob had here, but it was the perfect size for lunch. {And came with a side salad!}

I loved this salmon dish I had at the Bunratty Castle Hotel. And it, too, came with a big side salad!

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Then there was a side order of mashed potatoes that came with a dinner my mother-in-law ordered. But doesn’t it really look like a big ol’ bowl of vanilla ice cream?!

A side of mashed potatoes

A side of mashed potatoes

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In Galway, many menus and signs were written in both English and Gaelic. I ordered this Warm Brie Salad. I devoured the breaded brie, but left the little side salad since I didn’t like the dressing.

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Fish & Chips

In Galway, I finally had some fish and chips, too! I remembered fish & chips being one of the meals I loved in Ireland back on my trip in 2000. I waited until Galway to have them because we were recommended by some Dubliners to get the fish and chips at McDonagh’s Fish and Chip Bar there. They said they were the best in Galway and probably the best in Ireland!

My thoughts were that they were pretty bland. But truthfully, I hadn’t had any fish and chips in a really long time. And those weren’t even in Ireland. My in-laws, who had had some fish and chips earlier in the trip, said that McDonagh’s fish and chips were better in that they weren’t as greasy.

Poor, poor Rob, though. After we looked at the menu and found that there was near to nothing rob could have , we asked him if he’d like to go somewhere else. He insisted we get our fish and chips and he would find something. He ordered some garlic or cheese bread of some sort, but it was the smallest portion size I’ve ever seen. Nothing that could fill anyone up by any means. But a true appetizer shouldn’t do that anyway. Still, Rob insisted that he was fine and we went on our merry way to listen to some traditional Irish music after enjoying our grub.

Beef

That night, after the pints of Guinness and hours of clapping and singing, and after his parents were long gone, Rob and I finally left the bar. On the walk back to our hotel, I noticed that Rob was more than just a bit tipsy after nearly nothing for dinner and drinking all through the festivities. Not wanting him to be sick, as we passed by a McDonald’s on that main street in Galway, I insisted that he get something to eat there. It was the only place open. I didn’t even a see a Spar open where we could grab some snacks.

He agreed to it and ordered some sort of specialty burger, with a smoky sauce.  After devouring it, he exclaimed: “I didn’t know beef could taste that good in Ireland!” Sad, isn’t it? After the first few days of having funky-tasting meat, he nearly had gone vegetarian and even “loved” the chips he would never eat at home.

Then, about a week ago, we read this article about horsemeat being found in “beef” burgers in Ireland. No wonder we saw these billboards all over the country:

Okay, that doesn’t even make sense on my part. This just says that the beef they use is 100% Irish/local, not that the burgers are 100% beef. Which is why my original thought that this was the reason Rob liked the burger at McDonald’s over the meat elsewhere throughout Ireland was wrong.

Instead, it might just be that McDonald’s has achieved its goal to make their burgers taste the same everywhere {regardless of the meat from which it is made}. Or it could be the fact that Irish burgers are made of local meat. We all know that when you eat foods that are local and/or in-season, they are usually fresher.  Finally, it could just be that Rob had too much to drink with no food in his stomach and anything tasted good at the moment. 😉

My advice – order chicken in Ireland. It just might surprise you, like it did me. No one thinks to do this in Ireland, because it’s not really considered “traditional”. But more times than not, I was pleased.

Final Meal

On our last night in Ireland, in the fair city of Dublin, Rob had had enough. We had our last pint of Guinness where it was supposed to taste best, checked out the Porterhouse {the halfway decent micro brew pub in Dublin} and then settled in for some Italian food. Yes. That’s right. We sold out. When traveling, you should try the food of the locals, right?

Although, thinking about that right now, there are not many restaurants in Minnesota that I can think of that serve lefse or a traditional hot dish. It would take a lot to seek them out. Creamy wild rice soup is sometimes hard to come by. {How many prepositions at the end of a sentence can I end with?} 😉

But it was so worth it. Sadly, Rob dubbed it as his best meal in Ireland. The staff there spoke Italian with each other and there were even some Italian teenagers causing a ruckus while waiting for their take-away pizzas. Maybe we could stretch it a little and say that we were in Europe, so we should eat European food. People order New York Cheesecake in California all the time, right? Yeah, I know, it’s a major stretch. Maybe even blasphemous.

 But in the end, it’s not only about the food when you are traveling. It’s the company, the landscapes, the culture, the people that make a trip more than memorable. I’ve yet to share all of those with you…

Want to learn more about our trip to Ireland this past fall? Check out these links:

Wine in Wine Countries, Guinness in Guinness Country

Ireland – Weather & What to Wear

The Beauty that is the Emerald Isle

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Whiskey Wednesday – An Ireland Post

Irish Sport – Hurling

Celebrating Gaelic Football

Sláinte~
Carrie

Celebrating Gaelic Football

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Yesterday’s post was about Hurling, a Gaelic sport loved and played by the Irish. However, the Irish people we met on our very first night out in Dublin also mentioned Gaelic Football. After hearing that we’d be in Donegal later on in our trip, they showed excitement of what we’d experience because they people of County Donegal would be on a high from winning the Gaelic Football Championship against County Mayo the week prior.

Sure enough, all throughout the county, we saw the colors sported and signs hung:

bst of luck

A convenience store wishing “all the lads” some luck.

neb at tge

Even the pharmacy proudly displays the local colors.

Car flags

Car flags. Hey, we do this in the states!

this same care

The same car detailed with tape supporting the team’s colors!

we are guilty of this ,too. The whole care in colors.

In Green Bay, we are guilty of this, too. There’s always some guy who wants to paint his car the team colors.

Or just while you are out dining.

We even experienced it at lunch in a pub.

But this whole time, I thought Gaelic Football was just soccer played by the counties in Ireland, rather than throughout Europe.

But boy was I wrong.

I learned this our first night out in Donegal Town. Rob and I went out for a couple of pints. We settled in to MJ’s Bar and ordered a couple of ciders. I spotted the sports section of a newspaper sitting on the bar. We missed out the Packer game the day before, so we decided to flip through it to see if the score was in there. We knew it was a fat chance since the paper wasn’t an international one.

When the bartender {which we later learned was also the owner of the bar} found out, he told us that we couldn’t find the scores in there. But he turned on the TV and flipped to a sports station. I was thought it was so nice that he was going to help us find the score. But it was better yet – a replay of the game was on!!!!

lhk

I told the locals that their team colors are the same as mine! (Notice the dun na ngall banner? It’s the Gaelic spelling of Donegal.)

It wasn’t until talking with a local in that bar that I learned that Gaelic Football is not just Football played amongst counties within Ireland like I had thought…

It’s a whole different sport!

In fact, Gaelic football is more like Hurling! After doing some research, it appears that it is scored the same way as hurling and the ball can be touched with the hands occasionally.

And the people of Donegal are very proud of this win.

We saw many signs about “bringing Sam home” while driving around the countryside. We inquired about this at the bar and learned that it’s the name of the trophy. To explain it a little further, the owner of the bar played a song that was written for the team. It is actually copied from a song about a man from Senegal who is said to sell the best fake Rolex watches and sunglasses, but wants to get back to Ireland.

Jimmy’s selling watches… Jimmy’s selling chains… Jimmy’s gonna sing about Molly Malone again…

This song was written by a man from Donegal, but he wanted to change it up a bit to support his team while living abroad:

Jimmy’s winning matches… Jimmy’s winning games… Jimmy’s bringing Sammy back to Donegal again…

The Jimmy he refers to here is Jimmy McGuinness, the manager of the Donegal Gaelic Football Team. And of course, Sammy is the trophy {the Sam Maguire Cup}!  Here’s the video. But I warn you… the song will be stuck in your head for days!

One of the locals said that I should sing this for the Pack in order ensure a trip to the Super Bowl this year. Such as:

Green Bay’s winning matches.

Green Bay’s winning games.

Green Bay, bring Lombardi back to Titletown again.

Hmmm… That just might stick.

Another night in Donegal Town, Rob and I stopped at the Scotsman’s Bar. After the few locals in there left, we had the bar to ourselves and chatted with the bartender. Apparently, he’s in a band called FREE WHISKEY. I absolutely adore this name for a band. Can you imagine having your band banner up while you are performing and people coming over to listen because they saw a sign that read “Free Whiskey”? Genius.

In any case, his band wrote another song about Donegal Gaelic Football called Half Cut Sam. He pointed us to their You Tube video. Not only is the music good, the video is very well done! Check it out:

What a cool place for us to visit only a week after Donegal won the Championship. I can’t imagine how crazy the pubs were the week prior! The Irish do love their sports. What’s more?

None of these athletes are paid.

That’s right. They are all just regular people with regular jobs like farmers, accountants, construction workers, etc. They are people who have the passion for their sport and want to play for their pride of their county. You gotta love that!

What is your favorite team sport to play?

What is your favorite team sport to watch?

How do you celebrate your favorite team’s win?

Sláinte~
Carrie

Irish Sport – Hurling

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From the moment we stepped off the plane and got into our taxi, we learned how much pride the people of Ireland take in their national sports. Our cab driver, who acted as a tour guide himself, pointed out Croke Park, the national sports stadium. He also let us about the upcoming Hurling Championship rematch that would be played there.

After a couple days in Dublin, our driver, Ray, picked us up to escort us on the rest of our trip. It was the day of the Hurling Championship rematch between Counties Galway and Kilkenny. We kind of forgot about it until he mentioned that it would be taking place on that beautiful Sunday afternoon. We asked questions about this sport we new nothing of and Ray’s eyes lit up when Rob said he’d like to stop and watch it, maybe over lunch and a couple of pints.

That’s exactly what we did.

What was nice is that we didn’t just watch the game, we learned all about it. Ray explained the scoring and how the game worked so we could follow it. That’s much more fun than just having a game on in the background!

It’s a sport played on a field with a small ball and a stick called a hurley. The ball is picked up and thrown with the hurley, but the hands can touch the ball only in certain circumstances.

Each team attempts to score points by putting the ball through the goal posts. The goal has both uprights {like rugby or American football} and a net {like soccer or hockey}. For this reason, there is a goalkeeper on defense.

When the ball goes between the uprights, over the crossbar, the team scores one point. If the ball goes below the crossbar into the net, the team scores a goal. A goal is equal to three points. However, the points are not displayed as totals. Instead, they are listed  as the number of goals to the number of points.

For example, in this final championship, the final score was:

Kilkenny: 3 – 22

to

Galway: 3 – 11

This means that Kilkenny made 3 goals at 3 points each as well as 22 additional single points for a total score of 31 points.

Galway, on the other hand, also made 3 goals at 3 points each, but only scored 11 additional single points for a total score of 20 points.

However you’ll never see the score posted 31 to 20. It’ll always be shown as it was above. We never would have understood this watching the game if it weren’t for Ray!

This game was much more fast-paced and higher scoring than I had imagined. There are two halves that last just 35 minutes each. There are no stops for commercials or anything else, really. It just keeps moving. I love this. After a good hour and a half, the game was over. Short and sweet compared to an American Football game!

The Irish are very fond and proud of their sports. I completely understand this as a Green Bay Packer fan. The history of the sport was displayed in one of the Folk Museums we toured:

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Hurling is believed to be one of the world’s oldest field games.

Now we are just waiting for the next Hurling season. We are looking forward to finding an Irish Pub in the Twin Cities that will televise it.

Come back tomorrow to find out about another sport part of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

What unique sport would you like to attempt?

Sláinte~
Carrie

Whiskey Wednesday – An Ireland Post

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I interrupt your regularly scheduled Wine Wednesday post to bring you Whiskey Wednesday in honor of recent trip to Ireland.

I dedicate this post to my dad, who is celebrating this 60th birthday today. He loves to add whiskey to hot apple cider on Christmas. Uh… or maybe it’s rum. Well, whatever it is, it doesn’t keep him from being…

The Most Interesting Man in the World.

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Let’s start off by saying that I didn’t like whiskey. I don’t have the palate for it. When we are out at an Irish Pub here in The States, we often order cider. Rob and my friend Jen, like to order a Johnny Jump Ups – a pint of cider with a shot of whiskey. I always take a taste of theirs and say, “Nope, can’t do it.” There was only one time I could drink one, but I swear it was because the bartender put in the wrong liquor, or a cheaper whiskey. 😉

All of that being said, as we were nearing the end of our vacation in Ireland, I suddenly wanted to try something different. Cider and stout were just getting old. Out of the blue, while sitting at the Creamery Bar near Bunratty Castle, I said to my husband, “I think I’d like to sip on some Irish Whiskey right now.”

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His initial shocked look on his face slowly turned into a smile. I mean, we were in Ireland, right? There are more whiskeys here than you’d ever imagine.

Storefront in Galway

And if this man celebrating his 90th birthday could alternate between Guinness and whiskey all night, surely I could try a little:

Terry from Carrickfergus singing a song on his 90th birthday at the Reel Inn, Donegal Town, Donegal County

Well, there’s more to Irish Whiskey than just Jameson, of course.

So we opted to split a Whiskey Flight.

tasting flight

Despite the fact that I’m knowledgeable about wine and can describe just about any, I’ve never been able to tell the differences in nor describe the nuances of the aromas and flavors of whiskey.

Furthermore, I often feel like we think we don’t like something because we’ve never really had the good stuff. Here are some things I never liked before until I discovered the real thing:

  • Mushrooms – I grew up on canned ones and hated them. Now I could put real mushrooms on just about everything. When I dine out, I always ask if the mushrooms are canned or fresh before ordering.
  • Green Beans – Same thing as mushrooms.
  • Beer – It took me a long time to like beer. I only really tolerated certain kinds in college. It wasn’t until I backpacked in Europe and drank beer in Austria, Germany and Belgium that I actually enjoyed it. And it wasn’t until I met Rob that I discovered a world of beer snobbery.
  • Coffee – I never liked coffee until my first espresso in France. Enough said.
  • Pinot Noir – I never liked this light red wine until I had that of Guy Davis. His Pinots are exactly what they should taste like. Fruity, elegant and dusty. It’s a hard grape to grow, which means it’s hard to do right.
  • Rob discovered discovered something similar with tomatoes while we were on our Honeymoon in Italy.

The trouble is, once you learn about something, you start to become snobby picky. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Here are the four whiskies we tried:

And Rob’s notes:

Robs notes

Okay, so that was his fun before we drank the flight.

Our verdict? We agreed that the Tyrconnell Single Malt was our favorite. Can I tell you why? No. I still don’t have a palate for whiskey. I’m still learning. The tasting notes in the menu: “Complex nose of sherry, honey & fruit with a long sweet oaky finish.” But I can’t say I could pick out those things. And, of course, it’s not widely available.

What I do know is that I don’t like the peaty stuff – like the last taste in the flight. It’s rare for Irish Whiskeys to made this way. It’s more common of Scotch. Rob will have a glass of Scotch from time to time and he already knew that peaty just isn’t for him. For us, it’s just too smokey.

We didn’t do the tour of Jameson while in Dublin. They don’t even produce the stuff there anymore anyway. I think it’s even owned by a French company now. However, we did learn a few things on our hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Dublin:

  • American Whiskies are distilled once
  • Scottish Whiskies are distilled twice.
  • Irish Whiskies are triple distilled… and it’s said that it’s just “to be sure, to be sure, to be sure.”

I think on a cold winter day, I could enjoy sipping a whiskey, but it’d have to be the right one. Rob and I recently purchased a Canadian Whiskey infused with Maple Syrup, which we plan to taste and share at Christmas this year. Will my dad put it in his hot apple cider? I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.

If you drink whiskey, what is your favorite and why?

If not, what is your liqueur of choice?

Cheers~
Carrie

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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Yesterday, I shared with you some photos from our vacation to the beautiful Emerald Isle. However, one of the places that left me awestruck was Slieve League – a part of the Northwest Coast of Ireland with some of the highest cliffs in the country, almost three times as high as the Cliffs of Moher.

There were no signs pointing us to the location; but our driver, Ray, knew where to go. He drove around winding, narrow roads. So narrow, that if we encountered another vehicle coming from the other direction, one of us would have to pull over to make room for the other to pass. When we came to a large vehicle gate, we made Rob get out and unlatch it as Ray drove through. After Rob latched the gate behind us and hopped back into the van, we continued our ascent up the hill.

Before we knew it, this was before our eyes:

Slieve League, County Donegal

Slieve League, County Donegal

We wandered around in awe of the scenery before us. There were only a few other people there and no tourist shops. The place was almost deserted. I took in the view, letting the wind whip through my hair. For a moment, I was reminded of Hawaii. We were there earlier in the year and the coastline of Kuau’i was just as rugged.

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Breathtaking, no?

And like Kuau’i, the water was an unreal blue that proved this area is virtually untouched.

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Northwestern coast of Ireland

It started to rain a bit and out came a beautiful rainbow:

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We arrived at a perfect time…

I followed the rainbow to the other end:

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Somewhere over this rainbow…

Then I saw this path and had an extreme urge to climb:

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I said to Ray, “Please wait for me for a bit. I’m going to look for the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow!” {Yeah, like he’s never heard that before.} Then I made my way up the stone path. When I turned around to look at the beauty before me, Rob took a photo of me:

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I took one last look and took a few final photos:

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Then I followed the path back down, where Rob was waiting.

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What a majestic view. I felt at peace and just relaxed and happy. Some places will do that to us. I know we would have never been able to find Slieve League without Ray. I’m grateful he drove us and introduced us to so many parts of his beloved country.

We saw many more rainbows throughout our vacation, including this double rainbow:

dbl rainbow

So instead of letting a rainy day suck the life out of you, think of all the beauty that rain can bring. Somewhere over the rainbow, a world of green is waiting…

What’s your favorite thing about a rainy day?

What place has made you feel relaxed, peaceful and happy lately?

The Beauty that is the Emerald Isle

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For a country the size of Indiana, Ireland has a beautifully varied terrain.

How is it that I didn’t remember this from my first visit in 2000?

Of course I remembered the weather, especially the rain.

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I remembered how that rain gave the rolling hills and vegetation such a lush green color.

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I remembered the sheep dotting the landscapes and the stone fences.

Stone Fence

I remembered the cliffs with their drastic drops to the sea below.

Cliffs of Moher, COunty

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

But how is it that I hadn’t remembered how diverse the landscapes were throughout the country? Maybe I just became fully aware of it this time around because we hired a personal driver. Ray drove us off the beaten path of normal tourist routes so we could discover his country in all its beauty.

There are waterfalls.

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Glencar Waterfall, County Leitrim

There are forests.

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Near Glencar Waterfall, County Leitrim

We drove around more lakes than I ever imagined Ireland would have.

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Isle of Innisfree on Lough Gill, County Sligo

In the past, when I thought of Ireland’s bodies of water, I thought of the sea, not inland lakes!

Even the beaches varied near the shores of the sea.

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Some were even sandy instead of rocky.

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This sandy beach was hard and flat. I wanted to break out into a run!

There were even mountains.

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View of he Derryveagh Mountains at Glenveagh Castle and National Park, County Donegal

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Ben Bulben Mountain as seen from the cemetery where Yeats is buried, County Sligo

In short, it was beautiful.

My in-laws planned this trip with a travel agent so that we would have a private driver. I probably would have never done that nor have seen most of these places because of it. This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, Joyce. It’s her birthday today! Happy Birthday! I am grateful that we could travel with you in such a beautiful country. Thank you.

What do you think is most beautiful about where you live?

Slàinte,
Carrie