Travel2011

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2011 - NER­INE DOR­MAN

THE FIRST ques­tion ev­ery­one asks about my visit to Ire­land is whether I kissed the Blar­ney Stone. The next is whether I went to the Guin­ness Store­house for a real pint of Guin­ness. I can an­swer yes to both ques­tions and, no, I did not catch a so­cial dis­ease af­ter my visit to the Blar­ney Stone. And yes, a pint of Guin­ness is aw­fully lovely when en­joyed from the top of the Grav­ity Bar.

Of course, it would just be my luck that I vis­ited Ire­land when Hur­ri­cane Ka­tia made land­fall, but I am happy to re­port the storm had blown it­self out by the time it reached the Emer­ald Isle, and all we ex­pe­ri­enced were a few gusts of strong wind – noth­ing a Capeto­nian hadn’t seen be­fore.

Our in­trepid me­dia group was bun­dled into a bus driven by our knowl­edge­able driver, Ge­orge, and off we went: desti­na­tion County Cork and a num­ber of the other notto-be missed icons of our visit.

The best way to see the Ir­ish coun­try­side is, of course, by road. And, while there are now free­ways con­nect­ing all the ma­jor cities, it’s the smaller by­ways that al­low you to im­merse your­self in a sense of the true coun­try­side. You never quite know what you’ll see as you round a cor­ner. It could be a tum­ble­down cot­tage swamped with ivy, a ru­inous tower house or an enig­matic ring fort.

Although we had in­tended to stop by the Rock of Cashel – a beau­ti­ful ex­am­ple of Celtic and me­dieval ar­chi­tec­ture – the hur­ri­cane’s winds were strong enough for of­fi­cials to close the site. Restora­tion work was tak­ing place at the time of our visit and it would have been most in­con­ve­nient to get clob­bered over the head by fallen scaf­fold­ing. We did stop at the side of the road to snap some lovely pho- tographs of the view.

Our first stop was Mi­dle­ton, for the Jame­son Whiskey Ex­pe­ri­ence. Set in man­i­cured, green grounds, the dis­tillery’s build­ings have been beau­ti­fully re­stored – old stone with bright shut­ters. In places, bril­liant creep­ers sheathed the stonework and there was of­ten one more nook beg­ging for a closer look. Af­ter a short au­dio- vis­ual pre­sen­ta­tion, our tour group wan­dered along the whiskey’s his­tor­i­cal foot­steps. Many of the old im­ple­ments and equip­ment have been pre­served, telling the tale of a labour-in­ten­sive process that started with bar­ley and re­sulted in the am­ber liq­uid I’ve en­joyed on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions.

An old brick smoke­stack still stands at a dizzy­ing height and it didn’t re­quire much imag­i­na­tion on my part to visu­alise the smoke bil­low­ing from its top. The gi­ant cop­per still is a sight to be­hold and is ap­par­ently the largest of its kind in the world. Moun­tains of coal

Con­tin­ues op­po­site

LIV­ING SCULP­TURE: One of the ‘liv­ing’ sculp­tures in Cork City. Capeto­ni­ans are no strangers to such per­for­mance artists.

RELIC: An old de­liv­ery truck at the Jame­son Ex­pe­ri­ence.

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