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Friday 18 August 2017

Sampling a taste of the local tourist trail

Guinness Storehouse Brewing experience
Guinness Storehouse Brewing experience

John Masterson

I love being a tourist. Years ago I got over the snobbery of not doing tour buses when I get to a new place. Now I head straight for the open top. It is a great way to find out what is worth seeing again and what to avoid. But we are very poor at visiting our own tourist haunts. Ireland is visited by people from all over the world and when I am asked what is good to see I haven't a clue.

So it was then when I found I had an idle few hours in Dublin I thought it was a good opportunity to be a tourist.

The Guinness Storehouse is our No.1 tourist destination and I had never been there. Time to rectify this omission.

It wasn't 9.30 on a Saturday morning and there was a crowd speaking in many tongues. I paid my €20.

I know you are supposed to do the memorabilia shop last but I did it first. If anyone is stuck at Christmas, a pair of the "Tall Dark and Have Some... Guinness" socks will do me fine.

Guinness uses a lot of water, and the first thing you see is a fabulous waterfall.

From the word go you know you are in a world-class attraction. I ambled my way along, dodging people taking selfies and almost took one myself when I came to the fish riding a bicycle… "A woman needs a man… etc."

I had a good look at the many informative exhibits showing how to make Guinness and enjoyed the historical sections showing the barges and the coopers of old.

I did not delay as I was familiar with all of this but I did notice that the real tourists were taking it all in.

I headed for the advertising section as, let's face it, many of us grew up waiting for the next Guinness advert as they were always stunning. The 'surfboard' one was advert of the century and, more importantly, immortalised by Christy Moore. I had always loved the John Gilroy images of the toucans and sea lions etc, and I dawdled. I was becoming a real tourist.

I decided not to do the Guinness Academy and make a mess of pulling my pint but I did note that more than half a million people had.

Instead I went onwards and upwards to the Gravity Bar. I may as well have been in Tokyo. Japanese tourists seem to love their pints. As did about six other nationalities that I counted.

I walked the full 360 degrees taking in what is the best view in Dublin. The major landmarks are etched in the windows and it is easy to get your bearings.

I craved a pint of the black stuff but there is the coeliac dilemma. It is on the forbidden list.

It is not often I have a drink before midday and particularly one I am not allowed. Today I am a tourist.

Next week Kilkenny Castle.

It has been there since 1195 and I hear it is good.

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