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Insider Experience: Ireland – Day One from Dublin

Don LittlefieldGroup Trips

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A group of 23 travelers from all over the United States is in Ireland for the next week, checking out the craft beer scene in the country along with the amazing geographical sites and cultural moments. Here is the report from Day One of their adventures as they assemble in Dublin and make their way through County Kildare and into the town of Portlaoise.

Organized and led by Evan McElligott of Independent Ireland, the group trip is comprised of people from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Iowa, and Washington State.

Many of the guests flew into Dublin a day early to get a little bit acclimated, many others arrived early on Wednesday morning. That meant there was a pickup that originated at the airport, and another adjacent to Trinity College in the heart of the city.

 

Seamus is planning the first route while waiting at Trinity College. Although this is much bigger and a different color than our tour buses back in New England, notice the Brew Bus logo at the top of the front windshield.

Either way, it was onto a coach bus driven by Mr. Seamus O’Shea – a nearly 30-year veteran of transporting people around Ireland, and Evan’s trusted driver for the past seven years.

Evan started off by welcome everyone aboard the “Irish Brew Bus” and explaining some of the travel details for the first day.

Once comfortably aboard, the special guest brewer also hopped aboard to join us for the first part of the journey.

Mark “Twig” Everett (@cuckoo_twig) is a teacher, farmer, and brewer who is one of the key people responsible for CANVAS Brewery. Located in Tipperary, CANVAS is run by two sets of brewing brothers who grow malt and hops on the family farm and brew beers that are regarded as very different than the standard styles that Ireland is most known for. Much more about them later.

Twig brought along his dog Tilli (@tillitantastic) – a Jack Rusell Terrier who was a big hit with our group right from the start.

The entire group then headed down into the Wicklow area and a nice stop along the rocky beach at Bray. This was a great chance to walk around a bit, to stretch the legs and also grab some coffee and snacks for the long day ahead.

Closer into the center of town was our first brewery stop – Wicklow Wolf Brewing. Founded just five years ago, this company is on the verge of moving to a new facility to allow them to grow.

Our hosts there tasted through many of their impressive beers, including a lager, a Sorachi Ace-hopped Red Ale, and a Black New England-style IPA.

They then showed us around the brewing facility. For all, this was a great chance to hear about the process of beer production from grains to glass.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to the bus for the trip down to Glendalough.

This scenic site was once a monastic settlement where a cathedral – unused since the 13th Century – once served as the center for the faithful.

Somehow Twig convinced our driver Seamus to take our large coach bus across the Sally Gap on what is called Military Road.

The high point of the journey provided a meager pull-off area where Seamus delicately placed our bus. We were able to step out to take pictures as we enjoyed the breathtaking view.

And I do mean breathtaking! The wind was so severe that it literally was a challenge to walk, stand, or breathe. I even took a video of what that was like. But that experience was truly unforgettable for all of us.

We soon found ourselves in a small village called Sillins and our next stop at Kildare Brewing Company. This longtime village pub called Lock 13 has added brewing capability over the past two years and this is helping to transition their business significantly.

Along with dinner, we enjoyed samples of their Lager, a Red Ale, a Pale Ale, a session IPA, and a Weiss.

After that, it was on to Portlaoise and a well deserved nights’ sleep. But not until after we had a chance to get to know one another over many Irish and American craft beers.

Next up, an incredible journey to the Cliffs of Moher and Limerick by way of CANVAS Brewing. [Read the Day Two report here]


Don Littlefield is the General Manager of Brew Bus Tours. This is his third visit to Ireland. He enjoyed “The Good” barleywine from Eight Degrees Brewing in County Cork just before dreaming about writing this post. Twitter @BeerinME