Abroad in Dublin home

10. Guinness

The guide book for Dublin had scant information about the recently revamped Guinness brewery tour. Yet, from both my first visit to the city, and the accounts of other visitors' travels, the tour of the brewer is an essential ingredient of any visit. The hotel had provided a tourist guide, which contained both an advert for the brewery's tour and a review of the refurbishments, completed in December 2000. All of the information we had said clearly that the tour is open until 7pm from April 1st. So, at around 5pm on April 4th, we set off to find the place.

The advert and review did not mention how to get to the brewery. The guide book did not say where the brewery - at St James' Gate - was; I think that it is located just outside of all the maps we had. The street signs, near the Liffey, did not mention the tour either. All in all, we had to rely on our instincts and my general belief that we would find it if we followed the river's path for long enough. We knew that the pub, The Brazen Head, was quite near to the brewery, and we planned to visit this for refreshment - both of the liquid and nutritious variety - when we had completed viewing Arthur Guinness's tourist legacy. Indeed, we believed that it had been The Brazen Head which had originally caused us to stray from our student charity collection all those years ago. It truly is amazing the power that a pub has to divert you from your planned course.

Despite the rain, which was really only slight - no bother to the Newcastle resident, used to the Geordie monsoons - and without the help of the signage, which only appears once you are basically in sight of the visitor's centre, we found our way to the black gold mine (or Guinness Brewery Tour, whichever nomenclature you prefer).

So, for travelers who may wish to follow in our footsteps, here is the definitive guide to finding the Guinness Brewery Tour:

On the south side of the review Liffey, head west along its quayside. Keep going past the drunkard, drinking and sitting in front of the church. Continue until you reach the man taking his trousers down in a doorway to your left.

Continue past the drunk in the front yard of the next church. Finally, in sight of the observation deck at the top of the brewery, which will appear some distance along on your left, stop in at Noel Leonard's pub to ask for directions.

If, like us, you have read that your destination is open until 7pm, and you ask for directions to it at around 5.20pm, don't be surprised if, as well as being told the way (which is to follow the road beside the pub) you are also told that the brewer may not be open. You will be able, with confidence, to pronounce that it is definitely open until 7pm, thus pooh-poohing the genial landlord, who was never obliged to give you directions. Talking of which...

Go up the road, through the unpleasant housing estate until you reach the main road. It's right and then first left.

Then, with the smell of brewing in your nose, and with the brewer in sight, you'll find the signposts to take you to the Guinness Storehouse - the posh name they have for the visitor's centre. Actually, perhaps it's not so much posh as twee... it probably was once used as a storehouse, but it still smacks of branding to me!

When you arrive at about 5.30pm, don't be surprised if the entrance escalator is coming towards you, rather than taking you inside. Ignore the total absence of a queue at the entrance. In addition, don't take it the wrong way when you find that the tour is, in fact, closed. This is perfectly normal, since the tour closes every day at 5pm and the literature you have been reading is simply wrong.

By way of consolation, we returned to Noel Leonard's for two pints of the black stuff (one each).

>> 11. A Real Irish Pub

02 June 2002
Ashley Frieze