Tuesday, January 19, 2016

10/2 - Dublin and Friends

10/2 - Dublin and Friends
More pics here.

The Storehouse was a highlight of my trip to Dublin in college, and I was curious if I would be as impressed a second time around, especially having spent so much time in marketing and design. Would this be just another self-promoting tourist trap? It was and wasn’t. It’s certainly self-promoting, but their branding and story is so thorough and compelling, you end up rooting for the Guinness team before you even get to the first exhibit. It rivals Disneyland in thoroughness of execution – from the cobblestone walkways through old and still active distillery warehouses to the thematic gift store. 
There are striking displays honoring and illuminating the ingredients, process, people, tools, and history of making and marketing Guinness. There is a seamlessness and authenticity to the displays that feels more like museum than a company promotion. The displays are beautiful, educational, and brief enough to not bog you down with information overload. They engage the senses – from smelling the vapors of beer flavors to watching water rush over your head and down an indoor waterfall. Lighting, movement through the displays, graphics and color – it’s all been thoughtfully curated. And the culmination of 7 stories of beer history is a pint of Guinness at the top of the museum in a 360 –degree glass room that overlooks all of Dublin. What a morning!
We stopped for lunch after this in the city’s oldest continuous pub, The Brazen Head, dating back to 1198. It was quaint and charming like they all are. We enjoyed the Hop13 lager – made by Guinness but in a more micro-brew style. Hoping we can find that one back home.
The National archeology museum was thoughtfully and tightly focused on Irish history, including Norse and Neolithic histories. For a small, free museum they had amazing pieces that could compete with The British Museum (obviously the smaller scope helped), and with much more context and information. We saw 5 or so bog mummies, which was truly disturbing. At the British Museum, you see a nice curled up man who appears to be sleeping. Here we saw fractured skulls, disemboweled stomachs, and a severed half body, as well as recreations of what the person looked like in life. It was very intense. And, in some ways, very Irish.

We also saw tons of stunning bronze age gold jewelry - apparently sourced from rivers and streams in Ireland as in CA. It was beautiful, ornate, and hard to imagine being made or worn in the countryside we’d just come from. We saw various burial chambers and paraphernalia, Catholic/Celtic Christian memorabilia, Viking armor and weapons, and a multi-point-of-view revisiting of Irelands oldest (but very misunderstood) hero story (Brian Boru and the battle of Clontarf).

We rounded out this surprisingly full day by navigating the awful bus system to visit friends who’d relocated to Dublin earlier this year. We’ve known Locksley and Miriam for a good 8 or 10 years, but most of that time they’ve been busy moving around the world, with a few years living in Davis sprinkled throughout. They are an amazing couple and family – their children are charming and well behaved and just impish enough to be real. The kids seem to be adjusting really well to the transition – not without bumps, but considering I was having cultural-displacement meltdowns daily after just two weeks, I can’t imagine relocating completely, at that young age, and also adjusting to school, tests, trying to understand Gaelic-accented teachers, and growing up all the while. They are champs!


Despite the long bus rides and worrying that getting lost would cut into our time with the family, we did enjoy seeing “suburban” Dublin, a real home, and eating home cooked food! It was a joy to see friends and catch up, to discuss what we’d all experienced in this new place (our tourist impressions, their new resident experiences), to share and pray for one another, and to witness how strong their family is knit to relocate so well.  We also got to spend some time helping Miriam explore her mysterious plumbing system – and hopefully give her some ideas for sorting it out. European retrofit remodeling is both terrifying and inspiring. 

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