Saturday, 17 March 2012

Greening it up for St Paddy's Day in Dublin

Breakfast was a lavish affair at Buswells Hotel, in their beautifully decorated Georgian breakfast room.  All the usual fare from cereals, fruit, toast & bacon, eggs & sausages. 

Breakfast Room, Buswells Hotel, Dublin

We had risen early so we could get ourselves over to Parnell Square over the otherside of the River Liffey, to get a good spot on the Tourism Ireland media bus parked just below the starting point for the St Paddy's Day Parade.  It was a long hike from the hotel so we decided on getting a taxi there, knowing we'd be on foot for the return journey back after the parade.

Tourism Ireland Media Bus, St Patrick's Day, Dublin

Thanks again to our friends at Tourism Ireland, we had been given Media Passes, left at the hotel for us yesterday, so we could gain access to the Media bus when we arrived.  Also in our Media package was a free 1G Memory Stick [green of course] & a 2 day Dublin Bus Pass for us both.  We were certainly not going to have any difficulty getting transport for the next two days while we were here in Dublin that's for sure. 

Waiting for the Parade to start, St Patrick's Day, Dublin

Soon after we'd secured the best seats up on the top deck of the open Double Decker Media bus, Press journalists & photographers started to arrive.  Many asked where we were from & when we told them New Zealand, they looked rather puzzled at our small digital cameras compared to their much larger cameras & Zoom lenses.    Did they think we were from the New Zealand Press?

"Ladder with a View" - St Paddy's Day Parade, Dublin

Once the parade started we began to realize how lucky we were to be on the bus.  The views for taking photos were fantastic.  Crowds lined the street & if you're vertically challenged as I am & weren't in the front rows. you'd probably have difficulty getting a good view.  
I noticed several men carrying ladders with them & these were used to perch children up high so they could view the parade over the heads of those in front of them.  Great idea if you don't have to carry it too far.

The begining of the St Patrick's Day Parade, Dublin 2012

Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague lead Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the historic Lord Mayor’s coach [who can be seen in my You Tube clip above].  The Lord Mayor's Coach dates from 1791 & made its first public appearance on 4th November 1791 in the annual ceremonial procession that marked the birthday of King William III.  It was restored in 1975 & made its first reappearance in the 1976 St. Patrick's Day Parade.

From where we were sitting on the bus [cnr of Parnell Sq West & Parnell Sq North], we could see right up to the top of Granby Row  where the parade begins, with the St Mary's 'Chapel of Ease' looming in the background.  Apparently this Chapel was deconsecrated in 1962 & is now  occupied as offices.  By the by, a ‘chapel of ease’ so I've learned, is a church building other than the main parish church located within the boundary of a parish, for those to attend that cannot conveniently reach the main church.

'Marching Mizzou', St Patrick's Day Parade, Dublin
The marching band from the The University of Missouri

"To mark Dublin's year as the City of Science, the parade theme was How? What? Why?
Street performers and theatre companies gave extravagant displays of colour and dance, portraying different scientific concepts from questions posed by Irish schoolchildren.  

One troupe had dancers dressed as raindrops and different colours, as it tried to illustrate how a rainbow is made.
Meanwhile, another group, which answered the question of why we dream, danced behind a giant nightmarish dragon, a metallic rhinoceros and 20ft (6m) tall flowers". [Daily Mail Reporter 17 Mar 2012]

The fabulous street theatre group 'Macnas' & many other street performers, provided a carnival atmosphere & a real mardi gras feel to the celebrations.

The parade was a full on sensory sensation, with a mix of futuristic artistry, 'back to the future' type inventiveness & rainbow coloured creativity

After the last of the parade performers walked by, we moved in amongst the throng of people heading back up O'Connell's Street & across the River Liffey toward the Trinity College area.  O'Connell Street was completely blocked off to traffic for the parade & the heavy Police presence insured that the hundred's of thousand's of people attending the parade, moved away from the main routes in an orderly fashion. 

We waded through a sea of green, green hats green jumpers, green scarves, green hair, green shoes and.... red beards.    Children with painted faces, waving their green, white & orange flags, green, green green.... everywhere!

Spot the Kiwi, St Patrick's Day, Dublin

Happiness is a beautiful child wearing a little green hat on St Patrick's Day

For a crowd so massive, everyone appeared well behaved with the carnival atmosphere carrying on throughout the throng, many of whom were now heading for the many pubs around the city.  

It has been nearly a year ago now since I won this trip to Ireland in a Tourism Ireland NZ online competition. My intention way back then in May 2011, was to hold off coming to Ireland until March 2012 so I could experience the St Patrick's Festival & Parade in Dublin. Well, here I am at last & I have to say, that parade was the best I've ever seen.  I can't recommend enough, that if you're planning a trip to Ireland, come in March for the parade, it's fabulous spectacle!Rather than heading to the pub, we decided to head to the Brewery instead!

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness Storehouse is rolling out the green carpet for all Paddy's and offering them free entry into the Storehouse. If you are lucky enough to have the name of Patrick, Patricia, Paddy or Padraig, be prepared to be treated to a special VIP Patrick experience in the Guinness Storehouse today!

My VIP card

As well as free entry into the Storehouse, I was given a VIP Pass to wear around my neck, a  green 'Very Important Paddy'  T-shirt  & an extra free pint of Guinness to drink .... as if one wasn't going to be enough for me!  

Guinness posters, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Arthur's Bar, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

There are seven floors to the Storehouse with the Gravity Bar perched on the top, symbolically the "head of the pint", where one can enjoy 360 degree views across Dublin while savoring your complimentary pint of Guinness which everyone gets with their entry ticket.

View of Dublin from the Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar

Another view from the Gravity Bar, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

During the tour of the Storehouse, you learn about the history and process of making the famous Irish brew, where I was surprised to learn only four ingredients are used - Water, Barley, Hops & Yeast.

My Perfectly Poured Pint, Guinness Academy, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Five minutes... that's how long it takes to pour the perfect pint.     If you're visiting the Guinness Storehouse, then a quick lesson at the 'Guinness Academy' on how to pour the perfect pint, is a must :o) 


How to Pour the Perfect Pint of Guinness, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Guinness is an acquired taste.....&  I'm still trying to acquire a taste for it.  I did try, I really did.    I do love the look of it when it's sitting in those great looking Guinness glasses.... does that count?
We were also told that the Guinness Storehouse was pulling out all the stops over St Paddy's Weekend to set a new Guinness World Record of making March 17th, the World's Friendliest Day.    You won't get any argument from me about that!

And just in case you were wondering, the Guinness Book of World Records did originate at the Guinness Brewery. 

Buswells Hotel, Dublin

Back at Buswells Hotel we opt for enjoying a bar meal & some really great entertainment provided by traditional musicians.

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