Day 8 out of 88 | Dublin, Kilkenny, and Irish Guinness Beef Stew
Ireland is home of all shades of green, countless miles of rolling hills and stunning cliffside drives. It is also where I get my last name and part of my heritage, Gleeson. The third country in my travels was Ireland and to say I fell in love would be an understatement. Even if all you look at are the pictures, it will be worth scrolling down!
Side note: quotes from my travel journal are “included and verbatim”
I arrived in Ireland after going hard in Edinburgh. Hard not on the whisky, which was amazing, but hard on wanting to see everything all at once. My feet hurt and my body was finally getting use to the pace I was setting which was “if I am still alive, I am out exploring.”
I arrived in Dublin and after finally connecting to my mother and checking in via FaceTime, I was ready for another country. When I arrived “I got off the bus and the mood quickly turned into “did I make the right decision coming here?” I walked through a dirty and rather sketchy part of town in search of Issacs Hostel (my hostel)” and I was curious whether all of Dublin was shady. I knew Dublin was a huge drinking town and that it could get weird after night but again, I didn’t really know what I was getting into.
The good news is as soon as I turned the corner to the street my hostel was on, I was reassured and ready for some exploring. “When I handed my ID to the man at the Hotel, he looked at my last name and said “Gleeson?”, I nodded yes. He then said “welcome home” and it made my day. “
I was only in Dublin for a day and a half but it turned out to be one fabulous time! After being worried about the part of town I was in, I ventured out to a gastro pub with every intention of getting food and then retiring in for the night. What happened was something else entirely…
After what could only be described as the most refreshing Guinness and juicy burger, I started walking towards the Temple Bar area knowing I couldn’t leave without checking it out! “I went into Oliver St. John Goarty for a pint and met two girls. They took me in after learning I was there alone and for the rest of the night, I felt like one of the gang.” These girls were out celebrating a birthday and after learning I was there alone, they commended me for traveling alone (happened a lot) and bought me another round and we listened to a band play all the Irish classics. Not one person was sitting down, feet were stomping, people were dancing, and tons of fun was being had. Did I mention it was a weeknight?
After that first night, I decided to go on a walking tour and get the lay of the land. My tour guide looked like a vampire, No JOKE! See picture below. He wore all black, had a long black cloak and slicked back hair, and the sexiest irish accent I head the whole time I was in Ireland. After the tour I went on a picnic lunch with some folks from the tour in St. Stevens Green park and enjoyed the sights.I split off on my own after that and went in search of St. Valentine. His remains were in a small church off the beaten path and I went to spend some time praying with him, praying for love.
It was a very interesting day to say the least. After the tour I went on my own pub crawl. Tons of the pubs in Ireland are over 80 years old and full of character. With only one night left, I wanted to see as many as possible. I could overhear people saying “All the flags are out tonight” as I sat on a cobblestone street covered with a canopy of colored flags. Oh the wonder and authentic sparkle of Ireland… and this was just the start!
→ One last story from Dublin, on that first night once I made it back to my hostel, I was in a room with 6 other girls. One of them had a friend over who lived in Dublin and we all stepped outside before they left for the night. While we were standing in front of the red-faced hostel, under the metro rail, in the rain and in the fog, in Ireland, this girl started reciting a poem.
“In Dublin’s fair city, Where the girls are so pretty I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone. As she wheeled her wheelbarrow, through the streets broad and narrow crying “cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”
She was a fishmongers, and sure t’was no wonder for so were her mother and father before. And they wheeled their barrow, through the streets broad and narrow crying “cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”
She died of a fever, and sure, so one could save her and that was the end of sweet Molly Malone . Now her ghost wheels her barrow, through the streets broad and narrow crying “cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh””
It was like a spell that was being recited and not a poem. She had our complete attention and proceeded to teach us the rhyme. “As quickly as she came she was gone. I woke up the next morning with Molly Malone ringing in my ears. A moment I will never forget the rest of my time on this earth!” I sought out Molly’s statue the next day…
“I picked up my rental car this morning and was sure to get the extra insurance. Left side, Left side…. Have to remember that!!” Did you know the Irish drive on the LEFT side of the road, and of the car? That was a new sensation for me. It wouldn’t have been so nerve wrecking if I wasn’t driving out of the airport onto a 5 lane highway right off the bat, going around countless roundabouts (I never fully got the hang of those) and merging when the left lane is the slow lane and the right lane is now the fast lane. Lets just say I white knuckled it for the first few hours.
I was on my way from Dublin to Killarney, the start of a 5 day road trip around the southern half of Ireland.
The drive from Dublin was mostly highway so I decided to be “clever” and get off at the next exit to take the scenic road. Well, I was on the highway for a reason and that reason was there were no country roads where I was. I ended up driving on a single lane road, through a corn field, with no way of seeing what’s ahead, on the left side of the car, in the middle of Ireland… “clever” huh.
I finally found my way to County Tipperary where my sister Emily had told me our family (Gleeson) originated from. I stopped in Kilkenny for lunch and had beef stew that was a welcomed hot meal on a chilly, dreary, misty Irish day. The town of Kilkenny was small but not void of character. Smithwicks has an 18th century brewery located there and the town is full of Irish charm.
The man told me there were many Gleesons in that area and they were mostly wealthy families in high society. Originating from the word O’Glasain, the Gleeson clan was still around and a popular surname in that region. This was such a fun thing for me as I never had a popular last name growing up. Now I was seeing it everywhere! Jim Gleeson, dentist. Gleeson Law Firm.… I was home.
I wanted to explore every place I stopped but the drive was taking longer than expected (due to my drive through a cornfield) so I continued on Killarney being my resting place for the night.
I stayed at the Railway Hostel in Killarney and opted to have my own room for the first time on the trip. It was welcomed! “I wish I wasn’t so wiped out. I went out to dinner and had lasagna and fish stew and came back to enjoy my own room! Fresh laundry and a good night sleep was well worth the extra cash!”
Be sure to check out all the posts about Europe and recipes here!
Guinness Beef Stew
Inspired by this leg of Ireland I made this Irish Guinness Beef Stewand a thick gravy. I posted it for St. Patty’s day this year, you can find the full post here!
Guinness Beef Stew
This Guinness Beef Stew will have you licking the bottom of your bowl. Full of flavor and tender vegetables, this recipe is perfect for any weekend meal!
- ¼ pound bacon
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 sticks celery, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- OPTIONAL: 2 large potatoes or parsnips, diced. 1 turnip, diced
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1 (12 ounce) bottle Guinness
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, or as needed
- 1tsp of butter / 1 tsp oil
- ½ pound cremini mushrooms, quartered and sautéed (optional)
- 2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, and thyme, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Cook the bacon in a large, oven-safe, heavy-based pot/ Dutch Oven over medium heat.
- Remove the bacon, crumble, and set aside, but leave the bacon fat in the pot. Season the beef with salt and pepper and fry in the bacon fat until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pot, fry the onion, celery, and carrots until soft and fragrant, adding a little oil if necessary.
- Add garlic and fry for another 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste.
- Pour in the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to come to a simmer and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the beef back to the pot and pour in the chicken broth. Add the bay leaf and thyme. (I threw in a sprig of rosemary because why not 🙂 )
- Reduce to a simmer, cover, and place in oven. Cook for 1 1/2- 2 hours.
- Pull the stew out of the oven and add the mushrooms and (potatoes or parsnips and the turnip if you are using). If the stew is still thin, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water to form a slurry. Mix the slurry into the stew and bring the mixture to a boil. Put back in oven and simmer for another ½ hour, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove the bay leaf and thyme branches and add in the mushrooms at the end if desired.
- Cool slightly and plate with fresh herbs and biscuits or crusty bread for the perfect dipping companion.
“Your feet will take you to where your heart is”. A drive down Slay Head Road… That’s up next!
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