One of the things I love best about the Irish is the passion they hold for their culture. This week’s event demonstrated just this. The businessmen and academics genuinely shined with pride for their technological innovations, business strategies and ambition.
But it wasn’t all business. Our hosts also showed their pride in Ireland’s culture, striving [and succeeding] to impress us with social and cultural events.
Our fun included…
a tour of the Jameson Distillery outside Cork in Midleton, Cork, that was informative and historical, offering insight into a name that is synonymous with Irish innovation. The tasting reminded me why I am not a fan of whiskey, but also confirmed that the Jameson brand is true to its advertising and offers a much smoother and appealing taste than its Scotch and American counterparts.
a private cooking demonstration and dinner at the Barnabrow House in Midleton. The heaven of traditional Irish cuisine, with a three-course dinner of leek and potato soup with salmon for a starter, Guinness beef stew for the main and something with chocolate for dessert (I can’t remember that bit well), along with a lot of delicious wine and great conversation.
a visit to Powerscourt Estate and gardens in Enniskerry outside Dublin. Previously the residence of the Slazenger family (as in the sports equipment manufacturers), the grounds are now open to the public – and they are absolutely breathtaking. We had limited time so I took an abridged tour of the gardens with Italian and Japanese designs and the Pets’ Cemetery, the largest in the country where most of the family’s pets are laid to rest.
Here are a selection of shots from Powerscourt: (The remainder can be found here.)
Some other highlights of the trip included:
— meeting a government official with the e-mail address “himself@[firstandlastname].com.” How creative is that?! Trualy a fantastic person!
— having dinner (another three-course delight including a duck entrée) next to one of the investors, a delightful Dublin native who spent a good amount of time drawing me a map of walks outside Dublin to check out during my free time. He even left me his phone number in case I got stuck somewhere, since I knew no one else in the area. Oh, and he hit the bar with us afterwards. Bless him.
— post-dinner drinks at some Dublin hotspots and watching some of our crew let loose. No seriously, there was a great guy from Texas who just kept inserting himself into groups of ladies. (They also told me I need to head South and find myself a cowboy. I think they may be on to something.)
— lunch at Johnnie Fox’s, the “highest pub in Ireland,” or so it claims. The décor is fabulous, packed with old mismatched furnishings and signs, photos and other random memorabilia. The place also offers fantastic food; I continued the seafood theme and indulged on Mussels in a White Wine sauce and a Goat Cheese salad.
This is Michael Flatley’s shoe.
— hearing a hilarious story about the time one of our entourage got terrible sunburn before flying to Japan for a business deal and accidentally patted (literally) on 5-day bronzer instead of after-sun lotion and showed up with bright orange handprints on his face on top of red sunburn. Best part of the story is how he handled the situation: he pretended nothing was out of the ordinary and offered no explanation for his look. (This guy had some fantastic stories; definitely a life of the party type of character.)
— staying in The Gibson Hotel, one of Dublin’s newest – and most modern – hotels where I came home to late Thursday night to find someone had come in to turn down my sheets and refold all the towels I had left in disarray during my first hour there. Oooo, and I had a fab patio where I saw a great sunset.
— hearing three company representatives in a row answer my question about their business ambitions for the US market with, “world domination.” Simmer down now.
— and, to be serious for a moment, meeting a ton of brilliant, personable and interesting people from my industry. I could go on and on about how fantastic the event, the businesses and the participants were from a business perspective, but to keep all identifying characteristics out of this blog (minus the story above which I am going to guess is not all that common), I’m going to leave the professional opinions out of here. But in all honesty, some really inspiring people who know their stuff. I was thoroughly impressed day after day.
All in all, a fabulous trip!!