We awoke on the early side to be at Foroíge at 10am. We may or may not have gotten a bit lost and learned our lesson regarding leaving in enough time to get there.
Once we finally arrived, we were introduced to Róisín [pronounced “ro-SHEEN” which means “little rose”— I love how the names have such beautiful meanings here!], who was the main staff member there during the day in the Youth Cafe. We introduced ourselves as well to the kids, and they introduced themselves as well. We then made a sort of “contract” as a group that laid out some ground rules as well as kind of set our hours for the week. We would be working with the kids 10am-4pm Monday through Thursday, and today was more of a hangout day more than anything, to get to know the kids we’d be working with and trying to get a better handle on what they wanted to do with us in terms of choosing what teams they would like to be embedded in.
Our group was joined by a girl named Yasmine, who has an *amazing* sense of style — this gal can wear orange eyeshadow like nobody’s business. She was warm and enthusiastic and we got to talk to her a lot about where she grew up, her favorite places around the city, and various recommendations for good places to eat.
The wifi at the Foroíge Youth Cafe was kind of awful, making it a bit hard to do the collaborative work we needed to do, so we set out for the Jungle Cafe, a cozy half inside, half outside tropical haven with plants galore and birds that would practically land on you [I think of this one specific finch that seemed to be taken with our group].
We ordered coffee [6 of us ordering all iced coffees was kind of an existential crisis for the waitress— not only did she tell us “I’ve never made that many iced coffees in a row before”, we also used up pretty much all of the iced coffee] and scones. XD We thanked her profusely and then got to work, learning more about Yasmine in the process.
We set out to determined a consistent theme of branding for the site, brainstorming logos and fonts that would best represent our content, as well as ideas for the social media content that would accompany our project endeavors.
Our work day ended at 4pm, and we parted with Foroíge and Yasmine for the day. We had a little bit of time to take care of assignments before our distillery tour, which I excitedly came to find out was located at the Micil Distillery [the makers of the gin I had fallen in love with at Salt House bar…!!!], which was nestled in the back of Oslo bar/restaurant thing.
It was a 25 minute walk from our apartments to Salt Hill, where the distillery was, but it was gorgeous— we got to walk along the wall that ran along the Galway Bay pretty much the whole way there until we had to peel off on a side street to the distillery and bar.
When we walked in, I was very surprised at how small the distillery was. It was literally 2 rooms, one upper level that housed the merchandise and beverages and functioned as the tour/tasting room, and then the actual still and machinery, which could be seen by leaning over the railing at the edge of the tasting room.
Aside from the lovely, timeless yet modern decor and branding, there was loads of information on the walls that explained the history of the distillery, as well as the story of Pádraic’s proud family and their traditions as poitín distillers through the generations. Here’s a fantastic article that gives you a peek into his story: https://www.thejournal.ie/poitin-micil-ireland-2-3146704-Dec2016/
Pádraic [anglicized version “Patrick”], owner and operator of the distillery https://micildistillery.com/ was SUPER knowledgeable and a *fantastic* story teller, full of pride for his family, country, and product. He gave us loads of background on the origins of poitín, whiskey, and gin; his charming lilting voice played with the ever-lingering smile on his face as he described what makes his poitín, gin, and family tradition so special. He was fluent also in Irish, and communicated with his young assistant smoothly and rapidly, making very evident the pride he holds within his language and culture.
We tried a “Micil mule” [like a moscow mule but with poitín, which can easily replace the vodka] and Fever Tree ginger beer, but not before he wished us “Sláinte mhaith!” (To good health), a “cheers!” sentiment in the words of his great-great-great grandfather, Micil Mac Cherarra.
And then, it came. My personal fave— the Micil Gin and Tonic with Fever Tree Elderflower tonic. So refreshing and absolutely brilliant. The gin, he told us contained 17 botanicals, contributing to its light, slightly citrus-y, floral taste. When we asked if he was trying to get in on the US market, he replied “oh, believe me, that’s next on the agenda.”
His talent for storytelling, his evident passion for his people and culture as well as his extensive knowledge of the distilling processes of both poitin AND gin, combined with his business and marketing [absolutely beautiful branding] savvy may or may not have turned me into a sort of Micil martyr for life— I want to bring his gin to America and help him succeed in all of his dreams and all of family business endeavors. Any bar that sells it, I’ll probably hunt it down because it doesn’t exist in the US yet [aka there’ll be a hole in my heart: a little airplane bottle of Micil gin].
After that lovely tasting experience and tour, we made the walk back to our apartments to finish up some homework, grab some dinner and then hit the hay relatively early, because the next day we were headed to *drumroll….*
THE CLIFFS OF MOHER. [!!!!!!!!]
For so long leading up to this trip, I have looked at many a picture of the cliffs— the natural wonders in this country and scenic views have by far been some of my most favorite parts, so the fact that we were headed to this iconic Unesco site made me ECSTATIC.
I fell into bed hardly able to lie still, but succumbed to slumber eventually.