Christmas in Cork 2015.
I tricked my wife into going to the Ballymaloe Craft Fair on the pretence that I wanted us to ‘do things as a family’ so that I could spend 30 minutes talking to Kieran from Blackwater Distillery whilst drinking gin and vodka. A great day, as is virtually everything in Ballymaloe. Place be magic, yo.
That gif tells you all you need to know: Whiskey! Craft! Fire!
If, however, you need more information, there’s this:
It’s always enriching when established brands and emerging talents come together, so have the schedule for the Jameson Black Barrel Craft Market which runs from November 27th – 29th should not be missed.
The free three-day craft market which is a project between Jameson and and emerging talents of the Irish craft community will feature some amazing talent who are pushing the taste buds of craftsmanship. Inspirational makers like Hazel House, Grand Grand, Liadain Aiken, Garvan De Bruir, Hen’s Teeth Prints,, Mamukko, Bonagrew and Bryans Master Cobblers will be exhibiting their products at the fully covered market.
The venue the The Bernard Shaw backyard on Richmond Street in Dublin 2 in association with Bodytonic will be completely transformed for the event, it will feature a full schedule of barber shop services, artisan food pairings live craft demonstrations, music acts, and whiskey tastings throughout the weekend.
Years of experience and craft go into the precise selection of whiskeys used to produce Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel which was the Gold medal for best blended Irish whiskey under €60 at the recent Irish Whiskey Awards, the latest release from the Jameson Family. Made from a blend of rich pot still and a small batch grain whiskey, this special whiskey is uniquely matured in hand-crafted flamed charred black barrels for a rich smooth taste.
So if you’re interested in whiskey and want to see what the best of Irish crafts take over a superb venue for the weekend,go along and have a great time and you may even pick up the perfect gifts for Christmas.
Friday 27th November
5:00pm – Craft market opens for trade
5:00pm – DJ set by Sarah Byrne (Faune//War)
5:45pm – Cooperage demonstration hosted by Jameson’s Master Cooper, Ger Buckley
6:15pm – Live music by Corner Boy
7:15pm – DJ Sarah Byrne (Faune//War)
7:30pm – ‘Meet the Masters’ hosted by Jameson’s Master of Maturation, Kevin O’Gorman
10:00pm – Craft market wraps for the night but its business as usual for The Bernard Shaw.
Saturday 28th November
2:00pm – Craft Market opens for trade
2:00pm – This Greedy Pig DJs
3:45pm – Cooperage demonstration hosted by Jameson’s Master Cooper, Ger Buckley
4:30pm – Live music by The Young Folk
5:30pm – This Greedy Pig DJs
5:45pm – Cooperage demonstration hosted by Jameson’s Master Cooper, Ger Buckley
8:00pm – Craft market wraps for the night but its business as usual for The Bernard Shaw.
Sunday 29th November
2:00pm – Craft Market opens for trade
2:00pm – DJ Handsome Paddy
3:00pm – Cooperage demonstration hosted by Jameson’s Master Cooper, Ger Buckley
3:30pm – Live music by Cry Monster Cry
4:15pm – DJ Handsome Paddy
4:45pm – ‘Meet the Masters’ hosted by Jameson’s Global Ambassador Dave McCabe”
5:15pm – Live music by Cry Monster Cry
6:00pm – DJ set by Handsome Paddy
8:00pm – Craft Market wraps for the night but its business as usual for the Bernard Shaw.
No tickets necessary – over 18s only
And the video, if you need visuals on all that:
Still not convinced? Did I mention the free whiskey?
The only point in Pixels where my brain actually engaged. It’s an Oban, which I find odd as Brian Cox’s tipple is Lagavulin. The rest of the film is wank, btw.
I was meant to have a vasectomy two kids ago. My wife and I had what is known as ‘the gentleman’s family’ – a boy and a girl – and we were officially done. She went back to work, and while her wage, combined with my salary, wasn’t a king’s ransom, things were going to be ok. We talked about our sadness that we weren’t going to have any pitter patter of tiny feet in the house, but we knew it was the best to keep it to two. I made vague plans to get meself fixed, and we continued with life, and life continued with us.
One month into her new job, she felt a bit odd. Odd in a familiar way. Another little person came along nine months later. Which was fine, it was going to be grand and I’d get that vasectomy someday soon now. A few months later, she started to get that familiar odd feeling and hey presto, welcome to People Carrier Town, population me and my four kids. I am now at the stage where when I tell people how many children I have I sometimes add ‘with the same person’ at the end, as it sounds like I might be a feckless Jeremy Kyle-style Johnny Appleseed, roaming east Cork knocking people up. Four is a crazy number of humans to create – when I told a friend of mine that my wife and I were expecting again his response was ‘dear god man, she isn’t a clown car you know’.
So this was the point where I actually picked up the phone and booked a vasectomy. The Catholic in me would say the procedure was atonement for forcing my poor wife into four pregnancies, but really it was more like the moment in Se7en when Kevin Spacey’s serial killer character walks into the cop station and asks to be arrested. So to help me go through with it – and to help pay for it, as the procedure is 450 – I wrote about the whole experience. You can read the entire lot here, it is quite hand-wringy and po-faced, but it generally covers all of it – including some basic guidelines for shaving your genitals. See kids, newspapers still got it.
The features editor liked the article and sent it off to media outlets ahead of publication. I’m not sure why it took off the way it did – it was possibly that this is an issue that most men don’t talk about, despite it being incredibly common. For whatever reason, this was the point where my 15 minutes of shame began.
First was the Ray D’Arcy show on Today FM. Ray was on holidays, so it was Paddy from the Undertones instead. Teenage kicks indeed. It went fine, I even got to reference The Simpsons when talking about the squirm factor of talking about the procedure – ‘it’s like when you see someone getting hit by a football in the groin, even if you’ve never been hit by a football in the groin’. Well, the sound engineer got the reference anyway.
Then it was on to Red FM, where I was interviewed by Neil Prendeville, because if you’re going to openly discuss your genitals with someone in the media, he really is the ideal person. Neil was great, we laughed about the whole thing, which is the sometimes best way to approach sensitive topics like this. I assumed at this point that this would be it – one national and one local radio station had covered it, so the others wouldn’t be interested anymore, right? Wrong. Later in the week I had the sublime pleasure of going on one of the most listened-to shows in the country, Today With Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1. On I went, along with a relationship expert and Dr Andrew Rynne, who is a bit of a pioneering legend when it comes to vasectomies, having once been shot by a former patient.
At this stage I was an old hand at being on radio, and afterwards I trundled back to the office to enjoy the hate hoots of co-workers and slump back into total obscurity. Not quite. I was asked to go on Ireland AM on TV3, because nothing says ‘breakfast TV’ like an old guy talking about his sausage and eggs. We agreed a date – November 7th, which as I’m sure you know is World Vasectomy Day.
The researcher told me they were trying to get an expert or two on with me as Mark Cagney was away on holidays, meaning it’d just be me and the lovely Sinead Desmond talking about my junk. The seventh arrived, and as my dawn taxi slid through the grim industrial estates of Dublin’s hinterlands, I thought ‘this must be what it’s like to get trafficked to a snuff movie’ – and, much like a snuff movie, TV3 only paid my taxi fare one way. We eventually got to TV3’s studios, which is basically a big industrial unit in the middle of several other industrial units. I was greeted by an intern who was running up and down corridors trying to do seventy million jobs at once; she told me she was also interning at a radio station in the evenings. Life in the media: Non-stop glamour.
After some awkward loitering near the complimentary muffins, and even more awkward loitering near Lovely Girl Emeritus Sinead Noonan, I was ushered down to make-up to be beautified. Having a face that is already a full-scale Dale Winton shade of tangerine, I didn’t need much pan stick, just a ton of powder to try and tone down the mirrorball effect of my skin. Then it was off to backstage to lurk behind the set and let the fear take over. Rugby legend Shane Byrne was on before me, then they cut to break and it was hammer time. I was ushered over to the couch. Shane shook my hand and said ‘fair play’ while wincing. Not sure if that was about getting the snip or just being stupid enough to go on TV and talk about it. So down I sat with the lovely Sinéad. They had failed to get anyone else on, so it was just the two of us, talking about my frank and beans, as you do. I don’t remember much from the interview, I talked about family, getting the snip, public reaction to the article, and how online comments sections are just a Fight Club for the terminally deranged. And then that was it. Somebody shouted ‘cut’, possibly ironically, and it was over. I got my pan stick and powder removed, and went off to visit a relative who was being treated in the Blackrock Clinic. I got there, and having been too nervous to eat brekkie, decided to get a coffee and non-complimentary muffin. While sitting there I felt a tap on my shoulder, and looked up to see a woman looking at me with a somewhat furrowed brow. I assumed she was about to ask me if I was wearing make-up (I was), but no, it was much better than that.
‘Sorry, but were you just on TV? On Ireland AM?’
Oh my god yes I was. Yes I was and now I was being recognized in public, like Kim Kardashian or Larry Murphy!
‘Well you were very, very good. Well done’.
I said thanks a million, that I hoped I didn’t look thick (I am), and we went our separate ways, me to bury my face in a muffin, her to whatever, I don’t care as I’m the famous one in this story. It was only afterwards I realized that I should have pointed out to her that I was in the Blackrock Clinic to visit a relative, and not to have my genitals reattached, or to transition to another gender, or anything bollock-related. Oops.
My pubic publicity tour was made all the more surreal by the fact that I got my redundancy notice midway through it all. So it wasn’t just my Johnson that was totally without purpose – soon the rest of me would be too. But it was fine – one of the reasons I wrote about getting the snip was how I feel about journalism: I feel that anyone who works in a newspaper needs to be have that bright light shone upon them from time to time, to be able to hold themselves up to public scrutiny, just as their industry does to others.
Apart from that, I felt that this was something worth talking about. A vast portion of the media obsessively talks about women’s health issues – look at almost any magazine rack and all you will see is women’s bodies being dissected, discussed, probed, analyzed – and when I was going about getting the procedure, I found very little written from the point of view of an Irish male. Maybe I blew it all out of proportion – and I’ve been told I did – but it is a big deal for men, and one that needs to be talked about openly, even if it’s in the form of juvenile banter – as long as we’re talking about men’s physical and emotional health, things can only improve, and god knows we need to do a bit of evolving in that department.
Anyway, after it all I found I was being asked crazy questions, which just show how little people know about vasectomies – so I’ve compiled some of the best FAQs – or ‘fairly awkward questions’ – here for anyone looking for a short checklist ahead of getting it done.
Great question, your junk goes home with you where it always was, only more shriveled than usual. Go home and spend two days in bed. Fun fact – this will be the very first time you have ever spent two days in bed without having a single erotic thought. The time will drag. Get Netflix.
I was asked this by the education correspondent of a newspaper. People I had previously believed to be intelligent beings asked me the most idiotic things. A vasectomy is simply the cutting of the conduits for your sperm – basically your little soldiers now end up swimming around in you, rather than in someone else. Your body then reabsorbs them; think of yourself as a recycling centre, albeit one with fewer depressed eastern Europeans working in it.
There is absolutely no effect on your desire. It’d be great to find a way to stop the endless whispering of the id in the back of your head – ‘What about her? What about her? What about him? What about all of them together like an Irish stew with extra sausage?’. Sadly, it seems that only the blessed black wings of death can silence the endless hunger and thirst of human sexuality. That or watching Oireachtas Report.
Seriously? Yes. Obviously. This is a question I was asked by a female co-worker, and once again goes to show there is very little knowledge around the issue, or men’s health in general. As I said already, nothing changes – you are just sterile. So zero savings on tissues, if that was your prime reason for getting it done.
Yes – think long and hard about having four kids. Obviously I love all my children and can’t imagine my life without them, but there is a knock-on for all of them with each new life. As I pompously pointed out during one of the interviews I gave, parenting isn’t always about the money in your pocket, but about the hours in the day and the love in your heart. With each child, your time to spend with them individually is decreased, and while a house full of life is fantastic, childhood is a brief moment – they are only with you for a short while, and it’d be nice to cherish them as individuals as well as a family unit.
As far as I’m concerned, if even one man reads the article I wrote and feels less worried about getting a vasectomy, then I will consider my 11 years working in the media to have been a success. It is simply a bonus that I also managed to piss off someone who reads the Daily Mail.
All that said, I still think the best part of the whole experience was how TV3 captioned me – not as a journalist, a writer, a father, a shameless self-promoter or anything else – they distilled it all down to this:
Dublin isn’t Ireland. Obviously, it is part of the Republic and we all love it very much, but as a representation of what Ireland is, it is far from the definitive article. When you meet people abroad who tell you they’ve been to Ireland because they spent a weekend in Dublin, there is always the urge to point out that far from the urban sprawls of our dirty-beautiful capital, there are huge expanses of open country, peppered with the odd house, terrible WiFi and breathtaking scenery.
In terms of ‘places that are not Dublin’, Dingle in West Kerry is as good an example as any: Remote, stunning, and devoid of the brash cacophony of The Pale. My love affair with Dingle started after I finished my Leaving Cert. A group of us drove to Schull, spent two days on the lash, then I hitched down to Dingle (this was back in the days when you were able to hitch without ending up in The Hills Have Eyes). In Dingle I met up with my girlfriend and in an abandoned house not far from the village, I lost my virginity to her. It might not seem like the most romantic of spots, surrounded by the ghosts of the faithful departed, but it was, as it always is, a turning point.
Years later I went back to Dingle, this time with another girl, a Scot who was obsessed with Fungi, the harbour’s resident dolphin for the past three decades. On my 23rd birthday, we went out into the harbor and she swam with Fungi in the middle of a solar eclipse. Bizarre. We later went our separate ways, I married and settled down, but this year I went back to Dingle consumed with another great love affair – whiskey. I spent four days in Dingle Distillery – a stone’s throw from the abandoned house I stayed in all those years before. The distillery is compact and bijou, staffed by a group of young lads with enthusiasm and passion to burn.
I got to meet Oliver Hughes, the visionary behind The Porterhouse and the distillery. Oliver is an interesting guy, constantly moving, bristling with energy and ideas. A former criminal barrister, I’d imagine he was a formidable opponent to face across the courts. He was a great host, generous with his time and his passion for the area, where he too had found love, having brought his girlfriend-now-wife there many years before.
While we were there the distillery was visited by one of the Founding Fathers, the title for investors and supporters who bought a cask to help fund the distillery. Bob Dunfey’s name may not mean much to you, but he holds a very important role in Irish politics. Bob and his brother attended a meal during the very early stages of the Peace Process, and shocked the world by inviting Gerry Adams despite the fact that Martin Trimble would be attending. It may not seem like a big deal now, but back then it caused consternation, with many invited guests threatening to pull out. But they didn’t, and it was the start of an incredibly important period of our history.
Bob, who had a background in hospitality, cracked open his cask in the distillery, and shared it with us. It was just another special moment from a very special place.
On one of the evenings Oliver drove us out around Slea Head. We stopped off to admire Inishtooskert, the island better known as The Sleeping Giant. The spot popped into my mind as I read an email informing me that Dingle’s other giant is about to awaken from its three-year sleep:
After three years of careful maturation on the Corca Dhuibhne coast, the first public samples of Dingle Whiskey are just about ready to be pulled from cask! Specifically, we’ll be dipping our glasses into Cask #2 – a first-fill American white oak barrel seasoned with bourbon, filled to the brim with our own triple distilled single malt, left to sit until December 20th and, on that auspicious upcoming occasion, bottled at cask strength for your own full enjoyment! The day that it’s bottled, our little distillate ceases to be spirit and finally takes its place among the whiskeys of the world.
And we’ve been at it a while now. The first-to-start in what has recently grown into an erupting craft distilling movement, the Dingle Distillery’s first three-year-old will also offer tipplers their first taste of Irish craythur crafted outside the ‘big three’ producers in over thirty-five years. Using Irish barley, Irish mash bills, and three small pot stills hand designed by legendary distiller John McDougall, the Dingle distillery aims to make both artisan single malt and single pot still expressions – the first of which is finally ready to call itself whiskey.
We may have started doing this back in 2012, but Irish whiskey takes a while. As the barrels bask in the warm gulf-stream summers and cool winters of the Irish southwest, the oak staves expand and contract, allowing the spirit to breathe and injecting it in return with oaky tannins, sweet vanillins, honeyed bourbon residues and in the case of our own seaside warehouse, a brine-stung breeze that leaves one last signature of place on this famous old process. Whatever it tastes like, this first small batch sample will be unmistakably a spirit of Dingle…
The price for this limited edition whiskey is €350. To order your bottle, contact The Dingle Distillery.
If you’re thinking ‘but didn’t they already release a whiskey?’ then you are sort-of right – they released a Cooley blend as a revenue generator.
I bought one of the last bottles of it when I was down there and even had the cheek to get Oliver Hughes to autograph it. I asked him to sign it ‘to eBay, love Oliver’ – sadly he didn’t, but he did sign it with a wry smile.
As for the blend – I think they regretted releasing it, as they felt it devalued the brand and confused the consumer – but hopefully any confusion will be cleared up on December 20 when the world will finally get a taste of what the land, sea and sky of West Kerry can produce.