THE DRIVING WAS making me want whiskey. As the oncoming semitruck barely missed hit- ting me on the narrow Irish road, it was all I could do not to yank the car to the left, which would have sent me careening into one of the
centuries-old oak trees lining the shoulder, before ricochet-
ing into the adjacent meadow and quite possibly taking out a
sheep or t wo along the way.
Instead of cursing the truck, I cursed my GPS. The 21st-
century driving companion had been a godsend to this
point, serenely navigating me through the hills and dales
of central Ireland in my quest to learn about Irish whiskey.
No need to fuss with maps — my globally positioning gal
Friday patiently explained the lay of the land, thoughtfully
gathering her coordinates before commenting (without
judgment) that I missed a critical turn or was driving in the
wrong direction around a roundabout, while I focused on
the business of mastering a stick shift with my left hand and
remembering to look up and left for the rear view.
Something changed between Tullamore and Mallow. My
assumed route as I headed south to County Cork was motor-
way all the way. M-roads had been my friend until now, as
I confidently zoomed along in my TDI at 120 kilometers an
hour, admiring the emerald-olive hues of the rolling landscape punctuated by swatches of brilliant yellow mustard
fields, beneath a teetering sky of swirling-dervish clouds.
I faithfully heeded my GPS instructions as I departed the
Tullamore Distillery, but soon found myself zigzagging
through a tangle of country lanes, debatably labeled two-way roads. Views? I’m sure there were plenty, but I was so
intent on following my course, swerving past oncoming cars,
rounding blind bends, buzzing hedges and crumbling stone
walls, I had no idea what the scenery looked like. With too
much frequency, a lumbering truck or chugging tractor presented itself, challenging me to pass it on a meager stretch
of straight and narrow. That last sip of whiskey I had in
Tullamore was a distant memory. I wanted another.
Drinking in the Irish countryside
and the Irish whiskey.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY LYNDA BALSLEV