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Copper: The Everywhere Metal

by Kris Palmer

Editor’s Note:  Kris Palmer is a public relations professional who has done extensive work for both the Copper Development Association and International Copper Association.  On a recent trip to Ireland and Scotland, she found herself surrounded by interesting applications that demonstrate the functionality and essentiality of copper and she has agreed to share her experiences with us.

We recently returned from a family vacation to Ireland & Scotland.  The trip, like many things in our life, was spontaneous and unexpected.  Our children are studying abroad this summer.  We have a son in a high school German exchange program and a daughter, in a university study program in Dublin.  My husband and I aren’t experienced empty-nesters yet, so we decided at the last minute to look into affordable flights for a family meet-up in Ireland.  Although we probably didn’t score the absolute best deal, we managed to find cost-competitive airfares to Dublin.  Within a week, we found ourselves on the beautiful Emerald Isle where our family meet-up began.

The Copper Connection:

I write for the Copper Development Association so I am more in tune with things relating to copper than the average person.  However, visitors to Ireland cannot help but notice the presence of copper & copper alloys at every turn.  Beyond the usual (for example cell phones, laptops, and computers that function in Ireland — and all over the world – thanks to copper connections) there was visual evidence of copper – everywhere.  From pub table-tops, restaurant banisters, museums, shipyards, distilleries and artwork to a plethora of small/electrified vehicles and charging stations along a new highway system.  In Scotland: magnificent castles filled with art/objects made of copper and brass, a unique hyro-electric power station in which copper wire transfers electricity reliably & safely throughout the UK, wind farms with gigantic blades capturing gusts (copper keeps them turning), to fish farms that use copper mesh and even in the real Harry Potter train which contains copper & brass lighting fixtures….  It didn’t take long for us to appreciate that life without copper would be about as bright as the weather in Edinburgh (our last stop).

First, the Guinness®  Tour

Visitors to Ireland agree – everything about the country is iconic Irish – from the magnificent landscapes (including the Giant’s Causeway and the Cliffs of Moher) to pubs filled with friendly locals, to walking tours of Ireland’s magnificent cities.  At every waking moment a tourist knows when they’ve arrived in Ireland.  Although we rented a car and drove around the left-side perimeter of the Irish Republic and on Northern Ireland roadways (scary and another story) visiting several out-of-the-way sites, one of many highlights for our family – in Dublin – was the Guinness Storehouse Tour.


We began our Guinness Tour at the base of a huge green-glass atrium – also known as “the world’s largest pint glass” – rising through the center of a seven-story building.  We were told that if full, this large glass atrium would hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness.

After learning about the ingredients used in brewing beer – water, barley, hops and yeast – plus the history of the Guinness family, a master brewer guided us to a floor where there is a huge copper brew kettle on display.  In the copper kettle we learned that the wort (a solution of grain sugars) is boiled with hops.  This kettle is also known as “The Copper.”  The Copper is where many chemical and technical reactions take place – and where decisions about flavor, color, and the aroma of the beer are made.  An important stop-point in our tour.  After seeing The Copper and all the work required – seven stories high – to make a normal-sized pint of brew, we became thirsty.  So, we proceeded to the taste lab and then up to the “Gravity Bar” where we enjoyed freshly-brewed pints of Guinness while overlooking the beautiful copper-roof lined city of Dublin!

Next Up:  A copper-oriented tour of the Titanic Museum in Belfast





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