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What is an Irish Pub?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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Imagine it's the Middle Ages and you are a spice merchant traveling through the green, wet lands of Ireland. You might just take time to stop into an Irish pub for a drink and a rest. Pubs — short for public houses — were places that did not require a membership to enter, unlike private houses. So while the rich had memberships to other establishments, pubs were frequented by the hard working lower classes.

The history of the Irish pub is steeped in culture and lore. In the Middle Ages, it was a rough-hewn place of natural wood furniture and stone walls. Pubs bore large fireplaces and hanging oil lamps over wood or cobblestone floors. In addition to ale, they usually sold essential food and hardware items. It was a warm, welcoming place where people socialized, sang, relaxed, told stories, and exchanged gossip and rumors.

In the 19th century under oppressive British rule, the Irish pub was deemed illegal. Under the aggressive, independent spirit of the Irish, pubs naturally flourished during this time. They became places where rebels gathered to complain of the Crown — some to release frustrations, others to coordinate underground rebellions.

The atmosphere and charm of the traditional drinking establishment remains popular today, so much so that they have been replicated all over the world. The Irish Pub Company in Dublin claims to have built authentic pubs in over 40 countries worldwide. The prospective client has a choice of one of five historical styles. Delaney's Irish pub in Hong Kong, The Kilkenny in Berlin, and Fado in Atlanta, Georgia, are just three examples. Certainly, though, company doesn't have exclusivity over creation of pubs, and regional personality is often reflected in the decor and style of the local pub. It has also been modernized in less-authentic form in chains like Hennessey's.

If you stop in to a local Irish pub for a wee nip and want the full effect, don't forget the Guinness. Originally brewed in Dublin, this famous dark Irish stout is a favorite of many worldwide. Just sit back, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy some genuine Irish charm.

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Discussion Comments
By jonrss — On Sep 18, 2012

@Whiteplane - For me it is all about having access to a wide selection of fine Irish whiskey. Finest whiskey in the world as far as I am concerned.

Even the fakest Irish bars usually have one or two really quality whiskeys behind the bar. A good name and a good flavor aged for a significant amount of time. I have spent many a pleasant evening whiling away the night listening to an Irish fiddle player and sipping one of Ireland's finest whiskeys.

By BAU79 — On Sep 17, 2012
Wwhiteplane - I know what you mean. I love English bar food. Seriously, I get cravings for bangers and mash and shepherd's pie at least once a month.

A lot of times the only place where you can find dishes like this is in Irish pubs.

By whiteplane — On Sep 17, 2012

There is a place pretty close to me called the shamrock Irish pub. It is not old or especially authentic but I still like it there. They carry some Irish and English beers that are hard to find in other bars and they have a pretty interesting menu compared to a lot of other bars.

By anon180321 — On May 26, 2011

It might be a long time since you've asked and maybe you got the answer but it is called "snug."

By anon28391 — On Mar 16, 2009

response to bobuhc:

Sure I thought 'twas kennels.

By anon27824 — On Mar 06, 2009

Dear Sir/Madam,

re. your article on Irish pubs, could you please tell me whether Irish pubs were open on Sunday in 1967?

By bobuhc — On Mar 01, 2008

question...what do they call the rooms where women stayed in irish bars..before we became less than second class citizens?

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