Endearing Qualities of Irish Pubs
There are so many endearing qualities associated with the Irish Pub experience. Foremost in my mind is that I have never been uncomfortable walking into one, alone or with others, nor ever felt any hostility or bad feelings while at Irish pubs. Thats important because, the friendliness and sense of welcome is the first thing youll notice. And even outside Ireland, in whatever country Im in, I look for an Irish pub because I know Ill be welcomed.
I have been visiting Ireland for over twenty-five years now and each visit has one or more special pub memories. During my first visit to Ireland at the Rose of Tralee Festival, my boyfriend and I were in a pub in Tralee the night the Rose had been selecteda most festive occasion. I was sitting next to a dairy farmer from Kildare and his wife. The man said to me Youre not from around here, are you? Are you French? I responded that I was from Los Angeles and he stated that that was a long way to come for a vacation. We chatted for a bit and he asked me what I missed about home and I said, just my eight year old son. He said I couldnt have a sonYoure not yet twenty! At the time I was thirty-two and I have never forgotten that man nor his Irish charm.
There are some peculiarities to remember in an Irish pub, one of which is that while in the rest of the country its the norm to drink Guinness, if youre in County Cork, you drink Murphys--and dont forget it! Another thing to remember is the system of rounds. That is, if you go to the pub with four others, every person will buy a round of drinks as the night goes on. Its considered just as impolite to leave before your friends have each purchased a round as it is to leave before youve purchased a round for your friends. And, until recently, one always came home from the pub with the smell of tobacco smoke on ones clothes and hair. But since the country has banned smoking in pubs, it is no longer a concern. If one wants to smoke, for Gods sake, just go outsideyoull have plenty of company.
Then, theres knowing the publican well enough so that after closing, you and your friends are allowed to stay and you listen for others at the front door who may know the secret knock that will get them an after-hours pint or two. Even the local Irish love the naughtiness of it. Once, after-closing in a pub with my cousins, a man raised his pint and said to me, Ah but youve a lovely face, to which I replied, I know. This produced laughter from my cousins husband who said, They say Irish women dont know how to take complimentsapparently neither do American women!
But, how do the pub keepers get the folks out at closing when were all having a fine time of it with the singing and dancing, and rosy glowing faces? Well, the last song played is always the Irish National Anthem and that gets everyone to stand up, to sing, and to feel even better. Once, on their feet, its easier to guide them out into the Irish night.
So, this St. Patricks Day, wherever you are, raise your pint, say Slainte1 and drink to the warmth of the pubs, the people and to beautiful Ireland herself.
1. Irish toast for Health