The History of Irish Pubs
Pubs. They are an Irish tradition that dates back to the 10th Century. Yes, you read that right! The 10th Century!
The pub with the distinction of owning the title “oldest pub in Ireland” is “Sean’s Bar” in Athlone County, Westmeath which was established in the 10th century. They confirmed this in the 1970’s during renovation when they found out the walls were made from wattle (thick stakes interlaced with twigs and branches) and wicker. They also found some old coins that were apparently molded by old owners of the pub as a barter system with the patrons. Most of this can be found on display in their National Museum.
The oldest pub in Dublin is, “The Brazen Head” which was established in 1198. Can you imagine drinking Irish beer in the 10th and 11th Century? What did they drink it out of? Well, most of what they drank out of were wooden vessels. Beech wood was the most often used but the best vessels were made out of yew(a type of wood)
The name, “pub” actually comes from where a person went to enjoy their drink. A “public house”. Pubs were the working man’s alternative to the private drinking establishments frequented by those who could pay for entry. This is why you find that in Ireland, pubs are usually named after the current or previous owner or even street on which they are located.
In Ireland, the local pub is a pillar of the community the same way the local church would be. It functions as both a place to drink alcohol as well as a place in which to meet and talk with the people who are in the town. In many cases, Irish people will have one or more pubs which are referred to as ‘the local’ which is the pub they frequent most often.There is generally a very close and mutual understanding and informality between the customer and the staff, and in many cases, particularly in country pubs, virtually all of the regular customers will know each other very well.That warm and friendly atmosphere extends to outsiders as well, and it is not uncommon for strangers or tourists to be drawn into conversations with locals. In addition to the casual social atmosphere, pubs traditionally serve hearty, classic Irish dishes such as Irish stew, Boxty (a traditional Irish potato pancake), and Irish Soda Bread.
It is traditional that when with a group, patrons take turns buying rounds of drinks for the group as a whole. It is considered bad manners to leave before buying your round of drinks.The traditional Irish toast is “Slainte” (SLAWN-chuh) which is the Gaelic equivalent of “cheers”. But let’s not forget out our favorite saying here at Dublin Square. “Where’s the Craic?” (CRACK) Which means, “where is the fun, or where is the entertainment?” It’s here, of course!
There was a large number of Irish Pubs starting to pop up in the United States in the 1990’s. This can be directly attributed to the Irish Pub Company founded by Mel McNally in 1990. This company was dedicated to exporting the Irish pub around the world. They were obviously successful.
Speaking of exporting pubs from Ireland to the United States, did you know that our bar here at Dublin Square is an exact replica of Tynan’s Pub in Kilkenny, Ireland? Shipped here piece by piece, the traditional Irish Oak bar was painstakingly reproduced with every detail in mind. But, that is a story for another blog. 🙂