By Cavan Burns | Guest Contributor
Ireland is home to a culture that emphasizes community. This sense of community can most visibly be seen through the rich pub culture that often comes alive on weekend nights across the country. However, what this looks like may vary from Ireland’s urban to rural populations. Despite this, everyone can find their place in an Irish pub.
“If the option was to drink at home, a lot of people wouldn’t drink at all,” Damien Cunningham, a public relations and marketing employee for The Quays Bar, said.
Cunningham said his job requires him to “go around visiting different pubs.” Additionally, he works with marketing, sales and their online presence.
“Here it’s very much about the traditional pub,” Cunningham said. “You get your pint, you get a whiskey and you get live music.”
If one does not want a traditional pub, there are a plethora of options. Cunningham said some pubs across Ireland have changed into sports bars. Many Irish locals go to hotel bars for “a more relaxed setting.” Since Cunningham grew up outside of Galway, there was only one “tiny” option available to him.
“We have one hall in center of the village,” Cunningham said, describing it as the real rural Irish pub experience.
Cunningham said there are various ways to have a pub experience. More often than not, one can choose to go where they would like.
“My father wouldn’t drink at home, but he’d go out every week to meet his mates,” Cunningham said.
“When I was 19 or 20, the only place to meet my friends besides each other’s houses was the pub,” Joe Murphy, a tour guide for Wild Rover, said, noting the difference from today, when his 19-year-old son meets his friends in pubs, Starbucks or even McDonald’s.
Murphy said he has lived in London and Spain, and “the pub culture in Ireland is unique.” He said Spain does not have much of a pub culture, and the pubs in England are only superficially similar.
“Pub culture has always been a part of our culture,” Murphy said.
Cunningham said the COVID-19 pandemic affected the country not only in terms of its health but also regarding its social culture.
“So when COVID happens, you’re taking the biggest social thing away,” Cunningham said.
Moreover, pubs themselves took losses due to the fact that people could no longer come in for food and drinks. Despite this, pubs found ways to adapt. In some cases, takeaway pints of beer were even allowed.
“Most of the rural pubs are completely owned and have no or very little payments,” Murphy said. “The city pubs are leased, and they still had to pay their leases, so they lost heavily.”
However, Murphy said pub culture is returning, which is very evident by walking through the streets.
“Pub culture has fully returned because we wanted it to return,” Murphy said. “We are pub culture.”