We must beware of the demise of the Irish pub


Ernest Hemingway had a rule. “Always do what you said drunk when you’re sober. This will teach you to shut up,” he thought. But these days it seems the pubs are closing and mouths are hanging open, horrified that the cost of living keeps rising.

The bleak report from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (Digi) informs us that a fifth of the country’s pubs have called last orders for the last time since 2016.

Writer John Hillaby said that there is little better than a village with a good church, a good priest and a good pub.

But it seems many rural Irish towns and cities are left without all three.

Our pubs have long been revered as a haven by some or a last resort by others. In any case, they have always enjoyed a central, if not entirely protected, status in the life of the nation – especially in times like these.

“When money’s tight and hard to come by and your horse’s running, When all you’ve got is a pile of debt, a pint of booze is your only man,” said Flann O’Brien.

It seems particularly outrageous that the opportunity to quench one’s thirst is becoming increasingly rare. In 15 districts, the number of pubs has fallen by 20 to 30 per cent.

According to Kathryn D’Arcy, recently appointed Digi Chair, “The Irish pub has been in steady decline for years and these stark numbers underscore once again the need to ensure the sustainable future of our pubs.”

The industry is demanding a reduction in the high excise duty on alcohol.

As a class, tax collectors may not always draw too much sympathy. Some will argue that they have priced themselves out of the market.

It could also be argued that alcohol excise duty is deliberately kept high to address health concerns and curb abuse.

All of these are sensible and relevant considerations because, as the poet WB Yeats remarked, “The worst thing about some men is that they’re sober when they’re not drunk.”

Brendan Behan’s opinion was less complicated: “I only drink on two occasions — when I’m thirsty and when I’m not thirsty.”

But beyond the high-chair theatrics and bar-fly philosophy, for very many, the social highlight of the week is going out for a few drinks.

The pub can serve as a secluded decompression chamber, a dating agency, or a chat room.

Our pubs and their hardworking staff have a proud tradition of also attracting tourism to the country.

They have made a name for themselves all over the world with their promotion of Craic Agus Ceol.

They’ve even developed a trend for a bogus variety of Irish pubs to be found in the far corners of the planet.

All the more we should take care of the authentic and really original local variety. We must beware of the demise of the Irish pub

Fry Electronics Team

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