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HAVE YE NO HOMES TO GO TO? The History of The Irish Pub

The History of the Irish Pub by Kevin Martin

Matt Molloy's Yard Bar: Every Thursday from 6PM

The pub has been at the centre of Irish life for centuries – research has even shown that going to the local gives us better life satisfaction than staying at home watching TV or socialising online. In its varied career, the pub has played many roles: funeral home, restaurant, grocery shop, music venue, job centre and meeting place for everyone from poets to revolutionaries. Often plain and unpretentious, it is a neutral ground, a leveller – a home away from home.

But how much do you really know about it? From the first pubs, which hosted the feasts of high kings, through the heady gang-ruled pubs of nineteenth-century New York City and the ‘spirit grocers’ that inspired today’s hipster hangouts, right up to modern-day gay bars, this comprehensive history is an entertaining journey through the evolution of a cultural icon.

The topics engagingly explored include:

  • the first ever pubs and publicans in Ireland and the Brehon Laws they had to follow
  • how the pub came to be regulated from the seventeenth centur
  • the history of the temperance movement in Ireland and its effect on society and the pub
  • ‘special exemptions’ for certain pubs: spirit grocersbona fides and early houses
  • the role of pubs in the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence
  • the place of women in the pub and the development of their relationship with it
  • the history of music in pubs: the revival of trad sessions in the twentieth century; the growth of live music and the ‘lounge bar’
  • pub bombings and attacks during the Troubles
  • the history and development of the Irish gay bar
  • the cultural attitude of Irish society towards alcohol
  • the social significance of the pub as a ‘third place’removed from both home and work
  • cultural representations of the Irish pub in cinema, television and literature
  • the role the pub played in the lives of the 'bachelor class' of rural Ireland
  • the role of the pub in the lives of Irish emigrants in the US, UK and Australia
  • the commodification and export of the Irish pub
  • the current state of the pub and what the future holds.

The story of the Irish pub is the story of Ireland itself. So pull up a stool and learn all about it.

Kevin Martin taught English, communications and cultural studies for twenty-five years. He is married with two children and lives near Westport, County Mayo. He loves pubs, travel and reading. This is his first book.