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BellaOnline's Irish Culture Editor


Irish Pub Culture

Guest Author - Mary Ellen Sweeney

“Down the Pub” is the phrase that announces the intention of going off to the “local,” there to separate from the day’s labors and join with family, friends, and neighbors in what many think is the true Irish sport…the downing of pints. In a good Irish pub, or public house, you won’t know the time of day from the light in the place. It’s always early evening and the seisiún* just beginning. The craic** is mighty down the pub, the tales are tall and one for one with the long lagers, served up with wink and a grin.

O’Donoghue’s on Dublin’s Merrion Row is one such cherished institution, all the more so for the musical heavyweights that have passed through on their way to fame and fortune…and who still drop in for a pint or a tune. Because it’s not just a bar; it’s “down the pub.” When you head out for a gargle with the possibility of meeting up with the likes of Christy Moore or the Fureys, your evening pint or hot whiskey becomes greater than the sum of its sips. It’s been like this for a long time at O’Donoghue’s, since 1789, and that much good cheer and ceol*** cannot help but leave its mark on a place.

Whether you’re drinking poteen out of a jar in a simple cottage “crib” with a peat fire burning merrily in the grate or a perfect pilsner in one of the great name pubs, you’ll find that there’s a certain level of curiosity on the part of the patrons. This curiosity is a sign of welcome and soon you’re part of the circle, meant to stay ‘til closing and to partake of the spirits, fun, and exuberance. And if you’re lucky it will be the night when the music moves the feet.

So warm and so welcoming is the Irish pub that it can be seen as distillation of the Irish spirit of hospitality, the perfect place to find good conversation, better people, and the best of Irish traditional music. Whether it’s far down a country road or deep in the heart of the city, the Irish pub is as unique to Ireland as a fingerprint.


*seisiún, a social gathering; **craic, conversation; ***ceol, music or ceoil, a seisiún of music

Paddy Joe (a.k.a. Irish Coffee)
Irish Whiskey, a measure for each
Hot, strong coffee, enough for two
Sweetness of choice, to taste
Heavy cream, lightly beaten, to top the drinks
Crème d menthe (optional), a wee drop

Pour the Irish Whiskey into an Irish Coffee Glass. Add the sweetener and stir. Fill the glass to an inch from the top with coffee. Holding a teaspoon bowl-side-up over the drink, pour the thickened cream gently on the spoon and onto the top of the drink. (The result should look very much like a well-poured pint of stout...a rich white head over a dark liquid.)
For a festive look, drizzle the crème de menthe on top of the cream in a shamrock design. This is a very precise operation and practice makes perfect.

Guinness Label Wall Art

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Pub Signs of Ireland

Pub Signs of Ireland

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Content copyright © 2015 by Mary Ellen Sweeney. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Mary Ellen Sweeney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bee Smith for details.


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