Perhaps the best description of an Irish pub would be to quote W.B. Yeats: “There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met”
Ask anyone outside of Ireland to close their eyes for a moment and picture their image of Ireland. What do they see? The green? The natural beauty? The many distinctive accents? A big part of that image, however, is also the hospitality, warmth and the easy conviviality of its people. Nowhere is this more evident than in its pubs, where “craic agus ceol” (Gaelic for ‘fun and music’) is shared by one and all. During a visit to Ireland, millions of visitors are greeted with a “Céad Míle Fáilte" (Gaelic for a “hundred thousand welcomes”) over a pint or two of “the black stuff” (Guinness).
The Irish pub has been at the centre of Irish life since the 10th century. It holds a space like no other within Irish culture. Nowhere in the world have pubs played so many roles in society: funeral home, restaurant, grocery shop, music venue, job centre and meeting place for everyone from poets to revolutionaries. Many of our world renowned writers such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan wrote stories inspired by characters they met “in the pub” and some, such a James Joyce famously wrote there. Often basic and unpretentious, it is a neutral ground, a level playing field, a home away from home.
In Ireland today, Irish pubs continue to be a place where friendships are formed, spontaneous music sessions spring up, political and sporting issues of the day are teased out, all usually over either a Guinness or Cupán Tae (Gaelic for ‘cup of tea’). The Irish Public House remains a great national institution where long established traditions of humour, good conversation and music survive.
Few would deny that the Irish pub is now an international marvel, admired and imitated wherever immigrants from Ireland have settled and beyond. From New York to Sydney, 'Irish' bars sell stout and Irish whiskey to people whose ancestry may be many generations removed from Ireland, and yet who seek in them an affinity with a country they may never have seen. The coming of mass tourism to Ireland in the last decades of the twentieth century, along with a new exodus of young Irish professionals, led to hundreds of 'Irish' bars opening throughout Europe and Asia, turning the Pub into world wide phenomena. You can find an Irish Pub almost anywhere on earth, from 'The Emerald’ (Warsaw, Poland), to ‘The Blarney Stone’ (Shangai, China), to 'Nine Fine Irishmen’ (Las Vegas, Nevada). This was not an accidental event but a tribute to the extremely popular cultural identity and heritage associated with Ireland and its people. The Irish have a reputation as warm and welcoming, with a focus on community and conviviality, which appeals to people of all backgrounds. Such indeed is the worldwide appeal of the Irish pub, there is a very good chance that wherever you live in the world, your hometown or city has at least one!
Interesting people, good atmosphere, entertainment and music, are what marks Irish pubs out as unique and pub surroundings are central to providing this ambience. Sourcing interesting artefacts, antiques and memorabilia for Irish pubs seeking to connect with Irish history and heritage is very much at the central heart of what we do at Rare Irish Stuff. If you are seeking decorative Irish pub items and unusual rare Irish artefacts for display, please contact us.