A trip to Ireland isn’t considered complete if you don’t visit an Irish pub. When you go to one pub, you will find yourself visiting a couple more. You can find pubs in almost every city in the world, but in Ireland, it is like an institution – pubs are more than just a place to drink. It has become the center of the social scene in the country. When you visit Ireland, you cannot miss out on going to a pub according to Paul Leongas, the manager of the Curragh Irish Pub in Chicago.
For many years, cultural gatherings in Ireland have been in pubs. This is where people from different walks of life come together. For most people living in rural areas of the country, the pub provides them a place to get together and talk. It is the only place they can do that outside their living rooms. You will find Irish people going to the pub after a church service to watch a football game or even talk about politics and literature. This is their place to gossip and share opinions on whatever is happening around them, even those insignificant things suggest Paul Leongas who has managed Irish pubs for over 20 years.
Pub culture is not about drinking, it is about coming together and hearing jokes, telling stories, and having a good time. You are surrounded by your friends – even if you are a stranger in the area or country. The friendliness inside these pubs is legendary, and this is something most Irish people take pride in. Irish people are very friendly and you will notice this when you interact with them.
What to Drink
If you are in the pub, then you can decide to get yourself a drink. The mainstay in Ireland is whiskey, and you can order a glass for yourself in any pub you visit. There is going to be a selection to choose from, even if the pub is small. The two most popular whiskeys in Ireland are Bushmills and Jameson, and you can order either of them or even go with a local brew. These two are exported and you can easily find them in any part of the world according to Paul Leongas.
You can sound like a pub pro even if you are visiting Ireland by ordering a “pint”. If you don’t know what you want to get, you are going to be given a pint of Guinness. This is a pride of Ireland and stout ale, which means it is not for the faint-hearted. Not everyone likes the strong taste of Guinness. If you aren’t sure, consider ordering a half-pint, which is also known as a “glass”.
After you have ordered the Guinness, make sure you have waited about 5 minutes. It is going to take three minutes to pour it, and the local culture is you need to let it settle before taking a sip. If you reach to take the drink the moment you get it, you are going to be seen as a pub novice. Look around and you will notice everyone doing this. If you ask someone who has traveled to Ireland, they are going to tell you that the best Guinness in the world is there – it doesn’t taste the same when you drink it from anywhere else.
Irish pubs are an integral part of social activity, and this is why it is common to find buying a round here. You will hear people ordering a round of drinks for their group or table. You have to do the same if you want to be part of the scene. It is bad manners when you decide to leave the pub before buying a round too. If you feel like you have had enough to drink, then consider sitting out when it is someone else’s round and not yours.
The Social Scene
Irish pubs are lively social places and good-natured teasing is common suggests Paul Leongas. It is part of the social culture to poke fun at other people in the pub. If you happen to be teased, just smile. If you are not used to the Irish pub scene, then it is not a good idea to tease others because you might end up doing something wrong without even knowing.
You are going to notice strangers talking to you when you are in the pub. This is common in Ireland, don’t be surprised. Some people are going to turn down your offer to buy them a drink. It is good manners to turn down the first offer in Ireland. You have to make a second offer, and there are times when you have to do it for a third time before they accept. This is how Irish people behave.
Ireland is known for its rich music history, and you are going to get an impromptu performance in an Irish pub. You might even have a group of musicians seated in the corner start to perform spontaneously. There is a wide range of music in Ireland, from historic Irish tunes to rock n’ roll. If you play an instrument, then consider bringing it along with you when you come to the pub. You might meet another musician in the pub and start a casual jam session.
A reputation pubs and bars have across the world is being a place for spilling secrets according to pub manager Paul Leongas. The barman has to hear all of the woes the customers have. This image is actually the case in Ireland. The barman is the closest thing to talking to a priest in a confession booth. They are known to be good at keeping secrets. In Irish culture, you can tell the barman anything and it is not going to go further than that. If you have a lot that needs to be unburdened, then you should talk to the barman because they will listen. You can spill it all to your local barman.
Tipping is different in Ireland when compared to the US. Don’t go and throw bills on the table the way you are used to. You only need to tip when you have received a table service, which is not going to be that common in casual Irish pubs. You are most likely going to be ordering at the bar and this doesn’t require a tip. You might feel like you need to tip because of your instincts, but you don’t have to. Pub workers here are paid fairer wages when compared to their American counterparts. When you tip the bartender, everyone will know you are a tourist who doesn’t know the culture.
Modern pubs in Ireland offer some great food. There are some Irish pubs that offer true gourmet meals. You are going to see a lot of classic Irish dishes on the menu. You have the chance of experiencing Irish cuisine. Irish food is comfort food that you need to give a try. You are going to be hooked. These are foods that you can easily find in kitchens across the country.
It is hard to find children inside American pubs because the environment is meant for adults only unless there is a special event there. This isn’t the case when in Ireland, so don’t be surprised when you encounter kids running around the pub. The Irish pub is a social setting that hosts everyone including children.
Other Unusual Sights
You should not be surprised when you see an entire grocery area inside the pub. This is not as popular as the Prohibition era in the US, but there was a time when drinking was dissuaded in Ireland. Pubs had become part and parcel of the Irish culture even in the early 1800s, and most compensated this by offering groceries. There are some pubs that still have spaces inside for groceries because of that. This is unique to Irish pubs.
There are times when pub staff and bar regulars are not ready to leave at closing time. This is when they choose a lockin, says Paul Leongas. This is something common in the Irish pub scene that many people outside don’t know about. This will involve regulars and pub staff staying in for the event. If a newcomer makes a positive impression, then he/she might be invited to remain during the lock-in. When a lock-in happens, the barman or pub owner closes the door and locks it so no one else can enter inside. Those who are lucky to remain inside the bar have a chance of drinking a couple more rounds before winding down. You have to pay for the drinks in advance because they don’t want any money to go to the till after the official closing time.
Pubs to Visit
You are going to see many pubs everywhere you go in Ireland. In major cities like Dublin, it is hard to go more than one block without seeing at least a pub. If you are in Ireland and want to get the best pub experience, then you should consider going to Athlone. This is the place to find the oldest pub according to the Guinness Book of Records, and it is the oldest not only in the country but in Europe. The pub is known as Sean’s and it has been around since 900. Yes, 900, and this makes it a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the pub culture. If you find this challenging because of all the work needed, then consider hiring a touring company offering special pub tours. The tours can last for days or weeks, and you can be driven around as you see amazing Irish sites then stopping at pubs. This is the best way to experience everything that Ireland pubs have to offer.