Irish pubs are now the number one attraction for tourists visiting Ireland, according to Dublin City University.
Here are eight reasons why:
Irish pubs pride themselves on being relaxed and inviting. And of course, if you’re a tourist, you’ve probably been walking around all day taking in the sights so the chance to take the weight off your feet and relax in a friendly atmosphere is doubly welcome.
When you’re in a new place it’s always nice to strike up a conversation with the locals, to get a few inside tips on the best places to see, and to just get another perspective on life. Irish people are famously talkative, especially over a few drinks. Many local pubs are well known for having a great mix of characters like this singing barman in Knockavilla, Co Cork.
Pub landlords in Ireland know the power that traditional music has to pull in the customers. When you’re in a tourist area you will usually be able to find several bars providing a stage for local singers and musicians. The standard of musicianship is generally very high, although pub audiences can be noisy and sometimes drown out the performers. You may need to choose your bar carefully to find one where the talking stops when the music starts, but it’s worth the effort.
There’s nowhere better to hear Irish traditional music than in a bar in with a lively but appreciative audience.
Many Irish people insist that Guinness is at it’s at its best when drank in Ireland… it doesn’t taste quite the same anywhere else. Whether that’s true or just in the imagination is uncertain. What is for sure is that sipping a Guinness or two in a traditional Irish pub is high on many tourists’ wish lists.
This often holds true even for people who don’t actually like the taste of the black stuff. And if you really don’t like the taste of stout, there’s a wide variety of Irish alternatives from numerous whiskeys, traditional beers, Baileys Irish Cream and, of course, Irish coffee.
Irish pubs are far more than just places to drink. Many offer food and are happy to cater for families. Don’t expect to find too many places serving traditional dishes you may have heard of such as boxty or colcannon. Those meals aren’t widely popular in Ireland anymore. You’re more likely to find more predictable offerings such pizzas, curries, lasagnes etc but the standard is generally high and a pub meal is something to try at least a few times on a visit to Ireland.
Pubs are an important centre for local life and are often decorated to match. Colourful decoration and even more colourful flowers often adorn even the tiniest pubs in the smallest of villages.
Variety is also important… Irish themed pubs that have sprung up across the world over the last 20 years tend to be disappointingly uniform in appearance. However, genuine Irish pubs come in all shapes and sizes…from modern gastro pubs serving the latest in international cuisine to tiny country outfits where there always seem to be a couple of locals propping up the bar, ready to put the world to rights.
Watching Irish bar tenders take their time pouring pints of Guinness and then lining them up on the bar in readiness for a rush of customers is entertaining in itself, especially when those pints can get passed overhead to the back to crowded bar when things get busy. It’s not unusual of customers to buy two or three rounds at a time to save having to fight their way back to the front of the crowd.
Many Irish pubs have sports on the TV screens that are completely alien to anybody outside of Ireland. Games such as hurling and Gaelic football are popular in Ireland and sports loving tourists enjoy watching a new game and trying to figure out what is going on. Beware, by the time you have finally mastered all the rules your holiday will likely be nearly over.