When Ireland decided to go into a strict lockdown back in mid-March, just before St. Patrick’s Day, every pub in the country closed. Upwards of 50,000 jobs were lost as a result, and some fear that many of those jobs, along with the pubs themselves, won’t return. Sadly, the economic damage done by the outbreak of the global pandemic will inevitably lead to cultural loss around the world, and the institution of the Irish pub is no exception.
In the nation’s capital, some drinking establishments are determined to fight for their survival. Grainger’s at Hanlon’s Corner, a pub on the north side of Dublin, is bringing the pub experience to its locked-down neighbors by delivering freshly poured pints directly to their front doors.
I spoke with three members of the Grainger family about the pub as a national institution, their efforts to survive an international health crisis, and the potential cultural loss to Ireland if a solution isn’t found soon. I also interviewed local pub culture expert and “legendary pint man” Stephen Purtell about the significance of the public house in Irish society. Listen to the story:
The romantic ideal of the traditional Irish pub has endured in the world’s imagination for centuries, but the reality is always a little different. Yes, it’s about community, tradition, and family, but it’s also a dynamic institution, an expression of how Ireland has changed over time. If many pubs aren’t able to return once the lockdown is lifted, part of the connective tissue that holds together neighborhoods—not to mention the body politic—will be very much at stake.
Lucas J. Spiro is a writer, critic, and frequent contributor to The Arts Fuse magazine. He lives in Dublin with his wife.