Kevin C.Kearns

Dublin Pub Life and Lore – An Oral History of Dublin’s Traditional Irish Pubs

Dublin is renowned for its amazing profusion of pubs and for its exuberant pub culture. In Dublin Pub Life and Lore, Professor Kevin Kearns examines the history of this phenomenon by speaking to old publicans, barmen and regular customers, relating the story of Dublin pubs and their patrons in an engaging and entertaining fashion.
Traditionally in Ireland, the public house or ‘pub’ was the centre of a community’s social life and a social institution ranking second in importance only to the parish church. Pubs ranged from dusky watering holes frequented by labourers, dockers and shawlies to elegant Victorian gin palaces where the gentry and literati gathered. Along the Dublin quays there were dives filled with scoundrels, prostitutes and misfits of every sort.
Following the success of his bestselling classic Dublin Tenement Life, Kevin Kearns has researched and created a wonderful oral historical chronicle of Dublin’s pub life. Based on conversations with old publicans, pub ‘regulars’ and long-serving barmen, Dublin Pub Life and Lore captures the folklore, customs, characters and wit of the traditional Dublin public house.
Dublin Pub Life and Lore: Table of ContentsIntroduction
History and Evolution of Dublin Public Houses
Origins and Uses of Alcohol
A City of Taverns and Alehouses
Dublin’s Colourful Public Houses
Drinking Customs of the Social Classes
Disreputable Drinking Dens
Proud and Prosperous Publicans
Dublin Temperance Movement
Government Inquiry into Intemperance and the Role of Public Houses
Oral History and Pub Lore
Dublin Pub Culture and Social Life
The Pub as a Living Social Institution
The Publican’s Role and Status
Pub Regulars and Their Local
Porters, Apprentices and Barmen
Pubs as IRA Meeting Places
Women on the “Holy Ground”
The Pintman and His Pint
Pub Customs and Traditions
Pub Entertainment
Singing Pubs
Literary Pubs
Notable Pub Characters
Eccentric Publicans and Notorious Pubs
Underworld of Shebeens, Kips and Speakeasies
Famous Barmen’s Strikes
Transformation and Desecration of Venerable Pubs
Oral Testimony of Publicans and Barmen
Oral Testimony of Pub Regulars and Observers
559 printed pages
Original publication
Gill Books



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    ipathas quoted7 months ago
    Recognising the social changes, publicans began to install attractive lounges with comfortable furniture where couples could drink together. After wives became accepted in pubs, single women gradually appeared on the scene. During the 1960s and 1970s segregated pubs toppled like dominoes. Those local neighbourhood pubs which continued to bar women were condemned, and sometimes even picketed, by feminist groups as dark dens of male chauvinism as the regulars were viewed as a mean pack of sexist Neanderthals. Walsh’s public house in Stoneybatter was probably the last truly segregated pub in Dublin. Tom Ryan, head barman at Walsh’s for fifty years, still refused to seat women at the bar in 1988 when he confidently proclaimed, “It’s a male preserve. Men prefer to be on their own. I know this from experience. Women just wouldn’t fit in.” Ironically, a woman owned the pub. In 1990 she sold the public house to new owners who opened the establishment to women on an equal basis—and Ryan decided the time had finally come to retire
    ipathas quoted7 months ago
    Some of the safest IRA pubs, he reveals, were the following: Kirwan’s, the Seven Stars, and Phil Ennis’s pubs in Parnell Street, Backhand pub in Coleraine Street, Macken’s in Church Street, “Big Macken’s” pub in North King Street, McGowan’s in Francis Street in the Liberties and Walsh’s pub in Stoneybatter which was a “notorious” house for harbouring IRA men on the run. Other well-known safe pubs back in the 1920s and 1930s were O’Hagan’s in Cumberland Street, the Barrel in Benburb Street and Leach’s on Drumcondra Road. All had pub staff who were active in the Movement which gave them their “safe” status
    ipathas quoted7 months ago
    there was a network of “safe pubs” in Dublin where IRA activists regularly met to exchange information, plan missions and stash weapons. Historically, these public houses played a significant role in the political life of the city. Oral testimony from surviving IRA members, publicans and regulars who personally participated in or observed these manoeuvres in old pubs confirm their value to the Movement. Most such public houses were in the poor tenement neighbourhoods around the northside, Monto and Liberties. Among the lower classes there was much anti-British sentiment and support for the “cause”. Here, in the local pubs, IRA men felt safe in their dealings

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