No tour of Ireland would be complete without the requisite visits
to the most famous and distinguishing features of this island: the
pubs. The Irish are very serious about having fun and, as a bumper
sticker on one of the incredibly tiny cars parked outside my window
reads, “Every night is Saturday night; Every day is Saturday
I’ve been to quite a few pubs in the area and it’s easy
to see why they’re so famous. Each one has its own unique
character and you can tell that some of these places have been here
forever. One of my favorites is Maggie May’s, which claims
to have been a frequent meeting place for Theobald Wolfe Tone and
the other United Irishmen who were the leading Irish nationalists
and separatists in the 1780s and 90s.
While some of the pubs clearly cater to the younger college crowd,
Maggie May’s is a place where you are more likely to find
little old men who resemble leprechauns. A back room often features
traditional Irish music and dancing. I quickly discovered that participation
is pretty much mandatory at places like this and if you don’t
know how to do a jig, you will learn fairly quickly.
Another interesting thing about the Irish
pubs that sets them apart from American bars is the fact that they
are open all day and welcome unexpected crowds. Pubs are quite crowded
at lunchtime because many of them, like Maggie May’s, function
as full-time restaurants up through dinnertime. In fact, that is
the best place to go to eat if you want the really traditional Irish
fare, like meat stews and potato bread. Other places have completely
unrelated daytime functions. One pub we saw even doubles as a library!
In fact, it seems like almost any type of business at all could
become a part-time pub.