THE STORY OF THE IRISH PUB: An Intoxicating History of the Licensed Trade in Ireland.
Published in 2002 by the Liffey Press in association with the Vintners Federation of Ireland
The pub occupies a very special place in Irish history yet surprisingly little has been written about it. This book tells the story of licensed premises in Ireland from ancient times to the present day in an informative and highly entertaining way. The author describes all the major developments in the history of the pub and unearths many amusing facts and figures about the licensed trade in the context of Irish history in general.
As well as being the first published social history of the trade in intoxicating liquors in Ireland, this book features the individual stories of over 100 Irish pubs that have been in the same family for over a century. The author, Cian Molloy, a journalist specialising in social affairs, has unearthed a treasure trove of facts, figures and folklore relating to the major developments in the history of the pub from the Iron Age to the present day. For example:
One of the most honoured ranks in ancient Celtic society was that of briugu, or hospitaller, who was only worthy of the status if he had "a never-dry cauldron, a dwelling on a public road and a welcome to every face".
According to the medieval historians, a brewer and a hospitaller were among the very first people to set foot on the soil of Ireland following the Great Flood.
Ireland's most important female saint, St Brigid, was a brewer in her own right who, when pushed, could even shortcut the brewing process with the use of miracles Ñ in one case making beer from leper's bath water.
Queen Elizabeth I drank beer for breakfast, Oliver Cromwell was the son of a brewer and William of Orange made gin drinking popular, as part of a campaign against French brandy.
Daniel O'Connell was a major brewery shareholder, despite having sworn a temperance pledge to Fr Matthew.
Before 1916, Irish pubs closed 25 minutes and 21 seconds later than pubs in England, Scotland and Wales because the country was on Dublin Mean Time, rather than the Greenwich Mean Time used today.
Before the arrival of supermarkets, the Irish licensed trade sold 95 per cent of all foodstuffs and consumable household requisites used in the country.
Before 1960, St Patrick's Day in Ireland was a "dry day" when all pubs were closed, as is the practice on Good Friday and Christmas Day today.
Today, there are just under 13,000 fully licensed premises in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, of which fewer than than 200 are reckoned to be in the same family for over a century.
The book includes maps of each province to help readers to locate the individual pubs that have been profiled by the author. There is a pub that supplied coffins for French officers in 1798; a pub where Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan met secretly; a pub that was saved by a salmon and a thank you; a pub that was once built in a day; a pub where a licensee's husband was banned for 22 years; a pub that became a Garda station and several pubs that were regularly raided by the police. The pubs profiled come in all shapes and sizes, but all have been in the one family for over a century.