Ireland has more than 10,000 pubs and there are thousands more Irish pubs worldwide from Moscow to Kathmandu! In the run up to St Patrick’s Day, and our History of Drinking special on 16th March, we present our top five facts about the beloved Irish pub.
The drinking traditions of St Patrick’s Day are in fact very new. In Ireland, pubs were not allowed to open on St Patrick’s Day until 1973. Before then there were limited drinking venues available on the national day, one of which was the Royal Dublin Society’s national dog show. There was therefore a marked interested in canines with Irish poet and novelist Patrick Kavanagh renting a dog for the occasion while his contemporary, Brendan Behan, reputedly stole a poodle to ensure his entry.
The oldest known piece of graffiti in Ireland is located in Dublin’s oldest pub, the Brazen Head. Scratched into the window pane on the landing in a miniscule scribble are the words “John Langan halted here 7th August 1726”
Ever wondered where that distinctive outside facade came from? In 1872, having the name of the pub’s proprietor over the front door became a legal requirement. The tradition of proudly displaying a name outside continues to this day in many Irish pubs around the world - generally in a Celtic or Gothic typeface.
Pubs were once prime sites for storing dead bodies. The Coroners Act of 1846 declared that the best place to bring a dead body was a pub – the cellars were cool and slowed the body’s decomposition rate. Subsequently it was increasingly normal for pub cellars to also contain a marble table for autopsies. This legislation was not removed until the 1960s.
The first Irish pub outside of Ireland is still open for business right here in London. When the S. G. Mooney & Son Brewery chain of Dublin bought the Boar’s Head on Fleet Street, the establishment was renamed The Tipperary and refurbished in true Irish style . The Tipperary became the first pub outside Ireland to have bottled Guinness and later draft
Come and raise a glass in The Tipperary on our St Patrick’s Day Special Pub Tour! Simply select March 16th on the calendar!