The Magazine

Closing Time

The Irish country pub is thriving everywhere except Ireland.

Nov 16, 2009, Vol. 15, No. 09 • By MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER
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"This is the house where I was born," Ford cried, and got the financiers to open their checkbooks. (Ford, of course, was actually born in Maine.) The Quiet Man, Barich writes, is emblematic of "Fairytale Ireland," the remote country villages many of us dream about living in. These villages still exist, says Barich, but the pubs are ailing because of Ireland's drunk-driving laws, which are far tougher than comparable American laws. Since you can't drive to a pub any more, Irish country pubs can only sell beer to people who can walk home--which, for remote villages, means not very many potential customers. Many Irish country pubs have closed, and the survivors have severely limited their hours of operation.

So is the Irish pub now just a marketing concept? Not quite, Barich says. There are still a few worth going to, but they're hard to find, and very far off the tourist trails. A Pint of Plain is an elegy for a vanishing Ireland.

Martin Morse Wooster, senior fellow at the Capital Research Center, is the book reviewer for Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and American Brewer.