independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

Kim Bielenberg: Studying the Irish pub – it’s tough work, but someone has to do it

Dr Ignazio Cabras is carrying out the research
Dr Ignazio Cabras is carrying out the research

IT sounds like the perfect job, and Irish university researchers must be kicking themselves that they did not think of it first.

It has been reported that boffins from an English university are to spend a year on the onerous task of studying the rural Irish pub.

 

We are not sure whether the team of academics from York University will have to go on extended drinking sessions as part of their work, but we hope so.

 

They will have to show dedication to this task in order to form an accurate picture of the plight of the rural hostelry.

 

This is serious work. There should be no half measures.

 

Ideally, they should arrive in the middle of the afternoon, when they will be lucky to meet one man and his dog.

 

They may find that 85pc of the rural daytime trade now consists of errant motorists, who have skipped in to go to the Jacks.

 

They hope to run in and out without catching the eye of a barman, but then, out of shame, buy a glass of Coke.

 

With public toilets now closed everywhere, the rural pub now offers a service similar to Starbucks and its crappuccino coffeehouse imitators in the city.

 

The latest bar room research has been commissioned by the Vintners Federation of Ireland, which has watched with alarm as over 1000 pubs have closed in five years.

 

One theory holds that Micheal Martin’s Stalinist smoking ban killed the rural pub, and there may be some truth in that.

 

When the fug of cigarette smoke cleared after staining ceilings in a reassuring yellow hue for decades, drinkers discovered more unsavoury smells.

 

According to the Healy-Raes and their supporters, the drink driving ban is the number one cause of the death of the rural pub.

 

If only old gents could drive in a tipsy state across mountain passes at midnight all would be right with the world.

 

The team of university researchers may reach a different conclusion, however. Fifty years ago most habitual boozers did not have cars, but still they made heroic efforts to get to the pub before stumbling home.

 

Gentlemen, who walked or cycled while three sheets to the wind, were a familiar sight on country roads.

 

You wouldn’t have to be a professor of beeronomics to realize that the modern drinker is just not that committed any more.

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