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Is it last orders, or is there a new dawn for the Irish pub?

John Daly


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Sláinte: Brendan Walsh and Freddie McBride enjoying their first post-lockdown pints at the Man
O’War pub and restaurant in Balbriggan, north Co Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Sláinte: Brendan Walsh and Freddie McBride enjoying their first post-lockdown pints at the Man O’War pub and restaurant in Balbriggan, north Co Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Sláinte: Brendan Walsh and Freddie McBride enjoying their first post-lockdown pints at the Man O’War pub and restaurant in Balbriggan, north Co Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

It's been a week of pints, penance and pompadour pruning. Regardless of whether you genuflected in thanks for the sanctuary of the church or bent a knee of grateful vanity toward your hairdresser, it was always the pubs that were destined to garner most of the nation's attention as we waited anxiously to witness the latest incarnation of the 'new normal'.

Having shuttered their doors over 100 days ago, the reopening of these treasured cultural icons was up there in collective fascination with the Moon landing and 'who shot JR' among a corona-battered population badly in need of a stiff drink and some good news.

Yes, OK, Ireland has been top of the class in flattening the Covid curve - but please, we begged, can that ancient custom of a few scoops for himself and a GnT for the missus be reinstalled in its rightful place at the tavern down the corner of the street? In a word, no. Instead we face a new pub life that is "changed, changed utterly - a terrible beauty is born".