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".
The spontaneity that once ruled a happy, beery kingdom of sawdust floors, last-order scrimmages and the impulsive embrace of midnight strangers is no more, instead replaced by tightly scheduled arrivals, designated seating and food delivered by sanitised servers.
Even the simple expedient of toilet breaks has taken on a military discipline dictated by a stop-go system where calls of nature are regulated with an efficiency akin to the Berlin transit system.
A friend who suffers a tricky prostate condition wonders if his local will furnish him with a Quick Pass card to expedite his passage to the toilets - a not unreasonable request typifying the avalanche of such demands now added to the burden of every landlord. Bad enough that gallant punters will now inhabit a realm of disinfected Perspex screens and supervised 90-minute pleasure pockets, pub patrons must also endure an operational ethos bearing more than just a passing nod to the KGB and Stasi.
Our simple request for a pint may well be met with an authoritarian "Papers please!" as we find ourselves playing imaginary walk-on roles in that Communist era movie epic 'The Lives of Others', due to the Covid-19 contact tracing requirements dictating the handing over of our vital statistics to facilitate any positive cases being later identified. Nobody is denying all this is necessary - but to say it will quench the impetuous flame of conviviality like the proverbial wet blanket is surely not too wide of the mark.
But regardless of the challenges ahead, the Irish pub is guaranteed a good summer's business - staycationers and craic-hungry punters freed from quarantine will ensure full houses across the nation over the next three months.
A key barometer of the trade's future health will come into play from October onwards when the student populations will, hopefully, once again swell the country's cities and towns.
While the mature over-30s will help keep the lunch and evening meal periods blossoming, it'll be the young 'Pure Mule' crowd jostling in after 9pm that will determine the profit-or-loss fate of many an establishment. Covid-19 dealt a killer blow to the pub trade, no doubt, but the fact is publicans had already lost significant portions of the 20-something demographic years ago due to high alcohol prices the kids were no longer willing to pay.
A second-year UCC Commerce acquaintance of mine neatly encapsulated much of where this 'Normal People' generation are coming from: "We get everything we need for a great night from two places - Aldi, Lidl or Dunnes for slabs of beer, and Tinder, Match.com or Crush Zone for company. No bouncers, no closing time, no hassle."
Drinking at home and kicking on to a club is their thing - no longer having the wherewithal or the inclination to hand over the equivalent of a small house deposit as the price for a wild night out. Probably the first generation that does not regard going to the boozer as a venerated tradition, today's bright young things carry no sense of obligation to the same bar stool for life that their fathers did.
Loyalty in the brave new world of 2020 is an ephemeral state no longer anchored to any single saloon, but rather a wandering tribe content to graze in ever-changing pastures where, unlike the 'Cheers' song, they're quite happy that "nobody knows your name".
In the end, it is the older generation that will suffer most as the Irish pub morphs and transforms to meet the demands of a changed world. The high stool, the chat and the craic were the warm embrace of good cheer that sustained the over-60s generation from cradle to grave - now harshly amputated in the cause of our national health. Perhaps the individual who charted many of Ireland's cataclysmic events, WB Yeats, is best left the final epitaph in his poem 'The Drinking Song'.
Wine comes in at the mouth/And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth/Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth/I look at you, and I sigh.