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It's too soon to call 'time' on the Irish pub

What's become of the Irish pub?

That's what occurred to me as I read this week that a famous pub in my hometown, John B's in Listowel, Co Kerry, is celebrating its 60th birthday this week.

A lot has changed in six decades, not least the famed Irish public house.

This institution has been an essential and integral part of our customs and traditions. I know I'm not the only man who has enjoyed its delights over the years - a relaxing spot or a port in a storm, for a while at least.

Over the years 'the local' has always been the scene of happy celebrations - Christenings, weddings, baptisms, or for birthdays, reunions and get-togethers.

The pub's been a place during sad times too, after the funerals of dearly departed.

But this most revered institution, this cornerstone of the community, is under threat.

Hundreds of Irish pubs have closed in recent years - a story well covered.

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Now the arrival of chain pubs here also risks us losing the personal touch of the local publican-owner.

Despite such developments, when it's done right, you still can't beat the Irish pub.

John B's in Listowel is a case in point. It's still there after 60 years, since John B Keane and his wife started it, long before he achieved fame as a full-time writer.

So I'll raise a glass or two this weekend to Mary Keane and her son Billy, who runs the pub now, two bastions of a noble trade.


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