“It’ll be just like Dubai”

Back Seat Driver Dick O’Brien gets a round in – of alcoholic bloggers alcohol-related posts – and links to Slate’s tackling of the now traditional St Patrick’s Day topic of authentic Irish bars.. not that the topic isn’t fun to complain about.. as the opening line says – “Ireland, as much of the world knows it, was invented in 1991. That year, the Irish Pub Company formed with a mission to populate the world with authentic Irish bars.”Interestingly, Slate’s Austin Kelley links the phenomena to a timely, for the Irish Pub Company, convergence of factors –

The branding of Irish bars owes more to cultural stereotypes and modern global economics than to Celtic tradition. The rapid expansion of these faux pubs was partly the result of big companies creating demand in emerging markets, but they are also an outgrowth of the end of the “troubles” and of the Irish economic boom. Suddenly, Ireland was teeming with immigrants, retail chains, and money. Insofar as Irish pub culture was ever the authentic heart of an organic community, its tradition was lost to the dustbin of history just in time to be invoked, exported, and imported again.

The concept is but one of the ways in which Ireland has been re-imagined for the consumer. A few decades back, St. Patrick’s Day was a relatively quiet day in Ireland. It was a religious holiday; pubs were closed, and no one dyed anything green. A typical Dubliner might attend Mass, eat a big meal with the family, and nod off early. In the ’90s, my friends who grew up in Dublin used to go to a hotel on St. Paddy’s Day to watch the American tourists sing Irish drinking songs and celebrate excess.

Where there is celebrated excess, there is a market to exploit. In 1995, the Irish government saw potential in international “Irish” revelry. They reinvented the holiday at home to kick-start the tourist season. Now thousands of partiers head to Ireland for the “St. Patrick’s Day Season” as Guinness has called this time of year. (It used to be called “March” or, for Irish Catholics, “Lent.”) In Dublin, the festival lasts for five days and adds about £60 million to the economy.

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  • Eddie

    Apparently a number of bars in the US (or at least the Philly area) have been boycotting Guinness due to their involvement in setting up these faux Irish pubs. Article here: Bye-bye, Beamish

    As the article shows, it seems they may be losing their access to Beamish as well. What does that leave them for Irish stout? Murphys?

  • GurnyGub

    Guinness is good for you. Yes it is, a great drink. But make sure all you indigenous, lipsmacking consumers keep the culturally diverse people who make, market globally, and sell it, do not ruin it! It has happened before, and it will do again. Trust me, it’s a big danger.( Ok, Mick? ethnicity wise?)
    I’ll be glad to expand.

  • Harry Flashman

    The article also alludes to a particular bugbear of mine which emerged around the time of the authentic fake Oirish Pub and that is the word “craic”. When and from where did that particular abomination arise?

    When I was growing up we always used the simple English word “crack” to describe fun. Crack is also used in other similar instances in English; to get “cracking”, to “crack” a joke, a wise “crack”, so howdafuk did this awful faux gaelicism come about? Who is responsible for it? Can they be shot?

  • Found this interesting and entirely plausible explanation in the ever reliable Wikipeida:

    “The word originally comes from the English word crack, used in the more archaic sense of “fun” (cf. “to crack a joke”). This was borrowed by later revisions to the Ulster-Scots dialect, and although incorrect, the ‘Irish’ spelling has recently been reborrowed into Hiberno-English through constant use in tabloid newspapers to denote a specifically (argueably stereotypical) Irish concept of “fun”. Until the late 1980s this spelling was unknown in English: Barney Rush’s 1960s song “The Crack was Ninety in the Isle of Man” uses the older spelling.”

  • Harry Flasman

    Thank you NS, I was beginning to doubt my sanity about this damn “craic” thingy, I too remember “The Crack was Ninety on the Isle of Man” and the idea of spelling it “C-R-A-I-C” would have been ludicrous to me and my mates when we sang that song after a couple of bottles of Strongbow.

    I also agree that the word originated in the North but I’m not sure if “craic” can be blamed on the tabloids, I seem to remember that the Irish Times was among the first to popularise it.