Tomorrow anyone with even the vaguest of Irish sympathies will be looking for a place to enjoy a pint of the black stuff and some cracking Craic. I know what you’re thinking ‘St Patrick’s day was on Tuesday!’ – indeed it was, but if you’re a true Irishman you would have been saving your best for this Saturday’s six nation’s showdown with Wales.
After all, if Ireland win it will be the first time they have brought home the ‘Grand Chelem’ in sixty years, and even if they lose (by less than 13 points) it will be the first time they’ve won the tournament in thirty years … and who, except perhaps the odd Welshman, would begrudge them that?
So where better to sit yourself than in front of giant TV in one of Strasbourg’s many, MANY, ‘Irish’ pubs? Molly Malones? The Irish Times? The Dubliners? Murphy’s House? O’Brady’s? the list goes on … alas.
Personally I take a schizophrenic view of the ‘Irish Pub’ phenomenon:
On the one hand, it’s nice to know that no matter where you are in the world, you’re never too far from a pint o’ the black stuff. Never too far from a place where you can sit and watch sport, talk toot* in your mother tongue and enjoy the ambience of a traditional ‘dirty boozer’. Indeed I will confess to stepping into an Irish pub in Suva, Fiji for exactly these reasons.
On the other hand I hate the god-damn places. The fact that there’s nothing particularly Irish about an Irish pub annoys me – it’s just a pub with a load of Irish junk on the walls and Guinness on tap. If the Scots had thought of the idea first (to repackage the ‘pub’ and sell it all over the world) then I’m sure we’d all be stepping into tartan draped places that served McEwans and constantly played The Proclaimers. As it is the Irish pub phenomenon is now so excruciatingly packaged that even the Irish cringe when they step into a foreign pub bedecked with blow-up leprechauns and fluffy smiling shamrocks that play ‘Molly Malone’ when you squeeze them.
I’ve often thought that it should be possible to open a chain of ‘English Pubs’ with cricketing equipment stuck to the walls and Newcastle Brown Ale on tap, but I have a feeling the Irish have well and truly ‘got there first’.
So I, an Englishman, shall be sitting in an Irish pub, in France, Guinness in hand, tomorrow afternoon cheering on Brian’s boys. Why don’t you join me?