IRELAND’S PUB CULTURE – OR WHY EVERYONE FEELS GOOD IN IRISH PUBS

Last updated on February 6, 2024

I studied in Berlin, but that was a while ago. Quite a while, to be honest. Berlin has a lot of pubs, bars and bars and as a student you like to meet friends for a beer in the evening – at least that’s what we liked to do.

I particularly enjoyed meeting friends in an Irish pub. A good friend lived around the corner at the time and so it was almost logical that we regularly turned up there and played a bit of pool or darts over a pint.

The Temple Bar in the quarter of Temple Bar in Dublin
The Temple Bar in the quarter of Temple Bar in Dublin (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Every Friday there was life music. The special thing: The owner was Irish himself and the pub was a centre of attraction for the Irish, English and Scottish community in Berlin. The musicians were mostly Irish and the music was Irish as well. What an atmosphere – half the people in the pub knew all the lyrics and sang along loudly – Entertaining? No longer possible on Friday evenings. But what an atmosphere!!!

Let’s fast forward on the timeline: For some years now, my family and I have had our second home in Ireland. We run a motorbike rental business there in summer, south of Dublin (www.easycruiser.tours). We also offer nice guest rooms for travellers (www.the-view-accommodation.ie). Coincidence? My wife doesn’t believe in coincidences – and I believe my wife :-).


However we came to Ireland, we still like to go to Irish pubs. So do most of our international motorbike guests and many other people we know.

Ad for our own business Easycruiser.tours
Ad for our own business Easycruiser.tours

The island of Ireland is a magical island and Irish pubs are magically attractive. That explains it all. Doesn’t it?

Maybe it’s because of Guinness, which always tastes better in the pub than at home, although Guinness from a can, well chilled, is surprisingly good.

Maybe it’s because in Irish pubs there’s almost always a TV playing sports, mostly sports that we don’t normally watch in Germany: Gaelic football, hurling or horse racing – which the Irish are enormously enthusiastic about, while we don’t even know the rules.

Maybe it’s because of Irish history: Ireland was a poor country for centuries. People lived in small cottages that were barely kept warm by the peat fire. And peat-cutting was hard work, so the fuel was used sparingly.

Historic pub in the town of Donegal
Historic pub in the town of Donegal (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

At that time, the pub was the living room and the “social media” of the Irish. It was where people met for lunch and after work. The pint sometimes replaced the meal, but more important was the chat with neighbours and relatives. About the horse market, the price of lambs, the children and the new vicar in the village.

If you go to a pub in Ireland today as a tourist somewhere in the countryside, you will still experience this family pub culture.

However, less and less, as the Irish themselves have noticed, because the number of pubs in Ireland has been decreasing for years. Especially in the small villages, not every pub survives any more. The competition has become too great:

The houses are nice and big, people visit each other more and need the pub less for that. Escaping from the unheated cottage is also no longer an issue, and Netflix and Co. are now alternatives to chatting with acquaintances in Ireland, too.

As in Germany, alcohol consumption is also tending to fall in Ireland. The introduction of stricter alcohol limits in road traffic will have contributed greatly to this. Thank goodness for that, because the old Irish didn’t take alcohol and driving too seriously back then, and some tractors had a bit of trouble finding their way home in the evening….

Inn in Dublin
Inn in Dublin (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

But despite modern trends that do not stop at the island, the Irish have preserved a good part of their pub culture. The whole family goes to the pub, even the children. But more at lunchtime. In the evening they are no longer there.

In the pub, important sporting events are watched and celebrated together, people sing and laugh and tell stories. A lot of storytelling. Storytelling is an important folk asset and a good story is always welcome.

And in the pub there is music – Irish music – fun drinking music, old ballads and swinging music to celebrate and dance to. Jam sessions and poetry sessions and sometimes comedy, satire or a play.

And this brings us full circle to the question of what makes Irish pubs so incredibly cosy:

The music? The Irish beer? The sports? The families? The celebrations? The neighbours and friends? Or simply the mentality of the Irish, who love to sing, make music, tell stories and laugh, and are so hospitable even to strangers?

Probably all of the above. Or the secret magic of the emerald island in the azure Atlantic? Who knows…

Ad for our own business The View Accommodation
Ad for our own business The View Accommodation

Maybe you’ll find out for yourself during your round trip in Ireland. By the way, the best way to travel around Ireland is by motorbike. Did I already mention our motorbike rental? (www.easycruiser.tours) 🙂

Anyway – I wish you a great holiday and many very cosy evenings in the pubs of Ireland!



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Picture credits cover picture: Old Pub in Connemara, photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tourswww.the-view-accommodation.iewww.irland-insider.dewww.ireland-insider.com)

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg