Irish publicans back home for weekend Gathering event

Some 4,100 Irish pubs are affiliated to a global network which is growing all the time

A shamrock is viewed in the window of an Irish pub in preparation for St Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York City. Some 150 publicans, representing 600 Irish pubs worldwide, will attend the Irish Pubs Global Gathering Event in the Burlington Hotel from Sunday evening.  Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A shamrock is viewed in the window of an Irish pub in preparation for St Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York City. Some 150 publicans, representing 600 Irish pubs worldwide, will attend the Irish Pubs Global Gathering Event in the Burlington Hotel from Sunday evening. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Fri, Sep 27, 2013, 19:58

While the Irish at home have been beating themselves up at home over Arthur’s Day, Ireland’s drinking culture has never been so popular abroad.

The Irish pub has been a gathering place for generations of emigrants; now they are going to have a Gathering of their own this weekend.

Some 150 publicans, representing 600 Irish pubs worldwide, will attend the Irish Pubs Global Gathering Event in the Burlington Hotel from Sunday evening.

Irish Pubs Global was set up three years ago to try and provide a database and a sense of common purpose for all the Irish pubs around the world.

It compromises of “proper bona-fide Irish pubs, the serious ones” according to its founder Enda O’Coineen who just set up a Irish bar in Haiti.

There are now 4,100 worldwide and those are just the ones affiliated to Irish Pubs Global.

More than half (52 per cent) are in the US, followed by Europe (26 per cent), Canada (7 per cent), Asia (7 per cent), Australia and New Zealand (6 per cent), Asia (7 per cent), South America (1 per cent) and Africa (1 per cent).

Every developed world country has an Irish pub. The developing world is catching up. There are are Irish pubs in Egypt, Uganda, Nepal and even in Cuzco, Peru, where Paddy’s Bar at 11,156 ft claims to be the highest Irish pub in the world.

There is also an Irish pub in the Faroe Island called The Irish Bar. Its proprietor Hans Andreasen was inspired to set it up by the success of other Irish bars in Scandinavia and is coming to the Gathering event.

Every weekend he flies in an Irish traditional band from Sweden and flies them back on a Sunday. “Everywhere else in Torshavn, the pubs, they are just big rooms and you can see everyone, two, three hundred people in one spot. In an Irish pub it is different. You have eight or nine people by themselves talking. That is unique around here.”

One of the goals of the weekend is to come up with a quality mark which would mark out a real Irish pub from the fake one, though the definition is fraught with difficulty.

“Some Irish pubs are an embarrassment and some are ones you can be proud of,” said Mr O’Coineen. “An Irish pub has to have some connection with Ireland, but we don’t have a definitive answer yet.”

Mr O’Coineen said the fuss over Arthur’s Day showed there was an “immature and schizophrenic attitude” to alcohol in Ireland.

“Irish pubs are not really about alcohol. They are about community and all the other ingredients of belonging. The Irish pub is the frontline of Irishness around the world.”

The event will go from tomorrow with Tuesday. Among the speakers will be Paul Mangiamele, the chief executive of Bennigans, which is one of the biggest Irish pub chains in the world and Alltech chief executive Pearse Lyons.