Slate discovers the faux Irish pub revolution. A wonderful lead begins the story: “Ireland, as much of the world knows it, was invented in 1991.”
It looks behind the business of exporting Irish pubs – and as much Irish-ness – as possible in fascinating detail. The story also details how St. Patrick’s Day has recently changed in Ireland:
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 euros* to the economy.
All quite true, but a new book, The Parting Glass: A Toast to the Traditional Pubs of Ireland, reminds us that the real thing is alive and well in Ireland.