Forwarded from Michael Gavin (posted from unsubbed address)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Jun 24 07:30:22 MDT 2000


Paul Flewers wtote:

> List members who have not been to Britain for a bit may not know of
> the 'Irish Pub' phenomenon. Over the last five or so years, many
> ordinary pubs in London and other British cities have been refurbished
> as 'Irish Pubs', painted garish colours, covered in junk and old
> bottles with Irish labels, stocked with foul brews and generally
> messed up. Friends and colleagues of mine from Ireland say they're
> nothing like Irish pubs, which (they told me) are either like ordinary
> British pubs, or bars at the back of shops (British 'Irish Pubs' are
> pubs trying to look like shops trying to look like pubs), and they
> hate them with an intensity that has to be seen to be believed. I
> don't know who started this horrible fashion, but whoever was
> responsible for them should not be allowed to go unpunished.

The "Irish" pub phenomenon is not exclusively British. While in Dublin a
few weeks ago I noticed that one of the more disturbing aspects of the
"Celtic Tiger" phenomenon is the attempt of so many Dublin pubs in the
pricier more touristy areas of the city to transform themselves into the
sort of parody of Irishness that seems to have spread across the globe
like a plague.

Here in Germany we also have an "Irish pub" phenomenon (there's also a
related "English pub" phenomenon), although it's usually not connected
with transforming old pubs into a travesty of themselves. Some of them
are run by Irishmen (sometimes, although rarely, even by Irishwomen) and
function as a sort of informal community centre for Irish immigrants.
Many of them are however run by Germans and fit with some German fantasy
of what an Irish pub should be like but never ever was. The phenomenon
is supported financially by brewers of Irish beer and stout. The most
important of these are Guinness (which is, of course, now a British-
based multi-national) and Murphy's (a brewery based in Cork). It's part
of a multi-national marketing strategy.

I understand that the phenomenon isn't restricted to Germany but
international. I know that all over Eastern Europe and in the Far East
Irish pubs are being promoted with the support of the Irish government.
There has been an Irish pub in Moscow for a number of years - it was
opened by the Irish ambassador - and a couple of months ago an Irish pub
was openend in Beijing - also opened by the Irish ambassador.

The phenomenon reflects a marketing strategy by breweries with Irish
connections and links in with the growing confidence of the Irish
bourgeoisie due to the transformation and relative success of the Irish
economy since the beginning of the 1990s - the fastest growing economy
in the EU. The whole "Riverdance" bonanza (an internationalised version
of traditional Irish culture) is part and parcel of this development.
Even the traditional poverty of Ireland (due to it's status as an
agricultural colony of Britain) is now being commercialised, as can be
seen by the development of the former slums of Limerick as a sort of
"Angela's Ashes" theme park - not that Frank McCourt, who wrote this
scathing memoir of his poverty-stricken Irish childhood in the 1930s,
is to blame for this phenomenon


Louis Proyect
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