The Irish pub – the official third place of Ireland (and more)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

In Ireland, three quarters of all alcohol is consumed in a pub. That’s all alcohol, including any purchased at the grocery store. No wonder the Irish seem to be singing, dancing and laughing so much – it’s not so much the alcohol (the oft-used stereotype) as it is being a very social culture.

According to the paper, A Genuine ‘Third Place’? Towards an understanding of the pub in contemporary Irish society, here are some reasons why the pub is the center of Irish (and third place) culture:

Neutral ground: The pub offers a neutral space where people can congregate without the pressure on any individual to act as either ‘host’ or ‘guest’.
Leveller: Pubs/third places (unlike many social or sporting clubs) do not set criteria for inclusion
Conversation as the main activity: ‘The cardinal and sustaining activity’ of the third place.
Accessibility and accommodation: The pub/third place must be numerous, ubiquitous, and easily accessible: ideally on foot.
Regulars: A successful pub/third place, whether hairdresser or pub, is dependent on a cohort of regulars.
Low profile: ‘Typically plain’ and unpretentious. plainness of the place helps to maintain the levelling social effect, and also reflects the ‘everyday’ nature of the setting.
Playfulness: ‘The pleasure that is to be derived from ‘mutually withdrawing from the rest of the world and rejecting the usual norms’.
Home away from home: Key aspects of ‘homeliness’ makes the pub/third place attractive: a physical centre or ‘root’; a sense of possession as in ‘my local’; a site of regeneration and restoration; a sense of freedom-to-be, of informality; and finally, a sense of ‘warmth’.  Together these serve key psychological needs.”

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