What is especially sad about this trend is that it is now being imported back into Ireland. Visitors from abroad think they have a good idea of what an Irish pub should look like, from visiting any number of "Kitty O'Shea's" or "Fluther MacShaughnessy's" or what have you around the world. These pubs, of course, are related only tangentally to the reality of Irish hostelries. The canny Irish publican, however, has decided in many cases that his interests are best served by giving the tourists what they expect, i.e. framed prints of 70-year-old tobacco ads alongside engravings of Famine scenes, all tastefully surmounted by a shelf dedicated to the display of broken tin kettles and other aimless clutter.

More and more "authentic" Irish pubs are therefore being refitted in the "International" style of Irish pub. At the time of writing, only one pub in Dublin's Temple Bar area has not been refitted since 1990. The Irish Pub is a classic example of Baudrillard's simulacrum: it is a copy of which the original does not exist.

Another thing about Irish pubs that I don't understand.

How come every country is plagued with them, yet in Ireland, we don't have "German Pubs" or "French Pubs" or "English Pubs"? What would you put in them? Great big sausages? Pictures of Jurgen Klinnsman? Big long strings of onions tied together and pictures of Michel Platini? Or perhaps some Union jacks, a few bulldogs and a portrait of the queen?

Irish pubs abroad bear very few similarities to pubs in Ireland. If you want to experience real Irish pubs in Ireland, stay away from the Temple Bar area in Dublin.

Go to McManus's or McArdles in Dundalk, Co.Louth. Not a plastic shamrock in sight.

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