Tuesday 14 June 2011

The Craic Is Crocked

If you find yourself in Ireland in the near future, be sure to pick up a piece of historical art while you're there. It will look something like this and cost about 20p in old money (ie, not Eurozone).

Because the world famous pubs of Ireland are an endangered species, to be sure (I adopted my Irish accent for that bit, hope you appreciate the attention to detail). There was a time when the archetypal Irish pub was considered to be one of a kind; impervious to all threats and copied all over the civilised world.

Not any more.

PUBLICANS are driving their customers home, offering free rounds of drink and running book clubs in a bid to attract customers.

Many pubs too offer free food and a table quiz night.
FREE food?

LIMERICK city publican Paddy Kelly is fighting the recession by building on his food trade. With one big difference. This is claimed to be the only pub in the land where customers get food served free of charge with their drink.

For years customers at his ‘Monday Club’ tucked into spare ribs.

He developed the menu and now free meals consist of bacon and cabbage, pork, beef and a wide variety of dishes, including curry. Recently he completed an outdoor barbecue where most days burgers, sausages and puddings sizzle to the delight of customers.

And the drink is as cheap as you will get in the city centre, with a pint of Guinness at €4.

"I like cooking and I find it very enjoyable. Giving out food without charge to my customers is just a way of saying thanks for their support and custom. I don’t charge and this is appreciated," said Paddy, who usually starts serving food at around 5.30pm.

News of the pub with free food has gone around the world and TV crews from New Zealand, Britain and the US have called to witness the free feast.
Hardly surprising, really. It's a natural human trait (sadly) to watch the discomfort of others, especially if the poor sap doesn't realise he himself is being served up as a tasty global prime time freak show morsel.

Their woes are definitely multi-factorial, but the problem for Irish pubs began in 2004, despite this nonsense from a report ASH released just the other day (I'm not linking to it as it's a pile of shite and also because it's not a unique claim of theirs, so can be easily googled).

Evidence shows that in many countries, bans on smoking in public places have had a net positive economic benefit for businesses and no adverse effect on the hospitality industry.
That's right, no adverse effect whatsoever to pub stocks. Especially in Ireland, eh? Unless their recession started about four years before everyone else's.

700 pubs were needlessly exterminated that year. The industry in Ireland never fully recovered before the recession kicked in, and the result is that now they're giving away food and booze. Yes, booze!


ROCK, paper, scissors is just one of the games that bar staff at Sober Lane have with customers where the prize is a free drink. The staff also do a "flip the coin" evening on Sundays where the customer gets their next round free if they win.
It brings to mind this soundbite from proud British zealot, Deborah Arnott, last year.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-smoking group ASH, insisted it was a myth that the anti-smoking legislation had forced pubs out of business.

She said: 'Many pubs have shifted their focus to serving food, so they have changed their nature.'
One wonders if Debs also believes that it's a perfectly hunky-dory outcome that Irish pubs are now having to give the stuff away for nothing along with a complimentary drink.

But then, her colleagues are actively working at a way to stop that, too. Because anti-alcohol campaigners don't like such 'promotions' one little bit, and I'm sure they'd be spitting feathers at the idea of anything alcohol-related being available cost-free if the idea was taken up this side of the Irish Sea.

Irresponsible alcohol promotions in pubs, bars and clubs are contributing to excessive consumption amongst the public, resulting in alcohol-related crime and disorder, and adverse health consequences. They propagate an unsafe drinking culture and bold measures are now required to reduce harmful drinking and avoid preventable deaths.
Free, one assumes, would fall into such a category as 'irresponsible'. And anti-smoking busybodies at ASH have been helping the anti-alcohol lobby to achieve their own bansturbatory aims in Scotland and Wales, as regular readers will know.

Alcohol Action Ireland won't be out of the loop, either, and will no doubt be tackling the 'problem' of giveaway alcohol as soon as they've added the finishing touches to Ireland's new driving limit of a thimble full of shandy (as long as you didn't use mouthwash that morning, of course).

Because if there's one thing these vested interest puritans do very well, it's share policies and new bullying initiatives by way of international 'summits'. Free rounds to boost business won't be tolerated for too long ... nor the buying of rounds, probably. And just wait till the anti-obesity campaigners hear about all that free food.

Nope, I'm afraid pubs will have to face up to the bitter truth - just about everything they serve is frowned upon in this new world of citywide fitness centres and enforced physical perfection. The anti-smoking vanguard marched into pubs with their passive smoking club, smashed a massive hole in the hospitality industry's defences, and have now relayed precise co-ordinates of the wound to those who would seek to do the same.

The one business-saving measure not mentioned in that list of innovative Irish sticking plasters is the welcoming back of smokers with open arms. But then, that's not an option anymore since they meekly succumbed to the siren anti-smoking voices who are now stabbing them in the back ... with a chainsaw.

The craic was good while it lasted, but the time to stand strong in Ireland was 7 years ago. All that's left now is freebies, opprobrium, and 'three bags full sir' to future controls inflicted on the industry.

Perhaps the Irish could work at being world famous for the unique atmosphere of their swimming pools or something instead, I dunno.


James Higham said...

Right, I'm on the next boat - it sounds wonderful. Must I wear green?

Curmudgeon said...

Ah yes, if you have a large, sparsely-populated rural country, and cut the drink-drive limit, the effect on an already reeling pub trade is only too predictable...

Anonymous said...

Face it, we are all to stand in the people's square and sing patriotic songs before enlisting to kill this weeks enemy. There will be no fun, no private property, no choice. Like fun North Korea really.

Dick Puddlecote said...

James: It used to be around 200/2001 - I was there 6 or 7 weekends a year. Last was in 2004, it was sad to say goodbye to an old friend. :(

Curmudgeon: Yes indeed. Irish pubs will be destroyed yet again when the new limit comes in.

SAoT: I think we've already gone a long way to switching sides with Soviet states of the 80s. They're laughing at us now.

Anonymous said...

The Irish amaze me. They spend the best part of 800 years fighting the British for independence which they pretty much get in the end then they take it straight up the arse from the EU without so much as a whimper.

And the Irish thought the British were a bunch of colonial bastards!

Curmudgeon said...

Ah yes, but it's fine to be taken up the arse, repeatedly, with grit and without lubrication, if those doing it are not Brits.

I had got the impression that the lower limit had actually come in, but from looking at reports perhaps it hasn't yet. ISTR something about former Taoiseach Brian Cowen, son of a publican, trying to block it.

Interestingly, this report suggests that a 50-80 offence will only attract penalty points, not a ban.

Paul said...

Curmudgeon: Ah yes, but it's fine to be taken up the arse, repeatedly, with grit and without lubrication, if those doing it are not Brits.

Irish "Republicans" are the absolute worst for this mentality. They really don't mind being under colonial rule - as long as, as you say, Britain itself has nothing to do with it. They actively welcome their European overlords. I feel pity for them - they can't see what's coming.

Mr A said...

I always wanted to go to Dublin. That changed in 2004 and it hasn't even crossed my mind as a potential destination since then. I'm sure I'm not alone. 'Nuff said?

I am Stan said...

Oh Mr P,

I`m wounded, I`m grieving for the Irish Craic, it`s a FCUKING OUTRAGE the puritans are winning, and why, because our lickspittle politico`s listen to their hyperbole and garnish cheap votes from the frightened dumbed down sheeple public, damn them, damn their corrupted souls.

I`ll drink in as many pubs as possible as often as possible, and why? to cock a snoop at the righteous, and I`ll blow smoke in the face of any health nazi who crosses me, I don`t care if booze, fags and crisps kill me, I`ll die happy damn it!

Jon.campbell said...

Mt A,

Trust me, you are not alone. If I'm going on holiday or a break, this is one of the things that weighs my decision. why should I pay £400 to be treated like a leper?

I can do that at home.

Unknown said...

campaigners don't like such 'promotions' one little bit,

Your not wrong DP, are you.

Roger Thornhill said...

Such people don't like pubs - because we go there and bitch about THEM!