As cliché as it may sound, the pub is an important aspect of Irish social culture. Irish people probably don't even realise it, but as a foreigner, every time I step in my local pub, I can't help but think to myself "This is exactly what Ireland is all about...": friends and families getting together, young and old, having a good time in a friendly atmosphere.
So what is it exactly that makes the local so special?
It's where someone is celebrating their 21st or 65th birthday
Where you and your best friend of 20 years have your weekly drink
The place where you had your first date
It's where you can spot the hard-core regulars at the counter, who run to the bookmaker in between two pints
Where a stranger offers you a drink and starts a conversation just because you let them put their jacket on your chair
The place where you know everybody and everybody knows you
It's where old and young share the same table, watching GAA or soccer on a Sunday afternoon
Where the resident singer blast old tunes on Saturday night and everybody end up singing along to "Sweet Caroline", "Dirty Old Town", or "Galway girl"
The place where you know it's the end of the night when the National anthem comes up, and it's time for last orders
It's where the barman gives you time to finish your last ( two or three) drinks
And where you end up in a lock-in, having deep conversations with total strangers...
That's what the local is, and every time I go there, I feel transported at the heart of Irish culture. And I'm proud to be part of it.
Photo credit: Reddan's of Bettystown