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Irish pubs suffering longest lockdowns in Europe

Irish pubs suffering longest lockdowns in Europe

Voice of America
08 Sep 2020, 00:16 GMT+10

  • In the pubs of Dunmore in the west of Ireland, the Guinness glasses gather dust and the kegs are stacked dormant.
  • The lengthy coronavirus shutdown of pubs in Ireland has hit the 3,000 or so people in the village and surrounding area particularly hard.
  • Five out of its six village pubs have been shut since March, depriving the community of institutions that act as pillars of rural life.

CO GALWAY, Ireland – In the pubs of Dunmore in the west of Ireland, the Guinness glasses gather dust and the kegs are stacked dormant. Among the locals, a sober mood has taken hold.

The lengthy coronavirus shutdown of pubs in Ireland has hit the 3,000 or so people in the village and surrounding area particularly hard.

Five out of its six village pubs have been shut since March, depriving the community of institutions that act as pillars of rural life.

“They drink their pints along counters like that with their peers to discuss politics, to discuss the news of the day, to understand what’s going on in their own life,” he told AFP.

“I have people that would confide in me here in the bar that may not necessarily say to their GP [doctor] what’s going on with them,” he said.

With bars shut, “you can see the people carrying the woes of life on their faces,” said Sheridan, a seventh-generation publican.

Inside his wood-paneled pub, he finds a pile of unopened mail and the musty smell of inactivity.

Walls are jammed with group photos, sports memorabilia and dusty bottles.

It is testament to the pub’s fluid role as community hall, museum and an understated sort of group catharsis in the village.

“The lights are going out in rural Ireland,” he said.

Dry spell

Irish pubs shut on March 16 as the nation braced for the coronavirus, which has so far claimed 1,777 lives.

After a 15-week hibernation, those serving food were permitted to reopen.

But so-called “wet pubs” serving drink only remained shut, with the government repeatedly pushing back reopening.

Restrictions are to expire on September 13 in what the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland has called the “longest lockdown in the EU.”

Industry bodies estimate that around half of the republic’s 7,000 pubs are still shuttered.

“The vast majority of these pubs are small rural outlets run by families who are on first-name terms with their customers,” said Vintners Federation of Ireland chief Padraig Cribben in July.

In rural Ireland, pubs have a particular character. They are modestly sized, humbly decorated and staffed by friends and family.

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